“Share a photo on our Facebook page to go in the running to win tickets…”

Sounds simple enough – but are you complying with Facebook’s Terms of Service? Uh oh…

Why run a Facebook Competition?

Entering a competition on Facebook is about as popular as TV’s Masterchef program. Did you know 80% of all internet users have entered at least one sweepstakes or competition within the past year and 50% of those enter them monthly? According to Jupiter Research, companies who run competitions/contests have twice as many fans on their sponsored social network pages as those who don’t.

And anyway, who doesn’t love winning something online? Competitions are a fantastic incentive to increase your fanbase and get your community excited!

Now for the bad news…

Unfortunately, many companies are running competitions against Facebook’s Terms of Service (TOS) and even more are completely unaware that they exist.

Facebook explicitly states that:

  • “You will not administer a promotion through Facebook, except through an application on the Facebook Platform.” and
  • A “contest” or “competition” is a promotion that includes a prize and a winner determined on the basis of skill (i.e. through judging based on specific criteria).

Is this sounding foreign to you? In a nutshell – you can’t run a competition on Facebook unless you are using a third party application to do so.

And here is the clincher – ANYTIME you provide an incentive to a select number of fans to take action on Facebook’s platform, you are violating Facebook’s TOS. Let me repeat that in plain English…you CANNOT ask a user to interact with your Facebook Page to create a competition entry.

You are NOT allowed to run a competition that depends on the number of likes, photo or video entries, status updates or wall posts.

Don’t worry, it gets worse… Facebook also says that:

  • “Administration includes operation of any element of the promotion, such as collecting entries, conducting a drawing, judging entries or notifying winners.”

On top of this, technically you CANNOT notify a winner by posting on their wall or commenting on their entry (which would breach TOS too).

Ok, so we’re done with the restrictions. I know, I know… its a bit Big Brother! However, we cannot stress enough how important it is to be aware of the Promotions Guidelines. By breaching any of these rules or ignoring these guidelines you run the risk of having your business page suspended! YES! Shut down! Even if it’s temporary, the damage would have been done, the reputation you have worked so hard to build the trust that your followers have in you; gone in one flick of the Facebook switch.

But the good news is…

There are ways you CAN run competitions on your Facebook Page. If you can create your own app (or get someone smart to do it for you, like us), then technically you are acting as a 3rd party and all is ok.

If you want get your company involved in social media but are not tech-savvy or have the time to do it yourself, there are a number of companies who can build the applications and write the strategy for a Facebook competition, including us at Creative Brew.

Ta da! Facebook competition TOS problems avoided!

Here’s an example of how working within Facebook’s guidelines can create a successful competition. http://www.facebook.com/nikefootball

One more thing…

Be aware that on March 11th, Facebook has switched to iFrame. This gives you added freedom by allowing you to embed any webpage within Facebook. We like this because you can make your Facebook Page more consistent with your website and above all your brand.

(NOTE: you might want to go and check any tabs that you have that were up prior to the change over… we’ve heard a few stories of people that were not privy to our advice and have been burnt by Tabs they paid thousands of dollars for that are not working!)