Facebook Changes Contest Rules

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One of my pet peeves about Facebook is the fact that they have all these rules and rarely enforce them. In all fairness to them, they do have over 1 BILLION users so I can imagine that they are a little understaffed to handle that many people!

There are two rule sets that I felt would be impossible for them to police and they have recently changed both of these up…timeline covers and now contests. Hallelujah!

For years, Facebook contest rules stated that you had to use a third party app to hold a contest on Facebook but on August 27, 2013, Facebook lifted this restriction. In the past, you could not ask for a like or a comment as a condition of entering a Facebook contest. The changes lift this restriction!

Now, promotions may be administered on Page Timelines and in apps on Facebook. For example, businesses can now:

• Collect entries by having users post on the Page or comment/like a Page post
• Collect entries by having users message the Page
• Utilize likes as a voting mechanism

Another interesting caveat is that they gave some very specific guidelines on how you can and cannot use tagging.

In order to maintain the accuracy of Page content, our Pages Terms now prohibit Pages from tagging or encouraging people to tag themselves in content that they are not actually depicted in. So, for instance:

• It’s OK to ask people to submit names of a new product in exchange for a chance to win a prize
• It’s not OK to ask people tag themselves in pictures of a new product in exchange for a chance to win a prize

OK…deep breathe…REALLY? Did they really do this? Is this as awesome as it sounds at first glance?

This is only a good thing for those that were doing it right. The majority did not know the rules or did not care; either way they were fine with violating Facebook contest rules. But for those that have been trying to abide by the rules, this will make a difference.

You can now run a Facebook contest directly from your fan page timeline!

How To Run a Facebook Contest from Your Fan Page Timeline

With Facebook’s changes you will be able to simply write a post telling everyone about your contest, choose a winner and give away the prize.

The benefits of this simple approach are that…

• You don’t have to worry about which third party app to use
• There is no cost outside of the cost of the prize
• It’s a great way to engage your fans and get them talking with you
• You don’t have to stress over whether it’s mobile friendly or not

Sounds great right? Are there any hiccups that you should be aware of? Yes, just a few. While this sounds amazing there are a few disadvantages.

• Not going to help you build likes to your page
• Can’t collect opt-ins for your list

You will also want to pay close attention to some of the legalities of running a promotion on Facebook such as releasing Facebook from an association or endorsement of your promotion. You can find the full guidelines here.

I Recommend Sticking With Third Party Apps

Why would I do that when I just told you how awesome the new rules are right? After Facebook has thrown the restrictive contest rules out the window? Because what you give up, from a marketing standpoint, is huge.

• The ability to require likes as a condition to entry
• Building your list as people join your contest
• The branding opportunity to ‘look’ professional and draw more eyeballs

If you are a programmer and have graphic design skills, you can certainly do without the third party apps because you can build your own landing pages but if not, I have to recommend sticking with the third party apps for Facebook contests. Just keep in mind that unfortunately apps can't be accessed via mobile.

What do you think? Is this a good thing and will you still use third party apps or let them go by the wayside?

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10 years ago

Thanks for the new info, Kim… Facebook Contests have always confused me, so I really appreciate the post!

Kim Garst
Kim Garst
Reply to  Holly
10 years ago

So glad it helped Holly! Cant’ wait to hear how your next contest goes!

Shelley Webb
Shelley Webb
10 years ago

I’ve already seen a few 3rd party apps explaining WHY we still need them (and I agree that we do) and offering new software to make running promotions much easier. But hurray for the new rules because it was so frustrating advising folks that they would be breaking FB rules when they could clearly see big brands doing just that.

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