Run a legal facebook contest
Updated: Jan 1
If you're using Facebook to run contests and competitions for your customers, can you afford to have your facebook account suspended or worse, DELETED?
No? Then read on.
Promoting your business on Facebook is a great way to grow your audience reach, collect customer information and promote your business - for virtually nothing. Advertising your business on Facebook is probably central to your social media marketing strategy.
Keeping up to date with the latest rules and guidelines can be time consuming and confusing; especially if you’re a small business with a small or non-existent marketing budget.
We get it and we’ve prepared this article so you can be aware and understand some of Facebook’s guidelines when running giveaways, competitions and other business promotions - without breaking their rules.
We’ve wrapped it up neatly in a facebook comp cheat sheet at the end of this article for you to print and stick up in your office, keeping you out of .
Let’s break it down.
Facebook allows you to use their platform to promote your business, but they won’t be held accountable for anything you do or that happens with your … zilch, nada!
This means that if you are prosecuted for running an illegitimate competition or publishing misleading information, Facebook will not accept liability, be held responsible or be connected as a participant. It’s all, solely, on you.
To stay in Facebook’s good books, you need to expressly acknowledge that Facebook is not associated with your competition by publishing a disclaimer on your promotions.
Below is an example statement of the disclaimer Facebook requires you to have in your competition terms and conditions, whenever using Facebook to promote a lottery, giveaway, or other contest:
“By entering this competition, you understand that this competition is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook.”
Data Collection and Privacy
Properly handling Personal isn’t just a Facebook rule, but it is also covered under the Privacy Act, which outlines the law regarding the collection, storage and use of personal information.
Regardless of how you obtain personal content and information from users, you are responsible for securing all necessary permissions to reuse their content and information.
If you’re unsure about whether you're collecting and then later reusing that personal data and information legally, then get legal advice specific to you and your business as soon as possible.
Don't SHARE or TAG A FRIEND 'to win'
We’ve all seen it:
'Like & Share this post on your to WIN'
'To enter, simply tag 3 friends on this '
'Like & Share our page to WIN'.
It's as common as butter on bread and extremely effective for growing your audience reach, but it's actually against Facebook's terms and conditions.
Facebook policies about promotions on Pages, Groups and Timelines are pretty clear: bold "Facebook policies"
'Personal Timelines and friend connections must not be used to administer promotions (ex: “share on your Timeline to enter” or “share on your friend's Timeline to get additional entries”, and "tag your friends in this post to enter" are not permitted.'
This means that asking your entrants to share your page or to tag a friend in order to enter your competition is a straight up no-no.
One of our theories is that tagging or sharing a business page on Facebook is basically a word-of-mouth business referral, where the credibility of the referral is more often than not attached to the referrer, not the business. When the business referral is only given because the referrer wants to win some unrelated prize, then the referral is worthless and unreliable. The connection to the business promotion or the good story of the business is lost on the audience. Not a far atrych to see how, eventually, Facebook's credibility as a social information source would be considered by the masses to be untrustworthy and unreliable.
You can still ask your audience to share your page and tag their friends, so long as it isn’t a condition of entry to win.
For us, it makes sense; these types of promotions use your current audience to spam and invade people’s timelines, who didn’t ask for it.
Is this how you really want your business represented? A "spammer"...
How might the "cheap likes" approach affect your brand?
Imagine being tagged in a product that you don’t endorse or even like, or having a business page planted on your personal timeline and encroaching your friend’s newsfeed without your permission. The effect of false referrals is negative resentment towards your brand.
You might be increasing your reach to potential customers in the short term, but you may also be increasing negative views of your brand in the long.
Breaching Facebook's Terms of Service could land you in Facebook Jail.
While this isn't literal jail, Facebook might block or remove your business page, suspending your ability to post, and even respond to messages – which I’m sure we don’t have to convince you is terrible news for business.
There’s no warning, there’s no set criteria as to when or how restricting your use will happen - it can just happen, and is done completely at Facebook’s discretion.
So whilst your use and access may not be restricted at every instance of breach, is it a risk you want to take?
Promotions you CAN run on Facebook
Facebook isn’t trying to stop you from using fun or competitive promotions on their platform, in fact they offer a variety of suggestions such as:
Comment and post
Game of chance
Game of skill or merit
Of course, you can always use paid third party apps to run your competitions on Facebook.
Competition Terms & Conditions
You are responsible and accountable for the terms and conditions regarding your Facebook promotion.
Facebook will not take responsibility for any part of your promotion, in any way, shape or form. If you breach the competition rules of your country, state or territory – it’s all on you.
To comply with Facebook policies on running competitions, you need to publish your competition terms and conditions which, at minimum, include the following:
Offer and eligibility, i.e. who can enter your competition (age and residency)
Competition period – when does it start and finish (open and close date and time)
Clearly state the competition rules - how to enter, how many times customers can enter, describe the prize
Inform entrants how winners will be chosen and contacted
Acknowledgement that Facebook is not in anyway connected to your competition
Once you’ve got that settled, you can see that including all these terms and conditions in your Facebook post will use up a lot of space, and make your post look ‘unattractive’.
To keep your post nice and succinct we recommend creating a page on your website with the terms and conditions and sharing that link in your Facebook post.
If you don't have a website, then keep your competition terms and conditions at the end of your post. Not only will your post look nicer, your competition will look credible, you’ll be compliant with Facebook policies AND you’re driving traffic to your website. Win, win, win, WIN!
Know the laws in your State or Territory
Each State and Territory in Australia may have their own laws and guidelines around online competitions and promotions, and it’s up to you to understand them.
Raffles, bingo, lucky envelopes, sweeps, footy doubles can all be considered a type of trade promotion lottery.
A trade promotion lottery is any scheme that gives away prizes by any means that include an element of chance at any stage. Even if partially skills-based, it still has to be conducted in accordance with the applicable laws and regulations of each relevant state or teritory.
The laws differ from state to state and also for different types of competitions and prizes so it's always a good idea to get advice about the rules and your responsibilities. As a starting point, you can find more information about running trade promotions and whether you need a licence or a permit to run your competition, from the relevant covernment agencies:
Marketing consultants (like us!!) often interact with these rules and can assist you with your social media marketing promotions. If you are a nerd and would like help finding the actual legislation, then send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will happily assist you.
If you would like to know about running competitions on Facebook or get help in developing your social media strategy, chat with us today!
And because we love helping you succeed, feel free to download our infographic to help you create your next Facebook competition.
NOTICE: The information in this post is intended to be used as general guidance and information and is not intended to be used or considered as legal advice or create a legal relationship.