Facebook Contests: You’re Doing It Wrong

Are you sure you’re following Facebook rules with your contest? Find out how to run a contest correctly.

By Caroline Jorgensen

It continues to astound us just how many major companies and brands break Facebook rules by hosting contests on their page.

Oh, we love contests — they’re a great way to spark interaction and conversation. If the prize is good enough, new followers will flock and your brand gets all sorts of free and fast exposure. But you have to play by the rules. And that means learning the rules before you launch a contest instead of doing it the way “everyone is doing it.”

Facebook’s fine print has all sorts of restrictions on contests that can get yours shut down if you’re not careful. Just ask the Florida Strawberry Festival, which had to remove its contest from its Facebook page last week.

Their page managers took the high road in handling the contest change, but the resulting comments must have been discouraging.

So what kinds of contests are OK and what are not? Here’s the deal, folks. You CAN host a contest on Facebook, but you just need to do it right. Here are some important Facebook contest “dos” to keep in mind:

  • DO read the Facebook rules. I know they are not fun and are bound to change. But if you oversee a Facebook page for a brand, it is your responsibility to know what is or is not allowed on this platform, especially if it changes.
  • DO use a third-party application. This is the only way Facebook will allow you to host a contest. If you use an app like this, the contest can then be kept on a separate tab on your Facebook page.
  • DO make contests easy to enter. Sure, get creative and offer a fantastic prize. But don’t make it hard to enter with multiple steps and complicated entry expectations. Your followers will give up, no matter how great your prize is.
  • DO promote your contest on Facebook, but don’t ask for comments or likes to be entered in the contest. Once again, you CAN have a contest on Facebook, but you can’t ask anyone to “like” or comment on a post to win something. Every step needs to happen on that separate tab.
  • DO have an experienced Facebook administrator run your Facebook page. Does running a Facebook contest seem more complicated that you expected? If you answered yes, then you might understand the value of an experienced Facebook administrator or community manager. Posting to your personal page on Facebook differs significantly from posting as a brand. Don’t trust your company’s reputation to someone who “knows” Facebook. Trust it to professionals who make it their business to run Facebook pages and Facebook contests correctly and successfully on a regular basis.

Still thinking that you might be able to push your luck and run a contest the “old-fashioned way” on your Facebook page? You’re obviously not alone. We see it daily in our news feeds. But remember that if you host a contest on your page, and not on a separate tab, you are risking having your Facebook page suspended. It is time to decide who you want running your marketing on social media, if they are doing it right and if risking your brand is worth chances.

Caroline Jorgensen is a writer and community manager for BallywhoSocial. You can find her on Twitter @morningsidemom or follow our BallywhoSocial account for social media tips, news and more @BallywhoSocial.

One thought on “Facebook Contests: You’re Doing It Wrong

  1. Wow, they sure take the fun out of little mini-promos with all the restrictive legalese. Great post. A friend recently ran an incredibly successful Facebook promo for a small biz, and I think he broke a few of the rules, and by “few”, of course I mean “all”… of them! =)

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