facebook like If your brand is looking to increase your presence and engagement on Facebook, running a contest or promotion may be the answer. However, it is very important to familiarize yourself with Facebook’s official rules regarding sweepstakes, promotions, and contests. It’s usually easy to just skip over the fine print, but this is not the time to do it.

Many of the contests you see on Facebook are actually illegal. Luckily for those people and companies, Facebook has not (yet) been very aggressive in enforcing the rules. Facebook’s guidelines are fairly strict, but you need to follow them: if your brand’s page violates the official rules, Facebook has the right to shut down or permanently delete your page.

Don’t be scared away from creating promotions on Facebook however—paying attention to the following rules and recommendations will ensure your promotion is engaging, successful, and legal. 

The Rules

Include the fine print: When you create a contest or sweepstakes on Facebook, you and your company are accepting full legal responsibility. Therefore, you must ensure that you clearly state official rules and eligibility, and that you are not breaking any laws. Logically, the product or service being promoted has to be yours, as an authorized merchant or manufacturer.

Likes can't be used to pick winners: A basic, but overlooked rule for contests: simply liking your page or checking in to your brand’s location cannot automatically enter a user into your promotion. Another very common violation is that you cannot use any Facebook feature/functionality as a voting mechanism. This means that having the winner chosen by whichever post or photo receives the most likes is illegal.

Request contact info: It is also important to make sure that your entry form includes some type of contact information such as the user’s phone number or email address, because you are not allowed to contact winners directly through Facebook.

Use an App: Promotions must use Apps on Facebook (either a canvas page or page app) and state that Facebook itself has nothing to do with the contest. If creating your own app for the promotion isn’t feasible, you still have plenty of options. Depending on the popularity of your page, you may be able to use the app service for free. Compare prices and features to choose which app makes the most sense for your brand. For instance, Shortstack offers free pages, sweepstakes, and “fan-only” content to pages with under 2,000 likes so it is a good option to experiment with for small businesses or those just starting out on Facebook. Wildfire, by Google, is one of the most popular app choices and offers a promotions-only package.

Where You Can Get Creative 

Beyond following the legal requirements, there are several creative and fun things your brand can do to make your Facebook contest effective.

A Great Prize: The prize or reward being offered should equate to the value of your product. For example, few fans of an airline’s page will get excited about an offer for $10 off their next flight. However, a pizza company offering fans the chance to win a free large pizza, valued at $10, will be received well. You can increase user engagement by allowing multiple entries—such as 1 per day—in order to repeatedly entice fans to your page. 

Fisher-Price's contest asked fans to submit visuals showing "moments of joy."

Fan Participation: More complicated contests, which require entrants to submit content like a photo or video, offer pros and cons. The higher entry barrier means fewer participants. However, those who enter are likely closer to your ideal target audience and they will be more likely to share your content as they encourage their friends to vote for their entry.

Fisher-Price ran a Facebook contest in December 2012 using this strategy. Facebook fans were asked to submit a photo, video, or story showing a “moment of joy” with their child, for the chance to win $1,000 worth of Fisher-Price toys or one of twenty weekly prizes, a $100 gift card. Fans were also encouraged to stay engaged with the page because they could enter up to 5 times per week. Fisher-Price has utilized the content received by creating a Moments of Joy page within their Facebook account.

 williams sonoma facebook contest  

Williams-Sonoma is currently running a promotion that is being advertised on Facebook, Twitter, and their web site.

Multi-Channel Promotion: If your brand has a strong presence on other social media sites, consider running a cross-promotional sweepstakes. This could involve submitting contest entries on another platform (like photos to Instagram) or simply promoting entry on multiple platforms. Think about what communities your fans are most active on before committing to this option. You should also promote your contest on your own website.

For example, Williams-Sonoma is currently running a sweepstakes on their Facebook page, offering the winner a trip to Morocco. The sweepstakes is also promoted on the front page of their website and supported by tweets about Moroccan cooking on their Twitter page. Williams-Sonoma is following Facebook rules by clearly linking to Official Rules on the entry page, in addition to the other guidelines mentioned earlier.

Don’t forget that although you can’t automatically enter fans in a contest for liking your page, you can give away a discount or promo code to all fans in exchange for liking your page. You can also choose to run a promotion or contest through your own website and simply promote it on Facebook. This drives traffic directly to your site without violating any of Facebook’s restrictions.

Facebook contests can be an effective way to increase your social media presence and draw in your audience when done correctly. For more ideas about reaching your target   audience and how to create a focused content strategy, download our white paper 10 Content Marketing Strategies to Help Brands Reach Moms.

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