Please Don't do a Facebook Contest Without Educating Yourself First

Head in Hands

 Over the past year I've seen more and more small businesses using Facebook to promote their products and services. Because, as everyone knows, Facebook is magic and all you need to do is set up a page and BAM--sales start pouring in, right?

Sigh.

I won't even go there, but honestly, in one regard I am in a near-constant cringe mode when it comes to small business's use of Facebook: contests. Everyone likes to win stuff, right, so what better way to both promote your products/services than a Facebook contest--you get a ton of "likes"and your fans win a prize, so everyone wins. Actually, that's not true....a business stands to lose big if they do Facebook contests the wrong way. And yes, there is absolutely a wrong way of doing a Facebook contest--and doing one the wrong way can result in Facebook deleting your page.

I wrote this same post almost a year ago on the SocialFish blog, but I can't help but write it again because I'm seeing so many companies doing Facebook contests in a way that violates Facebooks Promotions Guidelines--seriously, not a day goes by recently where I don't see a brand doing a Facebook contest....and almost all done by small businesses are being done in a way that could result in those pages getting deleted. I just sent a private message to a brand I love that does a fantastic job with Facebook engagement....and also frequently does contests in a way that violates the guidelines. I felt like a know-it-all saying "hey, just fyi, did you know about these promotions guidelines? Please don't let your page get deleted" but I'd feel worse if their page did, in fact, end up getting deleted.

So, in the spirit of awareness, if you run a Facebook page for your business or see a brand you follow on Facebook doing a contest the wrong way, PLEASE know the following and/or let  the brand know:

  • Be aware of Facebook's Guidelines that deal with promotions. Yes, there are rules about how you can do contests on Facebook.
  • Promotions on Facebook must be administered within Apps on Facebook.com, either on a Canvas Page or an app on a Page App. This means that if you want to run a contest on Facebook, you either have to know how to develop a Facebook app or pay someone to do it for you, or use a third-party contest app.
  • You cannot use Facebook features or functionality as a promotion’s registration or entry mechanism. Thinking of doing a contest where you post something, tell fans to "like" it, and at the end of the day you'll pick one "liker" to win? Or asking fans to upload a photo to your page and you'll pick a winner? Both violate Facebook's guidelines and running your contest that way can get your page deleted.
  • You must not use Facebook features or functionality, such as the Like button, as a voting mechanism for a promotion. See my comment on #3 above. The “like” button is not a contest entry system.
  • You must not notify winners through Facebook, such as through Facebook messages, chat, or posts on your page's timeline. So please, no "drumroll please" or "congrats to our lucky winner!" posts that announce the winners....unless it's after the fact and you're just letting the rest of your fans know who won.
Honestly, I am not trying to be a know-it-all with this post--I am just trying to help because this is no joke--Facebook WILL delete your page over this. I can't even tally the number of contests done wrong that I've seen over the past month alone...obviously people using Facebook to promote their businesses are not aware that there are rules when it comes to Facebook contests.

Photo by Alex E. Proimos on Flickr