Win This on Facebook*

*no purchase necessary, void where prohibited

By Kimberly Moniz (@kimmiekm)


Hosting a contest on Facebook seems like a great way to engage fans and attract lots of new people to your brand’s Page. In Facebook’s early days, we saw contests cropping up all the time, but at the end of last year, the folks at Facebook created contest guidelines that have made hosting promotions a tricky business. You can sift through the entire promotions guide online here, but these are some of the most important and relevant rules for brands:

Administering the Contest:

  • You are only allowed to host a contest as an application – on the canvas page of an application or on an application box in a tab on a Fan Page. A canvas page is the main page of the application that the user sees each time they click on your app.
  • You cannot notify winners through Facebook, such as through Facebook messages, chat, or posts on profiles or Pages.
  • You cannot condition entry to the contest upon taking any action on Facebook – for example, updating a status, posting on a profile or Page or uploading a photo.
  • But, you may condition entry to the promotion upon becoming a fan of a Page.

Promoting the Contest:

  • You can never directly or indirectly indicate that Facebook is a sponsor of the promotion or mention Facebook in any way in the rules or materials relating to the promotion.

General Contest Rules:

  • The promotion must comply with all federal and state laws and industry rules.
  • The contest cannot be marketed to people under the age of 18 and you can’t be promoting alcohol, tobacco, firearms, gambling or gasoline. Yes, you read that correctly, gasoline.

If you read the rules in their entirety you’ll see that many of the guidelines can be avoided if you host your contest through a third party application. For instance, one of the rules is that seven days prior to the promotion’s start date, you must submit contest details to your account representative. Account representatives are only assigned to those who spend $10,000 per month on Facebook advertising. But, if you run your contest on a third party application, this rule doesn’t apply.

A third party application is a program written to work within Facebook, but it is developed by a company or person not affiliated with Facebook. So if you host your contest on a third party application (like Wildfire) and use Facebook Connect, you can get around this rule.

There has definitely been some buzz around Facebook contests and the excessive guidelines.  What do you think – are the rules too complicated and limiting to make hosting a promotion on Facebook worth it?  Or are the rules workable and necessary now that Facebook has grown?

1 Response to “Win This on Facebook*”


  1. 1 Andrew June 25, 2010 at 6:41 pm

    It’s all pretty much a sham for liability’s sake. I heard someone yesterday call Facebook “the biggest little company in the world,” and they haven’t done their due diligence to make sure they themselves can adequately enforce these rules, and actually make it simple to create a “by the book” Facebook promo. It just breeds non-compliance and gives agency folk headaches in the process, in this person’s humble opinion


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