Guest Post: In 2013, Many Businesses Are Still Running Illegal Contests on Facebook

This is a guest post by IronMonk cofounder Amine Rahal.

It still amazes me today that so many businesses are — unknowingly? — running illegal contests and promotions on their Facebook fan pages.

Fan page owners don’t seem to know that you can’t just post a message on your wall and call it a contest. Facebook has put out some strict guidelines when it comes to running promotions, giveaways and sweepstakes on a fan page.

Is this the result of businesses hiring inexperienced social media managers? Or is this the result of Facebook being too shy about enforcing its guidelines? Regardless, as a fan page owner, you should know that breaching these rules can actually get you banned from the big social network. If you don’t want to risk that, keep reading.

This is what you have to remember when it comes to running legal contests/promotions on Facebook:

1. Release Facebook from Any Responsibility

This is an important one. Somewhere on your contest tab, it should clearly say: “This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook. You are providing your information to [Company Name] and not to Facebook.” or something similar. This lets your users know that this promotion or contest has nothing to do with Facebook, Inc. It is only hosted by Facebook — the same way that HostGator or GoDaddy might host your website, but not necessarily endorse what you’re putting on it.

If you fail to put this phrase somewhere on your tab, you are already breaching one of the main Facebook promotion guidelines.

2. Your Contest Should NOT involve a Facebook Native Action (e.g. Like, Share, Comment)

This is the killer rule. You should not require your users to “Like”, “Comment” or “Share” your post in order to enter your contest. Similarly, you should not ask users to “Like” their favorite comment, picture or video as a voting mechanism. Finally, you should not notify winners through Facebook (e.g. by sending them a Facebook message, comment or post on their profile).

Pretty straightforward, huh? You might be thinking: “Well how the heck am I supposed to run a contest if all these actions are illegal?” This brings to our third point.

3. Run Your Contest or Promotion through a Third-Party App

It’s not a coincidence that so many third-party app providers have been popping up lately. They are well aware that Facebook forbids fan page owners from running contests through their wall. Most big facebook app developers have already developed ready-to-run apps for popular contest such as photo/video contests, sweepstakes, quizzes, trivias, etc., and if they don’t have the app you need, they can always develop it for you at an extra cost.

You can view the full Facebook guidelines for promotions here. The next time you run a contest through your fan page, make sure you’re playing by the rules.

Amine is the co-founder of IronMonk solutions, an online marketing agency that uses social media marketing and search engine optimization to improve its clients’ online presence and sales. Since its foundation, IronMonk has helped over 100 clients improve their traffic and sales.

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