Part 1 – What Social Media Agencies Don’t tell you – The perils of running competitions on Facebook

Social Media Marketing that typical agencies don’t often talk about or let’s say ignore conveniently. Because, Social Media is a new canvas and experiments are always happening, it is fair for us to assume things but there are certain times when you need to understand what the guidelines are.

You disagree or not – it’s a fact that when brands embrace social media, they’re taking a huge risk putting all of their valuables out there in the open.

Good social media campaigns,  would definitely get the returns by multiples, no doubt. But they shouldn’t ignore the risks, rather proactively understand them and figure out strategies to curb them before they unfold the evil part.

Okay, so let’s talk about a common mistake,  social media agencies do these days.

Running competitions on facebook is not allowed.

Today, you see almost every brand jumping in on facebook,  kicking it off with a competition. All sorts of it.

Comment to win.

Upload your funny picture to win.

Take this poll to win.

There are just so many these days, and reality is that many are running them successfully and getting away with it. Even big brands.

So, what’s the point ? The hard fact is that NONE of these competitions are actually allowed to be run on facebook. Yes, you read that right. NONE.

According to Facebook guidelines,
“You will not administer a promotion through Facebook, including operation of any element of the promotion, such as collecting entries, conducting a drawing, judging entries, or notifying winners.”

This includes any sort of competition,  that promises the members of a prize, asking them to take actions, spreading messages and even participating in competitions.

7 points you must ensure when running competitions on Facebook.

1 – You will not administer a promotion through Facebook, except through an application on the Facebook Platform.

2 – You will only allow users to enter the promotion in the following locations:

a) On the canvas page of the application.

b) On the application box in a tab on a Facebook Page

3 – You need to put standard terms and conditions in place “This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook. You are providing your information to [disclose recipient(s) of information] and not to Facebook. The information you provide will only be used for [disclose any way that you plan to use the user's information].”

4 – Acknowledge that the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.

5 – To grant entry into a competition, an interested user can “Like” a page, but he cannot be considered for entry through other means like commenting on the wall, uploading a picture etc.

6- You cannot: Notify the winners through Facebook, such as through Facebook messages, chat, or posts on profiles or Pages.

7 – You cannot: Instruct people (in the rules or elsewhere) to sign up for a Facebook account,  before they enter the promotion.

So that pretty much says that you CANNOT run competitions of any sort (as much as we know about competitions) on facebook. But the good part is that you can, if you package it well into an application and make sure that the guidelines are met.

Oops ! So, what about all those folks who’re running those “Like us to win a trip to Paris” competitions ?

Well, they just got through,  luckily. Facebook doesn’t (unfortunately or fortunately) have the resources now to police all the activity and take actions accordingly. And we don’t think they will focus more on this.

But there have been instances when successful competitions,  have been shut down overnight due to non-compliant issues. And brands have lost money, worse even their credibility and reputation. Not good,  isn’t it ?

Well the idea is that Social Media agencies and consultants should know the seriousness of such issues and act proactively without jeopardizing the brands reputation on Social Media.

Luckily, some agencies do.


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Comment by Joseph Little on February 28, 2011 at 10:15am

Actually:  From http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=468776644821&id=103814...

Thursday, 02 December 2010 at 15:33


We have some exciting updates regarding the administration of promotions on Facebook:

  1. We no longer require prior written Facebook approval to administer a promotion on Facebook.
  2. We no longer require a minimum media spend threshold to support the promotion.

As a result of these changes, you can now run a promotion on Facebook without seeking approval or permission from Facebook.


Please note that any promotion you administer is still subject to our Promotion Guidelines , and that these guidelines require that the promotion be administered onFacebook Platform.  As a result, in addition to complying with our Promotion Guidelines, promotions on Facebook must also comply with our Facebook Platform Policies .


While promotions must continue to adhere to our policies, we think this update will create new opportunities for brands and developers on Facebook Platform. 


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