New Rules for Facebook Contests

Earlier this month, Facebook announced a new set of promotional guidelines for running contests through Facebook. There are a lot of don’ts on this list – including things that were previously common practice to build fans and get people talking about your brand. Here’s the rundown on the new rules.

Facebook, changing things up once againThe Basics

  • You can’t ask someone to create Facebook content to enter (unless it’s through a third party app)
  • You must have express written permission from Facebook to put on any contest
  • Facebook has laid out specific industries and geographies that cannot be included – and no one under 18 can be eligible
What’s Not Allowed
  • Status update contests (where someone enters by updating their status)
  • Photo upload contests (where someone enters by uploading a photo)
  • Become a Fan contests (where someone is automatically entered by becoming a fan of the page)
  • Any kind of contest that requires commenting on or responding to items in the News Feed
  • Anything that requires purchase of a product or “completion of a lengthy task”
  • Contests engaging those under the age of 18

Specific prohibitions from the Facebook official guidelines:

You may not publicize or administer a promotion on Facebook if:2.1 The promotion is open or marketed to individuals who are under the age of 18;

2.2 The promotion is open to individuals who reside in a country embargoed by the United States;

2.3 The promotion, if a sweepstakes, is open to individuals residing in Belgium, Norway, Sweden, or India;

2.4 The promotion’s objective is to promote any of the following product categories: gambling, tobacco, dairy, firearms, prescription drugs, or gasoline;

2.5 The prize or any part of the prize includes alcohol, tobacco, dairy, firearms, or prescription drugs; or

2.6 The promotion is a sweepstakes that conditions entry upon the purchase of a product, completion of a lengthy task, or other form of consideration.

Prior Written Approval

Contests require prior written approval. More specifically, you must contact your account representative at Facebook to obtain this approval and expect a 7 day turn around. Don’t have an account rep? Use this contact form – but don’t expect a response unless you’re willing to spend a minimum $10,000 on advertising.

From the Facebook official guidelines:

You may not administer any promotion through Facebook, except that you may administer a promotion through the Facebook Platform with our prior written approval. Such written approval may be obtained only through an account representative at Facebook. If you are already working with an account representative, please contact that representative to begin the approval process. If you do not work with an account representative, you can use this contact form to inquire about working with an account representative.

What does this mean?

If you don’t have tens of thousands of dollars to shell out for Facebook marketing, you can use a third party application (like Wildfire) to condition entry. It’s not free, but a $5 set up fee plus $1 a day will get the basic package set up.

Or, you can run a contest using another venue and leave Facebook out of it. Which is what some people are doing. Tweet #finalfantasyxiii to unlock a secret XBOX code when the game comes out, follow @DrewFromTV and Drew Carey will donate $1 to the Livestrong Foundation, be Whole Foods’ 1 millionth follower to win a gift card… these kinds of promotions are no longer allowed on Facebook.Nathan's famous hotdog eating contest

Or… just hold a hot dog eating contest on Coney Island. Though that may be a little less than original.


Photos thanks to flickr users robleto and dietrich!

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