Understanding Facebook Promotions Guidelines

Facebook Promotions

There are few better ways to increase buzz and drive new fans to your Facebook Page than with a well-thought out contest or promotion.

Yet, when it comes to running Facebook promotions, most brands fall into one of two categories:

  • Play Stupid (Guidelines? What Guidelines?)
  • Don’t Play (Screw this, I’m not messing with it!)

Everyone’s confused. Even big brands are regularly breaking the rules. So the purpose of this blog post is to break down the Facebook Promotions Guidelines so that you can comfortably and successfully run promotions on your Facebook Page.

The Facebook Promotion Guidelines haven’t been updated since May 11, 2011, so the issue isn’t that they are constantly changing. People just don’t want to read them. Let’s cover the main points.

1. You are responsible for the lawful operation of that promotion

If you use Facebook to communicate about or administer a promotion, you are responsible for the lawful operation of that promotion, including the official rules, offer terms and eligibility requirements (e.g., age and residency restrictions), and compliance with regulations governing the promotion and all prizes offered in connection with the promotion (e.g., registration and obtaining necessary regulatory approvals).

In other words: It’s up to you to make sure that your promotion not only is allowed by Facebook, but that it’s legal. Facebook wants nothing to do with your promotion, and wants to be sure you are fully on the hook for anything you may screw up. So be careful.

2. Must be administered within Apps on Facebook.com

Promotions on Facebook must be administered within Apps on Facebook.com, either on a Canvas Page or an app on a Page Tab.

In other words: You can’t run a promotion on your Facebook Page saying that the person who responds to your status update first wins. You need to use an app like ShortStack as the buffer between you and Facebook.

3. In no way associated with Facebook

Promotions on Facebook must include the following:
a. A complete release of Facebook by each entrant or participant.
b. Acknowledgment that the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.
c. Disclosure that the participant is providing information to [disclose recipient(s) of information] and not to Facebook.

In other words: Like I said, Facebook doesn’t want to be connected in any way with your promotion. It’s on you. Once again, third party apps designed for running promotions often have some canned language here, or you can simply pull from these points above.

4. Must not use Facebook features or functionality

You must not use Facebook features or functionality as a promotion’s registration or entry mechanism. For example, the act of liking a Page or checking in to a Place cannot automatically register or enter a promotion participant.

In other words: This sounds confusing, but it simply means that you need an entry form within the third party application that you’re using. You can’t simply pull from a list of people who Like your Page or have checked into your Place.

Take a look at these template apps as examples. You can hold photo contests or video contests or story contests, but it all needs to live within the third party application.

5. Must not condition registration or entry upon the user taking any action using any Facebook features

You must not condition registration or entry upon the user taking any action using any Facebook features or functionality other than liking a Page, checking in to a Place, or connecting to your app. For example, you must not condition registration or entry upon the user liking a Wall post, or commenting or uploading a photo on a Wall.

In other words: There isn’t much difference between this one and the one before it. This is simply a bit more specific that entry can’t be based on liking a Wall post, commenting or uploading a photo on a Wall. But it can involve activity (like submitting photos or videos) to an application. See the item above for examples.

6. Must not use Facebook features as a voting mechanism

You must not use Facebook features or functionality, such as the Like button, as a voting mechanism for a promotion.

In other words: Once again, voting functionality is fine as long as it’s within a third party application. You simply can’t use the Facebook Like or Commenting functionality within your Page as voting mechanisms.

7. Must not notify winners through Facebook

You must not notify winners through Facebook, such as through Facebook messages, chat, or posts on profiles (timelines) or Pages.

In other words: Collect their email address or phone number when they enter your promotion. You can still announce them as the winner through your Page, they simply can’t be notified through Facebook.

8. Ads may not imply a Facebook endorsement

Ads may not imply a Facebook endorsement or partnership of any kind. Ads linking to Facebook branded content (including Pages, groups, events, or Connect sites) may make limited reference to “Facebook” in ad text for the purpose of (1) fulfilling your obligations under Section 2 and (2) clarifying the destination of the ad. All other ads and landing pages may not use our copyrights or trademarks (including Facebook, the Facebook and F Logos, FB, Face, Poke, Book, and Wall) or any confusingly similar marks, except as expressly permitted by our Brand Usage Guidelines or with our prior written permission.

In other words: Have I mentioned that Facebook wants to distance itself from your promotion? Yeah, they are. Any advertising that you create should be focused on the awesomeness of the promotion, not that it’s on Facebook. And of course, don’t use the Facebook logo in those ads or act like Facebook in any way endorses the promotion (which wouldn’t be very smart).

That’s It

There are other points within the guidelines, but these are the main items you should be aware of. As long as you follow my instructions above, you’ll be fine.

Your first step should be using a third party app like ShortStack. After that, it’s pretty easy.

Have you ever run a successful promotion on your Facebook Page? Tell us what you did in the comments below!