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Facebook often changes its terms and conditions, so if you’re planning a Facebook contest in 2018, make sure you’re up to speed on their current rules.

A better idea? Don’t run your contest on Facebook.

Don’t install your contest as a “tab” or app. Don’t ask people to “comment to win” or “like to win.”

Instead, run your contest on your website and promote it on Facebook. That way you can write your own rules and get more traffic to the place you want it most: your website.

To see these rules in infographic form, scroll down.

Rule #1: Know what’s considered a “promotion” on Facebook

Promotions on Facebook typically include:

  • Entry/registration
  • Element of chance
  • Giveaway or prize

Rule #2: Know the Difference between Sweepstakes/Giveaways, Contests and Lotteries

  • Sweepstakes/Giveaway – A campaign in which a person can win a prize based on chance. No purchase, payment or other consideration* is permitted.
  • Contest – A campaign in which effort, skill or merit is required to enter to win a prize – for example, participants must post a photo, video or other content in exchange for a chance to win. The winner can be chosen at random, by voting or by judges.
  • Lottery – A lottery requires purchase, payment or other consideration, chance and a prize. Lotteries are illegal in the United States. Do not run a lottery.

Rule #3: Make it Clear that Your Contest is Completely Independent of Facebook

Recommended verbiage on your post or contest form includes:

“This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by or associated with Facebook.”

Rule #4: Post Detailed Contest Rules on a Landing Page

Official rules could include the following verbiage:

  • No purchase necessary – Why this is important to include: Requiring a purchase would make your contest a lottery; lotteries are illegal in the U.S.
  • Purchase does not enhance chance of winning
  • Void where prohibited – Why this is important to include: This clause allows you to avoid awarding your prize to someone who cannot win based on restrictions imposed where they live.
  • Details regarding non-monetary consideration
  • The identity of the host/promotion
  • Entry procedures and beginning/ending times, including time of day and time zone
  • Eligibility requirements – Why this is important to include: If you have restrictions, such as age or residency, include specifics in your rules to prevent a 16-year-old from entering to win a prize he or she could not use, such as an airline ticket or hotel stay.
  • An explanation of all methods of entry
  • A clear description of the prize(e) – Why this is important to include: In the U.S., some states have strict regulations regarding prize description. Be sure you’re familiar with them.
  • Date winner(s) will be chosen
  • Judging criteria should be clear and sponsor should be able to show how the winner was determined based on objective criteria. If you spell out, in advance, how the winner will be chosen, people are less likely to accuse you of giving preferential consideration.
  • Method of selecting a winner – Why this is important to include: To avoid any appearance of impropriety, it is recommend that sponsors avoid conducting their own drawings or determining the winners of their contests.
  • Publicity rights regarding use of Participant’s information and content. Sponsor should obtain written consent from Entrant to ensure compliance with state laws.
  • Explicit permission from users regarding use of any user-generated content (UGC) they create in order to enter your contest – Why this is important to include: If you plan to use UGC on your website or in other marketing materials secure rights and keep record of users’ permission.
  • Liability limitations
  • Odds of winning
  • Your physical address

Rule #5: Know the actions Facebook forbids

You can ask or encourage people to Like and follow your Page in order to receive contest updates and winner announcements.

  • Never force anyone to share your contest on a personal timeline. People may choose to share your contest on their own Timelines, but you cannot require them to do so.
  • “Share on your Timeline to enter.” Instead, use contest software with “refer-a-friend” features to award extra points for sharing.
  • “Share on your friend’s Timeline to get additional entries.” Instead, use contest software with “refer-a-friend” features to award extra points for sharing.
  • “Tag your friends in this post to enter.” Instead, create an engaging contest that people want to share with their friends.
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* Note that “consideration” is anything of value a person must give up in order to participate. Some states have determined that providing contact information, which could be used for marketing purposes, is consideration.

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