Facebook Giveaways: 5 Reasons Not to Ask for Likes, Comments, and Shares

5 Reasons NOT to ask for Facebook Likes as Giveaway EntriesWho doesn’t want more Likes on their Facebook Page? We all want to grow our communities, show we have influence, and, yeah, have the numbers to back it up. Hosting a Facebook giveaway or contest is an easy way to boost your Likes. Most of us have done it at some point (including me). But there are some possible side effects of requiring Page Likes as an entry that you may not have considered.

What are the issues? Glad you asked. Here are five reasons not to use Facebook functions in your giveaways.

1. You can’t track your new Page Likes easily or effectively.

Now that you have your new Page Likes, how are you going to track them? Facebook doesn’t give you an easy way to see who all your new Likes are. You can check your Admin Panel at the top of your fan page and scroll through everyone, but is that efficient? Do you have the time it will take to match up each of your new Likers with each of your giveaway entries on your blog? Don’t forget you’ll have to make a note of the entrants who said they Liked your page, but didn’t actually do it, then you’ll need to disqualify that entry. This is starting to sound like an administrative nightmare to me. (And wait until you get to #3 — it really messes things up.) You can get around this if you use a third-party app like Shortstack instead of hosting the giveaway on your Page Timeline.

2. Your new Page Likes aren’t engaged fans.

Likes are a vanity metric. They simply aren’t as important as engagement. The people who Like your page because of an incentive to win a prize are there for one reason:  they just want to get another entry from you. They aren’t interested in what you have to say long-term. The majority are not going to come back to your page to comment, like, or share something you post that isn’t a giveaway. Even worse, they may not bother to unlike your page, but instead may hide your updates or mark them as spam in the news feed. That definitely won’t help your fan page efforts. Keep in mind that Facebook is looking at how many Likes you have and the engagement rate (how many people are interacting on your page). These drive-by Likes have inflated your number and lowered your engagement and that can affect how many people see your updates. If you’re not being seen by most of your fans, then you lose more engagement. When you lose more engagement, you lose more visibility. It’s a vicious circle. But there is a bigger problem, and that’s number 3.

3. Some entrants who take advantage of the Page Like entry use fake Facebook accounts.

That’s right. People who are saying they Like your page may not be doing it from their real Facebook accounts. That means a) you can’t track the Likes effectively (#2 above), b) your new fans really aren’t engaged (because they aren’t real — #2 above), and c) those fake Likes may flag you as having an account whose fans have either been bought or obtained through other shady means — and you could lose your Facebook fan page like this lady did or like this lady did.

4. Asking for Shares is against current Facebook promotions guidelines.

The new Facebook giveaway and contest guidelines explicitly say you cannot ask people to share your update as an entry. When someone shares something it’s specifically posting it to their Timeline as an update. Since the promotions guidelines prohibit having giveaways or contests on personal Timelines, sharing is off the table.

5. Using consideration in a giveaway may be against local, state, and federal laws.

When you use any Facebook functionality (Likes, comments, tagging, etc.) as a main entry OR an optional entry to your giveaway, that is called consideration. Sara Hawkins has a good article explaining what consideration is and how to ensure your giveaways adhere to the laws that pertain to you. Here’s an important point from Sara’s article:

When it comes to bloggers, there are few things more valuable than followers. As such, requiring someone to ‘like’ you or ‘follow you’ could be construed as consideration. Even more important, asking an entrant to go to a third-party site, navigate to find a product or services and then report back to your site is even more likely to be deemed consideration and thus placing your giveaway into the classification of illegal lottery. Time is exceedingly valuable!

Please note that this article was originally posted on March 18, 2013. I updated it on December 10, 2013 to reflect the new Facebook guidelines for giveaways. I deleted any text that said you can’t use Likes as entries because that’s no longer true (but you still can’t use Shares as any entry). You’ll see some comments below that may seem out of context because they’re referring to the previous giveaway restrictions; you can ignore those if you like. (The previous Facebook guidelines were really hard to understand and caused quite a stir.)

40 Responses

    • Melanie Nelson March 19, 2013 / 3:31 pm

      Tom, I think giveaways can be useful, but they need to be strategic in order to attract the audience you’re really looking for. Not the spray and pray we usually see. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment! I really appreciate it.

    • James McAllister May 24, 2013 / 12:12 am

      Perhaps not on Facebook, but I’ve found asking people to retweet on Twitter is extremely effective. A study a while back showed that people are 12x more likely to retweet you if you simply ask them too. If that’s not an effective call to action, I don’t know what is.

      Facebook of course is different. People are more selective with what pages they follow, and are quicker to unlike them.

  1. Amber @ Classic Housewife March 18, 2013 / 2:18 pm

    Ok, Melanie, I trust you. 100%

    I stink at reading legalese, so I need to know which words say that we can’t use Facebook liking as an additional entry? The way I read it is that we can’t require any facebook action for entry, and additional entries are not required, you can enter without doing it. Is it this part? ” 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.” (<– I had previously interpreted this as "you can't have to do a facebook action to enter, and you're already entered from the blog comment before you get the extra entry for liking on FB. However, looking at it again, I see how it could mean "it can't be an entry at all." Maybe? It's so confusing.

    • Melanie Nelson March 19, 2013 / 3:34 pm

      Amber,
      I’m not sure I’m following what you’re saying. :) I’ve e-mailed with a FB rep and talked to several people who work for national brands who have FB reps assigned to them. Each agree that the FB Promotions guidelines do not allow giveaway hosts to use any FB functionality as any type of entry — neither main entry nor additional entry.

      • Georgianna August 14, 2013 / 7:42 am

        Hi Melanie,
        Thank you so much for posting this. How COULD a giveaway be done on facebook WITHOUT liking, commenting, sharing, etc? I am a new small business owner, and I would like to include giveaways to promote my products and facebook page. Thank you so much!! :)

  2. Amber @ Classic Housewife March 18, 2013 / 2:22 pm

    To add.. The “through a 3rd party app” part is equally confusing because it makes it sound like it’s okay to give extra entries for liking a page if it’s done through a 3rd pary app like Rafflecopter (which I use.) Help?!

    • Melanie Nelson March 19, 2013 / 3:40 pm

      With the 3rd-party app part, FB is referring to hosting a giveaway on Facebook itself. Rafflecopter isn’t considered a third-party app to make it OK because it’s being hosted on a blog (though I understand they may have a FB app, which would work if you’re running your giveaway via FB — I haven’t check our the Rafflecopter FB app, though).

      The way I understand is that Rafflecopter is able to ask for the confirmation of the FB like because you can host a giveaway that is only available to current Facebook fans. The Rafflecopter entry is a confirmation that you already Like the page and so are eligible for entry. My thoughts on this are that if you are allowing entrants to enter regardless of their FB fan status (i.e., the main entry is that you leave a comment or RT something or Pin something, etc.), and an additional entry is for FB fans, then it’s not really open to just FB fans is it? I make no bones that I’m not a fan of Rafflecopter.

    • Melanie Nelson March 19, 2013 / 3:42 pm

      It’s a never-ending source of confusion, Amber, and people feel VERY strongly about it. You should read some of my mail. :) Good thing I’ve developed a tough skin. People sometimes don’t understand that I’m not judging them personally, I’m simply sharing information that I have researched.

      Thank for each of your comments. I think they brought up questions that many people still have. My main point with this article was to bring attention to the fact that giveaways with the sole purpose of gaining Likes can really hurt you in the long run.

      • Amber @ Classic Housewife March 19, 2013 / 3:59 pm

        No, I don’t think I want to read your mail, thanks. ;0) (I’m not as tough skinned!) =p
        YES, a lot of us bloggers do still have questions.
        Part of the problem is that all of Facebook’s info is particular to running the giveaway on Facebook itself, and not so clear on running the giveaway off of Facebook.. People like me need it spelled out in black and white (not legalese – ha!)

        Like you, I’m becoming less of a fan of Facebook. They make it hard for us to build community there, and us building community there is only better for them, so, pft. But I stick around.

        And one of the good things about Rafflecopter is that you *can* see all of your entries in a spreadsheet, so you *can* double check whether the winner actually did whatever they said they did to enter (because the honor system is, well, the honor system.) Maybe I lose some likes after the giveaway is over, but I have found that as I consistently offer things relevant to my content/focus, most of my new likes hang around for the content/focus I keep putting out. But, in the end, my FB page grows without the giveaways and it’s not worth breaking the rules for.

  3. rosemary (@nycstylecannoli) March 19, 2013 / 7:16 am

    Since I am not a fan of facebook anyway, I will just leave them out and use my faves of Twitter Pinterest for entries. Why does facebook make it so easy to not like them? Does facebook own rafflecopter which is why they allow it? would not be surprised ……So so not a fan but thanx for the info and my readers will b glad for one less thing to do to enter a giveaway!!

    • Melanie Nelson March 19, 2013 / 3:44 pm

      Rosemary,

      I’ll admit that it’s getting harder for me to defend Facebook. They are getting dangerously close to jumping the shark for regular users (marketers, on the other hand, are loving the direction right now).

      Facebook does not own Rafflecopter.

    • Melanie Nelson March 19, 2013 / 3:44 pm

      I did. I addressed that in my answer to one of your earlier comments (but you wouldn’t have seen it yet b/c I’m just getting around to answering everyone!). :)

  4. melissa {persnickety plates} March 20, 2013 / 1:56 pm

    Great article – thanks for the heads up! I will be hosting a giveaway for a company next week that requested FB as an entry. I’m going to share this with them. So is Pinterest/Twitter/Instagram still safe? What type of entries do you find to be best?

    • Melanie Nelson March 20, 2013 / 3:38 pm

      Melissa,

      I’m not as familiar with the Twitter/Pinterest/Instagram TOS, so you’ll definitely want to read up on those. As far as types of entries, it depends on what your goal is. I think the social entries are usually drive-by traffic and don’t generate meaningful leads. But then, giveaways are more about advertising than generating leads, I think. If that’s the goal, then certainly get the word out via social would achieve that.

  5. Carmen Neutral March 25, 2013 / 3:16 pm

    I am relatively new to blogging, and find your website really helpful. Thanks for cutting out the jargon, and simplifying the “how-tos”.

    • Melanie Nelson April 17, 2013 / 7:43 pm

      Carmen – I’m so glad you found the post useful. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

      • Beth November 13, 2013 / 11:06 am

        Hey there,

        If I were to help a brand with a campaign and had an idea where people could grab a photo from the brand page and tag their friends- is that legal? I don’t think it’s legal for people to directly tag a photo on the brand page, but if they download the photo and put it in their own gallery does that make it okay?

        FB regulations change all the time so I’m never sure what’s still allowed.

        • Melanie Nelson November 13, 2013 / 11:11 am

          Beth,
          It depends on what you’re trying to do. FB *did* change their promotion guidelines and you can now ask for comments and Likes on updates or images on your wall (as opposed to using a third-party app), but you can’t ask for shares — especially if those shares are part of an entry for something. Hope that helps!

          • Beth November 13, 2013 / 11:19 am

            Is a “share” the same thing as a “tag” though?

          • Melanie Nelson November 13, 2013 / 12:16 pm

            Beth,

            The FB Promotions Guidelines (https://www.facebook.com/page_guidelines.php#promotionsguidelines) don’t state that tagging is prohibited. However, they do state that you can’t ask people to use their Timelines as an entry (i.e., they can’t share the photo to tag themselves b/c that would be in their Timelines). BUT you can set YOUR Page to allow others to tag photos on your Page. Go to the Page > Edit Page > Edit Settings > Tagging Ability.

          • Beth November 13, 2013 / 2:03 pm

            Thanks so much for your quick response! This is a great post, btw. I wish more companies realized this.

          • Melanie Nelson November 13, 2013 / 2:16 pm

            Thank you! I’m glad you came by.

  6. adam smith April 8, 2013 / 9:52 am

    Great info – important too, 9/10 of us i bet never even looked at FB guidelines – it seems so random & lawless at times – thanks ;)

    • Melanie Nelson April 17, 2013 / 7:44 pm

      Adam – It’s really true. There are a LOT of people who don’t even know Facebook has guidelines for these things. G+ and other platforms do too.

  7. Christin April 17, 2013 / 6:48 pm

    I notice people that get in trouble with Facebook for doing such giveaways claim Facebook is “accusing” them of buying likes that they didn’t buy.

    However, if you are running a giveaway, especially a Paypal CASH giveaway, and you have an optional entry of a “Facebook Like”, THAT is buying likes. You’re enticing someone to “like” your page in exchange for a chance to win some cash. Good stuff and well worth the sharing. Thanks!

    • Melanie Nelson April 17, 2013 / 7:42 pm

      Thanks for stopping by, Christin. Facebook giveaways are one of those things that really brings out the passion in everyone, aren’t they?

  8. Cherie @ incherieswords.com July 29, 2013 / 12:06 pm

    I absolutely agree. I hate having to like FB pages for big name companies as well, just to enter a contest. I was also unaware that FB had policies in place for things like this. Thank you very much for sharing. I’ve learned something and tweeted this for others to learn as well.

  9. Patricia Thiel August 4, 2013 / 2:09 pm

    I haven’t tried ‘give-aways’ on Facebook, but I did was put out an offer: want a brochure in your mailbox? register and then my website. I wonder if that’s ok or not, hmmm

  10. Mandy Lake September 6, 2013 / 1:34 pm

    I have just done a giveaway on Facebook, and I wish I had found your article sooner, but it was so helpful. Thank you!

  11. Jane October 16, 2013 / 9:39 pm

    Hi Melanie,
    Thanks for the great article! I’m a still a bit confused (and a bit paranoid now of making a mistake and losing my page). I’m hoping you can clarify if it’s ok to run an ad on facebook with my blog URL that states “On my blog I share art tips, my latest paintings, and upcoming events. If you “follow” my blog you’ll automatically be entered to win a painting!”
    I really want to make sure I’m not breaking any rules before I run this ad!
    I appreciate any input on this – thanks!
    Jane

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