This post was originally published in 2011 and discussed the intricacies of the original Facebook Promotions Guidelines. This was a hot topic because the guidelines were widely misunderstood and very rarely followed. Thankfully, in August, 2013 Facebook updated their promotions guidelines to be much more lenient and easier to understand. I’ve updated this article to reflect those changes. You can read the original here.
Do I Still Have to Use a Third-Party App?
Nope. You’re no longer required to host a Facebook giveaway or contest via a third-party application, but you can if you want to. Apps still make it easier to keep track of your entries, choose a winner, and build your email list among other things. I particularly like Shortstack for customized apps.
Can I Ask for Likes Now?
Yep. But you can’t ask for shares. The new guidelines say:
“Promotions may be administered on Pages or within apps on Facebook. Personal Timelines must not be used to administer promotions (ex: ‘share on your Timeline to enter’ or ‘share on your friend’s Timeline to get additional entries’ is not permitted).”
I don’t see anything there that says you can’t ask for Page Likes. You can definitely ask for Likes on a Page status update now. What you cannot do is ask people to share the update. Why? Because you can’t have a giveaway on your personal Timeline, you can only have one on your Page Timeline. When you ask someone to share something, then it’s going out into their personal Timeline and, since you can’t have a giveaway on your personal Timeline . . . well, you get the idea. But the bright side is that when your fans Like your update, that action shows up in their feed, not as an update, but as an action (a by-product of that nice frictionless sharing Facebook brags about; you see it with other apps too like Spotify, Pinterest, and Instagram). Even though you can ask for Likes as an entry now, I do caution you to consider your overall goals for giveaways and contests and consider why asking for Likes as a conditional entry may not be a great idea for long-term fan growth.
Did Anything Stay the Same?
Yes. You’re still responsible for
- making sure you have clearly accessible official rules, including terms and eligibility
- complying with state and national rules and regulations for promotions and prizes
- including a “complete release of Facebook” so people know that Facebook is in no way associated with or responsible for your promotion
Before you host your next Facebook giveaway or contest be sure to read the full promotions guidelines because they change without notice.