Facebook Giveaways & Contests: Are You Doing It Wrong?

This article was originally published in 2011. On August 27, 2013 Facebook updated their promotions guidelines. This article is simply a reference for those looking for the original information. The guidelines discussed here are not current. For current guideline discussion read Facebook Giveaways & Contests: New Guidelines In 2013.

Old Facebook Promotions GuidelinesRunning a Facebook contest or giveaway is a great way to promote your Facebook business page and possibly garner more Likes for your page. However, I’ve seen enough businesses and bloggers running Facebook promotions incorrectly, that I thought it may be time to discuss how to run one the right way. What I’ve found is that many times, these businesses and bloggers don’t know that Facebook has specific guidelines regarding how you can (and can’t) administer giveaways and contests.

Understanding the Facebook Promotions Guidelines

For the most part, the guidelines are pretty self-explanatory, but there are a few parts that can be confusing. The result is that even if you think you understand the guidelines, you may not. To help clarify the guidelines and ensure your Facebook promotions are on the up-and-up, I’m going to go through the rules line by line and explain what you need to know.

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

What it means: You can’t run a giveaway or contest on your Wall. You must use a third-party application to build and administer your promotion. Not sure where to start? Check out Shortstack.

2. 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.

What it means: Facebook wants it to be clear to you and your entrants that they are in no way part of your promotion. If you use Shortstack to create your promotion, they have some nice verbiage you can include in your giveaway that adheres to this rule.

3. 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.

What it means: This is where some people get confused. This rule is referring to the act of Like-gating content. When you create a custom Facebook tab, it’s possible to “hide” specific content from non-fans until they click Like. Upon clicking Like, the new fan can then access the hidden content. For promotions, this means that you can hide your entry form until a user clicks Like. After they click Like, they can then complete the entry form to be part of the promotion. It’s important to note that the initial Like of the page did not enter them into your promotion. They only entered the promotion when they completed your form. Rule #4 is stating that this Like-gating of your promotional content is completely acceptable as long as you don’t make the Like an entry.

4. 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.

What it means: Just because someone Likes your page or uses Facebook Places to check in to your venue, doesn’t mean that you can use their information automatically. You must use the third-party application to provide an entry form. This ensures that the entrant actually wants to enter your promotion. It also means you cannot ask people to Like your page, comment on your Wall, write a status update, or check-in to a Place as an entry to your promotion. These can’t be primary or additional entries. I’ve had some people ask if it’s OK to host a giveaway on their blog and ask people to Like a Facebook page as an additional entry. The logic is that if the giveaway isn’t hosted on Facebook, they should be able to do as they please. Unfortunately, the minute you bring Facebook into the equation, Facebook’s rules apply. It may not be the popular answer, but that’s the answer.

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

What it means: If you want to invite people to post images or video or ideas, then have people vote on them, you have to do it via a third-party app (see rule #1). You can’t ask people to Like a comment or status update in order to win a promotion or help decide who will win a promotion. Many of the third-party apps have options for voting promotions and they are fairly easy to implement.

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

What it means: You must notify your winners via private e-mail (not Facebook messsaging) or via your blog or Twitter or however you want, so long as it’s not on Facebook.

7. You may not use Facebook’s name, trademarks, trade names, copyrights, or any other intellectual property in connection with a promotion or mention Facebook in the rules or materials relating to the promotion, except as needed to fulfill your obligations under Section 2.

What it means: Make it clear that this is your promotion and yours alone. Don’t imply that Facebook has anything whatsoever to do with your promotion.

8. Definitions:
a. By “administration” we mean the operation of any element of the promotion, such as collecting entries, conducting a drawing, judging entries, or notifying winners.
b. By “communication” we mean promoting, advertising or referencing a promotion in any way on Facebook, e.g., in ads, on a Page, or in a Wall post.
c. By “contest” or “competition” we mean a promotion that includes a prize of monetary value and a winner determined on the basis of skill (i.e., through judging based on specific criteria).
d. By “sweepstakes” we mean a promotion that includes a prize of monetary value and a winner selected on the basis of chance.

What it means: These definitions are self-explanatory, but it’s important to note them. The first, administration, is particularly important. See how it refers to “collecting entries”? When you host a giveaway on your blog and ask people to Like your Facebook giveaway as an additional entry, you’re essentially collecting entries via Facebook and you can’t do that unless you’re using a third-party app on Facebook.

What Happens If I Don’t Follow the Facebook Promotions Guidelines?

So what happens if you don’t follow the rules? You could lose your page. Think about that. You lose your content (images, video, notes, status updates…everything), your community (how many fans do you have? Are you willing to rebuild that?), and your credibility (trust is what social media is built on). It doesn’t make sense to risk losing your hard-earned Facebook community when it’s so easy to create a promotion that adheres to the Facebook Promotions Guidelines. If you do lose your page, you can head over to My Facebook Page was Disabled and complete that form to try to reinstate your page.

Update #1 with Information Directly from Facebook

As you can see from the comments to this post, there is still some debate about whether I’m interpreting the Facebook Promotions Guidelines correctly. I decided to contact Facebook directly and see if they could help clarify the guidelines. I wrote in part:

“I’ve written a post outlining my own interpretation of the guidelines (https://www.bloggingbasics101.com/2011/07/running-a-successful-facebook-giveaway-or-contest/). In a nutshell, my understanding is that you cannot ask people to Like a fan page as an entry into a promotion — not as a main entry, nor as an extra entry. I understand, though, that you can Like-gate your entry form on Facebook via a third-party app (but that Like isn’t an entry, it’s a means to get to the entry form).

I’m receiving questions from those who suggest that a blog or blog application like rafflecopter (http://www.rafflecopter.com/) are basically third-party apps and, because they are asking for Likes via those options (blog or rafflecopter), the Likes are legitimate entries. That’s not how I read the guidelines, but I’d like to be sure rather than give inaccurate advice.”

I received a reply from Trace Przybylowicz, an account manager at Facebook, that said simply:
“Hi Melanie – You are correct….”

There you go. Confirmation from Facebook that this article is interpreting the Facebook Promotions Guidelines correctly. I appreciate the lively discussion and questions. And I appreciate that Facebook was able to respond to my query since I know their entire team must be incredibly busy.

Update #2 May 31, 2012

I’ve spoken with several marketing and social media managers who work for national companies. Those people have spoken directly with Facebook about best practices for promotions and how those promotions relate to blogs, and all have agreed that my interpretation and explanation of the Facebook Promotions Guidelines is correct. Here’s what they found out:

  • Can bloggers ask for Facebook Likes as an extra entry for contests or giveaways that they host on their blogs? The answer is no. You simply cannot ask for Likes as any means of entry. Not the main entry, nor as an additional entry. You can Like-gate your entry form as explained earlier in this article, but that Like is not an entry, it’s a means to get to the entry form.
  • Does an application like Rafflecopter count as a third-party application and therefore make it OK to ask for a Like as an extra entry? Again, the answer is no. Since Rafflecopter isn’t hosting your contest or giveaway (it’s just collecting the entries), it doesn’t meet the third-party app requirement outlined in the guidelines. Additionally, since Facebook has confirmed that you can’t ask for a Like as a means of entry inside or outside of Facebook, the point is moot. Rafflecopter doesn’t make it OK to ask for a Like as an entry.


192 Responses

  1. Shanna July 28, 2011 / 11:39 am

    Thank you for walking us through this information! I keep seeing companies and organizations operate “likes” as votes for contests and knew there were some stipulations, but hadn’t yet investigated all of the rules. This is very helpful

    • Melanie Nelson July 28, 2011 / 6:41 pm

      Thanks for stopping by, Shanna! I’m glad you found the article useful.

  2. Melanie July 28, 2011 / 12:51 pm

    Sorry, I’m a little confused…. When I hold a giveaway on my blog, can I say “For an extra entry, “Like” the page on Facebook and then come back to my blog and leave a comment”…?

    thank you!

    • Melanie Nelson July 28, 2011 / 1:06 pm

      Melanie, you really shouldn’t. As I stated above, once you bring Facebook into the equation, you also bring in their guidelines.

  3. PinchingAbe July 28, 2011 / 1:00 pm

    See, this is where I would not read these guidelines the way you do. You say bloggers can’t even ask entrants to like a page even as an extra entry, but the language is contradictory in#4:

    “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. ”

    Note, that says “other than liking a Page”, which tells me that we can ask people to like it, but we can’t tell them they can’t enter if they don’t like a page. By offering a like as an extra entry, we’re giving the entrant an option to do it or not, but they still get to enter the contest under the mandatory entry.

    • Melanie Nelson July 28, 2011 / 1:10 pm

      Abe, #4 is referring to Like a page as part of Like-gating, not Liking a page for an entry. In the article above I explain how Like-gating fits with contests and giveaways. What #4 is saying is that it’s OK to ask an entrant to Like your page in order to get to the entry form. You can see this in action on my Blogging Basics 101 page where I’m currently giving away a copy of iPad All-In-One for Dummies (http://on.fb.me/oSwJ7c — it will be live until the evening of 7/29). If you’re not a fan of my page already, you’ll have to Like the page in order to get to the entry form. That initial Like is not an entry into the giveaway, it’s your key to get to the entry form. Once you complete the entry form, you are entered in the giveaway. But the Like was the entry, the entry form was the entry. You only have one entry (via the form) not two (via the form and the Like). I know it can be confusing!

  4. Shannon July 28, 2011 / 1:18 pm

    Do these still apply if your saying people can get an extra entry into a giveaway by Liking a page other than your own? For instance the page of the company hosting the giveaway?

    • Melanie Nelson July 28, 2011 / 1:25 pm

      Yes, these guidelines apply in that situation as well because you’re still asking for a Like. It’s true that many companies (and bloggers) aren’t fully aware of the Facebook Promotional Guidelines and it may take some education on both sides — that’s the intent of this article.

      It’s incredibly easy to set up a FB giveaway or contest correctly (even with Like-gating so you can still get the Like — just not as an entry or additional entry). I used Shortstack.com (@shortstacklab) to set up a Like-gated giveaway this week and did it in under 15 minutes.

    • Chelsea September 30, 2011 / 4:06 pm

      Melanie, thanks for using ShortStack! We’re Free to use with up to 2,000 Page Likes. Let us know if you have any questions 🙂

    • Saloni Gandhi February 23, 2013 / 3:32 pm

      Hi when you say Like gate just to enter the Giveaway…what about the people who have already liked your page and want to enter the giveaway…will they automatically allowed to enter the giveaway….

    • Melanie Nelson February 24, 2013 / 1:46 pm

      Saloni, if you use a service like Shortstack, they allow you to Like-gate for non-fans and just show the entry form for current fans.

    • Karen March 4, 2013 / 12:57 pm

      Hi Melanie, I used a shortstack template to create contest gateways. My question is, when it comes to designing the tab image, are there any rules as to what it can say. Right now I have “Click here for contests”. Is that okay? I haven’t seen anything in the T&C or FB Guidelines that specifies what your custom tab can say. Is the tab considered a Facebook function?

      Thank you,

  5. Sarah P July 28, 2011 / 4:08 pm

    Thanks for the great post! Very easy to understand (unlike the Facebook rules themselves). There’s been much confusion so you’d like Facebook would clarify, but I guess not. I’ve stopped asking for FB likes for giveaways, but it seems lots of people interpret the rules differently. I haven’t ever heard of someone actually losing their page & it seems like lots of major companies still violate the rules, but I’d rather be safe than sorry.

    • Melanie Nelson July 28, 2011 / 6:35 pm

      Actually, there have been some page deleted because of guidelines violations, but they were based in India. It’s true that Facebook can’t police every giveaway (especially those down outside of Facebook on a blog). For me, it comes down to professional integrity. I know what the rules are and I’m in a position of providing advice to others. I feel like I’d be doing a disservice to myself and my clients if I weren’t adhering to the guidelines even if it would be easy to sidestep them.

  6. Melanie @ Mel, A Dramatic Mommy July 28, 2011 / 5:23 pm

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! My reader is FULL of giveaways with Facebook likes as entries. It’s been a real turn off and I’ve been tempted to avoid blogs I usually enjoy.

    • Melanie Nelson July 28, 2011 / 6:40 pm

      Melanie, was it you who shared my article with the Momfia? 😉 Thanks for that. Much appreciated!

  7. Brynn July 28, 2011 / 6:33 pm

    It’s funny, because I agreed with your interpretation of the guidelines when they were first published. But, to make sure I was correct in my interpretation, I had looked on other technical blogging sites that talked about this subject. There are conflicted interpretations out there. Especially about the secondary, optional entry of “liking” a page.
    To me, it seems to be more with the spirit of their guidelines to allow secondary, optional entries to enter a giveaway than it is for someone to have to like your page in order to get to the form to enter. One requires the use of Facebook to enter, while the other does not.
    So, in a nutshell, I’m more confused now than ever. But, I’ll choose to err on the side of caution, going forward.

    • Melanie Nelson July 28, 2011 / 6:39 pm

      Brynn, thanks for weighing in. This is definitely a topic that raises a lot of discussion. In fact, I’ve been discussing it with other social media professionals who also use Facebook regularly for their own brands and for their clients. We are all in agreement about the interpretation of the guidelines that I share here.

    • Brynn July 28, 2011 / 7:23 pm

      That definitely helps to know that. Thanks! There are some pretty big blogs out there that are violating these guidelines. Love your website, by the way.

  8. Leigh July 28, 2011 / 8:47 pm

    “3. 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.”

    What confuses me here are the words “registration or entry mechanism” and “automatically.” Asking someone to like a page and then comment on a blog saying you did does not use Facebook features or functionality as the registration or entry mechanism, and it does not automatically register or enter a promotion participant. In those cases, the entry into the promotion is the comment on the blog, not the “Like” on Facebook.

    • Melanie Nelson July 30, 2011 / 9:28 am

      Leigh, I disagree. The entry is the act of Liking the page, then you are telling the blogger in a comment that you Liked the page (or completed the entry mechanism). Without the Like there is no entry. If there were, you’d just have to leave a comment on the blog (regardless of Liking the page) to enter.

    • monique October 15, 2011 / 9:46 pm

      I disagree with Melanie. You say without the like there is no entry. I say the like didn’t get you entered into the contest/giveaway. You can like pages all day long and they won’t enter you into any blog giveaway that I’m aware of. When you comment back on the blog, that’s what enters you.

    • Cheryl Ann @ Pretty Charmed June 21, 2012 / 3:46 pm

      I have read through this article, and I have to say I agree with Monique and Leigh. Liking the page and THEN making a comment are no more connected than liking a page THEN filling out a form. They are both the same….except that with the third party form apparently you can add fine print that is more or less a Facebook disclaimer. What if you added that to your blog promotion?

  9. Leigh Powell Hines (@Hinessightblog) August 1, 2011 / 1:15 pm

    I wanted to ask this question, and if you could e-mail me the answer I would appreciate it. I’m going to check out shortstack, and I also understand the verbage on not being able to “like” a page. Is this also problematic?

    You must be a follower of my blog in one of these forms: e-mail, Google Reader, Twitter or Facebook.

    I’m curious. The problem with Facebook contest is that some people aren’t on Facebook so they wouldn’t be able to enter unless they opened an account because the contest is through that app.

    After typing it out, I think I may have the answer to my own question based on everything reading. I want to hear from you though.


  10. Jessica August 2, 2011 / 1:57 pm

    So are you still allowed to end your contest when you reach a certain number of fans or is that not allowed anymore?


  11. sujith August 4, 2011 / 12:09 pm

    Good article.Thanks for sharing about this rule in facebook

  12. jodifur August 5, 2011 / 11:53 am

    Thank you for explaining this so clearly. I’m pretty sure I have broken the rules before.

  13. Shelley Humble August 5, 2011 / 5:09 pm

    Thank you for this post. We are just getting our Facebook account moving forward and this has been a topic of conversation with my team. You definitely give us clarity and direction when it comes to this topic and in turn we will ensure that we will move our Facebook account forward responsibly. I will be sharing this with the team!

  14. ConnieFoggles August 6, 2011 / 12:28 am

    I’ve learned my lesson. It isn’t worth the risk of losing my Facebook page for an entry on a giveaway that I’m running. Thanks for clarifying confusing wording.

  15. Dakotapam August 6, 2011 / 11:09 pm

    Thank you. That clears things up. I had been asking for a like for a secondary entry, but I won’t any more. I don’t want to lose my page, nor do I want my clients to lsoe theirs!

  16. Becca August 8, 2011 / 2:32 pm

    Wow! I wish I knew that a few weeks ago! This is great information and I will follow the rules from here on…. Thanks!

  17. Alva August 26, 2011 / 3:32 am

    I would like to ask, when I host a giveaway on Facebook using a third-party app, can I say something like “Like our page to get access to our entry form”? Thanks!

  18. Melanie Nelson August 26, 2011 / 8:50 am

    Alva, you can say that IF you’re using a third-party app that applies the Like-gating feature as described above. Shortstack can do this.

  19. TidyMom August 31, 2011 / 2:59 pm

    So what if on my blog, for an additional entry I worded it like this….. “Let me know if you are a TidyMom fan on Facebook” ………I’m technically not telling them they have to like my fan page, but tell me if they are. Would that work?

  20. Carrie at TikiTikiBlog! September 4, 2011 / 10:08 am

    Dear goodness, I am late to this post, but thank you! I have stayed away from Facebook promotions because, well, I don’t feel like reading the fine print.

    Thank you, y gracias!

  21. Sheridan September 20, 2011 / 11:11 am

    First, THANK YOU. You should get a giant gold star.. or tiara.. or something for this post.

    Just to clarify.. if I am ok working with iframes, I can just create the “app” required to add to my pages, include whatever widget or link to how I am compiling information and post it on my page.. I don’t have to go through wildfire, etc. (assuming I have the proper verbage, required release of liability, etc also on there.) correct?

    Also, I don’t see if they have a problem with then using submitted information (as long as it is disclosed, naturally) that they will be included on a mailing list for newsletters, etc. Not to share the info with others, but to use it for whatever organization to communicate in the future.. is that still within the guidelines?

    • Melanie Nelson September 21, 2011 / 12:43 pm


      I’m glad you found the article helpful! Yes, you can build your own app via iFrames and you wouldn’t need to use something Wildfire or Shortstack. And yes, you can use the information you collect as you see fit (adding them to lists, etc.), BUT, as you point out, it’s very important to alert readers to how you’ll use their information and give them a way to opt out of being added to lists. I don’t think that’s necessarily Facebook’s policy, but it’s a good rule of thumb.

  22. Amber | Bluebonnets & Brownies September 25, 2011 / 11:51 am


    I’ve read the rules on FB multiple times now, and I really must respectfully disagree with your analysis and interpretation of them.

    Policy numbers 3 and 4 go hand in hand. First is says:

    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 read this to mean you can’t count an entry directly on facebook – i.e. the act of liking the page, the status, uploading a photo, etc., cannot be their AUTOMATIC mode of entry. There must be an additional step to the entry, via a 3rd party application. This is further clarified by line 4.

    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.

    – the use of the words “other” and “or” in this paragraph tell you that Facebook ALLOWS liking a page, checking in to a place, AND connecting to the facebook app as modes of entry. (Other Facebook actions, such as liking a wall post or uploading a photo are NOT allowed to be modes of entry at all.)

    However, as outlined in number 3, you cannot use that explicit action as the entry. You are required to use a 3rd party app – there is no mention that it must be a facebook app. It could just as easily be a comment on your WP blog – a 3rd party application.

    After reading these rules at least a dozen times, out loud, to myself, to my husband, to anyone that would listen, it is clear to me – Facebook is simply protecting itself from the any action ON Facebook being your method of entry. They are trying to protect themselves from lawsuits that could happen due to some technical error causing you to not be able to like someone’s page, if that were the way an entry was calculated.

    In actuality, so long as the contest holder required a comment on their WordPress blog (and not Facebook page) stating you liked their page as the entry into the contest, you are completely within the rules. You just can’t use that physical like on Facebook as the entry. You have to require that they tell you about the like somewhere else, on a 3rd party platform.

    What I’d really like to do is have someone at Facebook comment and tell us which one of us is reading these rules correctly. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find a way to contact them other than the official fan page, and I’m not sure if I’d actually get an answer that way. The forums are a complete mess right now due to the recent changes, so I don’t think it’s worth asking there for a long while.

    • Melanie Nelson September 26, 2011 / 6:34 pm

      Hi, Amber,

      Thanks for commenting. I wanted to let you know that I contacted Facebook directly today. I referred them to my article, explained the questions I was receiving from you and others, supplied links to blog giveaways using Rafflecopter (and those that weren’t) that ask for Likes as entries, and asked if Facebook could clarify the guidelines. I wanted to give a very clear picture of what the issues were and confirm that I was interpreting the Facebook Promotions Guidelines correctly. In part, I wrote:

      “I’ve written a post outlining my own interpretation of the guidelines (https://www.bloggingbasics101.com/2011/07/running-a-successful-facebook-giveaway-or-contest/). In a nutshell, my understanding is that you cannot ask people to Like a fan page as an entry into a promotion — not as a main entry, nor as an extra entry. I understand, though, that you can Like-gate your entry form on Facebook via a third-party app (but that Like isn’t an entry, it’s a means to get to the entry form).

      I’m receiving questions from those who suggest that a blog or blog application like rafflecopter (http://www.rafflecopter.com/) are basically third-party apps and, because they are asking for Likes via those options (blog or rafflecopter), the Likes are legitimate entries. That’s not how I read the guidelines, but I’d like to be sure rather than give inaccurate advice.”

      Tonight I received a reply from my contact at Facebook that said simply:
      “Hi Melanie – You are correct….”

      I hope this helps clarify the Facebook Promotions Guidelines and that you’ll share them with others. Thanks again for your comment.


    • Melanie Nelson October 5, 2011 / 7:27 am

      Chris, yes, I believe that Rafflecopter is incorrect in their interpretation of the Facebook Promotions Guidelines.

      1. The first guideline states that you must administer the contest via a third-party app. That’s one thing everyone agrees on. By asking someone to Like your page, that’s not using a third-party app, that’s using Facebook functionality as an entry.

      2. The third guideline clearly states that you must not use any Facebook functionality as an entry mechanism. The confusion comes with the example provided in the guideline. It’s one example, but not the only possible example. The main part of the guideline is “You must not use Facebook features or functionality as a promotion’s registration or entry mechanism.” This means not only can you NOT auto-enter someone, but you cannot use Liking or commenting as entry mechanisms at all.

      3. The fourth guideline is referring to Like-gating your entry form. Many people misunderstand this one. You can Like-gate your entry form (therefore requiring a reader to Like your page before they can access the actual entry form), but that initial Like CANNOT count as an entry. In order to use some of the third-party apps, you (as the entrant) will have to allow the app access to your information. Or, if the content is Like-gated, you may have to Like the page to access the entry form. Or, you may be required to check-in to a venue in order to have access to an entry form. The “allowing”, “Liking”, and “checking-in” are a means to an end, not the entry. They are how you get to the entry. The only way to enter is to complete the entry form you receive after completing the initial hoop (e.g., “allowing”, “Liking”, or “checking in”).

      I understand what I’m explaining here is not what most bloggers want to read. It’s much easier to increase the number of Likes on a page and maintain increased traffic to your blog if you can run a promotion without adhering to the guidelines. I also understand that there is a lot of misinformation and misinterpretation of the guidelines out there. That’s exactly why I contacted Facebook personally to see if I was missing something.

    • Sara Hawkins October 8, 2011 / 6:01 pm

      Rafflecopter and the FB Like issue is confusing two separate issues.

      The FB promotion guidelines apply both to promotions that take place ON Facebook and promotions that utilize Facebook functionality. If you want someone to come to your Facebook page and go to a tab to enter/learn about a promotion, then that tab must be a 3rd party app and not a tab hosted on Facebook.

      Provision 4 of the Facebook Promotion Guidelines relate to using Facebook functionality such as ‘Like’. This is not specific to Like-gating. If someone is running a promotion off Facebook but wants to offer an entry based on the Like, it is possible (keeping in mind all the legal aspects of giveaways). Per the Facebook Promotion Guidelines, one can have an entrant ‘Like a Page’ but that Like in and of itself is not sufficient to count as an entry. The entrant would then need to return to the blog/site, and indicate that they now ‘Like a Page’.

      Rafflecopter provides the ‘Like a Page’ functionality but the entry into the giveaway is not secured until the entrant clicks a separate button indicating that they did ‘Like a Page’.

      Like-gating is often part of hosting a promotion ON Facebook using a 3rd party app. The “liking”, though can be part of a promotion that is not hosted on Facebook (so long as it’s done in a legally compliant manner – which is a completely separate discussion).

    • Dana October 22, 2011 / 5:41 pm

      Melanie, thanks for the info. I do disagree though about the statement that Liking a Facebook page and then commenting on a person’s blog saying the page was Liked is against the rules. Reading the guidelines over and over again, I agree completely with Amber (above).

      I have to bring up the fact here though that in your initial question to Facebook, you didn’t specifically ask if using a third party app (i.e. comment form on a blog) AFTER the Like was done was against the guidelines. Instead, you asked “my understanding is that you cannot ASK PEOPLE TO LIKE A FAN PAGE AS AN ENTRY INTO A PROMOTION— not as a main entry, nor as an extra entry. I understand, though, that you can Like-gate your entry form on Facebook via a third-party app (BUT THAT LIKE ISN’T AN ENTRY, IT’S A MEANS TO GET TO THE ENTRY FORM)”

      They replied that you were correct because this IS what the guidelines say. You cannot Like a page AS AN ENTRY into a promotion, as a main entry nor as an extra entry. However in the terms of using a blog’s COMMENT FORM as the actual entry form, it would mean that the “Like” isn’t the entry, the comment the person leaves is. This seems to totally fall under the guidelines as a third party app process. I do think Facebook said this is correct, because it is… however I think you are failing to realize that the comment form on a blog IS a third party app.

  23. Susan (5 Minutes for Mom) September 27, 2011 / 12:18 am

    What a great explanation of all these complicated guidelines. Thank you!

  24. Meagan September 27, 2011 / 1:35 am

    Very informative. I’ve never held a giveaway on Facebook. Maybe now I can try

  25. Wend September 27, 2011 / 4:11 pm

    So confusing! You clarified so much but at the same time left me more confused. I will try out ShortStack and see about adding a “reveal” page after the Like on Facebook.

    • Wendy September 27, 2011 / 4:12 pm

      y. Name should have a y at the end. LOL! 🙂

  26. Carpool Goddess September 27, 2011 / 5:28 pm

    My head is spinning! Great information! Let’s hope I remember all of it when and if I ever do another promotion 🙂

  27. Krista from The Playdate Crashers September 29, 2011 / 5:45 pm

    Thanks for this article! We have done contests before and certainly weren’t within the rules (oops) but we have a bunch of giveaways coming up because we just attended the ABC Kids Expo. Anyway, I know that companies would love it if part of our giveaway entries involved Liking their fan pages, but I don’t want to risk it. I’ll just link to their Page in the giveaway post and ‘tag’ them when linking to our giveaway post from our Page…which brings me to my question…

    Is it okay to link to our blog giveaway posts from our FB Pages? Assuming we’re following all the rules and not requiring Likes for entries, can we still link to the giveaway?

    • colleen September 30, 2011 / 11:35 am

      I am also wondering the same thing as Krista. Also can we ask entrants to share the giveaway link as their facebook status?

      Also another question…if we give the link to the facebook page in an entry on our blog, could we ask them to visit the page and then leave a comment (on the blog) saying something they learned from the facebook page?

    • Melanie Nelson October 5, 2011 / 7:10 am


      Yes, you can link to a giveaway on your blog in a Facebook status update. For example, you could share, “I’m giving away a $100 Amazon Gift Card on my blog! Come enter at http://www.myblog.com!”

      You can ask entrants to share the giveaway (and a link to it) on Facebook, but that cannot be an entry (not initial, nor additional). It would just have to be goodwill on their part.

  28. Kathleen September 30, 2011 / 8:18 pm

    I disagree. I of course can’t find it now but I read someone else’s interpretation on their blog before and they interpreted differently and they also said facebook confirmed they were right. Which is weird. I wish I could remember where it was.

  29. Tom Carlson October 10, 2011 / 5:17 pm

    I just started a contest on my Facebook page for my companies electric blanket website on October 1st and I did not know any of the rules when I started the contest. I use a plug in program called Blinkd. I think it follows the guidleines after reading this.

    I am thinking about my next contest. Does anyone have any suggestions on how I can have a contest and require contestants to post inbound links to my website as part of the entry requirement? I am guessing that it violates Facebooks rules if I require that they post it on their Facebook page. Where else could people easily post links and not violate any webmaster rules?

    I want people to write why they deserve a free battery heated jacket. Then people vote for the best explanation. I also want them to then post their response somewhere else online with a link back to my site. Has anyone tried something like this?

  30. Savanah Fahrney-Day October 11, 2011 / 2:02 am

    Hi. I’ve been trying to find a contact to inquire directly about this issue and was wondering if you could provide me with the contact information you used.

    Since FB changed the help section, the contact forms have become very difficult to navigate through.

    Thank you,

  31. Leslie from Leslie Loves Veggies October 11, 2011 / 7:56 am

    I’m erring on the side of caution and eliminating “liking’ from my giveaways as well. I’ve referred a few of my bloggers to your post. I hope you don’t mind.

    I wrote a post as well, http://www.leslielovesveggies.net/2011/10/liking-on-facebook-facebook-guidelines-say-no-i-have-confirmation.html

    and have contacted Facebook’s legal team for advice.
    The FB exec who replied to my email agreed with you and me, liking for mandatory and bonus entries in blog giveaways is not allowed.

    Thanks for a great post!
    Leslie Loves Veggies

  32. Kelly October 21, 2011 / 8:34 am

    What about this scenario: Someone wants to gain fans on FB. So, they say, once I reach x-amount of fans, I will give you a free copy of my eBook/design/etc.? Is that allowed, because you are essentially liking a page to win something?

  33. Fawn November 7, 2011 / 10:15 pm

    So my question is, can you require people to “like” your vendors pages to qualify to even enter? Not TO enter, but in order to enter.

    • Jamie November 18, 2011 / 7:18 pm

      That is exactly my question. Not AS the entry, but must have ‘liked’ the page prior to entering. i.e. only fans are eligible for the entry. — either as a mandatory or additional entry.

  34. Peaches November 10, 2011 / 10:05 pm

    So if I just designate person number 100, say, as my goal, and don’t announce it, but just tell that person they have won something, is that legit? I wouldn’t be asking anyone to like my page, but rather just give a prize to the 100th person. Sorry, maybe this is obvious to some, but not to me. Thanks!

    • Peaches November 10, 2011 / 10:07 pm

      *I mean don’t announce that I’m having a contest beforehand; I’m the only one who knows I’m doing it. Then, I would announce the first name only of the winner (or just first initial) when I get to 100.

    • Melanie Nelson November 12, 2011 / 1:24 pm

      Peaches, it seems to me that your idea would violate rule #3 because you didn’t tell people that they were entering a promotion AND b/c the act of Liking your page was the entry mechanism. Hope that helps.

  35. Cheryl Nelson November 23, 2011 / 2:56 am

    Hi Melanie,

    Thanks so much for this post. While I am still completely overwhelmed, befuddled and frustrated, you have certainly brought much clarity (imagine where I was at before this!)

    At least now I am one step closer to figuring out how to do this!

  36. Hugh Batters December 4, 2011 / 9:46 pm

    Dear Melanie

    Thanks for the clarification. After a winner has been notified via their email address
    is it OK to then post the winner’s name on the company wall?

    Also, I gather it is OK to post winner(s) names on the 3rd party application that appears
    on the company Facebook site

    many thanks

  37. Letha Velasquez December 11, 2011 / 6:12 pm

    2. The third guideline clearly states that you must not use any Facebook functionality as an entry mechanism. Peaches, it seems to me that your idea would violate rule #3 because you didn’t tell people that they were entering a promotion AND b/c the act of Liking your page was the entry mechanism. I do disagree though about the statement that Liking a Facebook page and then commenting on a person’s blog saying the page was Liked is against the rules.

  38. Kelly December 15, 2011 / 6:43 pm

    I am reading and confused sorry I understand most of it but what if my page just occasionally chooses someone to receive a free item. No contest no nothing. Just a random name chosen. Is that against the rules?

  39. Deb December 17, 2011 / 11:48 pm

    As web developers, we are now being asked by our clients to help them navigate the murky waters of social media. You article is VERY HELPFUL in clarifying the rules, for myself and my clients. Thanks for your efforts!

  40. Lindsay Goodwin January 16, 2012 / 9:44 am

    Thank you, Melanie! I really, really appreciate the time you put in to outlining these guidelines for all of us. It helps us be sure we’re running our contest on the up-and-up. Again, thank you!

  41. Sarah Kimmel {Tech4Moms} January 19, 2012 / 5:12 pm

    Thank you so much for this! I’ve been annoyed with people requiring “likes” and “follows” to enter giveaways for quite a while.

    Not only does it violate Facebook terms, it also violates Federal Law. Requiring someone to do something that is beneficial to you (giving you more likes or upping your subscription numbers) is beneficial to you as you can use that for potential business. What this requirement does, however is put the Giveaway into Illegal Lottery territory. These requirements are called “consideration” So regardless of whether or not the Facebook guidelines say yes or no, the Federal government has really already said no.

    Thanks again for the great article!

  42. Amanda Hollen January 21, 2012 / 11:07 am

    Melanie, thank you SO much for this blog post! Taking the time to decipher these rules, along with finding a good content builder and then doing the work was just too much for me to sit down and do with how busy I’ve been. You saved me HOURS of work with this article and pointing me to shortstack. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!! 🙂 Also, better safe than sorry when it comes to messing with facebook’s rules. I had a community page yanked from me, no questions asked, because of a copyrighted picture that was posted on it. And when they take your page, there is no appeal process…it’s gone. I love my pages and don’t want to lose ANY more…I’ll stay off facebook’s toes and play by the (much more clear, now) rules. THANKS AGAIN!!

  43. Goth Doll February 13, 2012 / 7:05 am

    Thank you so much for posting this article. I, like many others have found Facebook’s regulations confusing. I would like to be able to run promotions and giveaways, but don’t want to risk losing my page along with 800 followers! I found your explanation clear, concise and extremely helpful.

  44. Lynette February 17, 2012 / 10:42 pm

    I have a question. Facebook has a Fan of the Week app, which I have on my page. Each month I want to send a free gift to just ONE of the fans (using random.org) – is this breaking any of Facebook rules?

  45. Melanie Nelson February 19, 2012 / 8:04 am


    My understanding is that yes, that would be against the TOS. You could do something that doesn’t have any monetary value (e.g., Fan of the Week gets their picture in your profile pic), but if it has monetary value, then it is against the TOS.

  46. Mark Tillbrook February 21, 2012 / 5:46 am

    Many thanks for providing this very helpful information as a supplement to the FB T&Cs. Like many, I had assumed it was ok to run a prize draw just by gathering and picking a name at random each month…very glad I came across your article first! Thanks again, Mark.

  47. Krystle February 26, 2012 / 2:03 pm

    Hello there! I am thinking about doing a giveaway for my blog launch but all of this has me a little confused. I plan on using rafflecopter. So I can’t use a like on FB as an extra entry, correct? Can I annouce my giveaway on FB and have people share it on their own pages as an extra entry? Is it still okay to ask them to follow you on twitter or google+ as an extra entry?

  48. Melanie Nelson February 27, 2012 / 9:42 am

    Krystle, thanks for the questions. In my opinion, even when you use Rafflecopter, you cannot use any Facebook functionality as a means of entering a giveaway. That would mean you cannot ask your fans to share a status update as an extra entry. However, you can tell people about your giveaway on your blog via your fan page (with a link back to your blog, of course). You can still use G+ and Twitter follows as a means of extra entry (provided those platforms don’t have specific guidelines or rules about that — definitely check to see if things have changed). I would caution *anyone* who does giveaways, contests, promotions, etc. to read Sarah Hawkins’ information about those laws and regulations: http://www.savingforsomeday.com/blog-law-is-your-giveaway-legal/

    • Krystle February 27, 2012 / 8:24 pm

      Thank you for the information! I will take off anything dealing with FB on my giveaway. I’d rather be safe than sorry.

  49. Sanja March 15, 2012 / 10:27 am

    Omg, by sharing this information – in good faith that people would listen for their own sake – I got banned from few Facebook pages… I still don’t understand why?

    Btw great post it really explains well the rules which can be confusing sometimes.

  50. CJ at Food Stories May 13, 2012 / 11:08 am

    Wow, I had no idea … So many people are doing this wrong 🙁

  51. leamber moore May 13, 2012 / 9:00 pm

    so can you do a raffle on face book to raffle away numbers for a chance to win a prize as long as you put that facebook is not responsible? i am still a little confused

  52. abbie May 31, 2012 / 1:14 pm

    -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.-

    It says OTHER THAN (does not apply to) liking a page. So it is okay to ask someone to like your page. I think they just changed this rule and it is now okay.

    • Anne Sweden May 30, 2013 / 2:37 pm

      This is a good point! It looks like Facebook is saying it’s ok to let people like a page as an optional entry.

      If I said “other than cake, you cannot have any dessert,” then that means people CAN have cake.

      When Facebook says “other than liking a page……you must not condition registration or entry” then that means people CAN like as an entry.

      Rule #4 seems to support this interpret because the “no no” example Facebook gives is of having someone “automatically” like a page to enter a giveaway. It doesn’t say anything about optional likes.

  53. AK Stout June 7, 2012 / 2:25 pm

    What do you think the rule would be on using the Facebook Comments Plugin as an optional method of entry? See sample here: https://www.facebook.com/FitDesk/app_228910107186452 The answer to this question I’m sure would be particularly useful to those bloggers who require or make optional a blog comment as an entry – but happen to be using Facebook Comments as their blog commenting platform…

  54. Luci June 8, 2012 / 1:36 pm

    A very well written post. Thank you so much for doing the work of fact checking with Facebook. And thank you Facebook for responding! This couldn’t be more clear and to the point. I really enjoyed it!

  55. Liz June 17, 2012 / 5:38 am

    Hi Melanie. Thanks for a really great post, it’s very helpful in deciphering all that jargon! I was wondering if you could help? Do you know if these rules apply to closed groups on Facebook. Say a member is giving something away, other members leave a comment and then a winner is drawn at random. There’s no promotion involved for anyone, no Liking or leaving comments elsewhere, just a bit of fun within the group. Is this allowed? I can find no info on Facebook, or anywhere else for that matter! Hope you can help.

    • Melanie June 17, 2012 / 8:57 am

      That’s an interesting question, Liz! In my opinion, the rules for the promotions apply across the board for Facebook.

    • Liz June 17, 2012 / 10:34 am

      Thanks for your speedy reply Melanie!

  56. Derris June 24, 2012 / 1:10 pm

    So, can I post a link from my blog on FaceBook, so that people can go to my blog and enter?

    • Melanie Nelson June 26, 2012 / 12:36 pm

      Derris, yes, you can post a link to your blog asking people to click over there and enter on your blog.

  57. Jessica July 19, 2012 / 2:44 pm

    Hi Melanie,

    Can you please add a new update to this article that reflects the changes that Rafflecopter has made to their Facebook entry method – it addresses the issues with using Facebook “like” functionality in conjunction with a giveaway when using Rafflecopter. Check out their blog for details: http://blog.rafflecopter.com/2012/07/giveaway-widget-entry-options/.


    • mbhunter March 28, 2013 / 9:46 pm

      Please update your post to reflect this.

      This post is currently third in Google for the phrase “running giveaways on facebook”.

      Unless your readers plow through most of the comments on this post, they’ll leave with the impression that Rafflecopter’s Facebook functionality runs afoul of Facebook’s policies. This is no longer the case.

  58. Maureen July 30, 2012 / 1:20 pm

    Hi there,
    I think I know the answer to this but wanted to ask anyway. I’m not doing a sweepstakes but once we get to the 300th like on our page we wanted to give that person some swag. Can I just state that without asking people to go like the page?

  59. Robin August 1, 2012 / 12:55 am

    It seems that Rafflecopter has changed their form and instead of giving entry for a “like” they give a “easy entry for fans of {name of page}”. Does the wording change get around the strict facebook rules and allow an extra entry for liking a page?

  60. Greg August 2, 2012 / 11:28 am

    Hey Melanie! I’m Greg, one of the founders of Rafflecopter.

    We’ve been in touch with Facebook over the past month regarding Facebook promotions. We’re thrilled to say that after a few changes, we’ve been given the green light and are officially compliant with Facebook’s policies.

    Here’s a post we published on our blog this morning with our thoughts and interpretations regarding Facebook promotion guidelines:


    – Greg

    • Melanie Nelson August 2, 2012 / 5:12 pm

      That’s fantastic news, Greg! Glad to hear that Rafflecopter is on board with the FB TOS. I know a lot of bloggers will be happy as well.

    • Greg August 2, 2012 / 8:33 pm

      Thanks Melanie! 🙂

    • Chantelle Shick December 30, 2012 / 1:59 pm

      Okay wait…if we cannot have someone “Like” our page as an optional giveaway entry and it’s still on the rafflecopter form (with rafflecopter being compliant per Facebook) this article is incorrect.

      Receiving this “Hi Melanie – You are correct….” from a Facebook rep says nothing at all about this article being true. What matters is what it says in the Facebook guidelines, where it says

      “iii. 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.”

      It says right there, you can ask someone Like your page for a giveaway entry.

      This info is taken right from here: https://www.facebook.com/page_guidelines.php#promotionsguidelines
      and totally trumps what is written in this article. I am sick of stressing over this and you need to correct your bad information so that others do not stress as well.

    • Melanie Nelson December 31, 2012 / 10:52 am


      I know this can be a difficult issue to understand. Let me try to clarify it further for you. If you re-read the article, you’ll see that the section you reference (iii) does not mean you can ask for a Like as an entry. That Like can only be a means to get to the entry (it’s usually referred to as Like-gating). Think of it this way: Let’s say I’m having a giveaway, but the entry form is in my house. I give you the key to my house and tell you the entry form is on the table and you need to fill out the form if you want to be entered. The key I gave you to get in the house isn’t the entry, it’s a means to get to the entry. It’s the same for FB. You can ask for a Like, but that can’t be an entry (not even a secondary or extra entry). The like can only grant them access to the actual entry form (the form being the entry).

      What you can do, however, is hold a giveaway that is only open to people who have liked your page. This is what Rafflecopter has done, I believe. They’ve changed their tool so that you (as the giveaway host) can offer the giveaway to your blog readers, and Facebook fans only. But if someone isn’t a FB fan, Rafflecopter allows them to become a fan before entering the giveaway. Again, that like is not an entry, it’s a means to get to the entry.

      As I said, it’s confusing, but I hope that helps to clear it up. The information you shared in your comment, I’m sorry to say, does not trump the information shared in this article. Thank you for weighing in.

    • Chantelle Shick January 1, 2013 / 8:08 pm


      I don’t need you to dumb it down for me, please don’t…it’s just offensive. Key to your house, really? Am I in first grade?

      The information is very clear and rafflecopter has Like’s on their form (for one or many pages) that count as additional entries. I assume rafflecopter has a lawyer advising them, do you?

      Enter any rafflecopter giveaway and you will see it right on there, like a beacon in a dark port…it’s there and it’s legit or they would have lawsuits everywhere!

      This information in the article is not valid and you cannot convince me otherwise, even if your next example includes apples, oranges, monkeys and giraffes.

    • Melanie Nelson January 2, 2013 / 8:53 am

      Thanks for your response. Best of luck to you!

    • Kelby January 2, 2013 / 9:21 am

      Chantelle, clearly she does need to dumb it down since there are many who would prefer to rationalize that they can do whatever they wish no matter how many times Melanie (who clearly understands Facebook) and Facebook officials (who absolutely know Facebook) reiterate the rules. I would also imagine all the corporate lawyers of the world are weeping since businesses now obey all laws and legal conditions on web sites. Whatever will they do now?

  61. Beanzie September 22, 2012 / 2:21 pm

    Hi! How about Pin it to Win it contests on pinterests? Can you promote that on your facebook page?

    • Melanie Nelson September 23, 2012 / 9:01 am

      Beanzie, as long as you aren’t asking your Facebook fans or friends to use FB functionality to enter the giveaway, then YES you can promote another giveaway on your FB page. For instance you can say, “We’re doing a Pin It To Win It giveaway on our Pinterest account. Click here for the details: http://whatever.”

    • Kelby January 2, 2013 / 9:21 am

      Pin it to Win it contests violate Pinterest’s terms. 😉

    • Melanie Nelson January 2, 2013 / 11:16 am

      Thank you, Kelby! I appreciate your weighing in. For the rest of my fans and commenters, Kelby is the author of Pinterest For Dummies and Pinterest Marketing For Dummies. She’s studied the site extensively.

  62. Shirley December 10, 2012 / 7:10 pm

    Hi Melanie

    I am planning a giveaway from my own pocket 😛 to try to build fan base for my blog as well as my facebook. I really cannot afford to pay 3rd parties app companies, at least at the moment.

    Looking at the guidelines, would I be able to do a giveaway on my blog, and ask them to LIke my FB page on my blog? I will probably just share the giveaway on my blog as a posting on my facebook? Would I be flouting any rules here?

    By the way, thanks for all these great information

  63. Erica Mueller January 2, 2013 / 9:39 am

    I don’t think it could be made any more clear. Now, if only FB could speak in such plain terms…

    • Melanie Nelson January 2, 2013 / 11:17 am

      Thanks for commenting, Erica. This issue has been sticky for many. I agree that Facebook should use plainer language. I think we could have avoided so much confusion if they had!

  64. Caitlin H. January 23, 2013 / 5:35 pm

    Hey quick question –
    We frequently hold small giveaways to keep our current fans engaged with our page. Here’s an example of a post – we would post an image of one of our educational word games with the instruction to “Create a word with the cards you see below. We will select one random respondent to win a free copy of the game.”
    Would this be against Facebook rules and guidelines. We were uncertain as we weren’t necessarily forcing to like our page but rather asking to engage in a game with a prize incentive.
    Thanks so much for the article and your help!

    • Melanie Nelson January 23, 2013 / 5:40 pm

      Hi Caitlin,
      Thanks for commenting. You ask a great question. Unfortunately, the way you describe your small giveaways is against TOS. The short answer is that any giveaway you run on your wall is against TOS because you are asking the user to use FB functionality (Liking, Sharing, Commenting, posting a picture, etc. — even if you aren’t asking for all of those). The only way to run a TOS-compliant contest or giveaway on FB is to use a third-party application (like Shortstack — but there are many others) that allows you to have users upload photos within the application. Hope that helps!

  65. Kristin January 25, 2013 / 6:38 pm

    Hi Melanie,

    I’m so confused with all of this & hoping maybe you can shed some light… If I want to run an advertising giveaway can I do a ‘the business to send the most new likers our way will receive free advertising’ I know likes as an entry isn’t allowed but unsure if people can ‘send’ likes as their entry? Can anyone clarify for me?

    • Melanie Nelson January 26, 2013 / 10:14 am

      Hi Kristin,
      I believe that method would be against TOS because you are still using the Like function as a means of measuring the winner. It would be nearly impossible to track as well since FB doesn’t tell you where a Like came from.

      I hope that helps!

  66. Melissa January 30, 2013 / 4:14 pm

    Two clarifications, please.
    1. If I’m running a giveaway on my blog and say “the winner of this giveaway will be announced on this post next monday and also announced on My Blog Facebook Page” — is that okay? I am not asking for a FB like to get an entry to the giveaway (never have done that). But is it okay to announce the winner in a FB status, if the entrants have been alerted up front that that’s how it will be announced?
    2. If I want to just do a super quick and easy giveaway on FB, for FB fans, can I say in a status update “Who wants a Starbucks gift card? Like this post for your chance to win a $10 gift card!” — is that not okay? They knew up front that liking the post will enter them into the contest. I’m not summoning extra likes to my Page. I’m just trying to reward Fans in a quick and easy way….

    Thanks for your input.

    • Melanie Nelson January 31, 2013 / 9:35 pm


      Here are the answers to your questions:
      1) You cannot use Facebook to be the main way you announce the winner. You can announce on your blog or via an email (NOT FB mail/private message). Once the winner confirms, you can then announce the winner on FB. (As an aside, most people just use the first name and last initial on FB.)

      2) No, that’s not OK. You MUST use a third-party app to create any sort of giveaway. You can’t ask for post likes, page likes, shares, or comments, or any other FB features as an entry. It doesn’t matter that you’re not getting Likes for your page, it matters that you’re using FB features as an entry and the Promotions Guidelines state you can’t do that. I’m sorry.

  67. Donella January 31, 2013 / 11:09 am

    That’s all very interesting, so why do I get bombarded by posts on my wall from major company’s (that I have not “liked”) telling me that I can win something, usually a voucher or maybe even a washing machine if I go to their page and like it? Is this not against the rules?

    • Melanie Nelson January 31, 2013 / 9:30 pm


      There are two things that may contribute to what you’re seeing:
      1) There are many companies that have bad advice from their PR or marketing firms, or simply don’t know about the Promotions Guidelines.
      2) They may be asking you to come over and Like the page, but it may not really be the entry. For example, you could see a Page update that says ‘We’re giving away an iPad! Like us to win!’ and then they have a link. If you click that link it may actually take you to a tab on their page where the entry form is like-gated (as explained in the article) and the Like isn’t really the entry, it’s just a means to get to the entry.

      What if that link just links to their page instead of the tab? Well, then we’re back to scenario number one: they don’t know or they don’t care. : /

  68. claire February 5, 2013 / 3:13 pm

    Hi There. Can you say have a give away with a photo and say all you have to do is share and comment or is it against the rules?

    • Melanie Nelson February 5, 2013 / 4:17 pm


      I’m sorry, that would be against the TOS because you can’t use shares, comments, or likes as an entry.

  69. Kris DeVoss February 7, 2013 / 10:13 am

    Ah ha …. Now this explains why I have been blocked for 15 days!

    If these contest pages would just follow FB rules … I would not be blocked …. By not following FB rules … These pages have brought me into not following the rules per FB and caused my block … It is not fair to the entrant if the contest rules ask us to do an act such as liking others pages, sharing a FB page or commenting on the page of a vendor saying what page sent you …. I have been so upset about being blocked … I for the first time in my life have been made to feel like a criminal … First blocked for 48 hours & not understanding why. So I continued to enter contests and now blocked for fifteen days … It is not right for a page to ignore these rules, which in turn is causing an entrant to be blocked …. This makes me angry. I have also messaged to a few of the contest pages explaining what happened & to be honest I feel they just do not care which upsets me even more …. I am just one entrant, they could care less … Thank you for this information!

  70. Rebecca Rose February 8, 2013 / 8:21 am

    I’m still messing it up!!! I host giveaways for other businesses and have been running the comps via my blog but I’ve been asking entrants to like the businesses fb page. Grrr! Can I suggest people show support to a page without it being an entry requirement or add a button that says like ‘biz name’ without that being an entry requirement?

    • Melanie Nelson February 8, 2013 / 8:46 am


      Yes, you can encourage people to support the business by Liking their FB page, but you muse make it very clear that the Like is not an entry. Something like “While Liking XYZ’s Facebook page isn’t an entry, we hope you’ll show them your appreciation by Liking their page.” Or something more eloquent — I just got home from working out and, frankly, my brain is mush because I’m so tired!

  71. Tessa February 18, 2013 / 9:03 am

    Looked into shortstack but can’t make it do what I want it to do for the “free” version. Only want to do one or two giveaways a year and not willing to shell out $30 a month for that. We’re just a little part time business…doing this to help supliment living on disability. Such a shame…that doing the right thing is always so complicated. No questions…just venting and thanking you for this excellent article. Will be sharing it on our business page and my personal page. Would hate it if one of our fans/customers got blocked just because they “liked” a page….

    • Melanie Nelson February 18, 2013 / 11:36 am


      Thanks for commenting. I looked at your FB page and since you’re under 2k fans, you should be able to use ShortStack for free. Of course, I’m not sure what you want to do for your promotion, but their free option is fairly robust. If you have questions, I do recommend contacting the ShortStack help staff — I’ve always found them to be very responsive and helpful.

    • Tessa February 20, 2013 / 7:48 am

      Wow, thanks for your response! Wasn’t expecting that! Have been looking into ShortStack… seems a little complicated for what we want to do but will get someone more up on this stuff to look at it for me before we make a decision. Blessings!!!

  72. Kendra @ A Proverbs 31 Wife February 18, 2013 / 9:04 am

    So, question. Raffle-copter words the entry this way: “If you’re a fan on Facebook, you are entitled to a free entry. If not, you can become one here.”
    To my understanding that makes the giveaway legal, because the entry states it’s for fans. If an entrant to the giveaway wishes to become a fan, then they can become qualified to receive the entry. To much legal jargon for me to understand.
    So my question is, does the wording on the entry type make it legal?

    • Kendra @ A Proverbs 31 Wife February 18, 2013 / 9:17 am

      Ok, now I read the comments and understand. Guess I should’ve read them before I added a comment of my own! Thanks for the great info though. 🙂

    • Melanie Nelson February 18, 2013 / 11:32 am


      Yes, the way Rafflecopter words their entry is OK. They didn’t used to do it that way, then they worked with Facebook to change the wording and adhere to the guidelines.

  73. dana February 18, 2013 / 2:52 pm

    There is a company with a fb page that is running a promo to get to 20k likes. If you like and share and have a friend like and share and leave yr name its a entry. The person with the most wins a pair pf boots. So they are also putting each mame on a drawing for a purse. Now, theres another business fb page whos owner likes this store. The second business has 3k fans. The second bisiness is running on their fb page a link to the first business saying go and like and shate and tell them i sent u so i can win the boots. Everyone who does sp goes into a drawing on her site for a gift if she wins. Is this all legal?

    • Melanie Nelson February 18, 2013 / 5:28 pm


      Based on the information you share, no, this is promotion does not adhere to the Facebook Promotions Guidelines.

  74. Rachel R. February 23, 2013 / 2:03 pm

    I think you are mistaken about the ability to provide an extra entry to a giveaway for those who “like” a Facebook page. You seem to have imposed your own interpretation on Facebook’s rule, and your understanding contradicts that which I have heard everywhere else, including from “organizations” like Rafflecopter, who have worked extensively with Facebook in ensuring that they are compatible and not breaking any rules.

  75. Melanie Nelson March 5, 2013 / 10:59 am

    Hi Karen,

    I don’t think there are limits on how you design your tab image. There is a rule about cover photos and ads that says your images can only be 20% text, but I don’t think that applies to your tabs.

    As you’re making your tab covers, though, be sure to carry your branding through — colors, font, etc. And you can customize the text under the tab. So, for example, if you wanted to create a picture as your tab and put “Click here for giveaways!” underneath, you could do that. But having that text on your tab is fine.

  76. Maureen Baldwin March 9, 2013 / 4:56 pm

    A very well written post. Thanks again for the great article! Hello there!

    • Melanie Nelson March 12, 2013 / 8:08 am

      Thanks for stopping by, Maureen. I’m glad the article was useful for you!

  77. Mark Thackeray March 12, 2013 / 3:07 pm

    Excellent article and insight! Super informative and much easier to read your language than that of Facebook 🙂

  78. Tara March 19, 2013 / 7:26 am

    Do confusing when RC says they talked to FB too. But is not asking you to like but rewarding for being a fan.

  79. Gale March 19, 2013 / 5:18 pm

    I’m a little confused about this part:

    “Just because someone Likes your page or uses Facebook Places to check in to your venue, doesn’t mean that you can use their information automatically. You must use the third-party application to provide an entry form. This ensures that the entrant actually wants to enter your promotion. It also means you cannot ask people to Like your page, comment on your Wall, write a status update, or check-in to a Place as an entry to your promotion”

    But the first part seems to be talking about an “entry mechanism”–ie the way you obtain their entry information. If you make it a requirement that they be a facebook fan (which according to this video by facebook is allowed: (https://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=10100938382101566) and record that through an app or blog comment where they state that they do like your facebook page, that isn’t using their mechanism for their entry. It’s using another mechanism to get their entry, but requiring that they be a facebook fan to get that entry. To use their facebook mechanism to enter you would have to say, go to facebook and click like to enter…not “if you already like my page, let me know here to enter.” In other words, letting them know on another app./blog is the entry…so that someone who likes your page and didn’t know about the contest is not automatically entered.

    • Melanie Nelson March 20, 2013 / 6:43 am

      Gale, yes, that’s how Rafflecopter is able to stay within FB’s Promotions Guidelines.

  80. Jacqui April 10, 2013 / 4:19 pm

    Ok, while I fairly believe I understand this I too tried ShortStack then immediately cancelled it because it seemed a bit difficult. I have a business but just want to encourage people (on my personal page) to “like” a friends page and I’ll give them a Free item. I do have a promotion pending on Wildfire (seemed a bit easier) and I only want to host this for the next 5 days. I don’t want to be in violation of fb policies but need something in black and white as to what I’m to do. All this jargon has me afraid. If I use Wildfire it keeps track of the entries but as a rule I just want people to “like” my friends page and let me know they’ve done so thru my post on fb…just need a little help

    • Melanie Nelson April 11, 2013 / 5:32 pm

      Hi Jacqui,

      It sounds like you don’t want the Likes for YOUR page, you want them for your FRIEND’S page. There are two issues here:
      1. You can’t host a giveaway on a Wall or ask people Like something in order to get something.
      2. You can’t pick ‘winners’ from existing fans unless they’ve officially entered a giveaway via an app on the FB page.
      3. If you were to give the freebie to new fans, you’d have to give it to all fans. If you didn’t, it would be similar to #2 because you’d be hand-picking who got the freebie.

      To get around those issues I suggest this:
      1. Have your friend set up a giveaway on his/her Fan Page using a third-party app.
      2. Like-gate the app so people have to Like the page before they can see the entry form.
      3. Within the entry form, have a place where the entrant can note where they heard about the giveaway (and enter your name or business name if they heard about it from you).

      The issue here is that you still won’t be able to incentivize people to go over and Like that other page. You could contribute a prize to the Page owner to give away, though.

  81. Shannon April 13, 2013 / 12:04 am

    As a new business, I am trying to read/learn everything I can so as to do things correctly and not get into any bad habits early on. I really thank you for this article. It is quite apparent to me that many pages do NOT follow the guidelines, and I don’t want to be one of them. I understand the not using facebook as a vehicle for the contest such as in the case of LIKES being counted towards winning the contest, like in the case of user submitted photo entries. Does that apply to caption making contests? Thanks so much for the valuable information you are offering.

    • Melanie Nelson April 14, 2013 / 10:45 am

      Yes, that applies to caption contests as well if you’re giving away a prize. If you’re giving away a prize, then you have to run the caption contest via a third-party app as discussed above.

      If you’re just posting an update with a great picture and asking people to caption it for fun (no prizes involved at all), then it’s OK.

  82. Carla April 28, 2013 / 10:48 pm

    Hi there
    thanks for the info re Facebook competitions.
    I am setting up a page for a flower grower and they wanted to give a bunch of flowers away each week to someone who had done a random act of kindness. They wanted people to nominate people under a post, then randomly draw someone.
    Does this count as a competition? They are not looking for likes.
    Appreciate your thoughts.

    • Melanie Nelson April 29, 2013 / 11:35 am

      Hi Carla,

      That sounds like a noble idea! 🙂 They won’t be able to do that on their FB wall. They *must* do it via a third-part app and funnel people to the app (just provide the link in the update: “We’d like to reward a do-gooder with some flowers. Nominate someone who has done a random act of kindness here: http://linkToTheApp“). They can create the app in a way that makes people like the page before they can get to the nomination form. If they want to build their email list, they could also ask the user to provide that as well (just tell them you’re using it for the newsletter). The fewer hoops people have to jump through, the more likely they are to finish the process.

  83. Goose June 19, 2013 / 11:41 am

    Thanks for the article! I read most of the comments and just wanted to ask this question as i am still unsure of the rules. If I offer a gift to the person who is the 100th like of my page, will that be against the rules?? Thanks so much!!!

    • Goose June 19, 2013 / 11:44 am

      Just to clarify…here is how i worded it…

      We are so thankful for you for coming to visit our site! HELP us get to 100 LIKES and that person AND the person who referred them will get a special gift from our furry friends…..We thank you!!!

    • Anne Sweden June 19, 2013 / 12:54 pm

      But it’s not foolproof determining who the 100th like is. For instance, say you’re at 99 and then 5 people come and like your page about the same time. There’s no way you can tell which one was first. It’s always safer to just install the Rafflecopter giveaway app right on your Facebook page and make just 1 entry….liking your FB page. Then the draw will be random and fair.

    • Melanie Nelson June 20, 2013 / 6:46 am


      Unfortunately, yes, giving away something to a random fan – even if it’s designated by being the 100th fan – is against the TOS. By wording it the way in your example, you’re enticing people to promote your page in order to win the prize for themselves and their referral – that’s against the TOS.

  84. Ed Leach July 2, 2013 / 4:32 am

    Hi Melanie,

    Thank you for clarifying these issues.

    We’re just about to launch a give-away contest on Facebook’s platform to give away 50 of our product and I found your article to be invaluable. Let’s say I consider it to be the “definitive” word on the subject.

    You present, in clear, easy-to-understand language, the fundamental explanation of the rules required to legally initiate a Facebook contest.

    Ed Leach, Partner
    Ideas With Wings, LLC

  85. Annie July 26, 2013 / 2:37 am

    I have read the article and comments and its all very helpful.
    But, I still have a doubt what would be right to do and need your professional advice!

    We are a new company and we plan to start business now with the release of our first new magazine. We want to announce the forthcoming release of the first editions and give all interested people the chance to receive a FREE PAPER magazine once it is released, subject to their confirmation of interest sent to us only by EMAIL. The opportunity to request the free paper edition shall NOT be associated with any CONTEST or LIKING THE PAGE and shall be given for a specified period /2 -3 weeks/. There WILL BE NO random choice ect, there will NOT be winners – everyone that sends us a confirmation of interest until the end of the specified date shall receive its magazine once released. Can we do that on facebook WITHOUT Application?
    Thank you so much in advance!!

    • Melanie Nelson July 26, 2013 / 4:27 am

      Annie, the short answer to your question is that yes, what you’re describing can be done via a status update. For example, ‘We launching our new magazine! If you’d like a copy, please email us at xxxx AT xxxxx DOT com.’ But that’s an extra step for your readers b/c they have to stop what they’re doing on FB (which few people like to do) in order to email you. Yes, they could do it later, but chances are it won’t be top of mind and they won’t follow through.

      The longer answer:
      Instead, I suggest using a tool like Shortstack (http://referral.shortstacklab.com/l/49/67988) to create a Facebook app form that allows people to request the magazine, but that also has a few more fields to fill out (most should be optional, but you’ll be surprised how many people fill out all of the information). Then posting updates that have a clear call to action and a way to fulfill that action (e.g., ‘If you want to receive our magazine click the XXX tab .’).

      One of the key things you’ll want to collect in your tab form is their email address. Here’s why: Every business (blogging or otherwise) should have a strong email list that they send information to. Sending out a regular e-newsletter is a great way to make sales and most people who sign up for emails are your most interested customers and are more likely to buy from you. However, if you’re collecting emails and other information, you will, of course, need to make that clear up front so people understand how their information will be used (i.e., they’re agreeing to receive your email newsletter).

      The added benefit of using a FB application form like this is that you can collect valuable demographic and interest data from your audience.

      I also suggest Shortstack simply because they have amazing customer service and many tutorials on getting started. There is a slight learning curve, but I haven’t found a better tool for creating Facebook apps.

    • Annie July 26, 2013 / 5:41 am

      Thank you so much!!!!! I have spent so much time reading and investigating I regret I did not come across your wonderful blog earlier! Thank you!
      I do not know if I am right, but think people are a little bit scared of applications – they usually require access to their personal data ect … and I have the feeling they avoid that, just because they do not know what it is about. That’s why I would prefer to keep it with the simple email …
      Maybe, I am wrong ….

    • Melanie Nelson July 26, 2013 / 11:59 am

      That’s a valid concern, Annie. You could definitely do it either way. It may be an even better idea to tell your fans about the offer and link them to your site where they can fill out a form. That way you KNOW you’re not in violation of the FB TOS. 🙂

  86. DL July 31, 2013 / 5:19 am

    Hi Melanie,

    Could I check if we sent an email to a group of people telling them that if they ‘Like’ our page they will have the chance to win a prize (not announcing the contest using Facebook) would that be a violation of Facebook’s Terms?

    Thank you in advance!

    • Melanie Nelson July 31, 2013 / 8:18 am

      Thanks for stopping by DL. I’m less concerned about checking for an email than I am about the asking for a Like. Are you using an app with Like-gating (see article above for description of that)? Or are you saying if they Like the page they are already entered or get an extra entry? If it’s the former, you’re OK; if it’s the latter it’s against FB’s TOS. As for a reminder about the email, I believe that would be OK, but I’m not entirely sure.

  87. Marilu August 1, 2013 / 2:41 am

    Hi, any news or changes about the information passed on this article? Thank you!

  88. Becca August 15, 2013 / 11:11 am

    I am sure you may have already answered this question but in the promotion of the giveaway can you ask people to like your fan page as long as it is clear that it is not an entry and does not give them a better chance of winning?

    • Melanie Nelson August 15, 2013 / 4:51 pm


      As long as the Like isn’t an entry, yes, you can ask people to Like your page. I’ve seen some bloggers tell readers something akin to, “And, while it’s not an entry, we’d love it if you Like us on Facebook!”

  89. Lila August 22, 2013 / 8:35 am

    When you organize a contest/promotion which involves tagging on a pictures that is posted on the Facebook page is that a violation of FB rules? I mean, I post a picture and say that the first twenty people who tag themselves win a prize, would I violate the rules?

    • Melanie Nelson August 22, 2013 / 11:52 am

      Yes, Lila, that is a violation of the TOS because you are requiring a Facebook action in order to be entered. You *must* run the giveaway or contest via a third-party app like Shortstack.

  90. Nicole Clark August 24, 2013 / 11:14 pm

    Great post! I have a question!

    I am hosting a giveaway with about 15 vendors. I would like to make an album on facebook of the giveaway prize from each vendor and have people nominate someone else to win. They would not need to like any pages, or anything along the lines of forcing them to do something they don’t do on their own. It’s a way to win a giveaway for someone else!

    Would this be okay???


    • Melanie Nelson August 26, 2013 / 9:26 am

      You can make an album of the prizes, definitely. And I understand you’re asking others to nominate someone else to win, but how are they doing that? If you are asking them to comment on a photo in the album with the name of someone to win and that’s the entry, then that is a problem for two reasons:
      1) the Facebook functionality (the comment with the person’s name) is the entry and you cannot use FB functionality as an entry. You *must* use a third-party app for the entry form.
      2) According to the TOS (and likely most local, state, and national sweepstakes laws, but I’m not an attorney) you cannot automatically enter someone into a giveaway or contest without their express consent. In other words, you can’t automatically enter all your fans into a drawing and give away a random prize. And you can’t ask others to enter someone else in a giveaway or contest either b/c the person being entered is not the one completing the entry form.

      Hope that helps.

  91. Sandra August 26, 2013 / 10:10 pm


    Is it possible to post a question and get users to send their answers via email, and we select 10 winners via the emails? We are not using any Facebook functionality by doing so.


    • Melanie Nelson August 27, 2013 / 7:06 am

      Technically yes. However, fans are generally not responsive to requirements that make them click away from whatever they are doing. If they’re on FB, they don’t like to leave FB to complete a task. Or they decide to wait and do it after they leave FB, but by that time they’ve forgotten or they decide it’s not important. Of course you’ll get some entries, but I don’t know that you’ll get as many entries.

      What is your goal with this type of giveaway?

  92. mobiespion September 23, 2013 / 12:43 pm

    In the world of internet, the facebook is well known and reliable source for communication and there are a big community which is connected under this media. By using facebook as a source for business promotion, desired task may get.

  93. wondering September 26, 2013 / 9:40 am

    My question is this as I can’t find it anywhere in the guidelines. Many pages are poppi g up raffling off products made by whams. All of these raffles involve paying a fee to enter and the fee goes to the wham or business that donated the producr being rafgled. The giose of the fee is under donation. You are only paying for a chance to win a product. Is this okay to do because though the women often organizing these “raffles” are trying to spread the interest in some products its seems like they are doing it qrong and possibly violating policies. I’d really juatvlike tobsettle a debate on a page so hope to get some answers. Thanks!

    • Melanie Nelson October 7, 2013 / 12:05 pm

      This is a sticky wicket. I’m not a lawyer, but I can pass on information and opinion. I’m not a fan of the pay to play lottery (yep, lottery) ‘giveaways’ for several reasons that all come down to personal preference.

      My friend Sara Hawkins — someone I respect and admire greatly — has an excellent blog where she share a LOT of information about the law and bloggers. I suggest reading this article in particular: http://sarafhawkins.com/blog-law-is-your-giveaway-legal/

      You’ll note that she says, “A Lottery is a prize drawing where people must pay money to buy a chance to win. Lotteries are highly regulated and should not be run without consulting with legal counsel.”

      You can read more at http://sarafhawkins.com. I recommend that *all bloggers* bookmark that site. It’s an incredible resource.

  94. Tarrin September 28, 2013 / 12:20 am

    Hi Melanie. Thank you for posting such great information. My question is, if you are using a 3rd party app and want to do a giveaway do you still need 100 likes? I know to run a promotion directly through facebook you need 100 likes. This may be slightly off topic, but I haven’t seen this covered anywhere and you seem to have a proficient knowledge of facebook’s policies. Thanks in advance!

    • Melanie Nelson October 7, 2013 / 11:55 am


      Thanks for taking the time to ask your question. I’m pretty sure you can host a giveaway on your Page without 100 likes. You need 100 to create an Offer, but frankly I haven’t checked to see if Offers are still available. So yes, I think you can go ahead and run your giveaway from your Page.

  95. Pam Bowers December 3, 2013 / 9:41 pm

    I have a question. I’m not really trying to host a giveaway, I’d just like to reward a random person for the fact that my page just passed the 1,000 likes mark. Is that still under these rules? If not, is there a program or app that I can use to randomly select the person?

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