Bloggers and brands are always having a promotion of sorts. Whether it is a sale, coupon offer, contest or giveaway, we do it because it engages our fans, connects with our fans, says thanks to our fans for sticking with us, and gathers more fans. But there are rules and I cannot begin to tell you the number of Facebook pages I see breaking the rules everyday. Most often it is from a small business who clearly doesn’t have a legal advisor or a blogger that is still under a rock. Why should I care? Because various social media sites track engagement on Facebook, and getting likes, comments, and shares impacts Edge Rank, affect Klout scores and more. Yet, if you are doing it and I am not, because I follow the rules, I get a little ticked when your page gets ranked higher. It’s kinda like Lindsay Lohan getting away from jail time.
Anyway, the full Facebook Rules can be found here. However, I will reference the source next to each so if you are a business or blogger, you can see that I am not making this stuff up. But if you are still scratching your head after reading this post, this blog post does a good job of explaining Facebook Contest Rules. So here are the 4 Facebook Contest and Giveaway No-Nos:
1. Don’t ask people to “Like” your Facebook status update to be entered to win something. [See, III, E, iii, iv, v. “….you must not condition registration or entry upon the user liking a Wall post, or commenting or uploading a photo on a Wall.”]
You can ask people to “Like” Your Page, to become a Fan, as part of a THIRD PARTY APPLICATION. (Such as Offerpop or ShortStack or Rafflecopter.) Why a third party app? Because it states here “Promotions on Facebook must be administered within Apps on Facebook.com, either on a Canvas Page or a Page App.” [See, III, E, i.]
My fellow Blogger friends, do you use Rafflecopter to do your giveaway? Or even just have language at the bottom of the post for your giveaway? Do you ask people to like your Facebook page as an entry? If so, you must use language in your disclosure that: (1) there is a release of Facebook by each entrant or participant, (2) that there is an acknowledgment that the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook, (3) and disclose that the participant is providing information to you and not to Facebook. [See III, E, ii (a, b, c)]
2. Don’t ask people to leave a comment on your Facebook post to be entered to win something. [See, 3, E, iii.: “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.”]
3. Don’t ask people to share a Facebook status update to be entered to win something. [See, 3, E, 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.”]
While forbidding shares or asking for mentions is not specifically stated in the Facebook policy, it is included by default in that it falls under the “any action using any Facebook features or functionality other than liking a Page, checking in to a Place, or connecting to your app.” Since shares or mentions are not excluded, they are included in the Facebook features that are prohibited in any promotion.
4. Don’t notify winners on Facebook. (See, III, E, vi: “You must not notify winners through Facebook, such as through Facebook messages, chat, or posts on profiles (timelines) or Pages.”
You can mention that you have selected a winner and direct people to your blog post where you can have the winner’s name and what they won. Just don’t “notify” the actual winner via Facebook, even using Facebook messaging.
Lastly, don’t do what this company did. Ask for shares, likes, comments AND had their own employee win the contest.
While I am an attorney, I am not your attorney. Nothing in this post shall be construed as giving, offering or providing legal advice, legal review or legal analysis. You should contact an attorney with assistance in understanding Facebook rules.
The images are from real Facebook posts from Bloggers and Brands. While these are images, I don’t credit them since they were on public Facebook pages in which I took a snapshot. I chose to cut out the name of the company or individual because this is not the forum to out these people. Just to use their mistakes for learning.
I should also mention that Facebook used the word “Promotion” in its policy. While I haven’t spoken to Facebook directly, I am sure they used the word “promotion” in that it covers a lot of ground. Whether it is contests, giveaways, fundraisers, exclusive coupons, etc. all can be argued to fall under the umbrella of “Promotion”. (Smart legal move.)