Facebook Promotions: Know the Rules

There was only one rule

UPDATE: Facebook contest rules have changed. Please visit Facebook Promotion Guidelines for the updated rules.

Running contests on Facebook is a major source of confusion amongst Facebook Page owners. Facebook terms are a little unclear and many Businesses have no clue at all about the rules they need to follow.

By breaking Facebook Terms, you run the risk of having Facebook shut down your Business Page.  Make sure you’re familiar with all the rules.

Done right, running promotions and contests on Facebook can be a great way to gain fans and increase visibility for your business.

Nearly 40% of Facebook users who become fans do so to receive discounts and promotions (http://www.exacttarget.com).

Here’s what you need to know about Facebook Promotions and Contests:


  • You MUST administer ALL contests, promotions, and sweepstakes on Facebook using a third-party application and never use the Facebook platform such as your Page wall, the Events app, Groups or any other Facebook functionality to run your promotion. Note that a third-party application also includes any applications you create yourself.
  • You MUST include a complete release of Facebook and acknowledgment that the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.
  • You MUST have clear contest rules that are visible directly on your application Page. 


  • You CAN’T use Facebook’s like, share, comment button, use the photos/videos tab as a voting mechanism/registration for a promotion.
  • You CAN’T contact winners inside Facebook (via direct messaging, chat, posting on the winner’s wall or posting on your own Page wall).
  • You CAN’T choose a fan for a random draw since this means that you would use Facebook to collect entries unless you do it somehow through a third-party application.


  • You CAN upload photos or videos for a contest but it has to be done via a third-party application and not through the default Facebook photo/video tab on your Page.
  • You CAN have users like your Page, check into a Place, or connect to your app before entering your promotion as long as the promotion is administered through a third-party application and is not used as a voting mechanism or a registration for your promotion.
  • You CAN collect names and emails from the contestants. This is actually recommended especially for the purpose of contacting the winner(s). This doesn’t give you the right to add email addresses to your mailing list unless you specifically include it in your terms and allow for opting out.  
  • According to Social media Examiner: You CAN promote a contest on your Facebook page…”as long as there’s no requirement to do anything on Facebook; e.g., like your page, comment, upload content, etc. You can simply post a link on your page to the contest. And, to be fully safe, I would also include this disclosure, This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.”
  • Mari Smith said the same to me, “…provided you comply with the rule to use an app to run the contest, you CAN use all the Facebook features to promote the contest, whether ads, wall posts, adding milestones, pinning to the top etc”.

In addition to Facebook’s own terms, your promotion also needs to follow local laws. Read: Social Media Promotions and the Law: What You Need to Know.

Here are some interesting apps to help you run Facebook Promotions and Contests:

  • Wildfire. Starting Price :$5 per promotion plus $0.99 per day
  • NorthSocial. Starting Price: $19.99/mth
  • Votigo. Starting Price: $30/week
  • Strutta. Starting Price: $99/mth for their Social Suite
  • Appbistro. Starting Price: Free
  • Faceitpages. Starting Price: Free
  • Tabsite. Starting Price: Free
  • Woobox. Starting Price: $29/mth for promotions
  • Shortstack. Starting Price: Free for Pages under 2000 Likes

Note that these are my own interpretations of Facebook promotional terms. You should make yourself familiar with the Facebook official guidelines before running any promotions or contests on Facebook.

Have you ever seen any Facebook Page break the promotions rules?




Image: Gord McKenna via Compfight

Genevieve Lachance is a web marketing consultant who has a passion for social media and technology based in Montreal, Canada. Read More About Me »