What You Need To Know About Running a Contest on Facebook

Posted by Ben Pickering

Facebook represents a great platform for brands to run promotions, but there has been a good deal of confusion when it comes to what exactly you can and can’t do on Facebook. We are often asked questions about running contests in Facebook and wanted to clear up some misconceptions.

Just as we were composing this post we received the news that Facebook has made some important policy changes, which make running a promotion - either a contest (winner chosen based on merit) or sweepstakes (winner chosen at random) - on Facebook even easier. So let’s start with the good news:

    1. You are no longer required to seek approval from Facebook in order to run a promotion on the Facebook platform.
    1. There is no minimum ad spend associated with running a promotion on Facebook.

Now that these two hurdles have been removed, it is a great time to look at running your contest or sweepstakes on Facebook. However, it is important to note that your promotion must still comply with Facebook’s promotional guidelines.

A key requirement is that any promotion administered on Facebook must be done through an application, and that application must comply with Facebook’s platform policies. The best way to ensure compliance is to use a third party application such as Strutta or Wildfire.

##What if I want to just run my own contest on my brand page?

Some key points are addressed at the bottom of Facebook’s guidelines:

  • You cannot: Require a user to post on a profile or Page, make a status comment or upload a photo directly to a Page to enter a promotion.
  • You can: Use a third party application to administer a photo contest whereby a user uploads a photo through a third-party application to enter the contest.
  • You cannot: Administer a promotion that users are automatically entered by becoming a fan of your Page.
  • You can: Only allow fans of your Page to access a third-party application for your promotion.

Yes, this means that many of the contests you see on Facebook (i.e., post on our wall or Like us to win) are in violation of Facebook’s policies. While Facebook may not be policing every brand page they are certainly taking steps to maintain some control over the platform, so it is best to familiarize yourself with the promotion guidelines and/or work with the right partner. By choosing to work with Strutta you get access to an application that is Facebook compliant, designed with the needs of marketers in mind, and supported by a team that understands successful consumer promotions.

##So what is the difference between Publicizing and Administering a promotion on Facebook?

Administering a promotion on Facebook means that you are utilizing the Facebook platform to collect submissions, to determine the winner, and/or to notify the winner. The changes to Facebook’s policies discussed above apply to anyone wishing to administer their promotion on Facebook.

Publicizing on Facebook means you are promoting your contest or sweepstakes on your brand page, through status updates, etc., but the actual contest is conducted outside of Facebook (i.e., on your website or a promotional microsite). There are still certain rules that your promotion must abide by, including that it can only be open to individuals 18 years or older. Some of our clients prefer to run their contest on their own promotional site, where they have greater control over the user experience. If you choose to run a Strutta contest microsite you will still benefit from Facebook integrations that enable sharing (viral benefits) and encourage users to ‘Like’ your brand, and you can still promote your contest on your brand page. We offer solutions for clients who wish to host their contest on an external site or have the user experience entirely inside the Facebook environment.

##What does this all mean if I want to run (administer) a promotion on Facebook?

Although no media spend on Facebook is required, we encourage our clients to look at a fully integrated marketing plan for any promotion they may run. While viral effects can be quite powerful, simply putting a promotional tab on your brand page is rarely enough on its own to drive significant engagement. As with any promotion, it is important to think first about your goals to determine the type of promotion that is right for you and how you wish to publicize it.

##Everyone Wins!

At Strutta we aim to offer a solution for everyone from a small business owner to a large brand. We realize there may still be questions about what solution is right for you so we encourage you to contact us. Or if you’re ready to get started, go ahead with building a contest and promote away!