Six tips to running a Facebook competition

by Adam O’Grady

Many businesses by now will have a Facebook page, be interacting with fans, providing interesting content and giving the world a peak behind their business walls. It’s safe to say many of them have even been confident enough to run a competition or giveaway via their new social media channel.

While this is generally an effective way to engage fans and drum up interest in both the Facebook page and the brand, there are a number of guidelines to keep in mind. These guidelines are publicly available if you’ve got the time to trawl through them. Otherwise, here’s the general lowdown.

Never run a competition on your Facebook wall
Competitions run through Facebook need to be done through a separate Facebook application – not on your page wall. You can either use a separate ‘canvas page’ (the normal default for applications) or a ‘page tab’ (similar to those listed underneath a page’s profile picture).

No likes, tagging, uploading or leaving comments – at least not for entry or voting
Competitions can’t be based upon uploading/tagging photos, leaving comments or ‘liking’ a status/photo/album. In a similar fashion to the above rules, while entry can be conditional on a person having liked a Page or checked in to a Place, such actions can’t automatically enter a user into a competition.

No announcing winners on Facebook
Once the competition has run its course and the winners have been decided, they will need to be notified in a way that doesn’t include messages, chat or posts on profiles or pages. This may mean emailing or calling them if they’ve provided that information in entering the competition or linking to a separate web page with a list of the winners.

Keep it legal
Aside from Facebook terms and conditions; you’ll also want to make sure your competition conforms to any state and federal laws – especially any concerning sweepstakes (chance-based winning).

Cover your back
Regardless of how you host your competition, it’s a good idea to put in a reminder that the competition is not endorsed by, sponsored by or related to Facebook in any way. This should also include a notice that data is not being handed over to Facebook, but to the administrators of the competition – a condition many entrants may not otherwise realise.

What happens if I ignore the guidelines?
You might get away with it. However, not adhering to the Facebook terms and conditions leaves you open to any consequences as decided by the Facebook moderation team. This could mean having your Facebook page shut down completely.

It’s not all doom and gloom though. You can circumvent a few of these rules and still engage your fans by running the competition off-site. By hosting the entry pages, terms and winner announcements on your own web site, the competition is not a Facebook competition but an off-site promotion that you’re sharing with your Facebook fans.

With this in mind, I encourage everyone to go forth and use their social mediums smartly. If you’re engaging your fans and playing by the rules, everybody wins.

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