Why Your Facebook Contest Could get Your Page Shut Down

Why Your Facebook Contest Could get Your Page Shut Down

Facebook contests - what you're doing wrong

I'm not going to beat around the bush with this post: requiring people to share a post in order to be entered into a Facebook contest is a violation of Facebook's terms and conditions. Catch the eye of the Facebook watchdogs and you'll get a warning. Ignore the warning, and one day you could log in to your page only to find that it's disappeared and your account has been suspended.

If Facebook is your main source of customer engagement, this could spell big trouble, not only for your bottom line, but for your reputation as well.

But I see everyone else doing it!

Yes, that's true. Business pages are breaking the rules all the time with Facebook contests. The reason?

  1. Ignorance - many people don't understand or review the Facebook Page Guidelines. And to be fair, there was a while there where they seemed to be changing the guidelines on a monthly basis. However, as a business owner it is up to you to understand the rules of any tool you are using. Additionally, your average Facebook user would not know you are breaking the rules and so would not think to report your page.
  2. Resources - there are too many pages & posts for Facebook to monitor all activity, so most pages breaking the rules don't get caught.
  3. Page performance - Facebook considers 'shares' to be the ultimate form of engagement, and so the more shares you can generate the better your page does. And everyone knows that contests are the easiest way to generate engagement.

Using 'shares' is unfair for all entrants

Why? Because as a page owner, you do not have access to the names of everyone who has shared your post. When you click on 'shares' you can only see shares from people who are your direct friends, or who have shared publicly. This means that anyone who is not your actual Facebook friend, or who has shared the post to their friends-only timeline will not actually get entered into the contest. But they think they have been. See where people might feel tricked into engaging with your page? Or wondering why they never win despite sharing every contest you've ever had?

So how do 'shares' violate contest guidelines?

Well, it's pretty explicitly stated in the Facebook Page Guidelines. Here is the direct quote:

3. Promotions may be administered on Pages or within apps on Facebook. Personal Timelines must not be used to administer promotions (ex: “share on your Timeline to enter” or “share on your friend's Timeline to get additional entries” is not permitted).

The rationale is that Facebook wants users to be sharing things to their timelines because they want to - and not because they have to.

How do I fix it?

Easy :) You can ask for people to enter a contest by liking or commenting on a post. Every single one of these is available to you as a page admin. You can certainly encourage people to share your contest (and many undoubtedly will), but you can't make it an entry requirement.

Post likes and comments are a simple way to gather entries, but if your contests begin to get a lot of entires, you may want to look at using an app to simplify the tracking and drawing functions. Some great apps include Woobox, Shortstack, Agorapulse, and Easypromos. And because third-party apps are required to comply with Facebook contest guidelines, you know you'll be safe!

Want to know more? Just drop me a line :)