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Contests on Facebook – How Not to Get Put In Facebook Jail!

You’re excited – you want to run a Contest on Facebook, but where do you start.

Rule 101 – drop on over and read Facebook’s Promotional Guidelines.  Yes I know they are riveting and make for a self induced sleeping coma.  But they are there for a reason, and you as a business who operates within Facebook need to follow them.


Now that you have read and understood all of them, your well on your way to creating your first contest !

Rule 102 – is to have a goal, as to WHY you want to run a Contest for your Facebook Business Page.  Just because someone else is doing them, doesn’t mean that they are right for your business (well just not yet anyway)!

Rule 103 – Follow the Guidelines and use a third party contest app, these little beauties have been designed to do all the hard work for you … and better yet, they provide you with a list of happy Likers at the end of your Contest !

It really is as easy as 1, 2, 3 – or is it?

“Contests on Facebook and How Not to get Put into Facebook Jail!”


Late last year a group of Bloggers got together (as they often do) and held a Contest to mutually benefit several businesses.  They used a fairly well known contest app called Rafflecopter.  Unfortunately their contest was deemed to break the Promotional Guidelines by Facebook and their pages were “put in Jail” as so elegantly put by “Full Price Never” website.


Whilst I see similar contests being run every single day in Facebook, I personally think that by encouraging people to LIKE many pages at once (in this case 15) as part of their Promotions – that your breaking the Guidelines.

I believe this is also supported by Facebook’s Blog post on “Rewarding Users”. on how to Reward Users correctly.

It’s really disappointing to see contest app providers allow businesses to “step outside” the Guidelines and not be aware they are actually doing so.

facebook contest app

The Guideline states “that you must not take any action other than… liking a Page or connecting to YOUR APP.  I believe it means “your Page”, “Your App” and whilst the Rules are not clear on this, I think this is where a lot of pages are pushing the boundaries of their Contests, by having entrants like more than one Page per Contest and get bonus entries for doing so.  If Facebook would provide more specifics on this Rule, everyone including myself, would be a lot wiser as to the interpretation of this Rule.

Another point that brought their Contest to the desk of Facebook is when money is involved.  They were giving away a nice cash bonus for people.   Many times when I have seen “cash” and a “chance for a lottery ticket” involved, the pages have been slapped with either a warning, or in some cases shut down.

Take the time to read Heather’s story, as she raises some fantastic points about what happened to her Page.  By the way, its good to know that Heather did get her Page back, but not without lots of stress.

I cannot say this often enough, be careful, just because you see someone else doing a contest a certain way – doesn’t mean it meets the Guidelines set by Facebook!

Oh and pay particular attention to What you can do to avoid this issue and what changes I’ll be making”

Word of Warning: Follow the Guidelines; use a Facebook Compliant Contest App that meets Facebook’s Promotional Guidelines, then you won’t need a “Get out of Jail Free Card” for your Business.