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Does Your Facebook Contest meet the Rules?

You get all excited about running a Competition or Contest on your Facebook Page and someone tells you – YOU MUST follow Facebook’s Promotional Guidelines AND your local Rules!

Note:  In Australia and UK we call them Competitions in Canada and US they call them Contests.

Basically there are 2 types of Competitions/Contests that businesses usually run.

Games of skill: A video or photo contest would fall into this category. An entrant needs to receive votes in order for them to win or its outcome is judged based on a certain set of criteria.

An essay contest where you ask an entrant to submit for example “In 25 words or less why you want to win”.  The winner is then chosen based on what is written (that’s the skill part!).

Games of Chance: Instant win style contest or a Sweepstakes which is a Random Draw.

For Australian Businesses conducting a Game of Chance competitions:

You don’t need a permit in Queensland, Tasmania or Western Australia.  However New South Wales, Northern Territory, Victoria and South Australia require permits.

If you are running a Game of Skill:

You don’t require a permit to conduct a test of skill promotion, however you must ensure that:

  • All entries are judged individually on their merit.
  • One Winner is chosen at judges decision based on originality. You cannot run a game of skill and have all the entrants submit the same answer ie. “Where was the 2012 Olympic Games Held?”.

To learn the specifics for your state rules in Australia visit: http://australia.gov.au/topics/culture-history-and-sport/gambling-and-lotteries.

For those not in Australia, I have tracked down these resources to help you.

UK:   http://www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/

US: http://www.lfirm.com/CM/MarketingLawBasics/Sweepstakes-Law-Basics.asp

Canada: http://www.ipvancouverblog.com/2010/08/promotional-contest-law-in-canada/

Once you have your local Rules sorted then you need to contend with Facebook’s Promotional Guidelines.

** On August 28th 2013 – Facebook Update the Guidelines and this post as been edited to reflect those updates.

There is now only 4 Guidelines to follow, and for the most part fairly simple to follow.

1. If you use Facebook to communicate or administer a promotion (ex: a contest or sweepstakes), you are responsible for the lawful operation of that promotion, including:
a.   The official rules;
b.   Offer terms and eligibility requirements (ex: age and residency restrictions); and
c.   Compliance with applicable rules and regulations governing the promotion and all prizes offered (ex: registration and obtaining necessary regulatory approvals)
2. Promotions on Facebook must include the following:
a.   A complete release of Facebook by each entrant or participant.
b.   Acknowledgement that the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.
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).
4. We will not assist you in the administration of your promotion, and you agree that if you use our service to administer your promotion, you do so at your own risk.


With the new changes you can now run a Contest directly on your Facebook Page Wall.  This style of contests is great for quick engagement.  They can require a lot of additional management,  picking a winner is often difficult and you don’t get a list of entrants at the end of it. 

Facebook has made it so much easier to run Contests, to learn more about an OnPage Contest read our latest blog post “Facebook Makes It Easier to Run Contests, Sweepstakes and Promotions.

We believe that both styles of Contests have their place within your marketing.   To learn more about Facebook Competitions visit fanpagecompetitions.com and grab our Contest App and 7 modules of training to get you on the right path to your Facebook Promotions.