So You Want to Hold a Contest on Facebook?
So your organization has a Facebook page. Good. You’ve been building your presence, getting new fans and posting regularly. Also good. You’ve even been conducting a “sweeps” contest on your page.
Wait, hold up.
It may seem like a good idea to have your contest where your fans are, but you may be in violation of the Terms of Service. Did you even read the fine print? Don't worry, almost no one does--the legalese and mumbo-jumbo is really boring. Here's a quick step by step translation.
First things first. It's up to you to make sure your promotion is legal and legit, not Facebook. That means you are responsible for “the official rules, offer terms and eligibility requirements (e.g., age and residency restrictions),” and everything else you’ve ever heard said or mentioned involving other sweepstakes. But wait! There are even more regulations to deal with, including those “governing the promotion and all prizes offered in connection with the promotion (e.g., registration and obtaining necessary regulatory approvals).”
But just because you’ve followed all Facebook’s requirements doesn’t make you legal. If you’re not sure if your contest fits the law to a “T,” go ask someone--preferably, a lawyer.
Next, any promotion you do on Facebook must be administered within Apps on Facebook.com. That means any part of running your contest (like collecting entries, holding a drawing, judging entries, notifying winners...you get the idea) can ONLY be run through an app on a tab on your Facebook page.
If you’re going to run a promotion on Facebook you need the following:
- A complete legal release of Facebook acknowledged by every person who enters
- Something that tells everyone that the promotion is absolutely, positively, in entirely no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, associated with, or has anything at all to do with Facebook. Nothing at all.
- Something that tells your participants that all their information goes to you, the people running the contest, and not Facebook.
It's tempting to use all those shiny little functions on Facebook for registration--like, wouldn’t it be totally cool and hip and sexy to let people enter the contest just by “liking” your page, or checking into a place? I mean, that would be slick, right? Wrong. Resist the temptation. It's not allowed. Forbidden. Verboten. Get behind me, “Like” button. That’s your new mantra, and this isn’t the last time you’ll say it.
Don’t require people to do anything on Facebook other than “liking” you, checking in to someplace, or using your sweepstakes app before they’re allowed to enter the contest. Basically, don’t be all “Like this comment to enter the contest,” or, “put your photo on the Wall to register.”
Does your contest involve people voting up your participants? Then you better not think about using the “Like” button for that. How are you planning on telling people when they won the contest? It better not be Facebook. Email them, pick up the phone and call them, write a letter, just don’t tell them through “chat.”
Finally, don’t use Facebook’s name, any of their trademarks, trade names, copyrights, or just about anything else they own in connection with your promotion. Don’t mention them in the rules for your promotion either. Oh, that part where you’re required to say that Facebook had nothing to do with your promotion? It’s okay to use their name there.
So, what is actually covered by these terms? Facebook considers a contest to be “a promotion that includes a prize of monetary value and a winner determined on the basis of skill.” A sweepstakes is “a promotion that includes a prize of monetary value and a winner selected on the basis of chance.” If all these rules and guidelines sound like too much work, just don’t run a sweepstakes or contest on Facebook.