How to legally run a promotion on Facebook

SHARE THIS TO WIN! Like and Share to WIN! Tag a friend to WIN! These competitions are against the rules and could see you banned from Facebook or fined by the Government.

We’ve all seen these posts - but did you know they are actually against the rules on Facebook? Facebook has strict rules about running competitions and promotions on business pages and will suspend accounts found to be breaching the rules. All it takes is a complaint from a competitor, a disgruntled competition entrant or any random on Facebook and your page can be shut down.

Facebook competitions are also subject to State Government laws. If you are found to be breaching these laws you can face a fine, even from another State Government. Here’s a definitive guide to legally running a competition on Facebook.

WHAT YOU CAN'T DO

Facebook’s latest guidelines state: 

Personal Timelines and friend connections 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”, and "tag your friends in this post to enter" are not permitted).

This rules out any competition where an entrant must share a post or tag a friend to win a prize. You also cannot encourage entrants to tag themselves in photo to win. 

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Facebook says businesses can:

  • Collect entries by having users post on the page or comment
  • Collect entries from users who have liked a post/comment/the page.
  • Collect entries by having users message the Page
  • Utilise likes as a voting mechanism

This means there are two types of competitions you can run:

A GAME OF CHANCE

Essentially a lottery, a game of chance involves a winner being randomly selected. Under Facebook’s rules you can randomly select an winner from Facebook users who have: 

  • Posted on your page 
  • Commented on a post 
  • Liked a post
  • Liked your page 
  • Messaged your page 
  • Posted a photo or video on your page

A GAME OF SKILL

Selecting a winner based on the skills they show. Under Facebook’s rules a Game of Skill competition could be awarded on:

  • The best/funniest/smartest comment on a post
  • The best/funniest/smartest post to a page
  • The best/most beautiful/funniest photo or video submitted on a post or to the page
  • The comment that attracts the most likes on a post
  • The post that attracts the most likes on a page
  • The photo or video that attracts the most likes on a page. 

You are allowed to select a winner based on the number of likes or votes they receive or judge them on merit.

DON’T FORGET THE FINE PRINT

But wait, there are a few more rules you still have to follow…

Facebook states that you are responsible for the lawful operation of that promotion, including:

The official rules;
Offer terms and eligibility requirements (ex: age and residency restrictions);
Compliance with applicable rules and regulations governing the promotion and all prizes offered (ex: registration and obtaining necessary regulatory approvals)

Promotions on Facebook must also include the following:

A complete release of Facebook by each entrant or participant; and
Acknowledgement that the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.

While this all sounds pretty intense, in Queensland it is pretty easy to comply with these rules. 

WHAT YOU NEED TO DO: 

CREATE A TERMS & CONDITIONS PAGE

Create a page that clearly spells out the rules and terms of the competition. This can be a page on your website, a tab on your Facebook Page or a note. You should link to this page in your competition posts.

CLEARLY STATE THE RULES OF THE PROMOTION

This is a legal requirement, but it also stops disgruntled entrants. You should include the following in your rules:

  • Who is running the competition? The official name of your business.
  • Who can enter the contest? The winner may have to be a certain age, or live in a certain state/country to be eligible to enter. You may also choose to rule out employees or relatives.
  • What is the prize? Clearly state what they will get and what they won’t get if it isn’t includes eg: flights, transport costs etc.
  • How many times can an individual enter? One entry only? Or multiples?
  • What date and time does the contest close?
  • How will you pick the winner? Is it a random selection or the comment with the most likes? Will it be judged by someone? Is their decision final?
  • If the promotion entrants are creating photos, videos, reviews, stories, etc how will this content be used? Will you share it your page? Other SM networks?
  • How will the winner be notified? Make sure you can contact them!

THE FACEBOOK FINE PRINT

Keep Facebook happy by including a complete release of liability. It can go a little something like this:

By entering and participating in this promotion, the entrant agrees to hold harmless, defend and indemnify Facebook from and against any and all claims, demands, liability, damages or causes of action (however named or described), losses, costs or expenses, with respect to or arising out of or related to (i) entrant’s participation in the promotion, or (ii) entrant’s participation in any activities related to the prize, the acceptance and/or misuse of a prize including, without limitation, any property loss, damage, personal injury or death caused to any person(s). 
This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook.

THE GOVERNMENT RED TAPE

Keep the State Government happy by obeying their rules.  Every Australian State has different rules regarding competitions, lotteries and trade promotions. The bad news is that your promotion has to abide by the rules wherever the competition is run, not where you are based. This means a Brisbane based company has to comply with South Australia’s laws IF you are allowing Adelaide residents to enter your competition. 

The good news is, Queensland law does not require a licence to operate a trade promotion.

In Queensland, Trade Promotions are considered to be free entry draws conducted to promote goods or services. Any person may conduct a promotional game; however, they are normally conducted by businesses to promote the sale of products. Queensland Law does not require a licence to operate a trade promotion.

One way to avoid other state’s requirements for a licence is to simply limit competition entrants to certain states. 

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Check out the following pages for more information about running legal Trade Promotions.

Facebook Pages Terms of Use

Facebook FAQ about Promotions  

Queensland Guidelines for Trade Promotions