Social Media Minute—Contests on Facebook a No Go?

What you need to know and what you can still do.


Facebook recently made changes to their terms of service that impacts how you can run promotions. The biggest change is that a business can no longer require “likers” to post a photo, “like” a status, or require some other sort of action in order to qualify for the contest. You dealership can still mandate that consumers “like” a page before showing them a sign up form or being invited to an event. The other area that changes the way promotions can be run is that you cannot alert winners via the Facebook messaging system that they have won. Winners will need to be notified by email.


Here are some examples of “dos and don’ts” as outlined by Facebook:


1.You cannot: Condition entry in the promotion upon a user providing content on Facebook, such as posting on a wall of a page, uploading a photo, or posting a status update.


You can: Use a third party application to condition entry to the promotion upon a user providing content to the application. For example, you may administer a photo contest whereby a user uploads a photo to a third-party application to enter the contest or create an event for users to RSVP.


2.You cannot: Administer a promotion that users automatically enter by liking your page, checking in to your place or connecting to your platform integration.


You can: Require entrants to like your page, check in to your place or connect to your platform integration before they provide their full entry information, such as name and contact information.


3.You cannot: Notify winners through Facebook, such as through Facebook messages, chat, or posts on profiles or pages.


You can: Collect an email or address through the third-party application for the promotion in order to contact the winner by email or standard mail.


4.You cannot: Instruct people (in the rules or elsewhere) to sign up for a Facebook account before they enter the promotion.


You can: Instruct users to visit the third-party application to enter the promotion (as described in Section on Facebook regulations). Since users must have a Facebook account in order to access an application, if you give this instruction, they will be prompted to sign up for an account.


The bottom line is that you can keep doing contests that require people to “like” the page but you cannot make them jump through any other hoops directly on Facebook to qualify and you will need a third party vendor to host, display and manage the entries so that they are not directly placed on Facebook. By using an experienced vendor, not only will you comply with Facebook regulations but you should get more qualified entrants and likers—complete with more information from an entry form—than you would just by trying to post contests right on your wall.


When selecting a vendor to run contests or games as a part of an integrated strategy to help you increase your “liker” count, you should also make sure that your vendor’s application will not:


·         Spam your customer’s Facebook wall


·         Take information from your “likers” to use for their own purposes


·         Add their own branding and contact information on your application/Facebook site


·         Violate any of the other Facebook policies .


We’ve seen some unfortunate instances of dealers teaming up with vendors that do not follow the right standards and this can ultimately hurt the dealer more than the vendor that runs the contest or application. The consequences can be everything from annoying and turning away customers from the dealership to even having pages shut down by Facebook.


Last but not least, make sure your contest rules are fully vetted by your legal counsel or sweepstakes vendor and clearly posted.


Alexi Venneri is cofounder and chief operating officer of Digital Air Strike, one of the fastest growing automotive social media and reputation management companies specializing in full service programs that give dealers an unfair online advantage. Alexi can be reached at or by phone at 206-669-6989.





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