New facebook Contest Rules

Have Facebook rules stopped you from running contests on your Facebook wall in the past?

Are you wondering how the new Facebook promotion changes might benefit your business?

Facebook has made a huge shift in how they allow contests to be run.

Keep reading to discover what your options are and how other businesses are responding to these new changes.

UPDATE: I also more recently made a video that really explained some of these nuances here:

What’s New

For years, Facebook has been saying that promotions and contests needed to be run through an application and not on your timeline (or wall, as we used to call it).

You were not allowed to ask people to like or comment on a picture or a post to be entered to win.

But now that has all changed.

Facebook announced on August 27 that they’ve changed their Pages Terms to make it “easier for businesses of all sizes to create and administer promotions on Facebook.” They’re allowing pages to run contests and promotions on their own timelines (you cannot run contests on a personal timeline). Per Facebook, businesses can now:

  • Collect entries by having users post on the page or comment/like a page post
  • Collect entries by having users message the page
  • Utilize likes as a voting mechanism

Now businesses with a Facebook page have a lot more options and can run a contest very quickly and easily by posting text or a photo and asking people to comment and/or like it.

Facebook New contest rules

Get more engagement on your page by running a contest.

Here’s the complete list of rules for promotions and contests directly from their Page Guidelines under section E (as of August 28, 2013):

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:

  • The official rules;
  • Offer terms and eligibility requirements (ex: age and residency restrictions); and
  • 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 complete release of Facebook by each entrant or participant.
  • 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.

So now businesses have the choice of running the contest through an app or through their timeline.

Facebook even released a video explaining their new promotional terms.

Make sure you also check out Facebook’s Promotion Guidelines download as well—very helpful!

Facebook Contests: What You Can and Can’t Do

Let’s break this down into a handy chart of what you can and can’t do to run your contest.

What You Can Do:

  • Require people to like a post and/or comment on a post to be entered
  • Require that someone post something directly on your timeline to enter (could be a text post or a photo)
  • Use likes as a voting method (either liking a post or photo on your timeline)
  • Require that someone message your page to enter
  • Announce the winner of the contest on your page
  • Require that to win the prize, entrants come back to your page to see who has won the contest
  • Use a Like button plugin on a website as a voting mechanism
  • Use an app plugin to post an entry to your contest directly on your page
  • Run your contest through a Facebook app

What You Can’t Do:

  • Require that people share a post or photo to be entered
  • Require someone to post something on their own personal timeline or a friend’s timeline to enter  (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)
  • Require people to tag themselves in a photo to either vote or enter
  • Have anyone who likes your page be entered to win (contest does not take place on the timeline)

How the New Rules Can Work for You

If you’re wondering if your contest will work within the new rules, think about where the engagement on Facebook happens. If it’s directly on your timeline or through your Message button, then you’re probably ok. And you still can use third-party apps to run a contest.

Also note that you can “encourage” people to share your post or contest, but you can’t require it for entry. Many third-party apps have in the past given “extra” entries for sharing the contest and it looks like that practice will have to stop, according to the Promotion Guidelines.

With all of these new options, how do you choose what type of contest to run on Facebook? Let’s dive into that conundrum.

How to Choose What Type of Contest to Run on Facebook

Decisions, decisions! With more options always comes hand-wringing over which will be the best for you and your marketing goals.

You can break it down fairly simply into this:

  • Facebook timeline contest will give you more engagement fast.
  • Facebook app contest will give you a list of email addresses that you can connect with again.

But there are more considerations than those basic needs. You need to take into account the advantages and disadvantages of each type of contest.

Running a Timeline Contest


  • Quick and easy to set up
  • Fun and easy to engage people to enter
  • Free to run
  • Works on mobile devices (many Facebook apps are not mobile-friendly)
  • Increased PTAT score


  • Do not receive an email address with the entry
  • Can’t reshare the post easily to tell people about the contest multiple times
  • Need to post the rules of the contest and the required release of Facebook’s responsibility for the contest somewhere within the post (or a link to the terms and rules of your contest)
  • Contests may not increase fans as much as a like-gated app would
  • Could be harder to notify the winner if the winner is not paying attention
  • If you require both a like and a comment, it could be a pain to validate

Running a Facebook App Contest


  • Gather email addresses to connect with those people again
  • More control over the look and feel of the contest
  • Can like-gate the entry so that you grow your fans
  • Easy resharing to promote the contest multiple times
  • Easy to have rules posted within the app
  • Many contest apps have metrics that show data about when people are entering and where they are coming from


  • Barrier to entry is a little higher
  • Some contest apps do not work on mobile devices
  • Cost
    understand the limitations of reposting

    Make sure you understand some of the limitations of running a timeline contest.

New Options for Timeline Contests

Several new offerings for timeline contests have already sprung up (these coders are fast!) to help make running a timeline contest a little easier.

One of the things marketers will be concerned about with the new timeline contests is how to pick a random winner from all of the people who like or comment on a post to enter.

Note that there are already a few solutions available.

One free tool is from the makers of EdgeRank Checker called Contest Capture. You can export your likes and comments on a particular post into a .csv file. From there you can use a random number generator to give you a line number on that .csv file of the winner.

Contest Capture facebook

Use Contest Capture to download a file of the likes and comments on a post.

Another free tool that will help you pick a winner is Woobox. Woobox will load all of your recent posts (click on the Posts link at the top of the page after logging into Woobox), and then allow you to pick a winner right from the Woobox site by just clicking on the Pick link under the Winners heading.

Woobox winner picker Facebook contest

Use the Woobox app to pick a winner.

Woobox has many free apps including this tool, but their Contest/Sweepstakes app itself is a paid product.

ShortStack has a Comment and Like Importer that allows you to sort through the comments and likes so you can select a winner. This works through their platform but requires a paid plan.

And it looks like Heyo is coming out with a Timeline Contest Creator shortly to help you deploy your timeline contest.

In the coming weeks, we’re sure to see even more tools available to help you launch and administer your timeline contest.

Timeline Contest Best Practices

Right now, timeline contests are a work in progress. Time will tell how well they actually work to engage. One thing I noticed with a timeline contest I ran was that I had a lot of engagement early, but that it did fade after a day. Also I didn’t get a lot of new likes for my page, despite having a lot of activity on the post itself.

Here are some initial best practices for your Facebook timeline contest:

  1. Have a good picture describing the basics of your contest. A picture is more engaging and shareable than a text post and the text will travel with the picture as it’s shared.
  2. Require a comment. If you require a comment, you can tag the person who wins in a comment (usually—sometimes tagging isn’t working) when you select the winner.
  3. Make the rules clear in the post. Give people the basics of the rules. If you need more space, you may want to host the rules on a website and refer people there with a link.
  4. Pin your post to the top of your page for more visibility.
  5. Make the length of a timeline contest fairly short. Since it’s hard to re-post the link, make the length of the contest a week at most.
  6. Use an app for bigger prizes or for when you want to collect emails and leads. Apps are easier to promote and you can even connect some apps directly to your email provider for easy synchronization.
    Best practices on facebook

    Pin your post to the top of your page and require a comment.

More Options for Facebook Promotions

Timeline contests are ultimately good news for marketers. They offer more choices and flexibility in what you can do to engage your audience. Try running at least one to see what it does for your business.

And remember there are good reasons to use a third-party Facebook app for your contest.

It’s nice to have new tools for your Facebook marketing toolbox.

What about you? Are you going to try a timeline contest? What possibilities do you see for this new marketing avenue? Let us know in the comments below!

Note: This post originally appeared on Social Media Examiner and is reposted with permission.