How to run a Facebook competition

If you want to increase your followers on Facebook, you might decide to run a Facebook competition.  But, did you know most Facebook ‘Like and Share’ campaigns are actually illegal under UK law and/or contravene Facebook’s t&c’s?

If you upset Facebook, you risk a removal of the competition, possibly even a temporary closure of your Facebook account. That will hurt your business. It happened to Stobo Castle – it could happen to you!

Competition or prize draw?

Firstly – is it a competition that you’re running? Most ‘Facebook competitions’ that we see are actually prize draws – random sweepstakes where the winner is picked out of a hat. Under UK law, a competition should be judged (e.g. best photo, funniest caption) according to criteria that are clearly presented.

Why are you doing this?

Before you even consider a prize draw or competition, think very carefully what you’re trying to achieve. Brand awareness is a great goal, but if you’re simply out to increase the number of followers on your page, how useful are those followers going to be to you?

Are you in danger of cluttering up your genuine likers with people only interested in winning a Christmas hamper? If that happens, your engagement rates (i.e. the percentage of likers who actively like and comment on your posts) will plummet overnight and Facebook will hit you hard for that; if they think your followers aren’t finding your content interesting your organic reach will go down.

At least offer something that potential clients or customers might be interested in, something connected with your business or community.
Really though, it’s better to engage in a long-term strategy of organic growth, supplemented with paid ads, as appropriate.

Like & comment… that’s it

You’ve read the above and still decided to forge ahead. Given the Facebook rules and the UK laws, what can you specify as a condition of entry for a prize draw?

You CAN ask people to
* Like a post
* Comment on a post (including photos and links)
* Post on a page

You CAN’T ask people to:
* Like a page
* Share a post
* Tag a friend in a post or comment

There’s nothing wrong with suggesting people could also like your page and share the post – but it mustn’t be a compulsory entry method. It’s kind of like the ‘no purchase necessary’ clause that you see in offline competitions.

Equally, tagging a friend is considered social coercion, and Facebook doesn’t like that.

Also, the more of these conditions you put on a post, the less likely people are to enter and the more desperate you look.

What else must you do?

You must give a closing date and time, explain what the prize is, and how the winner will be selected.

You also have to add in the body of your first post “This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook”

That’s the bare minimum that you need to include in the announcement.

You can include further terms and conditions as required, and there’s lots more info at Super Lucky Me to help with that.

How will you decide the winner?

You’ll see all sorts of ways that people decide on winners, printing them out, creating spreadsheets, but if you do actually run a ‘like and comment’ prize draw, as recommended, this all becomes much easier, because yes, there’s an app for that! Several in fact, but start with Fanpage Karma’s Good Luck Fairy You just post the URL of your Facebook prize draw into it, select whether you want likers, commenters or likers and commenters and tadah! It selects a random winner.

Alternative solutions

If you host the competition from your website, you can link to it via your Facebook page, and then you don’t have to worry so much about Facebook’s rules, so long as you obey the law of the land. There are also apps that can help, such as Woobox and EasyPromos. Look into these if you’re running a photo competition, for example, or if you want add additional conditions.

More info

For a really thorough explanation of how to run a Facebook campaign correctly, along with some great tips and tricks, go to Super Lucky Me.

Finally

Whether you choose to act on this advice is up to you. Clearly, most Facebook pages are either unaware of these rules or choose not to follow them, and now that you know about it, you’ll be very aware when others flout the rules! Personally, I feel that if you choose to run your business legally, you should also choose to operate competitions correctly and lead by example. You will appear professional and informed, which can only be a good thing.

I don’t believe there are any clever shortcuts anymore. You should be creating useful content, and supplementing it with paid ads if you want to attract and retain genuine followers. That’s something I can certainly help you with. 

Otherwise, well, it’s all a bit of a lottery!