Confused about whether your tag and share competition is illegal, or whether ‘like gating’ is going to land you in Facebook jail? The short answer? Yes and Yes.
As competition experts, it’s our job to know exactly what makes a Facebook competition legal and exactly what will land it in Facebook jail – without passing GO or collecting $200. We’ve put together a super simple infographic to help you get your head around whether your Facebook competition is legal – and if it isn’t, what exactly needs to be done to get your competition on the right side of Facebook’s ‘laws’.
Asking entrants to ‘tag and share’ for entries or extra entries.
Tagging and sharing to enter a competition or to gain extra entries are two of the few things specifically mentioned by name as expressly prohibited in Facebook’s competition rules:
Tag and share competitions were a great way to get your competition, product and/or service in front on new audiences… but they were also a huge source of spam and frustration for Facebook and its users, so a blanket ban was introduced.
Yes, you may still see the occasional tag and share contest in your Facebook feed, but rest assured, if that post is reported, the account risks immediate shut down. No questions asked.
TIP: Instead of asking entrants to tag and share, ask them who they’d share their prize with if they win… In a lot of cases people will tag that person they’d share with, but as it’s not a requirement of entry, your competition is still ‘Facebook legal’.
Not explaining your rules and eligibility requirements.
Facebook’s promotions on pages, groups and events policy states that you are lawfully responsible for providing official rules, terms and eligibility requirements.
Not only is it required by Facebook, it’s also considered best practice for any competition, giveaway, sweepstake or contest. So how do you do this?
Always, always, always have a set of terms and conditions (otherwise known as competition rules) and include a summary of your key competition rules at the bottom of your contest post on Facebook – then provide a link to where your entrants can see the full official rules or terms and conditions.
Running a competition with no rules at all not only counts as an illegal competition in Facebook’s eyes, but leaves you and your business wide open to all kinds of legal headaches, so ensure you clearly explain your competition eligibility criteria.
Not applying for relevant permits or licences in your country or state.
Knowing you should have a licence or permit for your competition and deciding to run one without a licence anyway puts you at risk of a huge fine and/or prison time (we’re talking actual prison, not the imaginary Facebook jail kind of prison).
Facebook states that you are responsible for the lawful operation of your promotion (see how they cover their butts legally too?), which includes ensuring you have the correct permits and/or licences to run your competition.
In Australia and many other countries worldwide, you are permitted to run a game of skill competition without the need to apply for licences or permits, so if the cost of licences are preventing you from running a competition, consider editing your entry method to a game of skill to save money and avoid the need for licences.
GAME OF SKILL VS GAME OF CHANCE
What’s the difference between a game of skill and a game of chance? A game of chance involves an element of randomness in selecting your winner; whereas in a game of skill competition, your winner is selected by the skill they demonstrate in their competition entry.
We’ve got a whole post on games of chance vs games of skill right here.
Not releasing Facebook from liability.
Though it sounds confusing, this one is actually incredibly easy. Facebook literally gives you the exact wording to include in your rules and terms and conditions:
“This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed, administered by or associated with Facebook.”
Facebook also requires you secure a release from each participant, which is best left to your terms and conditions. Our competition terms and conditions template includes all the clauses you need to keep Facebook (and Instagram) happy.
Restricting content or entry until after they like your page – AKA ‘like gating’.
Like gating 1. the process of hiding or restricting access to competitions or entry forms until one has liked a page; 2. requiring entrants to like a page first in order to proceed to the competition entry.
No one wants to be forced to like a page to enter a competition… and to be frank, it’s only going to result in a huge amount of un-likes after the competition.
Instead of forcing people to like your page in order to enter your competition, watch the organic likes roll in during your competition from people who naturally choose to like and follow your page because they genuinely like your business.
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So that’s how to run a totally illegal competition; here’s how to run a completely legal competition or contest on Facebook…
Asking entrants to like your page for a chance to win.
As long as you don’t force people to like your page into order to see the full competition or access an entry form (see like gating above), there’s nothing wrong with requiring entrants to like your Facebook page in order to get an entry (or an extra entry) into your competition.
It’s a great way to boost your following, get your content in front of more people and build your Facebook presence – especially if your business is new and you’re just starting out.
A word of warning though, bear in mind that it’s a real pain in the ass to actually find a list of people who like your page and even then, there’s no way to export it, so get ready for an intense session of copying and pasting.
Asking entrants to like or comment on your post for a chance to win.
Totally legal and great for engagement.
Just make sure you get your entrants to comment something meaningful, worthwhile and useful for your business/future marketing and not simply commenting ‘done’, ‘entered’, ‘win’, ‘pick me’ or an emoji.
Facebook has cracked down hard on spammy posts, which means the algorithms will punish posts like these.
Instead of asking them to comment a single word or emoji, why not get creative and ask them to tell you their favourite thing about your business or how they use your product or even what they plan to do with the prize if they’re picked as your lucky winner.
BONUS: If you pick your winner based on the quality of, or skill shown in their answer, your competition becomes a game of skill, which may not need a licence or permit.
Getting entrants to enter your competition via Facebook messenger.
Not only are Messenger competitions legal, but they’re particularly powerful when combined with message bots and autoresponders.
Messenger is an important tool for businesses – we have it on our site and frequently get enquiries and questions via Messenger.
Many apps and plugins that enable you to use Messenger on your site also have the ability to set up autoresponders which can collect competition entries, ask for further information to segment your audience and even include offers or discounts.
Collecting entries via a Facebook page/tab/app.
Third party apps that plug into your Facebook page to help you run competitions were extremely popular back when it was required to run your competition via a third party app.
Though this is no longer the case, some people do still choose to run their competitions via apps or tabs on their Facebook page. It’s a great way to capture entries on Facebook without asking your audience to leave your page, or a great alternative to capture leads and build your audience if you don’t yet have your website up and running.
Directing people to your website to enter.
Your entrants don’t have to enter on Facebook, you can direct them to your website to enter. This is hands down our favourite way to run a legal competition on Facebook.
Not only is it legal, but it’s smart too. We’re always going on about the benefits of creating a landing page on your website for your competition because we all know we’re just borrowing Facebook’s audience and that access could be revoked or limited at any time.
Use Facebook like a funnel to push your page likers and followers (or those who see your competition ads) to your website where they’ll become familiar with your brand and maybe even make a purchase. In the meantime, you’ll pick up their information in your Facebook/Google/LinkedIn pixel and in your Analytics software.
It’s win win and we’re really confused why more people don’t leverage this totally legal Facebook contest entry method!
Reminding entrants to like your page.
There’s nothing stopping you from inviting or reminding your entrants to like your page once they’ve entered to boost your following – and build social proof for your brand.
You don’t have to resort to forcing people to like your Facebook page before they can access the entry form or competition details (ahem, like gating), instead, simply remind people of your page’s details and how/where to find it and encourage them to like your page to stay up to date with your competition’s progress.
TIP: This works extremely well when running an ‘enter your email to win’ style competition. Once they have submitted their name and email address for their entry, send a ‘thanks for entering, don’t forget to like us on social to stay up to date with the competition!’ confirmation email, which includes links to your social media profiles.
Is my Facebook competition legal?
A quick checklist
The TL;DR version for those of you who just skipped to the end (or a neat summary for the rest of us who read the entire post):
Get yourself some terms and conditions.
Not only to keep Facebook happy, but to protect your business too.
Clearly summarise your rules.
Summarise your rules at the bottom of your competition post and link to your full T&Cs.
Check if you need a licence.
Check the rules on competition permits or licences for your country as they do vary.
Release Facebook from any liability.
Simply copy and paste: “This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed, administered by or associated with Facebook.”
Do not ask your entrants to tag or share.
Even to get extra entries. Facebook specifically prohibit this in their page guidelines.
Now you know how to run a completely legal competition, contest, giveaway or sweepstake on Facebook, why not start planning your own competition? We have plenty of DIY resources to help you get started.