New Facebook Promotion Guidelines Explained

You may or may not have heard that Facebook updated their promotion guidelines on May 11th, 2011. While the guidelines have been slightly restated and are a bit clearer, nothing has changed!

My readers probably are aware that I do not, and have not run any giveaways on Facebook. I don’t require comments, likes, photos etc. on Facebook to enter giveaways. I am aware that many (very large!) businesses run giveaways on Facebook via the wall, liking comments or photos, or saying “when I get xx likes, 5 people will randomly receive xyz.” This isn’t allowed, but this isn’t anything new! It hasn’t been allowed!

Since I’ve had my Facebook fan page (around a year and a half) the Facebook promotion guidelines have been updated/restated twice and each time, people have gotten very upset about the “changes” when in fact, nothing has changed. It seems that Facebook is aware that the guidelines are difficult to understand, and have tried to make it clearer. I was waiting for the day when they started deleting huge pages for violating the guidelines! The guidelines are in place to protect Facebook from any legal involvement in promotions.

I personally think they have done a pretty good job of making the guidelines easy to understand this time. I’ve posted them below with some bold notes of my own. I think the reason people have continued to violate the guidelines is because they have been so difficult to read/understand that people interpreted them differently.

This is #8 in the promotion guidelines, but I am putting it first so you can keep it in mind as you read along:

a. By “administration” we mean the operation of any element of the promotion, such as collecting entries, conducting a drawing, judging entries, or notifying winners. Any time they say “administration” they are referring to all aspects of running a promotion.
b. By “communication” we mean promoting, advertising or referencing a promotion in any way on Facebook, e.g., in ads, on a Page, or in a Wall post. When they say “communication” they mean any reference to the promotion at all. I think this is important to note for those of us who run our giveaways on our blogs, but may link to, post about or advertise them on Facebook.
c. By “contest” or “competition” we mean a promotion that includes a prize of monetary value and a winner determined on the basis of skill (i.e., through judging based on specific criteria). A contest or competition refers to a prize being awarded to someone chosen based on specific criteria (funniest submission etc.)
d. By “sweepstakes” we mean a promotion that includes a prize of monetary value and a winner selected on the basis of chance. A sweepstakes is when a prize is awarded at random, by chance, with no skill or judging involved.

Promotions Guidelines

Date of Last Revision: May 11, 2011

These Promotion Guidelines, along with the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, the Ad Guidelines, the Platform Policies and all other applicable Facebook policies, govern your communication about or administration of any contest, competition, sweepstakes or other similar offering (each, a “promotion”) using Facebook. You have to follow these rules when running or advertising a contest, giveaway etc. using Facebook.

If you use Facebook to communicate about or administer a promotion, you are responsible for the lawful operation of that promotion, including the official rules, offer terms and eligibility requirements (e.g., age and residency restrictions), and compliance with regulations governing the promotion and all prizes offered in connection with the promotion (e.g., registration and obtaining necessary regulatory approvals). Please note that compliance with these Guidelines does not constitute the lawfulness of a promotion. Promotions are subject to many regulations and if you are not certain that your promotion complies with applicable law, please consult with an expert. If you are running or advertising a contest using Facebook, you still have to follow all laws regarding contests. Meaning, just because you follow the Faceook promotion guidelines, it doesn’t mean you can run a giveaway in states or countries that don’t allow it, require a purchase (or offer extra entries for a purchase, without offering an alternate method to receive the same number of entries, eg: mail in entry) or anything else that breaks the law. From the FTC: “Sweepstakes-type promotions that require a purchase by participants are illegal in the United States. Other agencies, including the United States Postal Service (USPS) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), also enforce federal laws governing contests and prize promotions. And each state has laws that may require promoters to make disclosures, seek licensing, or post a bond. Since state laws vary, check with the Attorney General’s Office in the state(s) in which you plan to advertise.”

1.Promotions on Facebook must be administered within Apps on Facebook.com, either on a Canvas Page or an app on a Page Tab. If you run a giveaway/contest on Facebook, you must use a third party app (wildfire etc.) to run it. You cannot use the Facebook wall, photos, sharing etc.

2.Promotions on Facebook must include the following: All three of these requirements are to make it clear that Facebook has nothing to do with your promotion.
a. A complete release of Facebook by each entrant or participant.
b. Acknowledgment that the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.
c. Disclosure that the participant is providing information to [disclose recipient(s) of information] and not to Facebook.

3.You must not use Facebook features or functionality as a promotion’s registration or entry mechanism. For example, the act of liking a Page or checking in to a Place cannot automatically register or enter a promotion participant. Again, you cannot automatically enter all “likers” into a giveaway, so all of the “when we get xx # of likers, 5 people will randomly win xyz” giveaways are not permitted.

4.You must not condition registration or entry upon the user taking any action using any Facebook features or functionality other than liking a Page, checking in to a Place, or connecting to your app. For example, you must not condition registration or entry upon the user liking a Wall post, or commenting or uploading a photo on a Wall. You can require that people like your page (or check in or connect to an app) to enter a giveaway, you just cannot have them automatically entered for doing it. You cannot require a wall post, comment, photo, or liking a comment etc. This means that the “like the sponsor and leave them a comment” giveaways are not allowed, nor are the “the comment/photo with the most likes wins” giveaways. Huge companies (not just diaper companies) have continued to do this even though this has been in the promotion guidelines all along.

5.You must not use Facebook features or functionality, such as the Like button, as a voting mechanism for a promotion. Again, you cannot collect votes for photos or comments using the “like” button. Any “the photo with the most likes wins” contests are not permitted.

6.You must not notify winners through Facebook, such as through Facebook messages, chat, or posts on profiles or Pages. If you are running a giveaway on a blog, you can certainly link to the winners announcement on your blog. However, you cannot notify or post winners through your Facebook page, on anyone’s wall/profile, through a message or on chat.

7.You may not use Facebook’s name, trademarks, trade names, copyrights, or any other intellectual property in connection with a promotion or mention Facebook in the rules or materials relating to the promotion, except as needed to fulfill your obligations under Section 2. (emphasis mine) This seems self explanatory at first except:

I assume that whereas now I say “receive a bonus entry if you ‘like’ (my page or the sponsor’s page) on Facebook” I need to just say “like the so and so page” and not use Facebook’s name at all, aside from a blurb (which I will have to add) stating that the giveaway isn’t sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook, that by entering you release Facebook from any responsibility and that your information will not be disclosed to Facebook. I’m not 100% positive on this since none of my giveaways are on Facebook (#2 specifically refers to promotions on Facebook-they used the term “on” and not “administer” or “communicate” here), but since since I “communicate” about them (by posting on my page) I figure it’s better to err on the side of caution!

I hope this is helpful to you whether you have a blog or company fan page, or if you’re just a fan wondering about Facebook giveaways!

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Maria is an aspiring "fit mom" of 3 children, writing about cloth diapers, going green, and her life as a single mom. Maria works with many companies within the cloth diaper industry and beyond, providing social media management, product development, and other services.
  • May 17, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    Thanks so much for this.. I agree the rules are pretty hard to understand but this was a perfect break down.. now I can make sure I do things right.

  • May 15, 2011 at 2:23 pm


    I think it’s incredibly helpful that you did this! Thank you.
    I, too, have just tied my facebook to my blog and while I’ve been having ‘bonus’ entries for liking the sponsor or myself, I did catch a recent giveaway where I went that extra, disallowed step and suggesting also “something on their wall”. Fixed that right away!

    The only part of this I’m disappointed about are the hoops I’m reading one has to jump through to post an announcement of an active giveaway. I’ll have to dive back in and make sure I’m not misinterpreting that part. I guess I could always status the sponsor and suggest that my fans might want to learn more about an exciting opportunity involving them on my blog….

    thanks again for the time to dissect this!

  • May 15, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    Thanks for the update and the easy to follow explanation! 🙂

  • May 14, 2011 at 9:42 pm

    I am just thinking of running all giveaways from my blog. I get so confused so easy lol. Thanks for the tips.

    http://www.couponsavingsinthesouth.com from pitch it to me alexa hop

  • Lacy
    May 14, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    Thanks Maria,
    Makes much more sense now to me.. Now I just have to do that third party app somehow.. Oh lots to do

  • Lacy
    May 14, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    Thanks for posting this! I only just started up my own page, and didn’t know about these rules at all! I’ve just heard about them since they’ve ‘changed’ people have been making a big deal out of them.. but Correct me if I’m wrong.. it seems as if you can still do ‘giveaways’ but just have to do it through a different applications from what I was reading and could understand (please correct me if I’m wrong-my son keeps distracting me and it’d take 4 days to read it and fully understand).. but does this mean we can’t do ‘auctions’? I didn’t see anything about that as it’s still selling an item, and I’m unsure of this.. If anyone’s able to let me know about the auctions that’d be great!

    • May 14, 2011 at 7:46 pm

      You can still do giveaways through a third party app, just not using Facebook alone. I am not aware of any rules against selling/auctioning items on Facebook. I believe a few pages switched to drawings to “buy an item for a penny” vs. giveaways after the last guideline update, however I think Facebook may still define something like that as a sweepstakes, since it really is, you know?

  • May 13, 2011 at 8:43 pm

    Thanks for posting this! It helps clear things up! One thing I am wondering, can you hold a giveaway on your FB page in the photos area where the form of entry is using google docs?? I ask because currently I have a giveaway going using that form. If it isn’t ok I will need to close it sooner than I thought. I was under the assumption that this was ok. I hope it was/is?? If not I feel like a doof! LOL!!

    • May 14, 2011 at 11:30 am

      Stacie, if you are administering or comunicating about the giveaway in any way on Facebook, you do have to follow the guidelines. However, if you are not having entrants take an action on Facebook (i.e. they are usinga google docs form vs. commenting on or liking pictures) then you should be just fine.

      • Ashley
        May 14, 2011 at 6:55 pm

        Hmmm, using google docs for FB fan giveaway albums is still not following the FB rules IMO. It’s a bit of a grey area, but I’d rather be safe than sorry. You are using FB to administer your giveaway, so you would have to use their FB app. That’s why I’m seeing a bunch of sites move their giveaways to their blogs instead.

        Also, I (and several other bloggers) have taken the stance that the promotion guidelines are just for promotions run of FB and they have NO way of regulating what you do on your blog ie offering entries for liking sponsors on FB etc. Just my 2 cents! A great post though. I went through those rules for hours!! lol

        • May 14, 2011 at 7:51 pm

          I’m not entirely sure what is being done on Facebook in the example. If you are adminstering or communicating about it on Facebook in any way, you have to comply with the rules. Using an album to show prizes would be administering, and linking to a form would be communicating in my opinion. If she isn’t having anyone take an action on Facebook, I don’t think she’s breaking the rules, but it would be better to get it off of Facebook.

          The problem about the blog giveaways is that if you are advertising/posting about your giveaway on your Facebook page, you are “communicating” and thus have to comply with the rules.

          I did write my next giveaway to say “like the xyz page” instead of saying “like the xyz Facebook page” and added a disclaimer to comply with #2. If I never posted about/advertised my gveaways on Facebook, I wouldn’t be concerned with complying with that at all! 🙂

      • May 14, 2011 at 8:37 pm

        Thanks Maria. The only thing I do is talk about the giveaway, I don’t have the like a picture or comment under it. I actually state in my rules that comments and “liking” the picture will not count only using the google docs will count:)

  • Rebecca Orr
    May 13, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    I don’t host giveaways or anything on my own FB…mostly because my blog is just not big enough and does not have that kind of exposure. I also, don’t want to misinterpret the rules and have my FB profile deleted. But, after reading through your clarifications, I can see now that many of the giveaways that I have entered {and quite recently in fact} are not following these rules. At all. I feel like crap because I entered a giveaway that was not following the rules…while it was being run fairly…it wasn’t being done right. Ugghhh…it’s really frustrating. I don’t want to be a narc and call the people out {and take a bunch of heat for it either}…but I also don’t want them to have their profiles deleted for not completely understanding the rules {unless of course they just didn’t care and don’t think that they will get caught}. I don’t know…maybe a personal email to the profile owners would be more effective….I certainly am not going to write on their wall telling them they are not following the rules…that has already happened to them and it was a big mess. Anyway, thanks for all the clarifications. I appreciate it.

    • May 13, 2011 at 6:27 pm

      I hesitated, edited and re-typed several times on this post because I don’t want to come across all “lookit me, I’m holier than thou!” I think companies don’t understand and/or just don’t care? I’m not sure. I don’t know if there is a diplomatic way to point out a company’s error. Hopefully the guideline rewrite will bring it to their attention!

  • Hannah
    May 13, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    Great explanation. I like your integrity of following the Facebook rules when a lot of blogs do not. Hopefully with the new clearer guidelines more companies will get on board with that.

    I do not like giveaways that ask you to go write something on the sponsor’s wall; it clutters up their wall and your friend’s news feeds (although now I just have my Facebook account not show any “liking” or commenting on links, etc. in news feeds).

    • May 13, 2011 at 12:09 pm

      I agree Hannah! I had one sponsor that specifically asked me NOT to have people write on their wall for that reason (not that I do that anyway!) I was thrilled when you were FINALLY able to hide that stuff on Facebook!!

  • May 13, 2011 at 11:54 am

    I have thought the rules from facebook were pretty clear in the past, but it is nice to see more clarity. I have been perpetually irritated when I see well known cloth diaper brands, small WHAM businesses, and blogs clearly not following the rules, because it seems so unfair to the others that choose to follow the rules. It costs money to run an promotion through the proper channels on facebook, when some companies choose to do it their own way… irritating.

    I too, would like to see facebook crack down on something like pages not following promotions guidelines, rather than policing photos of breastfeeding mothers…

    • May 13, 2011 at 12:07 pm

      I’m actually glad I’m not the only one who is a little annoyed by the disregard of the rules! I totally agree with you, crack down on this, not breastfeeding photos, sheesh!!

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