How To Run A Facebook Competition By The Rules
How To Run A Facebook Competition By The Rules

Last night Facebook announced changes to it’s Facebook promotional guidelines. My first reaction was that this is good news for small business. Although there is more to Facebook contests than getting page likes they are hugely effective for doing so. It seemed unfair that it was so complicated for small business to run a competition when bigger business could afford to increase likes with advertising.

Of course once you have a good amount of Likes there is far more you can get from giveaways and contests on Facebook but I’ll talk about that later.

What are the changes?

  • You no longer have to run a contest via a third party app (but yes you still can if you want to).
  • You CAN get people to comment or like a post in order to enter a competition.
  • You CAN get people to post photos or comments to your page.
  • You CAN get people to vote using the ‘Like’ function
  • You CAN’T ask people to Share a post as part of a competition (Like & Share is still against the rules)
  • You CAN’T run a competition via your personal timeline or ask people to post something on their personal timeline as part of a contest.
  • You CAN’T ask people in a post that doesn’t depict them (eg you can’t get people to tag themselves or anyone else in a picture of a product)

You still can’t do Like & Share

Like and Share contests have always been against the rules and they still are. Facebook don’t want newsfeeds clogged with poor quality content. Facebook recently announced an upgrade to their algorithm that means that ‘spammy’ or ‘poor quality’ content, and content that asks for likes will be penalised and will be less likely to reach the newsfeed.

So not only are Like and Share contests still not allowed under the new new competition guidelines but your page could be penalised organically by the new algorithm meaning your page likers will be less likely to see your content in future.

What this means for small business

As long as you abide by the rules above you can start running competitions via your business page straight away. I ran my first Facebook competition before the promotional guidelines were in place. A simple 5 word story contest. I got great traction, lots of new fans (as they were called at the time) and one of the winners wrote about it on his blog.

Giving away stuff on your Timeline means  that you can offer smaller prizes. You don’t need to invest a huge amount of money as the entry process is really easy people are more likely to get involved even if it’s a small gift. I used to give away bars of organic chocolate, one of the items stocked in my gift hampers.

Types of contest to run

Try and be creative with your competitions, try and engage people in your brand rather than just looking for a like. Here’s some ideas but it’s only a quick list. If you have any suggestions to add, leave me a comment below.

  1. Tell us a story about ____ in 5 words
  2. Name our newest product
  3. Answer a trivia question related to your industry
  4. Market Research – ‘Like’ your favourite product in a photo album
  5. Upload a photo of you using our product/holding our logo
  6. Write us a story about ____ (industry related theme) on our timeline

Here’s a post full of competition ideas for more inspiration.

**Warning – Don’t fall into the trap of rewarding people every time you want them to interact on your page. You may find that they will cease to interact unless there is a prize in future.**

The advantages of using apps

Just because you don’t have to run competitions through an app any more doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t.

Apps can help you achieve so much more than just Facebook likes.

Email marketing is still one of the most effective tools for reaching people, by using an app you have the opportunity to collect email addresses from enterents and get their permission to send them a newsletter.

Market research – by using an app you can gather more information from the people who enter. Do you want to ensure enterents are from your local area? Do you want to know what age group they fall into? If so an app can help you easily gather this data.

Lead Generation – If you get your prize right and your entry criteria right you can make sure you are attracting exactly the right people to your contest and then work on turning them from leads into prospects.


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  • Aoife Porter

    Great blogpost Amanda; was a bit hasty in thinking the ugly ‘Like & Share’ comps were now legal. Thanks for great blog; always a reliable read.

  • Thanks Aoife, yes the horror of more Like & Share competitions would be a thing to behold!

  • Why Weight Ireland

    Great post, thank you for the information

  • Brenda Strohbehn

    Thank you for clearly spelling out the cans and can’ts and the dos and don’ts! This was very helpful. I especially appreciated that you included positive ideas for page administrators to implement these rules while still enjoying the boost provided by a contest!

  • Taynia @ Fiscal Flamingo

    Thanks for the summary. I am happy to hear that Like + Share competitions are still not allowed! And equally discouraged through penalization. Thanks again.

  • Guest

    Thanks Amy!! As always you are full of (useful) information to help us navigate the blogging world (especially Facebook.)

  • Jenetta

    Could you explain the diff between a “like and share” and “You CAN get people to comment or like a post in order to enter a competition”?

  • You are so smart, woman. I love having you in my inbox. I have no time in the world to read all the new rules coming out. So glad you do, and explain it all to us. <3

  • Hi Jenetta. You can’t ask someone to share a post as part of a competition but you can ask them to like it or comment on it.

  • Thanks Brenda, I’m glad you found it helpful 🙂

  • Galantaevents

    Great blog and explained very clearly. Makes it much easier for small business now.

  • Thanks, Glad you found it helpful 🙂

  • Neeta

    Thank you very much for this info…. I didn’t know about the share&like things. However I still see many in house working sole trader types businesses on fb prompting to share&like and they get entered into a giveaway!

  • Dan

    Great blog Amanda. Can I just check that it’s okay to ask entrants to ‘Like’ a business’s page as part of a competition, provided there is another aspect to it such as entering their email address?

  • Stella

    does anyone know how to report a page that constantly has like & share contests?

  • Lutsia

    This is my first visit to your blog. I was pleasantly surprised, it is very informative but understandable. I have a question about FB competition. I am fashion designers and want to reward my fans through FB competition and attract new fans. I’d like to ask if I can use as price an annual subscription of a women’s fashion magazine? Thank you very much.

  • Lexi

    Thanks for the helpful tips! I am still a bit fuzzy on certain aspects of it. I know you can ask for a “Like” or “Comment” on the contest post – but can you ask for a “Like” for your page, instead of the post, as a condition for the contest? & I know that you are not allowed to post the promotion on your own timeline or anyone elses & you are not allowed to ask them to share or post it on their timeline – does this mean you cannot share the link of the contest on timelines to invite people to enter? & if not, how can you ask people to participate in the contest without breaking the rules & making it as easy as possible for them to go enter? My promotion is generated from an app & is a tab on my facebook page, but I’ve incorporated the new advantage to use post “Likes” & “Comments” by allowing an additional entry by giving a “Like” to the contest post pinned up at the top of the page & posting a comment of what they would want to win.

  • John

    Hello: i found it really cool about facebook like . Nice Example… Wishing you all the best..

  • Sam Clements

    This is fab, thank you! Where do you find out about this sort of news? Do you have a link to the post from Facebook about the changes? Thanks!

  • I subscribe to multiple blogs and Facebook pages. Facebook have a few of their own pages that are good but All Facebook and Inside Facebook always seem to pick stuff up quickly.

  • Ross FineArt

    Hi is it legal to say “Like and comment to enter. Share with your friends to give them the chance to enter aswell”?