Ever since the guidelines for Facebook Promotions changed in May 2011, I have been a big proponent of trying to help spread the word about the rules in the craft industry, research the tools we can use to run giveaways, and to follow those rules as close to the letter as possible. I mean, I would hate for my Pages or one of my clients' Facebook Pages to be deleted because we were running a giveaway (something that is supposed to be fun and exciting) that violated FB rules.

I am always asked by others to explain the guidelines and explain how to run a successful promotion. Well, things have been getting more and more difficult. I am continually doing research on this topic, trying to stay abreast of the latest and greatest as well as stay informed of the constant changes on Facebook, most recently on July 1, 2013. I was asked about an issue with “LIKING” a Page through an app and how that might violate Facebook's guidelines? Really? Well, I had to do some research because I did not think that was the case…

And then I found this article:


And then I found this one:




And the common thread is what I kind of what I feared but didn't want to totally believe all along. Running giveaways just got harder, right?

Each of those blog posts does an excellent job of interpreting the guidelines as they stood at that time. But one thing has remained the same:

Facebook has always maintained, since the beginning of the Promoti0ns Guidelines in May 2011, that “liking” a Page cannot be used as a means of entry.


That means, any app we use that uses LIKING the Page as a means of entry is violating the guidelines, right? Well, then how come all the Apps have a “LIKE” button in them? I mean, that is kind of silly, right? Wouldn't FB shut down those apps?  This whole thing was not making sense to me and I am sure you are confused right now as well. So let's pick this thing apart, piece by piece…

Here's the portion of the guidelines that covers Promotions on Pages:

E.    Promotions

If you use Facebook to communicate about or administer a promotion (such as a contest or sweepstakes), 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).

 You gotta make sure you are following the laws in your state and country and the laws for wherever you allow your giveaway to be entered. Most people don’t do this. A trick was to use an app like Rafflecopter that generated legalese on your behalf and people kind of felt covered, like a security blanket. It doesn’t mean it is legal, just felt that way.

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.

 So Facebook tells you to get an attorney. Who is gonna do that when giving away a $10 paper pack or $20 in movie tickets? The good news is that you can probably do a lot of this research yourself and just pay an attorney to look over your giveaway and terms pages. Thank goodness the law does not change as quickly as Facebook’s Promotions guidelines!  Here are some great articles about navigating the legal terms of giveaways online:

 i.    Promotions on Facebook must be administered within Apps on Facebook.com, either on a Canvas Page or a Page App.

 There are lots of apps available to use, like Rafflecopter, GroSocial, or one of the apps listed in this article: http://socialmediatoday.com/node/512417

ii.    Promotions on Facebook must include the following:

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.

Most of the apps will automatically have this clause at the bottom of the entry form. Just double check that they do when you are using an app for a contest. It might also be a good idea to put this info on your blog or whenever you post the contest info so that people know it is your contest and not Facebook.

The problem with legitimate apps is that they ask permission from users before collecting their information through the app. Some people get weirded out by this and actually will complain on your Page or post about your Page and company because they are upset that they have to give you information, or release info to the 3rd party app company on your behalf, in order to enter the contest. With all of the privacy concerns, people are up in arms about giving out their information. That said, you can’t contact them or legally use that information (to email them for example) if they don’t give you permission to use that info.  If you are worried about people getting upset with your Page and your company, then I would NOT do giveaways on Facebook. In my experience, these complaints are more and more prevalent and once one person complains, the rest grab their pitchforks and jump on the bandwagon. I think they just don’t know how to use the internet (or logic for that matter) but, it is definitely attention that can be avoided. You just have to know a few things:

  • Sometimes the crazies come out when you do giveaways
  • Many times the people who don’t know how to use the internet will try to enter your giveaway, have trouble, and then post all over the place “asking for help” which just creates a trail of upset public messages all over your social media that you now have to clean up after
  • There are professional contest enterers. No joke. There will be general contest enterers and then ones that only enter contests in your industry (for craft supplies for example) and they will only interact with you when you have a contest. They don’t necessarily buy. There is a trade off for the promotion and attention aspect you get by having the giveaway—someone who probably doesn’t  buy or use your product will win.
  • You are going to encounter problems. As long as you think the benefits outweigh the drawbacks, well, then do your giveaway!

 iii.    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.

 Okay, looks good…so far Rafflecopter is okay to use, according to this. These seem to be okay:

  • Like a Page = entry/registration
  • Check into a Place = entry/registration
  • Connecting to the App = entry/registration

This is where we can get into trouble; Connecting to an App. Read more about giving the apps access to private information and how this condition of entry, while following Facebook’s Promotions Guidelines, can be a deterrent to people entering your contest. Or worse – they can get so angry they “Unlike” your Page or launch a campaign against your Page.

 iv.    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.

 Here is how I interpret this line:

  • If someone enters your contest using an App and then LIKES your Page or checks into a Place as part of using that App to enter the contest, you are good to go!
  • If someone likes your Page or checks into a Place while you are running the promotion but they don’t use the App to actually enter the giveaway, then they are not entered into the giveaway.

 v.    You must not use Facebook features or functionality, such as the Like button, as a voting mechanism for a promotion.

 I am not totally clear on this one… I am looking at it to mean that if you are asking people to vote for another Page as part of your contest, you can’t use the LIKE button as part of that promotion? I will definitely have to email Facebook about this one…

 vi.    You must not notify winners through Facebook, such as through Facebook messages, chat, or posts on profiles (timelines) or Pages.

 Sounds good – we all know we can’t do this. So where can you notify them?

  • Via the app if it allows for that
  • On your blog or website – post a link to FB saying you announced the winner and invite them to see your blog to see who won
  • In your newsletter – post a link to FB saying you announced the winner and invite them to see your newsletter (or sign up for it) to see who won
  • Contact them via email if the app collected that info (which most of them do)

Well, here is the good news:

It looks like Facebook changed the wording to allow for LIKING a Page to enter someone into a contest when using an app. YAY!

With all the changes coming forward so often, it is easy to read an “old” article (like from last month! LOL) and get the wrong information. Here are the takeaways:

  • Make sure your research is current – don't get all bent out of shape over things that are irrelevant because the rules have probably changed since the article was written
  • Read the rules yourself. Common sense will help you figure out many of the rules on your own.
  • When all else fails, email Facebook! They will tell you what is okay and what is not okay.

I hope this helps you with running your next promotion. Don't freak out – just get the information and start reaping the benefits.




Happy Facebooking,





Author: Jennifer Priest

It started with jewelry, beading, sewing, home decor, painting, basket weaving, pottery, and cross-stitch. Marry that to an entrepreneurial spirit & at 9 years old a girl is selling her wares at craft fairs as far as her parents and grandparents would drive her. These days, Jennifer enjoys crafts of all genres from sewing to scrapbooking to jewelry with a little dabbling in the mixed media world. Her style is approachable and she wants everyone who sees her work to feel that they too can embrace creativity and make their home and life beautiful.

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2 thoughts on “Screeching to a Halt — Are My Giveaways Violating Facebook Rules?

  1. Ugh. It’s all so confusing!! Thanks for clearing it up a bit, I think I understand…kinda, at least until the rules change again ;)
    You always have sun great info Jennifer!

    Posted on July 13, 2013 at 10:44 am
  2. It is all clear as mud, right!?! LOL. I take the ‘may not use Facebook features such, as the LIKE button, as a voting mechanism within a promotion’ to mean that if you have a photo contest or scrapbook project contest where those that interact with your page are the ones who vote, you cant upload those entries to an album on your Page and ask them to click LIKE on the photo they are voting for. All voting must be done within an app.

    Posted on July 14, 2013 at 6:56 am