Facebook competition rules for 2019 – What are you actually allowed to do?

Competitions are a popular way to engage with your business and win more Facebook followers. But many break the rules without realising it.

Most people have probably noticed that their Facebook page/timeline increasingly contains various types of competitions. And whether you’re a fan of them or not, they’re there for a very good reason – they work! People simply love being given the chance to win prizes or receive unique, tailormade offers – and as long as that’s the case, competitions will probably continue to prove one of the most effective marketing methods for companies that want to boost their brand presence.

However, many companies unwittingly violate both Danish law as well as Facebook’s own competition rules. The former results in a fine which is bad enough, but the latter can lead to Facebook deleting your business page, wiping out both your follower base and your marketing platform outright and consigning countless hours of work to the dustbin.

What does Danish law say about Facebook competitions?

It’s one thing is to break Facebook’s rules, it’s quite another to end up with a fine and a criminal record. Consequently, it’s especially important to clarify the conditions surrounding competitions:

  • Are there any pre-conditions for participation that need to be called out/highlighted?
  • Is there an age limit?
  • When will the winner be announced?

All this information must be included, otherwise the competition is not legal.

Some companies use competitions as a means of obtaining contact information, whereby participants must fill out a form and in so doing sign up to a contact list. This information can then be used to send out newsletters containing adverts and offers.

This is a smart strategy, especially if the contestants receive good offers and the chance to win prizes. But you must make it explicitly clear to the participants what the contact information will be used for. Failure to do so will violate EU GDPR guidelines which is punishable by fines of millions of euros.

What does Facebook say about the rules?

If you, like many other companies, are hoping to build your follower base by running competitions via Facebook, it’s important to follow their rules to avoid the risk of doing precisely the opposite. It’s common knowledge that Facebook isn’t always the best at enforcing its guidelines but if you break them, the responsibility sits entirely with you. You may run the risk that you log on to the company page one day only to find that it no longer exists.

There’s much less to worry about if you simply show your cards and in any case, it makes for a much more trustworthy relationship with your prospects. Non-compliance with the guidelines, on the other hand, can result in your posts being considered as untrustworthy and even as spam.

Here are the two most common mistakes that must not be made:

  • You ask people to tag their friends in the comments
  • You ask people to share the post

The reason for this is that only company pages are allowed to share competitions and consequently you must not use a Facebook user’s wall/timeline to post your announcements. Having said that, bear in mind that the competition often shows up in your participants’ friends’ feed anyway, even as a result of a simple “yes, thank you” comment. In other words, you don’t need to rely on tagging to increase your visibility.

Of course, if someone independently chooses to share the competition, that’s perfectly legal and you can actually circumvent the rules by formulating your request along the lines of “if you like, please feel free to share the competition with your friends”. Having said that, Facebook’s algorithms are designed to flag up posts containing words such as “like” and “share” and penalise them with reduced visibility. So be careful with both what you write and how you write it.

A lesser-known rule is that you should always state that Facebook does not endorse, sponsor or participate in the competition. This is probably the least respected rule of them all but nonetheless it should be included if you want to be on the safe side.

For example: “This competition is in no way affiliated with, sponsored or controlled by Facebook.”

What is permissible in a Facebook competition?

With all of this in mind, you might already be wondering what you are allowed to do when creating competitions on Facebook. Fortunately, there’s still a lot you can do. Specifically, you’re allowed to:

  • Share the competition on your own business page
  • Ask people to leave a comment to join (without tagging friends)
  • Ask people to join by sending a private message to your business page
  • Ask people to ‘like’ the post or business page to join
  • Ask a question which requires the participant to visit your website in order to find the answer

So don’t be deterred by a few competition rules; after all, there are rules for pretty much everything. One of the most popular (and effective) competition formats is an advent calendar and many of our customers have generated over 4,000 newsletter subscribers in a single month using our digital advent calendars. If you want to circumvent some of Facebook’s less obvious rules, this could be a smart alternative.

Examples – is this allowed?

In the examples below, we’ve compiled some typical wordings from Facebook competitions alongside an explanation of whether it’s permissible or not.

Sign up now and you’ll receive a reminder email on December 1st. What’s more, if you sign up now, you’ll be automatically entered into a draw for a gift card.

Allowed: This is a great way to get people to pre-register before a competition goes live. In addition, you can also request permission to send newsletters.

Share the calendar with your friends! Remember that the more friends you make, the greater the chances are of winning!

Not allowed: You can’t ask people to share a business competition on Facebook. If you want to directly encourage participants to share the competition with friends, we recommend creating a link to an external competition (such as an advent calendar) and posting the invitation there.

Sign up to our newsletter and get a great introductory offer or enter a draw to win some great prizes.

Allowed: Here you ask the customer to participate of their own free will, and so you’re free to tempt them with prizes or offers. Similarly, you can ask readers to follow your Facebook page for rewards.

Take part every day – you’ll have the greatest chances of winning in the draw!

Allowed: This is absolutely permitted and is a great way to encourage increased participation.

Of course, this is just a small selection. There are at least as many ideas and wordings as there are companies and don’t be afraid to jump into it and experiment – as long as you abide by the rules!

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