The unofficial guide to Facebook's terms and conditions

  • Author: Lauren
  • Lauren Fisher,

Facebook changed their rules on promotions a while ago now, but I still get lots of questions (and ask plenty myself!) about what you can and can't do, according to Facebook's terms and conditions. Having had a fair amount of back and forth with Facebook on this, I thought I'd provide a quick guide that clarifies their guidelines around promoting competitions, and a few other things you might come across in your Facebook activity. (Please note that this information is coming from me, based on my knowledge of their rules and guidelines)

You can't run a competition on the wall

This changed a good few months ago, but you still see people doing it. It's against Facebook's guidelines to run a competition that requires entry through a wall post. I.e. you can't ask people to comment on a post, answer a question etc.. in order to enter. It's the most annoying one as it takes away a very nice way to run a competition, that also has a viral element, but them's the rules unfortunately!

Competitions must be run through an application

If you're going to run any sort of competition, this has to be run as an application, on the Facebook platform. You also have to adhere to their rules about where entry can take place. Facebook competition applications must sit either on the canvas page of the application itself, or sit in a separate tab of an application page.

You must get permission

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If you're planning on running any promotion or competition in Facebook, you have to get their approval first! Experience has taught me that you should leave about 2 weeks for this, to be safe. You'll need to submit your full designs and working application to Facebook. Approval must be sought from a Facebook account executive. If you don't have a day to day contact there, they recommend that you use this contact form to get one.

Competitions can't use a Facebook mechanic

This really does restrict you further, but the guidelines state that you can't use a native Facebook action to facilitate entry to a competition. I.e. you can't ask someone to like a page, upload a photo/video, comment on a post, promote a post to friends. If you want to run a competition that involves one of these, such as entering a photo, then this has to be administered through a third party application.

You can restrict competitions to fans

While the rules state that you can't run a competition that people enter automatically by becoming a fan, you are permitted to restrict a competition (for example through a tab) only to people that Like your page. I recommend that you make this as clear as possible to the user, so they are aware of the mechanics by which they can enter.

Contacting the winner

If you're running a competition, pretty much the only way you have of notifying the winner, is by email. You're not permitted to notify winners through a wall post on your page, or contact individuals by private message. Collecting the email address of the winner is an easy way to notify them. This can be frustrating at times as you may not want to restrict access by requiring an email address, but unfortunately there isn't really a way around this. (I've tried). You could also ask for mobile number, but you're even less likely to get this from the user.

You can't rename a page

Only in very exceptional circumstances can you get the name of your page changed, and you need to have a good contact in Facebook in order to do this. Facebook have to think of their users here - if you've become a fan/Liked a particular campaign for example, you can't then assume that they're happy to Like the page that's changed to your generic brand term.

Advertising Alcohol

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If you have an alcohol brand, ads must be targeted at 21+ in the U.S and 18+ in the UK & Ireland. Regardless of the country you're in, your Facebook page for an alcohol product must be restricted to 21+

It's also against the guidelines to offer alcohol as a prize in a competition, nor can you feature an ad that offers a prize in return for purchasing an alcohol product.

Groups into pages

If you're a business, then you're only permitted to run an official Facebook business page, not a group or a personal profile. Unfortunately, they won't let you migrate a group into a page. If you've set up a group and now want a page instead, the best thing that you can do is to let your members know where they can find you now!

Hopefully this guide has helped you understand what you can/can't do. Obviously everything should be run through your Account Executive there, to be approved. A full set of guidelines on competitions can be found here.

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