Facebook’s Contest Rules are Apparently More Flexible Than I Thought

How many times have you seen someone offering a prize to people who Like or comment on a photo even though that clearly breaks two of Facebook’s rules, which are (paraphrased) that you cannot use Facebook conventions such as photo Likes or comments and that if you run a contest on Facebook it must be run within an app?

It doesn’t seem fair, does it? You work hard to promote your company’s Facebook Page within the rules and yet your competitors are blowing past you and getting thousands of Likes because they run a contest asking people to Like and share a photo, which obviously would be a brilliant way to promote a Page… if it wasn’t against the rules.

Here’s another question. How often do you hear about a Page being shut down for running an illegal contest? Not many, I know. In fact, I’ve only heard of two that I can verify and both of those Pages were eventually reinstated after the owners pleaded long enough with Facebook.

When I see a Page running a contest/promotion that clearly violates the rules I will occasionally send them a polite message giving them the link to Facebook’s promotion guidelines because I’d hate to see someone’s Page get shut down because they just didn’t know the rules. Usually, I get a nice reply thanking me for letting them know but yesterday I got a reply that took me aback and prompted me to write this. And, although I normally wouldn’t, I’m going to name names, because they actually asked me to.

Here’s the wildly successful contest CW’s Custom Coolers is running. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=345208235579280&set=a.343803522386418.62247.337492586350845

They are asking people to Like and share a photo for the chance to win a $150 cooler. They indicate that they will hold a drawing to select the winner. How they plan to notify that winner is beyond me and of course, that’s a third rule violation since Facebook says “You must not notify winners through Facebook, such as through Facebook messages, chat, or posts on profiles (timelines) or Pages.” Then there’s a fourth violation because when you run a contest like this you obviously have no way to get “A complete release of Facebook by each entrant or participant.”

At the time of this writing, the post has 182,012 shares, 49,092 Likes and 7,587 comments. What?

Now, you’re probably asking yourself why I started this post by saying that apparently Facebook’s rules were flexible, and by flexible, I mean just for show. Well, here’s the reply I got from CW’s Custom Coolers.

“Hi hugh, I’ve actually been contacted by fb and congratulated on the success of my like and share. Anyone that has a 833,000% increase in views in a 72hr period….Facebook knows. There is difference between business fb and personal fb. We are very thankful for everyones concerns on the rules but they are simply not true. Thanks CW”

So, there you have it. Confirmation from Facebook that the rules are just suggestions. If you decide to start breaking the rules and get caught, just show them this post and tell them that Facebook told CW it was cool.

For your reference, here are the official rules: https://www.facebook.com/page_guidelines.php#promotionsguidelines

Disclaimer: I’ll leave it to you to decide if CW was telling the truth. Personally I believe he was contacted by Facebook but it was his ad account rep who congratulated him and not someone who was qualified to comment on the rules.