Social Media

In August last year, Facebook made promotions and competitions more accessible to small businesses. Avoiding going against terms and conditions however, is not so easy.

We have been contacted this week by a number of concerned Facebook Business Page managers about issues with running their Facebook Page; with Facebook’s recent change to their terms and conditions with updates continuing, I have written this guide on how to run a Facebook competition while adhering to the guidelines.

I would always preach that it is better to be safe than sorry – especially where Facebook is concerned. Facebook reserves the right to remove any Business Page, without warning for not adhering to their terms and conditions. So be careful and if you are not sure, I would not risk it!

If you would like to stop yourself being penalised by Facebook then here is your step-by-step guide to running promotion on your Facebook Business Page – within their terms and conditions.

How did Facebook’s terms and conditions regarding competitions on Business Pages change?

Before August 2013 promotions on Facebook had to be run in an external, third-party app. Facebook functionality was not allowed to be used to run a promotion.

This has changed.

You no longer need a third party app, you can use your Facebook Business Page to directly run a competition but this does not mean you can do anything that you like and certainly does not mean that you should not use an app.
How to run your Facebook competition
Please note: These rules apply to a Facebook Business Page and not a personal timeline. Competitions are not allowed to be run on personal timelines.

According to Facebook’s own post, the updates rules mean that you can:

You can:


facebook-thumb Ask people to LIKE a post to enter


facebook-thumbAsk people to COMMENT on a post to enter


facebook-thumbAsk people to PRIVATE MESSAGE the page to enter


facebook-thumbAsk people to POST on YOUR page to enter


You cannot:


Facebook DislikeAsk people to SHARE to enter


Facebook DislikeAsk people to INVITE to enter


Facebook DislikeAsk people to TAG themselves in content they are not depicted in to enter


These are the basic rules to abide by – but as is to be expected from Facebook there are some more terms and conditions you need to know about. Below is a copy of their terms and conditions as updated on December 2013:


1. If you use Facebook to communicate or administer a promotion (ex: a contest or sweepstakes), you are responsible for the lawful operation of that promotion, including:
a. The official rules;
b. Offer terms and eligibility requirements (ex: age and residency restrictions); and
c. Compliance with applicable rules and regulations governing the promotion and all prizes offered (ex: registration and obtaining necessary regulatory approvals)
2. Promotions on Facebook must include the following:
a. A complete release of Facebook by each entrant or participant.
b. Acknowledgement that the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.
3. Promotions may be administered on Pages or within apps on Facebook. Personal Timelines must not be used to administer promotions (ex: “share on your Timeline to enter” or “share on your friend’s Timeline to get additional entries” is not permitted).
4. We will not assist you in the administration of your promotion, and you agree that if you use our service to administer your promotion, you do so at your own risk.

When setting up any Facebook Business Page, event or competition it is always important to read and digest the terms and conditions provided. I think the trick is – just because they do not say you cannot do something does not mean that you can.

Should I run a Facebook competition on my Timeline?

This is a question only you can answer. It is important to remember that the ‘big change’ in Facebook’s terms and conditions does not mean you can run a Facebook competition how you like.

If you are satisfied that you have met all of Facebook’s terms and conditions, meaning that you are not only using Facebook’s functionality correctly to administer your competition but that you are also providing enough information about the terms, rules and eligibility of your own competition then your competition stands a good chance of being accepted by Facebook. A great tip for ensuring you adhere to Facebook’s rules around providing information able the terms and conditions of your competition to your users is to write them either on your website or in the Facebook Notes on your Page and link to them in your post.

An external app removes the likelihood of you accidentally going against Facebook’s rules regarding functionality – say you ask people to Share to enter. It also allows you to collect more data, including the email addresses of the entrants which could allow you to more easily contact the winner of the promotion. So even though you can run a competition on your Facebook Timeline, it might still be worth using a third party app to help you along the way.


It is important to remember – second chances are not always available! 

If you would like to speak to us about social media marketing, give us a call on 01159480123 or use our online contact form.


Enjoyed this post?

Sign up to our newsletter for a weekly summary of all new posts from the Hallam team:


17 responses to “How to Run a Competition on Your Facebook Business Page”

  1. Tracy Bishop says:

    I have run a couple of competitions asking people to like my Facebook homepage. I couldn’t see this mentioned in your article in the can or cannot sections.

    I am very new and an amateur to Facebook and I am using it to promote my gift shop, so would not like to break any rules!

    Please can you clarify if I am ok to still ask people to like my homepage.

    Thank You

    Tracy Bishop

    • Hi Tracy,

      It’s great to hear that you are using Facebook to promote your gift shop and even better to hear that you would like to ensure that you are always sticking to the rules!

      In response to your question – it is still against Facebook’s terms and conditions to ask people to like your page to submit their entry to your competition. If you would like people to like your page before entering, I would suggest you use an app to run your competitions and implement the fan gate feature. This post describes the process very well:

      Thank you for pointing this out, I will add this to the post!

      All the best,


  2. Sarah says:

    Very helpful! Thank you! Great to see the rules finally laid out so simply and clearly!

  3. Andy says:

    Hi, not sure if you will be able to help, but I am wondering what the viral possibilities are with just comments and likes. For example if someone comments and likes on a photo competition will it show up on their friends news feed similar to the way it would a share?

    • Hi Andy,

      Thank you for your question. If any post of yours is receiving a good level of engagement then there is the potential for it to spread through to more of your fan’s Newsfeeds and sometimes through to some of their friends’ Newsfeeds too. You will notice this on your own Newsfeed sometimes, when a number of your friends have liked something or commented on it but this tends to happen most often in exceptional circumstances. There is no guarantee that this will happen though and who this will appear for as Facebook’s algorithm is extremely complex and relies on engagement and interaction in the past to judge what to show an individual.

      It is always important to keep up to date with any changes Facebook makes – for example, only in the last couple of days Facebook has announced that using a third party app to fan gate a competition will no longer hold. I will be updating these instructions very soon to include these new developments!

      If you have any other questions, do not hesitate to be in touch.

      All the best,

  4. Amber says:

    Hello, I was wondering if you could give me any more tips/advice on competitions using social media.

    I work for a recruitment company and we want to create social awareness, in gaining more likes on linkedin/twitter/facebook, etc. I was wondering if you have any ideas which we could use to promote our company and ensure that we stand out. We was thinking of ‘For our 500th/1000th follower’ we give them highstreet vouchers, or something. We need more ideas to get going, and I was wondering if you have any? Please let me know. Thank you 🙂

    • Hi Amber,

      Thanks for commenting! I hope you found the post useful.

      When it comes to successful social campaigns, we have actually written a blog post about some B2B social media case studies which you might want to draw some inspiration from if you want to try to target some employers:

      I hope you find that useful. The most important thing in trying an idea is making sure you monitor the success (or not). You can’t improve if you don’t know what has worked and what hasn’t, so be keen to monitor your successes and good luck!

      All the best,

  5. Annie says:

    Good evening Abra,
    Thank you very much for your articulate and to the point advice – it’s greatly appreciated.
    My question is regarding an idea for our page……. We have a waterfront restaurant within a marina, and we’d really love to run a competition where to enter our clients would need to arrive at the restaurant by boat – then take and post a picture of themselves on our their boat at our waterfront restaurant. Is this something that could fit within the guidelines? We would put together a prize pack of some sort like voucher or sponsors gift pack from brewery or winery. Just not sure how the winner could be drawn within the guidelines? I’d be super grateful for any help you may be able to offer

    • Hi Annie,

      Thank you for your question! Facebook competition rules can get quite complex and I would always advise reading Facebook’s guidelines before administering any competitions:

      Although Facebook specifies that accurate tagging is necessary – see this post:, I worry that the promotion you describe could lead to people sharing the photos on their own timeline – as opposed to yours. If this were to happen then this could be deemed as using Personal Timelines to administer a promotion which is against the rules. If you were to make sure that entrants uploaded the picture to your Timeline only in order to enter then I cannot see that it would be a problem. You would have to be careful to ensure that you are administering the promotion on your timeline and not encouraging anyone to post anything to their own personal timeline in order to enter.

      If you made sure of this, then you shouldn’t have a problem. If you wanted to be a little safer, you could try a post saying ‘Post us your pictures of you arriving on your boat in the comments below’.

      Thanks Annie, I hope that is helpful for you.


  6. Blaine Holloway says:

    Hi Abra,

    I know it’s a long time since you wrote this and my reply may not get noticed, but I’ll give it a shot anyway. Is it ok to ask people to like your FB page and like/comment on the ‘contest post’ (pinned to the top of the page) in order to enter?

    • Hi Blaine,

      Thanks for commenting.

      As far as I am aware, you cannot use the ‘Like this page’ functionality to enter a competition – so even if this was only one element of entry, it would still be against Facebook’s guidelines. You can, however ask people just to like a post or comment on a post to enter.

      Essentially Facebook doesn’t want anyone to artificially like a page or share a post in order to enter a competition, as these actions will show up on their timeline. Liking a post or commenting on a post, however, is OK.

      I hope this helps a little!

      All the best,


  7. Richelle says:

    Hi Abra,
    Is it possible to run a comp where the user tags a friend in the comment below the post to win a prize for both themselves & the tagged friend?
    It’s the one tweak that I believe fits within FB’s rules – but they seem quite difficult to interpret

    Thanks for your advice in advance!

  8. Jessica says:

    Great article, but I’m still abit confused, is it ok to promote a business conpetition with “like and tag a friend in this post”?

  9. Pam says:

    Hi Abra,
    This is a great article, but I am still confused and nervous about running a competition on my page! I would like to run a simple giveaway where people can win some of my products and a book. Should I use an external app for this? If so, can you recommend any?
    From your post, I assume people would need to Like the post about the competition to enter, but I’ve no idea how this links with an external app.
    Please help!

    Thank you

  10. Hi Pam,

    There are some very good Facebook competition apps; we have used Heyo successfully ( It has a free trial, and if you find it works well for you then it costs US$25 per month.

    But Facebook want to make it easier for you to run promotions on your Page, so be sure to read the latest guidelines:

    Very best wishes

  11. Matthew says:

    I was wondering if it was okay to run a free competition where the best caption for a poster wins the poster for free. Would this be against the rules.

    • Hello Mike,

      Thanks very much for commenting on our post with your very valid question!

      Running a caption competition to win a poster is absolutely fine, and these types of competitions are very popular on Facebook.

      When you run your competition, make sure that you don’t ask your fans to share or like your page to enter. When you’ve found your winner, you can notify them via a status update or post on your own page but you mustn’t notify them via their own page.

      You should also include terms and conditions for the competition. If you don’t have your own website, you can use the Facebook Notes application and then link your competition to your note. Here’s a really simple template that you can adjust to your own company:

      Hope this has helped, and if you need any more advice please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

      Kind regards,


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *