You might think there aren't any rules about running social media competitions from some of the things you see, but it's actually that many businesses simply aren't aware of Facebook's or their state's laws. This means they're leaving themselves open to being banned from Facebook and facing legal consequences. I've pulled together the information you must know before running a competition on Facebook, with a few tips too. If there's anything else you'd like to know, please leave a comment below.
What you're NOT allowed to do:
- Require entrants to share a post (that includes all types of posts, whether a video, photo or text post)
- Require entrants to tag a photo
- Run a competition through your personal page (it has to be run by a business page).
- Require entrants to like a page. In Facebook's words, it doesn't allow "incentivising users to like a page":
"To ensure quality connections and help businesses reach the people who matter to them, we want people to like Pages because they want to connect and hear from the business, not because of artificial incentives." - Facebook developer blog, August 2014.
What you ARE allowed to do:
- Require entrants to comment on a post
- Require entrants to like a post
- Require entrants to post on your page
- Require entrants to 'check in' to a place.
What you must include:
- A complete release of Facebook by each entrant or participant
- Acknowledgement that the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook
- Written terms and conditions that are accessible from your Facebook competition page or post.
Here's my example of what to include:
This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook. By entering this promotion, you agree to a complete release of Facebook from any or all liability in connection with this promotion. Read our terms and conditions here [insert hyperlink to your PDF of T&Cs].
What are you responsible for?
- The competition's terms, conditions and eligibility requirements (i.e. explaining how to enter, any age limits, how long the competition is open for, when and how the prize will be drawn and collected)
- Administering the promotion
- Complying with all laws for states/territories that your competition is open to. There are two approaches to running competitions on Facebook:
1. Game of Skill
This type of competition requires entrants to use their skills through things like answering a question in 25 words or less, taking a photo to enter, submit a recipe and so on. The winner is then chosen based on the merit of their entry and there is no chance involved. These types of competitions do not require a trade permit in Australia.
2. Game of Chance
This type of competition does not require 'skill' from the entrants - it may simple involve entrants 'liking' a post, or commenting on a post to enter. The winner is then drawn randomly. These types of competitions do require a trade permit from all states/territories the competition is operating in (if the States require it). I.e. if your competition is open Australia-wide, you must check the trade permit requirements of each state and territory. There's a good summary here.
To simplify getting different permits, you could consider:
- Limiting your competition to being open to residents in only one state/territory
- Running a game of skill.
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