How to: Run a Promotion on Facebook (without getting into trouble!)

June 13, 2011 · 3 comments

Ed. note: check out the comments for additional commentary regarding Facebook promotions!

Picture Credits: Vasjen Katro/Flickr.

One of the things we get the most questions about – from brands and bloggers alike! – is Facebook Promotional Guidelines. There’s a lot of confusion around what’s okay and what isn’t… and what will always get you into trouble. Here is a quick cheat sheet that everyone needs to know before they think of running a Facebook promotion:

1. If your promotion is HOSTED on Facebook AND requires a user to like/post/share, that is ILLEGAL and may result in your page getting removed.

2. If you choose a third party application – like Buddy Media, Wildfire, Involver or others – and emphasize a “like” – then your promotion is LEGAL and you CAN run it. We use Wildfire most because it’s so easy, but there are other great options (including some that are open for affordable customization) that are worth checking out. The Buddy Media cost tends to run a couple thousand a month, so that requires a big commitment.

3. If you’re hosting the promotion on YOUR site/blog/etc AND require a user to like/post/share, that is LEGAL and you can run it. This is most blogs’ and businesses’ workaround for the no-like rule.

Read all of Facebook’s promotional guidelines (in pure legalese) here and tell us:

What do you need to learn about Facebook?

PS: Let us know if you’ve seen this (and make sure to “Like” us on Facebook!):


1 Sara at Saving For Someday June 13, 2011 at 2:56 pm

Just wanted to clarify a few things:

(1) Illegal implies there is a law that was broken. FB doesn’t make law (thankfully!) so violation of their rules/guidelines is simply that, a violation. FB violations do have pretty harsh consequences, but they are not law.

(2) Promotions may NOT be hosted ON Facebook at all. Users must use an App on a canvas page or page tab. Hosting promotions on FB is a clear violation of its guidelines.

(3) Using a 3rd part app does NOT make a promotion legal. All contests, sweepstakes and lotteries are governed by state and federal law and must comply with those laws to be legal. Using an App just means you’ve complied with FB’s guidelines.

(4) Hosting a promotion on ones own blog or site does not make it legal. That promotion must comply with all state and federal laws as well – which I’d say 99% of bloggers and a vast majority of small businesses don’t do.


2 Jaime June 13, 2011 at 3:08 pm

Sara – I apologize for my gratuitous use of the terms illegal/legal – they were emphasized to prove a point. You are right based on statement within that (and, let’s be honest… ALL.) realm.

However, you are incorrect on #2 – you CAN host a promotion directly on Facebook with their direct consent. I’ve done it before and have reviewed the rules once again (I have found, though, that the primary catalyst for getting that approval is purchasing ad space, though they’ll never say that aloud.).

What tips would you recommend for brands/bloggers to be sure to comply beyond adding terms and conditions (as well as a privacy policy) that have been reviewed by a lawyer/legal representative?


3 Sara at Saving For Someday June 13, 2011 at 4:26 pm

You may have, in the past, conducted promotions ON Facebook because the prior FB guidelines permitted promotions ON Facebook with approval and a certain ad spending.

The new guidelines as of 5/11/11 changed that and no longer offer ON Facebook promotions as an option –

If Facebook makes exceptions for brands outside of their guidelines, that’s something different altogether.


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