A Warning About Facebook Contests – What You Need to Know

facebook [Update:  On August 27, 2013, Facebook now allows you to run contests on your wall without using the app. Yay!  See details.]

After reaching 10,000 likes on my Facebook page, I decided to run a contest to celebrate the milestone and draw in even more fans.

So I did some research on the best way to approach it and learned that Facebook has very strict guidelines for contests.

And if you aren’t careful, you can get your page disabled permanently.

Yes, it has happened to a handful of people over the years so be sure to read their terms.

In a nutshell, Facebook wants to remove the potential for any liabilities, and quite honestly, I don’t blame them.

So that means you are not allowed to run a contest from your wall (i.e. comment to enter or “Like” to win, etc).

If you want to host the contest from your page, you have to use one of the Facebook-approved applications like ShortStack or WildFire.  However, these apps can come with a hefty price tag if you have a large number of fans.

Here’s What You CAN Do

Now, you are allowed to promote a contest on your wall that is hosted elsewhere, as long as you make it clear that it has no affiliation with Facebook and the winner is not announced on your wall.

You also cannot use the word “Facebook” in the contest name.

The other good news is, you can require people to “like” your page to view/enter the contest.  You can set it up so non-fans will see one page, and once they “like” your page, they are given a link/access to the contest.

That’s what I did with a contest I ran on this blog.  I easily set this all up using the Static HTML iFrame tab application.

So when I promoted the contest on YouTube, this blog and other places outside of Facebook, people were required to “Like” my page before gaining access to the contest page.

Enter My 10K Fan Contest

My Facebook fans suggested that the winner of my contest should get to have a one-on-one Skype call/Google Hangout or some kind of live brain-picking or question/answer session with me.

I thought it would be fun, so the contest is officially live and will run through the end of the month.

If you want to enter, [contest closed].

In Summary

Running a Facebook contest can be a great way to gain more likes/fans, just make sure you play by the rules to protect your account.

So what about you?  Ever run a Facebook contest?  Did you use one of the pre-approved apps?  Share your experience!


  1.  davelucas

    Was your page disabled permanently? Did it happen to someone else you know? How many poeple who “like” a page ever return to it? Inquiring minds wanna know! :)

    •  2createawebsite

      Hi Dave

      When researching info for this post and my contest I came across two people who had their accounts disabled. One wasn’t sure why but she had recently run a contest on her wall and concluded that was likely the reason. She never got a clear response from FB.

      As for your second question, that’s a hard one to measure. This contest is a first for me so we’ll see how it goes!

  2.  extramoneyblog

    good stuff Lisa.

    what many do is run a contest on their blog/site – and if one of the requirements is to Like the blog/post on Facebook, the post doesn’t mention Facebook in the post’s title. the post is syndicated to my Facebook page if synced, and followers can access the post there – but there is no mention of the contest itself on Facebook anywhere. when the winner is selected, the announcement goes out through an email list.

    the only concern is that – if Facebook sees an influx of Likes in a given time frame, will they go a step further to determine where from and why the Likes are coming?? And if so, is the Facebook page at risk if Facebook was able to trace the contest to the blog?


    •  2createawebsite

      Well, according to their terms you ARE allowed to solicit likes for a contest as long as you follow their terms. So even if they see an influx of likes, I would assume that’s fine if you’ve followed their rules.

  3. You have to be real careful with FB about anything market related, b/c they really don’t want to be used for marketing. Truth be told, I have once again pulled back from FB b/c spending the amount of time there I need for marketing purposes keeps me from my true passion – writing.

  4.  imagedashboard

    Thanks for sharing! learned something new! and 10K fan a big milestone!congo :D

  5.  AnaTrafficCafe

    Congrats – 10K is a huge milestone, Lisa!
    I am trailing well behind and now FB has become one of the traffic strategies I am planning to focus on.

  6. I’d be curious to know how many extra likes you manage to get. How many have you wracked up so far? And congratulations!

  7.  freedommmc

    Excellent point Lisa,

    Ya know this post could be a case study for a comparison of fb likes vs retweets.

    More retweets with less followers than likes for this post. Does that mean fb fans are not as responsive as Twitter? This has been my experience

  8.  charlesmanfre

    Thanks for this useful info Lisa. I don’t think I have enough likes yet to warrant running a contest, but will definitely keep this in mind for when I do.

  9.  ideas_for_cash

    I did a few competitions via Facebook and simply directed the fans to a landing page on my website. It was a “send email to win” draw and yes, it’s not worth skipping over the guidelines.

    I actually used an approved Facebook app at first, but guess what… Facebook updated their terms and the app disappeared along with all the entrants details.

  10. Thank you very much for sharing this crucial piece of information. Things are getting hot and so are rules. Every body is in a hurry and want to be at top and in the process they forget to set a strategy.
    Anyways, congratulations for what you have achieved.


  11.  bizmartcafe

    Hello Lisa, I find your page very helpful and informative. As you can see, I have linked to your page from my website. Only wish I had more understanding. Thanks for the share and keeping us informed. I have always been one of those people who will make decisions based on lack of knowledge. When working your business through another business website, yes, we must know the rules.

    There is always that question when doing something with Facebook or even google. Why would they do it for free. and what is in it for them? I have several facebook pages, I even went the route of paying for ‘LIKES’ how crazy is that. The bottom line is making the like turn to revenue. Looking forward to keeping informed with you.
    Note. Hope you don’t mind my page linking to your site. Iris

  12.  urbantemplates

    Wow – I’ve already had my facebook page shut down once. You just saved me from having it shut down again. Since I practically abandoned it a couple of months ago I was thinking about doing something like this. And now that I read this you just saved me from a whole ‘nother world of trouble. Really appreciate this article!

  13.  samasam

    Lisa I really love your site. Such useful info for newbies as well as those of us that are kinda meandering around the blogsphere without a clue.

  14.  HotBlogTips

    Thanks Lisa, I just ran a contest last month and after reading this I remembered to remove the Rafflecopter tab from our fan page. I guess I got lucky this time. I did require people to like our sponsor’s page to be eligible and I believe that was in violation. I’m glad I read this before we have our next one.

  15.  latestcrunchs

    Hi Lisa, I’ve just started my first giveaway but now I’m a little cautious as I hope I’m not breaking any rules. I’m using Rafflecopter – so should we not have the giveaway app installed on our fbook page?

  16. Hello Lisa,

    At first I would like to thank you about this article. Actually it is not an article, but guide. I have tried FB during the last few months, but no luck. Today I read something new and extremely valuable. The information above clearly shows you deeply understand one of the most important strategies nowadays. It seems getting more likes is not a secret, but a result of hard work and understanding. Thank you once again and keep working. You are brilliant !

  17. This is good information and something to really look into when I run my next contest. Thanks for sharing and kinda of sad but also a good teaching lesson for all us.

    Will you be able to contact or work with Facebook directly to get things back to normal or what?

    Thanks for sharing,


    •  2createawebsite

      Hi Eric

      What do you mean with regards to “getting things back to normal?” My account wasn’t affected. I was referring to someone else.

    • Hi Lisa Hope you dont mind the Name it is steve by the way :)

      Some nice points you guys have made, but I may not have made myself as clear as I should have. Yes in one way it was a success because I am currently in development of a competition website, however I still stand by my original statement of the contests are not for me. When I said they have separate profiles often there are no friends on them and there are likes to every other competition on facebook they can find as well. They are not at all interested in my website, However this may work for other niches as you have made me realise but for mine, I rely solely on adsense revenue to my site, These people don’t go to my scrabble word finder site.

      You guys are obviously very very professional marketers and I love the positive outlook you have, that is probably the secret to your success right there Lol In the niche I was trying a contest with it was the wrong move. £200 on a Giant sweet hamper….would take me 3000 visitors a day for 7 days to even come close to the adsense revenue to make it back. I am pretty sure that I did not gain 1 person as a regular to my website from it, I think that you are right I went into it on a whim, I had this big dream of it going facebook viral, As I have seen things do so many times, really obvious scams aswell….I thought with this I could drive quite a lot of traffic to my website and also create a good social signals for the SEO offsite. FAIL.

      However I appreciate the time you have all taken to write back to me, It has inspired and motivated me in a different way. No more relying on beginners luck! Time to devise a better marketing strategy and campaign. Thanks again guys it really is appreciated :)

  18.  TeknolojiDefter

    Why would they do it for free. and what is in it for them? I have several facebook pages, I even went the route of paying for ‘LIKES’ how crazy is that. The bottom line is making the like turn to revenue. Looking forward to keeping informed with you.

  19. But I have seen many fan pages over the years which force its users to like or comment in order to win. Any how thanks for letting us know about this matter.

  20. Facebook fans says:

    Thanks for sharing your info. I really appreciate your efforts and I will be waiting for your further write ups.

    socialbakers, hootsuite and socialkik are great sites for social media where you can increase to your followers and fans.

  21. wow

  22. It’s really fun to sponsor facebook contest, aside from earning more likes to your page, people will be watching out for more and keeps on visiting your page. But, I don’t expect this consequence. Too bad.

  23.  tiefsa

    I haven’t used Facebook for any sort of contest. Maybe when I finish my book I will have a give-a-way or something.

  24. Wow Great tips !! I have fanpage with 20k likes ! I never thought of this idea ! Thanks for this information.

  25.  flyingcowstwitt

    Facebook is getting stricter by the day, thanks for the advice and tips.

  26.  tech_beats

    WO WO ! Thanks for giving this information , I was just in a way to start a contest over my Facebook page.

  27.  tech_junction

    thanxxx mam learned something new. i think 80% of Facebook page owners are unaware of this ……..

  28. wow,it’s very great information..
    thank you

  29. I have not tried joining FB contest. I dont trust them.

  30. I never join any such events truly. They’re just meant to increase popularity of a page in a false manner..

  31.  betamotivation

    i’ve done it in the past and unlike you, didn’t know to read through all the terms. someone sent me a message to let me know so i just stopped the contest early and announced a winner. it was fun while it lasted though. next time, i know to read the guidelines!

  32. How many poeple who “like” a page ever return to it? Inquiring minds wanna know! :)

  33.  Mike_Howg

    Thanks for the great article. I was actually thinking about running a contest to try and get more Likes but it seems like it would be a bad idea. It’s a good thing I held off and decided to research it first.

  34. I have my own FB page for my blog and I haven’t created any post for contest..but page getting disabled permanently is too risk to do. Basically promoting anything in social media is a risk taken of being banned. Good topic that you’ve chosen.

  35. Having a Facebook page makes your business appear trendy and there is no better way to keep in touch with your customers – most young people use Facebook.

  36. We were thinking about running a contest for an app related contest at some point. However, what are Facebook’s restrictions on the types of rewards you can offer to people?

  37. Facebook has become much more strict as well as it is trying to retain much more control over it’s users activity. When a company becomes large enough this is usually the case unfortunately.

  38. Thanks for sharing some good ideas. There are something new to learn and 10k fan a big milestone!

  39.  https://twitter.com/rushikesh577

    Thanks Lisa for all your tips on being aware of the increasing contests.
    I recently participated in a contest where they took all my details and contact number,etc. But luckily for me nothing happened. You have really thrown light on a vital aspect. Thanks once again.

  40. Thanks for sharing this article. There are something new to learn and 10K fan a big milestone.

  41.  LTGMonkey

    Wow, just wanted to say congrats on having 10,000 Likes. That’s no mean feat. Particularly because after Facebook introduced (business) pages where people could declare that they wanted to get updates on your business via your page (i.e. by ‘Liking’) your page – FB then decided not to show all of those people your updates.

    Personally I find this crazy so I’m not a big fan of Facebook for that reason. If people have ‘Liked’ your page, then surely all of those people should receive your updates – they can always unlike if it gets too much. I understand the currency algorithm for personal updates but not for business. Did you reach the 10K number before FB made this change or after? I’d be interested to know.

    I’m guessing with so much traction you probably are a fan of Facebook and with changes like this (which I read as FB making it harder for small businesses to compete with bigger businesses with advertising budgets to buy more presence) it’s even more impressive the kind of following you have there.

    Just wanted to give you a shout out for that anyway (hope it didn’t end up coming off too much as a rant) ;-)

    •  2createawebsite

      I reached 10K after the change. But it’s important to remember that the change did not affect your ability to get “Likes”. It only affects how visible your content is to people who have ALREADY liked your page. So gaining the Likes is not the issue — ensuring your posts are SEEN is an entirely different one. I earned the Likes through promoting my FB page on my blog, youtube channel, etc.

      No apologies needed and I didn’t see this as a rant at all. You are expressing your opinions and that’s welcomed here.

  42. I ran a competition last year on my Fan page, Complete waste of time. The only people that really entered was “competition hunters” I have a scrabble based website, which caters for different word games and anagrams. The competition was to win the BIGGEST retro sweet hamper you have ever seen, it did get shared….I did gain likes but 99% were just people interested in winning a prize, I can honestly say that the activity afterwards had no real effect. In fact most of the people liking these “competion likers” have seperate profiles to like with, and share with there friends who are also like minded people. However it did give me one thing….an idea for a micro niche for competitions LOL personally I wouldn’t waste your time running competitions, facebook has such a bad name now…lots of spam win an Ipad, win iphone 5 yada yada……However this has been a great blog to read thank you :)

    •  2createawebsite

      Scrabble eh? Must check out your site. I’m a huge scrabble fan. :)

    • andreasjva says:


      One thing to keep in mind, you have to look at the effectiveness of any marketing campaign over the long term, not the immediate gratification. A conventional mailing (post office) campaign only achieves about a 2% response rate in general. Email campaign effectiveness is far worse, at about .1%. You can’t stop doing something just because you don’t think the return was what you thought it would be.

      For example, 1000 people come to your sites contest, and 10 stick around afterwards. You could complain that you only got a 1% return. Run it every month though, and now you have 120 more loyal fans by the end of the year, plus you boosted your monthly traffic by 1000+. Furthermore, you’re gaining exposure.

      If you got a 1% return on your contest, you did pretty good by conventional standards. If you want to compare it to an email campaign, you did awesome. You did about 10x better than an email campaign, but about 2x less than a direct mail campaign.

      Part of marketing strategy is repetition. The more you market, the more return you get on your investment. Don’t give up after one contest. The problem wasn’t the return you got on the contest, rather your expectations of a much higher return from a single campaign. It’s not realistic. marketing is about branding, or brand recognition.

      If you had some secret for achieving even a 5% return consistently, you would be considered some sort of marketing genius. 1% is not that bad Steve. Keep doing it.

    • andreasjva says:

      Thank you Lisa. I did want to point out one other thing to Steve (and anyone else that’s listening).

      As far as professional gamers coming to your site just to win something free, they themselves could be your target market. They like to play games, and like having an advantage, clearly. Instead of complaining about them, you may want to embrace their potential. Marketing is a percentage game. 1% of 1000 = 10 customers. 1% of 100,000 = 1000 customers. You may want to try running another contest, but instead of going after people already reading your blog, register on the contest consolidation sites themselves. Draw in a high volume of new traffic, and you never know what will stick. Who really cares who gets the prize, as long as you get a ton of traffic, and some new clients once the dust settles.

      Here’s what I see as a positive; “In fact most of the people liking these “competion likers” have seperate profiles to like with, and share with there friends who are also like minded people.”

      So, you have an opportunity to become a saved favorite within a network of gamers, if you held regular contests.

      In mailing, you should always plan a campaign over many months, repeatedly mailing to the same people over and over. The idea is branding and name recognition. They may not need what you offer that moment, but they might later and will remember where to go.

      I really think you had success in your first contest, but you let the wind out of the sail before you could go anywhere with it. You have to follow up, and stay on top of the new users anyway you can. Make them register for the contest for example, and capture their data. When you run another contest, invite them back. Who cares if they’re using alternate accounts setup just for gaming the system, they’re still real people on the other end. They’re probably reading the alias more than their real identity anyway.

      Marketing is all about the numbers, as this site proves in spades…


  43.  shirish_dhungel

    Hey thanks for informing.
    Facebook is making its security tighter day by day so, these problems are really arising.

  44.  Unrealfactscom

    Very insightful article. I’m thinking of running a contest to get more likes on my Facebook page that is associated with my website about <a href="http://unrealfacts.com"facts. I don’t want to buy likes because it won’t help my site interaction and seems like a desperate measure used by some people to get attention to their page. I was unsure how to run a contest to get more likes with people that will actually interact with my page. Thanks to this article I know know how to go about it the right way without risking my Facebook page or damaging my sites and pages reputation.
    Thanks again

  45.  Unrealfactscom

    Sorry Lisa and other readers. My site is about facts. Sorry for that, I’m using my iPhone and it is difficult to type on the small screen. :)

  46. Wohaaa.. Didn’t know that Facebook had such strict terms and conditions. But i still see many people host contest which includes share or like. I’m pretty sure they will get the page banned soon. But are there any free apps that can be used to host contests on FB?

  47. Hello Lisa !
    Nice information. Well, I have not tried facebook contests yet but after reading this post that sounds interesting. Static HTML iFrame tab sound awesome. I guess its the time to do a practical now.

  48. Hello Lisa !
    Awesome facebook contest idea. This is totally impressive. Well now I am thinking of stating a contest with some creativity like it. I really liked this post.
    Thanks for sharing.

  49. A very helpful tutorial indeed! Many people don’t even read the terms and conditions of any website and this a very common issue that is seen. So the important information is , to host the contest from your page, you have to use one of the Facebook-approved applications like Short Stack or WildFire. But according to rules one cannot use the word “Facebook” in the contest name. The other more simplified way is , you can require people to “like” your page to view/enter the contest. So everyone remembers these points or you can suffer the consequences.

  50. Hey there! I’ve been following your web site for a while now and
    finally got the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout out from Lubbock Texas!
    Just wanted to tell you keep up the fantastic work!

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