Facebook Contests – The best (and legal) ways to run them

Brands and businesses love running contests on Facebook. We’re sure you can’t go more than a few days without seeing one pop up in your feed. And it’s no wonder they so popular; they can can increase your engagement, generate leads, and gives something back to your audience. That is, as long as your contest is legal and follows Facebook regulations.

If you’re thinking about running your own Facebook contest, you need to know the following:

  • How to run a legal contest
  • How to follow Facebook’s contest rules and regulations
  • The best practices from the biggest brands and influencers

Running a Facebook contest is a fun way to interact with your audience, but you have to do it right. Read on to better understand how Facebook contest work and how to host your very own.

How to run a legal Facebook contest

While reading ahead, keep in mind that Sotrender is not a law firm! All we can do is summarize the details. Be sure to get proper legal advice and counsel from a qualified individual if you’re unsure of the law in your country.

Thankfully, the legal aspects of running a contest aren’t very complicated. There are three types of promotions in the eyes of the law in the UK and the US, and there’s only one you are not allowed to run on your Facebook Page. These three types are:

  1. Sweepstakes/Promotions: These refer to a campaign where anybody who enters can win a prize based on chance. As long as players don’t have to pay and the winner is selected at random, it falls under this type. This is completely legal.
  2. Contests/Competitions: You might think this contest was a general term in this context, but it actually has a specific meaning! This refers to campaigns where the players must have certain skills, knowledge, or abilities that are used to win a prize. This has nothing to do with chance and the winner is chosen based on their ability to demonstrate these skills, knowledge, or abilities. This is completely legal.
  3. Lotteries: This includes any campaign where you have to pay to enter, where you receive some form of receipt that will be selected as the winner by chance. This is completely illegal.

Lotteries are illegal to run on Facebook. If you’re designing a contest and it sounds a lot like a lottery, you’ll want to get back to the drawing board. Sweepstakes and contests on the other hand are exactly what you should be working towards.

If you’re not living in the UK or the US, be sure to check the laws governing promotions and contests. Not every country has the same rules, and it’s better to be safe than sorry!

Facebook contest rules and regulations

The rules made by Facebook ensure that users create and manage contests in a way that is beneficial for both sides. Facebook puts most of the responsibility on the person or people who run the contest, limiting their liability. Which means you definitely to keep these rules in mind:

  1. You are responsible for the lawful operation of any promotion. This means you have to come up with the official rules, state terms and eligibility requirements, and getting any legal approvals that might be necessary.
  2. Each promotion must have a complete release of Facebook from each entrant. Everyone who participates has to acknowledge that everything that happens during the promotion, good or bad, is not in any way related to Facebook.
  3. Each promotion must acknowledge that it is not sponsored or endorsed by Facebook. You need to tell everyone that Facebook isn’t involved in your contest, that you’re doing it all yourself.
  4. Promotions must be administered through Pages or through apps on Facebook, not on personal timelines. This is pretty simple; post the contest through your Page and not your timeline. If you run an app on Facebook, you can post it there too. This also means that you can’t use you friend connections to enter users into the promotions.
  5. You must agree that Facebook will not assist the promotion, and anything that happens is done at your own risk. Again, if anything happens it’s not Facebook’s fault. It’s yours.

You can read more on Facebook’s knowledge base. Most of these regulations are there to cover Facebook from any legal responsibility and to ensure you don’t spam users. They are generally helpful and leave you with a lot of room to do what you want.

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Facebook contest best practices

Even if you follow all the rules, it doesn’t mean your contest will automatically be amazing. That’s why you have to put in the time and effort to make it stand out and attract the engagement of your audience. Here’s a few tips to make your job easier:

  • Be prepared. Jumping into a contest unprepared can make things very difficult, and you might accidentally break some rules or even the law!
  • Set objectives. Are you running a contest just for fun? Probably not. Identify what you want to get from your contest, making it easier to work towards what you want.
  • Consider using other social media platforms. If you’re active on other platforms, use that to your advantage. It can boost your reach, engagement, and number of entrants.
  • Choose the type of contest you want to run. Photo/video contests,running captions, sweepstakes, location contests; there’s a lot to choose from. Pick one that fits best with your goals.
  • Benchmarking can help! Want to know about the successful campaigns your competitors have run? Benchmark them and take some notes.
  • Create the rules and tell people where they can be found. You have to have them somewhere, make sure your audience knows where.
  • Make it clear who is eligible and who is not. Make sure which countries are included in your contest and any other limitations there might be.
  • Set a schedule. Contest don’t last forever! There needs to be a fixed date where people can no longer enter and when the winner will be announced.
  • Make a list of the steps. It’s not always as intuitive as you think. Let your audience know exactly how to enter your contest, what they have to do to win, and how they will know.
  • Pick a great prize. Something your audience will love and will make them want to enter. It’s one of the most motivating aspects, so make sure it’s great. And if you can, show off the prize with pictures or videos.
  • Incorporate your own product/service. You can make it the prize, or you can ask entrants to send submissions from your location.
  • Look for useful software. There’s third-party software that can help you verify entrants or collect data, which can simplify the whole process.
  • Make a unique contest hashtag. It’ll make it easier for people to share and find your contest, so this one is a no brainer!
  • Create and use a theme. Stick to the same colours and types of imagery to give your contest a specific and memorable feel.
  • Make it mobile friendly. Most people access Facebook on mobile, so make it as easy for them as you can.
  • Promote your contest. Tell everybody about it! The more people that know, the more will enter.
  • Run a follow up. At the end, you’ll have to pick a winner and let everybody know. If the entrants had to submit a piece to win, share it on your Page. And remember to stick to any dates you established earlier.

Running a Facebook contest can be a lot of fun, but you have to make sure it’s bringing you the results you want. If you follow these tips, you’re a lot more likely to have a successful contest.

The best Facebook contest examples

Reading tips is one thing, but it’s another to see some of them in action. Take a look at some of the best examples of Facebook contests from around the web.


What’s your favourite kind of pizza? (almost) everybody has one, and that’s why Amazon got over 12 thousand comments on this contest. It’s simple, has a prize related to the contest theme, and uses one of the products from their store.

Facebook Contests


‘Why does your friend represent real beauty?” Dove asked its Facebook audience, under the theme ‘Real beauty should be shared.’ Users would submit an explanation of why their friend represents real beauty with the chance to become the next faces of Dove.

It’s an example of branding genius, running a contest that’s in line with their brand image and getting people to express their appreciation for each other.

Facebook contests


SportsCenter asked its fans to ranks their favourite ads from SportsCenter. Using an interactive app, their audience was able to share their opinions to form a top 10 that was then shown on ESPN. They promoted it through Facebook and on their show, leading to 1.1 million votes being cast. It’s a little self centered, but you can’t complain with the results!

Facebook contests


Qwertee wanted more likes, so they made it into a contest. To enter, they had to send their email and like Qwertee’s Facebook page. The prize? A month of free t-shirts of your choice from their shop.

Not only did they increase their amount of likes, but they also got tons of their audience to wear even more of their products. Definitely a boost for their brand image!

Facebook contests

Running contests on social media is generally a great idea (Check out our post on Instagram contests). What do you think about it? Have any suggestions for running a great and rule-abiding contest? Let us know in the comments below!

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