How much is a Facebook Like worth to your local business? We’ve seen an auto-glass shop offering an iPad, a dry cleaner offering a $30-off coupon and a boutique offering a winter goodie bag with a hat and scarves in exchange for Likes to build Facebook fan lists. Facebook users love to hear about and share deals and bargains, so it’s a natural environment for contests or sweepstakes.

How to Run a Promotion, Contest or Sweepstakes on Facebook

But you should know that Facebook also has some strict — and simple — rules on promotions with prizes of monetary value. We suggest you read the rules and watch this short video from Facebook.

The rules boil down to …

Rule 1. You can run a promotion ON Facebook, for instance saying, “Like our Page TO enter the contest,” only if you offer a Facebook application to handle the registration.


Rule 2.You can promote a contest run OFF Facebook, for instance saying, “Like our page AND enter the contest by registering on our website.” But Liking a Page or checking in to a Place are the only actions permitted on Facebook as a requirement for entry. Now, if you’re following local businesses on Facebook, you’ve likely seen these rules broken all the time.

Some common rule-breakers:

“Post your cute baby pictures on our Facebook Page and the one that gets the most Likes wins the family a $50 gift certificate!”

“Like this photo of our new location to enter the drawing!”

“Post a comment telling us why you love our cherry pie. Best comment wins a pie!”

“Congratulations to Sally Smith—you’re the winner of our April giveaway!”

By Facebook’s standards, asking for posts or Likes other than Page Likes or announcing winners constitute running a contest on Facebook and that’s a no-no. And Facebook’s official line is that they’ll shut down your Page if they catch you.

So what’s allowed besides sending people to your website to enter?

Some common, Facebook-legal promotions:

“Today’s secret, off-the-menu cupcake flavor is Double Chocolate. First 100 customers to name the secret flavor at the register get a free Double Chocolate cupcake!”

“Check in to our Facebook Place and get a free drink!”

“Like our Facebook Page and get a 10% discount at the register!”

“Happy Valentine’s Day! What Italian city receives 1000s of Valentine’s cards addressed to Juliet every year? The first five people to email us with the correct answer win a gift certificate!”

“Who’s the cutest baby? We’re taking pictures of our customer’s babies in the store and posting them to our Facebook Page. The picture with the most Likes wins the family a $50 gift certificate!”

“Post a comment to tell us how you’ll spend the $100 gift certificate if you win!”

Running a contest with an application

With a Facebook application, you can create your own contest or sweepstakes promotional page and publish it to Facebook. A subscription to an app gets you access to some simple tools to enter your contest details, upload your images, publish to a professional-looking page (or “tab” in Facebook-speak) and run your promotion.

Here’s how your promotion looks to a Facebook user, using North Social’s app as an example.

 How to Run a Promotion, Contest or Sweepstakes on Facebook.1

1. A visitor to your Page clicks a “Sweepstakes” or “Contest” button to go to the special tab for the promotion. You can set your Facebook Page so that first-time visitors automatically land on the tab.

How to Run a Promotion, Contest or Sweepstakes on Facebook.2

2. The tab describes the promotion and promises users they can enter if they click the Like button for your Facebook Page. After the Like click, the screen changes to reveal the entry form, along with Facebook’s required disclaimer language for promotions, and a link to a web page where you can display your contest rules.

3. Users fill in the form – it’s customizable so you can ask your own questions — and then users click an Enter button. The app also offers the user a choice to post a notice to their Wall, saying they just entered the contest.

4. A thank you screen appears displaying links to your website or whatever messaging you choose. Another advantage to using an app: You get reporting from Facebook on the activity on your contest, viewable with your other traffic reports.

Fees for basic contest apps can run around $10 a month for an annual subscription and some developers offer one-shot deals with no subscription. Other popular vendors besides North Social are Wildfire, SocialAppsHQ and Pagemodo.

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