Everybody likes a free burrito Facebook app.
Everybody likes a free burrito Facebook app.

With more than 500 million active users, and a recent eMarketer.com study naming Facebook the top social network based on ROI, it’s no wonder companies love running promotions on it. They can be as simple as a sweepstakes, asking users to “throw their names in the digital hat,” up to a full-scale contest, inviting brand advocates to tap into their talents as they vie for a prize.

But beware. Facebook has some strict guidelines on using its platform for such activities, and breaking the rules could have your promotion shut down, or worse,your entire Facebook presence removed.

The social network has an easy-to-read, commonsense guide. Here are some key takeaways:

  • You may not require the user to provide any content through the platform. This includes liking a status, writing a wall post, uploading a photo etc.
  • You may require the user to like your Facebook page only as a first step before providing more information for/or participating in your promotion (name, email, address etc.). In other words, the act of simply “liking” a Facebook page may not be considered as an entry into a sweepstakes.
  • You may not communicate with the winner of your promotion using the Facebook platform (messages, wall posts etc.). Facebook encourages you to collect email addresses or phone numbers in the event that you’d like to contact the winner directly.
  • There’s a list of cut-and-dry limitations that can be found at Guideline 2.4. Such as the promotion cannot include or be targeted at persons below the age of 18 or the prize may not contain firearms.

Take Control With an App

The safest way to steer clear of transgressions when promoting on Facebook is to develop a Facebook app. You gain much more flexibility than trying to run a promotion through the Facebook platform itself.