Facebook Contest Rules: The Ultimate Guide


Facebook contests are an incredible way to engage your fans and grow your following. But before you go live with your contest you’ll need to prepare contest rules. Contest rules establish the guidelines for things like entry or proper behaviour for participation.

We’ve run hundreds of Facebook contests for clients and ourselves and have learned a few things along the way. In this article I’ll give you the 5-minute guide to creating your own Facebook contest rules.

Let’s get started.

(Disclaimer: This article is not intended to be legal advice but rather suggestions about how to best comply with Facebook contest rules online. Laws differ in different countries and if in doubt, always consult with a legal professional or consider running a fully-managed Facebook contest and campaign.)

Facebook Contest Do’s and Don’ts

When it comes to what Facebook will allow in a contest, it can be tricky to know what’s acceptable and what’s unacceptable, simply because the rules have changed so frequently.

As a general rule of thumb however, when running a Facebook contest, you must always:

  • Include a complete release of Facebook by each entrant or participant.
  • Acknowledge that the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed, administered by, or associated with Facebook.
  • State the official rules
  • Offer terms and eligibility requirements (e.g. age and residency restrictions)
  • Comply with applicable rules and regulations governing the promotion and all prizes offered

In recent years there has also been some confusion as to what types of contests are allowed, and which contests are not permitted.

As of July 27, 2015, these types of contests are no longer acceptable under Facebook’s new contest guidelines:

  • Like a page to enter
  • Share a page to enter
  • Tag yourself in a photo to enter
  • Share a page on a friends Timeline to enter
  • Like multiple pages to enter

You may, of course, choose to run your Facebook contest with a third party app. In this case, there will be a different set of tools at your disposal, most of which you’ll be able to manage outside of Facebook.

If this is the case, it’s important to understand what the difference is between a sweepstakes, a contest, and a lottery.

This a main point of confusion for users setting up a Facebook contest and should be clarified.

Sweepstakes vs. Contests vs. Lotteries

A sweepstakes allows users to enter for a chance to win at random. What defines a sweepstakes is that there is no payment or value exchange in order for a user to enter.

Whether or not a user made a purchase or not will not matter for a sweepstakes. Winning a sweepstakes is simply an element of chance.

For example, Wishpond has a Facebook Contest App for Sweepstakes which can appear on Facebook and allow businesses to collect entries.

At the end of the campaign, a random winner is generated and can be announced by email or social media.

A contest on the other hand, refers to a type of competition that seeks to find a winner based on merit or skill. In this case, there should be no randomness in regards to who the winner will be.

Often contests take the form of photo contests or video contests, in which case users can upload their content which can then be voted on by the community.

Alternatively, these types of contests can also be determined by a panel of judges.

A lottery involves requiring a user to pay in order for a chance to win. No matter if it’s $1 or $100, the principle is still the same.

Since private lotteries are illegal in many parts of the world, including the United States, it’s recommended that you don’t run a lottery, especially on Facebook.

Now that we have a better understanding of what types of contests there are, and which ones to avoid, let’s take a look at what should be considered when putting together your Facebook contest rules.

Things to Consider

Depending on what type of contest you’re running, different types of information will be required in your contest rules.

As a general guideline however, useful things that you should include are:

Contest Information:

  • Company name
  • Website URL
  • Company Country, State and Zip Code
  • Contest start and end dates
  • How a winner will be determined
  • How a winner will be notified
  • Prize and prize value
    Date prize must be claimed by


  • Contest minimum age
  • Eligible countries to win
  • Number of times users can enter
  • Cases that will result in disqualification

Depending on what kind of contest your running, specifying different rules and caveats will makes sense for different types of businesses. If there’s any part that’s unclear however, and if ever in doubt about the legality of your contest within your specific location, always remember to seek out legal assistance.

Notifying a Winner

Once your contest is underway and the rules have been set, you might run into the next question of how to notify your contest winner.

In the past there was some regulation preventing contest winners from being announced in certain terms. That has since changed, but to re-clarify what’s acceptable, here’s a list of the top ways to notify a contest winner at the completion of your campaign:

  • Email the contest winner
  • Facebook post announcement
  • Twitter Tweet announcement
  • Blog post announcement

Generally we’d recommend emailing the contest winner, then if the winner consents, posting a photo of them as a winner on either a blog post or as Facebook post.

Email is generally the best way of getting in touch with them directly, but that isn’t to say that you can use the power of social media to amplify your message, and engage with the rest of your audience.

For more information on how to notify a contest winner, check out 5 Best Ways to Announce & Notify a Contest Winner.


Hopefully this guide has helped give you a better understanding of the ins and outs of a successful Facebook promotion.

If all of this seems a litle overwhelming, feel free to try out our free contest rules generator. I can’t stress enough though, if in doubt about any legal aspects of your campaign, ensure you contact a legal professional for their advice.

So what are you waiting for? Start running your Facebook contest today!

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