Social Media Contest Rules: Free Template and Beginner’s Guide


Social media contests are an easy way for your business to drive traffic, engagement, social media Followers, and new leads.

The challenge, of course, is that the rules and regulations for running a social media contest are complex, to say the least.

And Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter don’t make it simpler by changing their policies and platforms (what seems like) every few weeks.

This article will give you a complete breakdown of how you can create rules and regulations for your social media contest that ensure you’re within the line.

  • Social media contest guidelines
  • Social media contest rules and regulations – best practices
  • A downloadable, fill-in-the-blank social media contest rules template

Note: This article is an overview of the rules and regulations for social media contests. It is not legal advice. To be 100% sure your contest is within the rules and regulations of social media platforms and your state/country’s laws, speak to a legal representative.

Let’s get rolling!

Social Media Contest Rules & Regulations – Best Practices

This section will break down the best practices to keep in mind when getting started with a “within-the-rules” social media contest

Where can I run a social media contest?

You can run a contest on your website, your Facebook Page Timeline, in a Facebook Page Tab and on a Facebook App page.

You are NOT allowed to run a photo contest or promotion on a personal Profile Timeline.

What do I have to include on my social media contest page?

Your page must include…

  • Your official social media contest rules (though I recommend you put these on a separate page and link to them within your contest page)
  • Who is eligible to enter your contest based on their age, location, etc. (this is usually an age restriction thing)
  • A warning that your contest isn’t sponsored by or affiliated with Facebook or Instagram

How can I ask people to enter?

In order to enter your social media contest, you can ask people to…

  • Comment on or Like a Post or Tweet
  • Post on a Facebook Page
  • Message your Page or Profile
  • Submit personal information in an entry form
  • Vote in a competition
  • Submit a photo, video or text content

How can I NOT ask people to enter?

In order to enter your social media contest, you can NOT ask people to…

  • Share a Facebook Page
  • Tag themselves in a photo that they are not in
  • Post on their own Timeline
  • Share on a friend’s Timeline
  • Like or Follow your Facebook Page (see below on “Like-Gating)

What’s Like-Gating?

Like-gating is a tactic used a lot in the early days of Facebook which requires people to Like your page in order to enter your social media contest.

Until 2014, it was a very common thing – and a primarily selling point of third-party social media contest apps (as gating without a third-party was pretty difficult).

It was banned by Facebook in 2014.

However, while requiring (operative word) people to Like or Follow your Facebook Page is banned, there are still a couple ways to encourage users to do so.

Option #1. Like for More chances to win:

You can give people bonus entries to your social media contest if they Like your Page. This cannot be the primary method of entry, but it can be an incentivized action.

My recommendation is to add a “Bonus Entry” popup that appears as soon as someone clicks “Enter” on your social media contest page. People are never more sold than when they click enter, so getting bonus entries is never more enticing.

Here’s an example of a Bonus Entry popup:

social media contest rules

Option #2. Facebook Like Prompt Popup Overlay:

Like the Like-gate of old, Like Prompt popup overlays appear as soon as someone arrives on your social media contest page. Unlike the old Like-gate, however, Like prompts simply encourage people to Like your page.

The Like prompt is skippable, optional, but is still a powerful way to encourage people to Like your Page.

Here’s an example of the Facebook Like Prompt overlay:

social media contest rules

Both the Bonus Entry and Like Prompt popup can be created quickly and easily with Wishpond’s Facebook Sweepstakes App. Check out these sweepstakes rules for more information.

How Do I Contact Social Media Contest Winners?

Unlike with the Like-gate, social media platforms have actually gotten less strict about how you contact your social media contest winners. Previously you weren’t allowed to contact people with timeline posts or direct messages, but those restrictions have been removed in the past couple years.

The primary ways to notify your contest winners of their win…

  • Facebook Message
  • Tweet or Twitter Direct Message
  • Comment on a Post on your Page’s Timeline
  • Your own Page’s Timeline
  • Email

Email is far and away the best way to do it as it’s more reliable than any other communication strategy.

To learn more about contacting winners and announcing it, check out 5 Best Ways to Announce & Notify Contest Winners (with Examples).

Facebook Page Guidelines for Promotions Explained

It’s a good call to read over Facebook’s guidelines for promotions. The main thing here is that you aren’t allowed to run your contest on a personal profile or your timeline – it needs to be done through an official Facebook Page.

Here’s a snapshot of Facebook’s Page Promotion Guidelines (Last Updated March 30, 2017) – taken from their Facebook Page Terms:

social media contest rules

What’s important here?

  • If something goes wrong with your contest, you’re liable. Facebook has no liability if something within your contest is run illegally or is disrupted.
  • You have to feature your social media contest rules clearly (or link to them).
  • Your contest rules must specify who can enter your contest, normally including age and location.
  • You must follow all promotion/giveaway laws of your country/state/province. The internet is still within law enforcement’s jurisdiction for your location.
  • You must include, somewhere, that your contest is in no way sponsored by or affiliated with Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Most social media contest apps, like Wishpond’s, include this by default (see below):

social media contest rules

And then the stuff I’ve already mentioned, like where your contest can be hosted, how people can enter and how they can’t

There are also a few Facebook Page Guidelines (outside of the Promotions section) that pertain to social media contests. Here’s an overview of the ones you need to comply with:

One more thing, on data collection…

social media contest rules

Essentially, users need to be clear that any data you collect is being collected by you, not Facebook. This means using your own company name, branding etc.

This usually isn’t very hard, just don’t try to pretend you’re Facebook and you’ll be fine.

And if you’re asking people to submit personal information, photos, video or text (like in an essay, photo or video contest) and intend to use that content down the line, you need to include in your rules and regulations/terms and conditions that you’re allowed to do so.

Either include this clause in your terms and conditions or add a required opt-in checkbox which gives you permission to use the content that people submit.

Social Media Contest Rules Template

Click below to download our fill-in-the-blank social media contest rules template. This is based on the rules we and our fully-managed clients use when running their contests.

However (and you really need to remember this) this is just a guide. If you want to be 100% sure you’re within the rules, have a lawyer review. This is particularly relevant because we don’t know where you are and what local regulations may be required.

This template is based off social media contests run in North America. There are likely to be local regulations which aren’t shown here that apply outside North America. This template is just a good place to start.

Wrapping it Up

Hopefully this article gives you a good place to start when considering your social media contest rules and regulations.

Don’t hesitate to reach out in the comment section if you have any questions!

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