Facebook Bans Tagging Friends in Giveaways and Contests

Running a giveaway or a contest is a great strategy for getting your brand noticed online. It helps to develop a positive brand association and you just might open yourself up to new audiences, new cheerleaders and new customers. It’s easy enough to set up a contest on your blog or website. You just have to figure out how you want people to enter.

You first have to determine what is the goal or objective of your contest in the first place. Is it to generate more sales? Attract more readers to your blog? One of the most common objectives is to expand your social media presence and build your reach. The more people you get on your list — and social media followers are like having a list — the better prospects you have for growing your business moving forward.

And since organic reach on Facebook has significantly stifled through the algorithm and it has increasingly become a pay-to-play environment, brands and businesses are more interested than ever in increasing engagement on their Facebook pages. They want more likes, more comments and more shares.


Contests are a great way to do that. You’ve likely seen them around, encouraging followers to “like” their Facebook page and reply with some sort of comment to enter the giveaway. However, you need to make sure you are adhering to the Facebook page guidelines if you don’t want to get yourself banned from the social network. In particular, in this context of giveaways and contests, you’ll want to pay attention to Section E: Promotions.

This section is further broken down into four sub-sections.

1. If you use Facebook to communicate or administer a promotion (ex: a contest or sweepstakes), you are responsible for the lawful operation of that promotion, including:
a. The official rules;
b. Offer terms and eligibility requirements (ex: age and residency restrictions); and
c. Compliance with applicable rules and regulations governing the promotion and all prizes offered (ex: registration and obtaining necessary regulatory approvals)

That seems relatively easy enough, as determining eligibility requirements are something you should be doing even if your contest isn’t being run on Facebook. How old do entrants need to be? Is it restricted to Canada and the United States? You might run into some sticky space with regulatory approvals, but you should be fine.

2. Promotions on Facebook must include the following:
a. A complete release of Facebook by each entrant or participant.
b. Acknowledgement that the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.

You may have seen this kind of verbage with some of the other contests going around on Facebook. It’s important to state explicitly that Facebook really has nothing to do with your giveaway at all. Zuckerberg and his team are obviously including this for legal reasons, should your contest go sideways for whatever reason.

3. Promotions may be administered on Pages or within apps on Facebook. Personal Timelines and friend connections must not be used to administer promotions (ex: “share on your Timeline to enter” or “share on your friend’s Timeline to get additional entries”, and “tag your friends in this post to enter” are not permitted).

This is where you should really be paying attention in terms of how to set up your giveaways and contests on Facebook. It used to be a very common practice to get people to tag your friends or to share the contest on your personal profile to enter. This helped to get your contest viral and in front of as many people as possible, including those who wouldn’t have seen your contest post in the first place.

And you can’t do that anymore.

The assumption is that Facebook is cracking down on the spammy nature of this, because they want users to feel that getting tagged by their friends is a legitimate form of communication rather than “just another contest.” Funnily enough, the “tag your friends” dynamic is still very much alive and well on Instagram. It’s rampant and, seeing how Instagram is owned by Facebook, that could change at some point in the future too.

4. We will not assist you in the administration of your promotion, and you agree that if you use our service to administer your promotion, you do so at your own risk.

Of course, you can’t expect Facebook to help you run your contest. Don’t run to them for technical support for managing entries or distributing prizes. That’s obvious enough. You’re on your own, just as you have already acknowledged that Facebook is in no way sponsoring, endorsing or administering your promotion.

Running Facebook giveaways is still a viable way to strengthen your brand and extend your reach, but you will need to be mindful of these guidelines if you want to stay off Zuckerberg’s naughty list.

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