With over 500 million users, Facebook offers invaluable opportunities for companies to engage with their potential and loyal customers through pages. Though more than 70% of small businesses use Facebook (a 20% increase over last year), most still struggle to find different ways to take advantage of their social media presence beyond reinforcing branding and providing customer service.

The first action step toward many companies take toward reaching their social media goals is to build their fan base. Have you ever considered running a contest to spark growth in “likes” for your business on Facebook? If you’re considering running a promotion but don’t know about the social media website’s complex rules, review these key takeaways before you get started. Businesses caught running contests that do not follow Facebook’s rules risk losing their entire page.
  • Businesses no longer have to get their contests approved by Facebook or spend $10,000 in Facebook ads to run one; however, companies must disclose explicitly that Facebook is not involved with the contest for liability reasons.
  • The only action you can ask of contest entrants on Facebook is for them to become a fan/”like” your company’s page. You can’t ask them to comment. You can’t ask them to upload photos. You can’t ask them to provide their contact info. You can ask nothing of them except being a fan/”liking” your page in order to view contest details.
  • You may not pick a fan at random from your list of people who “liked” your business’s page. You have to use a third party app to collect names/contact information and run the whole contest off Facebook. You can only use Facebook to promote your contest.
  • You may not contact winners using Facebook. That’s right! No messaging. No chat. No posting to your wall or their wall to let them know.
Related reading: Social Media Examiner blogger Mari Smith offers more tips, including a comprehensive review of apps for running successful Facebook promotions.

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