Running a social media contest? Use this checklist

Facebook and Twitter contests can be a great way to interact with your customers, but each network has their own rules. Here’s what you need to know.

Social media is a great tool that allows you to interact and engage with your customers. Using platforms like Facebook and Twitter to run contests or promotions is an effective way to establish your brand, reward customers, make sales, and build an ongoing relationship with your audience.

This means if you don’t already run contests—or if you run them incorrectly—you may get left behind.

Why you should run contests

If you’ve been thinking about running a contest or promotion, but haven’t yet, now is the time. Since Facebook and Twitter are the most popular social media platforms, I recommend you start with these.

Facebook has 845 million monthly active users, and Twitter has more than 100 million. According to Web analytics company, Facebook reaches about 44 percent of Internet users daily, and Twitter reaches about 8.6 percent.

What does this mean for you? It means you have the attention of a lot of people every day. When you use social media to send out promotions, you not only interact in a meaningful way by offering something they want, but you gain new fans. It’s the best of both worlds.

Run a simple enter-to-win contest, offer discounts to those who promote to friends, or show your sense of humor by encouraging creative submissions—these are all great ways to interact with your customers.

Before you run the promotion, however, verify that it complies with both Facebook and Twitter contest guidelines. Use these checklists to ensure you follow the rules:

Contest checklist for Facebook

Facebook emphasizes that it is up to you to ensure any contest or promotion you run is legal. You also must meet the following guidelines:

  • You must run promotions through Apps on, either on a canvas page or an app on a page tab.
  • Each entrant must release Facebook of any liability.
  • You must acknowledge the contest it is no way associated with Facebook.
  • Participants must know and acknowledge that any information they give for the contest goes to your business, not Facebook.
  • You can’t use Facebook’s tools for the contest. This means you can’t encourage participants to enter by liking a page or using a check-in. You also can’t require them to use Facebook features to be eligible—e.g., you can’t request photo uploads, likes, wall posts, etc. You may not use the like button as a voting mechanism.
  • The contest must have its own registration or entry form.
  • You can’t notify winners through Facebook.
  • Ads can’t imply that Facebook endorses or partners in any way.

Contest checklist for Twitter

Twitter also has its own specifications regarding contests and promotions, including:

  • Verify that the contest or promotion follows all laws and regulations.
  • Discourage users from creating multiple accounts to enter the contest more than once. Twitter may suspend your account if you encourage this.
  • Don’t ask for retweets for contest eligibility. Posting the same tweet repeatedly is against Twitter’s rules, and can result in followers being filtered out of the Twitter search.
  • Use current and relevant hashtag topics (not #contest or #companyname). This can also violate Twitter rules.

As long as your contest complies with these specific rules, you can get started. Remember to make contests creative and fun to draw more people in. Maybe encourage fans to submit photos, videos or essays that include your product. The more engaging the contest, the better the results will be.

Do you run contests or promotions on your social networks?

Jennifer Dancy is manager of corporate communications and PR for Demandforce. A version of this article first appeared on

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