Why I Hate Legal Facebook Contests

In case you missed it, I’ve been a bit ranty lately about running legal Facebook contests.

Basically, it breaks down to this: most of the FB contests you see out there are illegal, according to FB’s Terms of Service. But people are still running them that way because a. they don’t know any better, and b. there hasn’t been enough publicized stories of people getting caught and their pages getting shut down.

However, I’ve been running a few legal Facebook Contests these days, and I kinda hate them.


Well, in order to run a legal FB contest, you need to use a third-party app, and create a tab on your Facebook page for that app. Check out this (shhhhh!!!) example that I did before I knew better:

FB "Like" Contest.jpg

Note the hits. 876 people saw the post, 128 likes, 23 comments, and 44 shares. Sweet, right??

Now look at a legal contest I ran on my own FB Page. I was giving away a book. I created a tab and created a contest on that tab. The tab got 14 views and 3 entries, even though I pimped it out on my FB page a couple of times. Seriously less than the illegal version, hey?

My second issue with running a contest off of tabs is that tabs aren’t viewable on mobile. On my FB page, about 20% of my traffic comes from mobile. There is a work-around for this. The app that I use to create contest tabs will create a direct URL that is visible even on a mobile device, if you post it to your wall.

So. What have we learned? Creating a legal FB contest is a lot more work, and it gets less results. That kinda stinks.

What’s your alternatives? 

  • Take your chances and run an illegal contest. However, the risk you take is having your FB page shut down.
  • Create a legal contest in a tab, then post it in a status update to your wall, which you then pay FB to promote.
  • Run contests off of your blog or website, and just market them through your FB page.
  • Don’t run contests through your FB page at all. The other day, I posted a photo to one of my client’s FB page, and added a call to action to “like” the photo–no rewards attached. The result?  68 likes and 2 shares. Okay, not as high as the contest, but still. Not shabby.



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Rebecca Coleman

Social Media Marketing Strategist, Blogger, Author, Teacher, Trainer. Passionate foodie, mom to Michael, fueled by Americanos. I love my bike. Soon-to-be cookbook author. Localvore with a wanderlust.

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