We’ve all seen those Facebook competitions where a business page is giving away an awesome prize pack full of $2,000 worth of products. The entry terms are simple – share, like, tag, comment and BAM! You’re in the draw to win more make-up than any one face can possibly ever consume. But are you aware that those Facebook competitions are breaking Facebook’s terms and conditions as well as potentially breaking a few Australian state laws regarding competition requirements?

Facebook Competition Legal Requirements:

Did you know?

According to Facebook’s rules and regulations for running a competition on their platform, you cannot ask your users to share your post or to tag someone into the post as a requirement of your competition.

Did you also know?

In Australia, there are rules and regulations for running competitions and giving away prizes and these vary slightly state-to-state (making running a national competition difficult at times).

Most states only require a permit if your total prize pool value exceeds $2,000 but NSW had to go and be difficult and require a permit for any prize value. This means that if you are running a national competition you will require a NSW competition permit, regardless of which state your business is located in. Learn more about state competition guidelines here, and if you are uncertain, please consult your lawyer – we are by no means providing you with legal advice in this article, so double check everything with a professional before your push the ‘live’ button!

What are the consequences of ignoring these rules and regulations?

Well, if Facebook catches you, they’ll delete your Facebook page. No ifs, buts or whys. Just a straight up delete, do not pass go, do not collect $200. Suddenly, that awesome audience you’ve been building has completely disappeared and you’ve got to start from scratch again. Facebook don’t care that you invested $2,000 in a prize pack to build that audience – you broke their rules.

From a state law perspective? Well, the fines they’ll whack you with make Facebook look like angels.

Tips for Running a Legal and Completely Above-Board Facebook Competition:

  1. First of all, what is your goal? It is not building your Facebook audience. Investing thousands of dollars building an audience on a platform that you have no control over makes bad business sense. I wasn’t joking before when I said that Facebook will pull the rug out from under your feet without a second’s hesitation – they are notorious for it when you break one of their rules.
    So what is your goal? It’s building your audience, but on a platform that you own, such as your website or your email database. So instead of making your users share and tag, drive them to a landing page on your website where they have to sign up to your email list to enter.
  2. There are a few sneaky ways around the whole ‘can’t tag people’ thing. For example, you are allowed to ask people to leave a comment on the post – so if you were giving away free tickets to an event, you could ask them to comment telling you who they would take with them and why. Most people will naturally tag the person they are taking with them, but because you didn’t specify that they have to tag them to win, you are side-stepping Facebook’s rule. This is a bit of a grey area here, so use with caution.
  3. To meet your requirements for state competition law, make sure you include a terms and conditions page that lists:
    1. The start and finish date of the competition
    2. Where, when and how the competition will be drawn
    3. The total value of the prize pool
    4. Your business contact details including full address, email address and ABN
    5. When, where and how the winner will be contacted and announced
    6. Which states the competition is open to – this is particularly relevant if you are opting to NOT run your competition in certain states (NSW, I’m looking at you!) due to not having the correct permits or meeting their requirements.

I’d recommend Googling to find a terms and conditions generator or template to help you get started. I’d also recommend having a thorough read of the state competition guidelines which I linked to earlier but will link to again here just for your convenience.

In Conclusion…

Running Facebook competitions in Australia isn’t hard – it requires a little bit of leg work the first time to set up your landing page, terms and conditions and permits, but once you have them sorted you can just keep re-purposing them each time you run a new comp. And the leg work required vastly outweighs the large fines you’ll receive or losing your entire business Facebook page if you get caught out!

Parting Note:

I also wanted to signpost that it is illegal – both by Facebook’s standards and Australian law – to solicit fake reviews and testimonials from your audience. This means that if you were thinking about asking your audience to leave you a 5 star Facebook review to go in the draw to win a prize, then don’t.

You can ask or encourage real, genuine customers of your brand or product to leave you a review or a testimonial, but you can’t ask them to make it 5-star (you have to let them decide what level they rate you) and you also can’t pay them or entice/incentivise them in any way to leave a review.

What Next?

Got questions or want more info? Join the discussion in the comments below!