It’s a well known fact amongst businesses and brands on Facebook that running a contest on Facebook can increase engagement with your brand, which also increases the number of Facebook users who Like your Facebook page. Facebook’s rules about contests and giveaways have been confusing, with the current Facebook Promotions Guidelines so dense that you might think about hiring a lawyer just to understand them. Running a contest, giveaway, or other type of “promotion” is actually easy to do, once you understand a few basic rules.

You must use an app to run your contest. This means that all aspects of your contest, from collecting names to photo submission, must be done through an app. You can’t require another Facebook user to post a status update or post on the wall of any Facebook page as part of their entry. One of the best apps for running a Facebook contest is Wildfire, which will allow you to choose among 10 different types of promotions, including photo, video, quiz, trivia, and more. Wildfire is not free, but is a very powerful tool for running contests and promotional campaigns.

Fans can’t “like” your page to enter. Facebook rules say you cannot “administer a promotion that users automatically enter by liking your Page, checking in to your Place, or connecting to your Platform integration.” This means they can like your page or check into your place before they access the app that collects the entry, but it can’t be the only way by which they enter your contest.

You can’t notify winners through Facebook. This means that you can’t notify winners of your contest through Facebook messages, chat, or posts on profiles or Pages. You can use your third-party app to collect an valid email or postal address, which may then be used to contact the winners using your email address, or via “snail” mail.

You can’t ask people to use Facebook. Facebook rules prohibit you from instructing people (in the rules or elsewhere) to sign up for a Facebook account before they enter the promotion. You can, however, instruct users to visit the third-party application to enter the promotion, and since users must have a Facebook account in order to access an application on the Facebook platform, they will need to sign up for a Facebook account if they do not already have one.

For Facebook’s full Promotional Guidelines (last updated December 1, 2010), visit