Dana Sullivan Kilroy is a communications professional with more than 20 years of experience delivering compelling content. Her work has appeared in national, award-winning publications and sites, including: The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Fast Company, Inc.
Every day thousands of contests and promotions are launched on Facebook. Individuals and big brands (and everyone in between) are using the power of contests to increase their likes, engagement and sales. There is plenty of information available about running successful Facebook contests and mistakes to avoid so your contest doesn't get shut down, however, we have found very little information about the best practices for writing rules for a contest.Any contest that's launched on Facebook must include a set of written rules specific to the contest. Facebook outlines some very specific guidelines that you should to follow in order to be Facebook compliant, but there are some additional best practices we follow at ShortStack and that we thought you'd like to know about.
Here are 10 tips to keep in mind as you draft your contest rules:
#1. Adhere to local/state/national or international laws
Some states/regions have specific rules and guidelines for businesses that give away any prize, including prizes won via Facebook contests. Check with your region's business agencies to ensure that you're abiding by local, state and international laws.
#2: Clearly state the contest sponsor
Your rules should make clear that your business, and not Facebook, is the sponsor of the contest. The rules should also explain that by participating in your contest, entrants agree to abide by all of your contest rules and regulations.
#3: Include an eligibility section
Consider the phrase "everyone is on Facebook" when running a Facebook contest. Even though there are really only 1.1 billion people on Facebook that number includes teenagers and senior citizens. Be sure to specify age and residency restrictions in your rules.
#4: Specify the contest entry period
Include a month, day and time for when the contest will begin and end, and when the winner(s) will be selected and announced. If your promotion has several entry periods include the dates for each individual portion of the contest. This description becomes especially important if you're running a contest in which people are entering a photo or video that will be judged and then voted on by the public. You want to include the dates for entry and voting.
#5: Tell fans how to enter
It seems simple enough: Fill out the information and you're entered! But giving direct rules about how to enter a contest and letting fans know they must complete all required fields in order to successfully enter a contest, ensures that an entrant understands exactly how and where to enter.
#6: Explain how a winner will be selected
We recently wrote a post about the best practices for selecting a contest winner. In that article we provided an example of the Winner Selection portion of the rules from a recent contest we ran. You'll want to make sure you are specific about how you will select a winner, including all judging criteria and rounds of judging.
#7: Discuss the prizes
Provide a list of the prizes that the winner will receive and outline the process of how that prize will be distributed. For example, if the eventual winner will receive an email notification and must provide a valid mailing address to receive a prize, include these details in your rules. Sometimes shipping can be expensive and complicated, so we always include a section in our rules stating that any incidental expenses and all other costs and expenses not specifically listed as part of the prize are the sole responsibility of the winner and not the sponsor. We also recommend letting your fans know that their prize is not exchangeable for cash (assuming that it's not!).
#8: Include additional limitations
Additional limitations can include disclaimers stating that you have the right to adjust or shut down the contest at any time, and you have the right to investigate possible cheating or tampering before you determine a winner.
#9: Let your fans know if (and how) their personal information will be used
If you're collecting data about your fans, such as an email address or birthday, include in your rules that by participating, each participant is granting your business permission to use his/her/business name, contest entry, likeness or comments for publicity (or future marketing purposes).
#10: Check out the example of the Facebook contest rules we use at ShortStack. We've provided a sample of Rules and Guidelines below: Please do not copy and paste these rules and use them for your own contest. These rules have been designed based on local/state laws for ShortStack and our company's personal guidelines for giving away prizes to fans.
SAMPLE FACEBOOK CONTEST RULES:
NO PURCHASE OR PAYMENT OF ANY KIND IS NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN.The "Win a year of ShortStack Contest" is sponsored ShortStacklab.com (“Sponsor”)This contest is governed by these official rules (“Official Rules”). By participating in the contest, each entrant agrees to abide by these Official Rules, including all eligibility requirements, and understands that the results of the contest, as determined by Sponsor and its agents, are final in all respects. The contest is subject to all federal, state and local laws and regulations and is void where prohibited by law.This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook. Any questions, comments or complaints regarding the promotion will be directed to Sponsor, not Facebook.
The Contest is open to legal residents of their respective countries where not prohibited by law, who are eighteen (18) years of age or older at the time of entry who have Internet access and a valid e-mail account prior to the beginning of the Contest Period. Sponsor has the right to verify the eligibility of each entrant.SWEEPSTAKES PERIODThe Sweepstakes begins at May 20, 2011 Noon PST and ends at June 20, 2011, noon PST. (“Sweepstakes Period”). All entries (submissions) must be received on or before the time stated during that submission period. Sponsor reserves the right to extend or shorten the contest at their sole discretion.HOW TO ENTERYou can enter the Sweepstakes through the Sponsor Facebook Page. You can find the application on the Design Contest tab on the Sponsor's Facebook Page. Entrants must fill out all required fields on the entry form and participate in the contest. After submitting the required information on the entry form, the entrant will receive one (1) entry into the drawing.You may enter as many times as you wish.
All eligible entries received during the Submission Period will gathered into a database at the end of the Submission Period. A winner will be chosen at random.The winners will be announced on or about June 21, 2011 on or about noon PST.
Announcement and instructions for prize will be sent to the e-mail address supplied on the potential prize winner’s entry form. Each entrant is responsible for monitoring his/her e-mail account for prize notification and receipt or other communications related to this sweepstakes. If a potential prize winner cannot be reached by Administrator (or Sponsor) within fifteen (15) days, using the contact information provided at the time of entry, or if the prize is returned as undeliverable, that potential prize winner shall forfeit the prize.
Upon the request of the Sponsor, the potential winner may be required to return an Affidavit of Eligibility, Release and Prize Acceptance Form and IRS W-9 form. If a potential winner fails to comply with these official rules, that potential winner will be disqualified. Prizes may not be awarded if an insufficient number of eligible entries are received.PRIZES:Grand Prize: One Year (12 months) of ShortStack service at the "short stack" pricing level ($30/month.) Maximum value is $360.Terms and conditions may apply. Incidental expenses and all other costs and expenses which are not specifically listed as part of a prize in these Official Rules and which may be associated with the award, acceptance, receipt and use of all or any portion of the awarded prize are solely the responsibility of the respective prize winner.
ALL FEDERAL, STATE AND LOCAL TAXES ASSOCIATED WITH THE RECEIPT OR USE OF ANY PRIZE IS SOLELY THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE WINNER.ADDITIONAL LIMITATIONS
Prize is non-transferable. No substitution or cash equivalent of prizes is permitted. Sponsor and its respective parent, affiliate and subsidiary companies, agents, and representatives are not responsible for any typographical or other errors in the offer or administration of the Sweepstakes, including, but not limited to, errors in any printing or posting or these Official Rules, the selection and announcement of any winner, or the distribution of any prize.
Any attempt to damage the content or operation of this Sweepstakes is unlawful and subject to possible legal action by Sponsor. Sponsor reserves the right to terminate, suspend or amend the Sweepstakes, without notice, and for any reason, including, without limitation, if Sponsor determines that the Sweepstakes cannot be conducted as planned or should a virus, bug, tampering or unauthorized intervention, technical failure or other cause beyond Sponsor’s control corrupt the administration, security, fairness, integrity or proper play of the Sweepstakes.
In the event any tampering or unauthorized intervention may have occurred, Sponsor reserves the right to void suspect entries at issue. Sponsor and its respective parent, affiliate and subsidiary companies, agents, and representatives, and any telephone network or service providers, are not responsible for incorrect or inaccurate transcription of entry information, or for any human error, technical malfunction, lost or delayed data transmission, omission, interruption, deletion, line failure or malfunction of any telephone network, computer equipment or software, the inability to access any website or online service or any other error, human or otherwise.
INDEMNIFICATION AND LIMITATION OF LIABILITYBY ENTERING THE SWEEPSTAKES, EACH ENTRANT AGREES TO INDEMNIFY, RELEASE AND HOLD HARMLESS SPONSOR AND ITS PARENT, AFFILIATE AND SUBSIDIARY COMPANIES, THE FACEBOOK PLATFORM, ADMINISTRATOR, ADVERTISING AND PROMOTIONAL AGENCIES, AND ALL THEIR RESPECTIVE OFFICERS, DIRECTORS, EMPLOYEES, REPRESENTATIVES AND AGENTS FROM ANY LIABILITY, DAMAGES, LOSSES OR INJURY RESULTING IN WHOLE OR IN PART, DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY, FROM THAT ENTRANT’S PARTICIPATION IN THE SWEEPSTAKES AND THE ACCEPTANCE, USE OR MISUSE OF ANY PRIZE THAT MAY BE WON. SPONSOR AND ITS PARENT, AFFILIATE AND SUBSIDIARY COMPANIES DO NOT MAKE ANY WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, AS TO THE CONDITION, FITNESS OR MERCHANTABILITY OF THE PRIZE. SPONSOR AND ITS PARENTS, SUBSIDIARIES, AFFILIATES, ADVERTISING AND PROMOTIONAL AGENCIES, AND ALL THEIR RESPECTIVE OFFICERS, DIRECTORS, EMPLOYEES, REPRESENTATIVES AND AGENTS DISCLAIM ANY LIABILITY FOR DAMAGE TO ANY COMPUTER SYSTEM RESULTING FROM ACCESS TO OR THE DOWNLOAD OF INFORMATION OR MATERIALS CONNECTED WITH THE SWEEPSTAKES.
By participating, each entrant grants Sponsor permission to use his/her name, likeness or comments for publicity purposes without payment of additional consideration, except where prohibited by law.
This sweepstakes is sponsored by:ShortStacklab.com50 Washington StreetSTE 301Reno, NV 89503If you've made some useful discoveries about creating contest rules, please share them with us @shortstacklab
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