How To Run A Social Media Contest: Part One

Social Media is a powerful tool for businesses in the digital age. Not only are you able to provide an excellent platform for communication, as well as an accessible customer service base for your company, but you are able to do it quickly. Social media provides a platform for engaging with and gaining followers, and social media contests are a great way to increase engagement on your page, gain followers, increase brand awareness and potentially boost revenue for your business. It’s also a creative way to interact with your fans, and it’s fun! However, if you decide that you are going to host a social media contest for your business, it is extremely important that you stay updated on the platforms’ rules and regulations. Here I’ll cover social media contest do’s and dont’s for Facebook and Twitter.

(Last updated August 2015)

Arguably the most active social media platform, Facebook provides a great opportunity to reach your fans through contests, whether you’re simply asking a question, running an image sharing contest, or something else entirely. Although Facebook encourages social sharing and connecting with your friends, family and favorite brands, there are rules and regulations that you must follow if you want to run a successful social media contest on Facebook.

Until a few years ago, Facebook contest rules were incredibly strict in the sense that they required companies to utilize apps to run their contests. Today, Facebook allows companies two options- to run contests directly on their timeline, or to run them through an app.

Timeline Contests Do’s:

  • Acknowledge that the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.
  • Require contestants to like and/or comment on a post for entry.
  • Require contestants to message the page as a form of entry.
  • Utilize likes as a form of voting.

Timeline Contests Don’ts:

  • Require contestants to Share the contest on their page for entry.
  • Require contestants to Share on their Friends’ pages for entry.

Timeline contest requirements are put in place for a variety of reasons, including preventing spammy behavior. When you host a timeline contest, people are allowed to share the contest on their Facebook page. However, you cannot make it a requirement for entry. If you would like to require participants to submit images, videos or stories on their timeline for entry, this is where a Facebook app will come in handy.

Examples of Facebook apps:

Agora Pulse

To see these rules in full, visit Facebook’s Terms, specifically III.E.

(Last updated August 2015)

Whether your contest involves Follower Milestones, Sweepstakes, Polls, Creative Answers or other contests, it’s a fun and quick way to gain and interact with followers in 140 characters or less. Although they may not seem as rigid as Facebook, Twitter also has specific guidelines when running a contest that are applicable to both the company hosting the contest and the individuals participating in said contest.


  • Set clear rules stating things like “multiple entries in a single day will not be accepted”.
  • Ask users to @reply you so that you can see all of the entries (this is not required, but it is the best way to see all of your entrants as a public search might not allow you to see all of them).
  • If you’re requiring a hashtag in your contest, it needs to be relevant to the content or update. If you require users to include the hashtag with unrelated content, they could be in violation of Twitter’s Rules.


  • Individuals cannot create multiple Twitter accounts in an effort to enter a contest more than once. If they do this, they run the risk of all accounts being suspended.
  • While Retweet contests are allowed, you cannot encourage users to Retweet or post the same Tweet repeatedly for entry (ex. “The most Retweets wins”).