Facebook Timeline Contests – Everything Your Nonprofit Needs for Success

Boy holding a $100 and smiling.

Facebook’s opened up a fun new avenue for pages to entertain fans and boost engagement. Businesses and organizations may now reward fans for their activity (likes and comments, but not shares) on the page’s Timeline.

Counting likes on a post or manually checking the comments for a right answer or a nice photo is not fun. Without an application to help you with that, you’ll have to do it!

We’ve built a totally free Timeline Contest Management app that you can try out here to help you run sweepstakes, Quizzes and Photo Contests without the burden of checking likes and comments manually or in a spreadsheet!

But first, let’s start with the basics.

The 411 on Facebook timeline contests

You can reward fans and visitors for:

  • Posting on your Page (including photos)
  • Private messaging your page
  • Liking a page post
  • Commenting on a page post (including comments with photos)
  • Accumulating likes on their posts or comments (including comments with photos)

You can’t:

  1. Ask users to tag themselves in a photo they are not pictured in
  2. Ask users to share a post
  3. Ask users to post something on theirs or their friends’ timelines.

Basically, you can run a quiz by posting a question and rewarding a correct answer.

You must:

  • Have official rules for your contest (included in the text or linked within your post)
  • Offer terms and eligibility requirements in your rules (ex: age and residency restrictions)
  • Acknowledge that the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook (this language must be included in your post)
  • Comply with local, state and country rules regarding promotions, and prizes

You may not:

  • Run a contest on a personal profile
  • Offer alcohol as a reward. There is no way to verify participants’ ages.

Unfortunately, there’s no escaping the legalese. Once your post is properly crafted, it will likely end up looking like a long disclaimer rather than a fun promotion.

This is a properly formatted Timeline Contest post. Fun, huh?

This is a properly formatted Timeline Contest post. Fun, huh?

You are responsible for compliance with your local regulations

French contest rules must be registered with a notary public, Italian contest entries must be collected on a server located in Italy, and in Brazil, you can only run sweepstakes in very limited cases. California has different regulations for online giveaways than Connecticut.


Timeline contests versus page contest apps

Most page contest apps come with a fan gate for recruiting fans, and a form for qualifying them. If your goal is gaining new fans and knowing who they are, a Timeline Contest won’t help you.

However, if your engagement and organic reach are dwindling, a Timeline Contest can kick it up a notch.

After a healthy Timeline Contest with a heavy engagement period, more fans and unique users will see your future posts. And that’s good for your page!

Fraud protection in page contest apps

Some contest apps come with built in fraud protection. Fraud is real, and rampant in Facebook contests.

Scammers know what they’re doing – creating fake Facebook profiles and working in tandem with other scammers to manipulate voting results.

Most of your participants won’t bother to read your contest rules. Scammers trying to game the system will pick apart each word.

Some third party app providers have built fraud protection directly into your contest. Avoiding scammers can be easy.

Some third party app providers have built fraud protection directly into your contest. Avoiding scammers can be easy.

If you run a sweepstakes on your page, plan to spend some time verifying your winners are legit.

Voting contest fraud:

If you run a voting contest (i.e. “comments or photos with the most likes”) it will be nearly impossible to verify the users who obtained the most likes didn’t employ tricks such as a vote exchange scheme or votes from fake Facebook accounts.

Quiz fraud:

If you run a quiz type contest, keep in mind users can edit their comments.

You have no way of knowing if an answer was correct when the first time or if it was edited after the user saw other participants’ answers.

Keep the size and nature of your audience in mind, and be sure to award prizes that will only attract genuine fans.

The bottom line

If your goal is to keep up interactions and increase engagement, run a Timeline Contest. Just be prepared to invest some time monitoring your entries closely.

If your goal is to recruit new fans and collect qualified data, or you’re giving away larger, more valuable prizes, choose a Contest App with built in fraud protection.

Emeric Ernoult is the CEO of agoraPulse, and creator of a free Timeline Content Manager App.

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John Haydon