Fan Q&A: Proper way to handle contests on Facebook

Posted by on March 8, 2012 | 0 comments

Switching it up a little with a Q&A from a recent fan email:

What do I need to know about posting a winner’s photo on my FB wall at the conclusion of the contest?

This is a bigger question than many of you might think.

First, the rules of your contest or sweepstakes (if it’s photo-based) needs to state that by the participant’s action of entering, they are claiming proper and true copyright ownership of the photo. Secondly, if your intent is to use the photo to announce the winner, or share with other participants, the contest/sweepstakes rules should clearly indicate your intent in the rules. My personal feeling is that it’s wrong to assume ownership if someone enters your contest – you really gain nothing by taking their ownership away. Except for hard feelings and possibly bad word-of-mouth.

Back to the topic… Let’s say the photo contest you’re operating is accessible through Facebook. Notice I did not say “on” Facebook. You cannot in any way, run a contest through Facebook, everything must be done through a 3rd party application, and there’s plenty to choose from. My favorite app is Wildfireapp.com

Once the contest/sweepstakes concludes, Facebook TOS states that you CANNOT in any way use Facebook as a platform to contact the winner. No message, no ‘tagging’ them in posts, no wall posts, nothing. So, in the contest collection database, let’s hope you collected email addresses, phone numbers and possibly mailing addresses as well. You can use any of these methods to reach the winner or finalists. You could even write a blog post for your website, announce all the great details of and about the winner(s), and then create a Facebook post which LINKS to your blog post. That option is fair game.

Now lastly, if your contest rules did not state your intention or interest in using the winning photo for some kind of company gain or use, then you MUST ask for written permission granting you use. I suggest when you contact the winner, you ask for the specific use you would like, and include the duration of use. It’s up to the winner to determine if they’ll share or not. But their winning is in no way terms for you to use their photo UNLESS you covered that in the official rules of your contest/sweepstakes.

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