Social Media Promotions? Better Read the Terms of Service

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social media platforms provide me with unprecedented connection to friends and businesses.  It is hard to do a Google search now without coming across a few sites trying to tell me how it can make "'millions" of dollars if I make a Facebook page or use some five-step plan to exploit those connections.

Scams aside, the use of social media opens up many doors for networking and advertising.  As awesome as these new opportunities are, I recently learned how important it is to read the fine print.

As I dreamed about my future businesses, ideas for promotions came to mind.  I planned to use Facebook and Twitter to tell people about these events when they happened.  Then I found this.

Statement of Rights and Responsibilities | Facebook

Facebook is pretty strict about promotions.  No purchase can be necessary, prior approval is required, and many other prohibitions exist.  Advertising on Facebook is a whole different situation. 

IKEA executed a really innovative contest recently, but the contest completely broke these rules.  To my knowledge, IKEA was not penalized for this contest but I do not want to roll the dice with my company's web presence.

Twitter, YouTube, and Foursquare all have similar rules and restrictions for the use of their network.  Each is offering a free service that is largely ad or venture capital funded.  They deserve their cut.

Keeping track of all these rules is yet another reason to convert social media followers (or likers) to blog and newsletter subscribers. Then, only FTC rules apply.  (Handshake 2.0 has what Mark Schaefer named the "world's first social media authenticity policy" to address FTC rules.)

I am not a lawyer, so I will consult with legal counsel before trying to execute any social media promotions in the future.  At this point I can now go into those discussions with confidence with a basic understanding of the rules. I save time time and money by easily rejecting the ideas that break the Terms of the networks I want to use.


Allen Fuller is a freelance writer, photographer and aspiring entrepreneur.  He blogs at and you can find him @AllenJFuller.

The Handshake Cartoon
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  1. Very informative article! Our Marketing Department was in the process of developing a promotion to be administered through Facebook. Thanks for sharing your research and potentially saving our campaign!

  2. Kelsey,

    I am glad this article helped! I was surprised when I started reading the Terms of Service myself.

    I was most impressed with the Twitter Terms, they are simple and you still own your content at the end of the day.

    Good luck with your campaign!

  3. Yes, Kelsey, I have a prize sitting right here at Handshake 2.0 Headquarters for a contest I was going to run on Facebook. Thanks to Allen’s post and research, I am rethinking how to run the contest. Whew! Thanks, Allen!

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