5 Tips To Avoid Cheating And Riot At Your Facebook Contest


facebook contests

If you have ever ran a Facebook contest before you know people want to win.

And that’s okay, those hungry fans are exactly the reason you are running a Facebook contest in the first place! You exchange the possibility of winning with their contact details and other quality information.

However, there can be temptation to cheat, especially in the case of a high-value grand prize.

Why cheating in a Facebook Contest can hurt your business

Antavo, the company of which I am co-founder, has a platform that helps to run contests and sweepstakes. We have seen thousands of campaigns, and we know what happens when a contest app has a loophole.


During many photo contests, entrants start to suspect each other of cheating. For sweepstakes, people often complain that the application is not working, as it doesn’t let them enter.

In short: instead of making them happy, your contest makes fans sour, and you angry, because all the other fans can see the heated discussion.

Metro was giving away an iPad in their contest. It didn’t go wrong, but the iPad as a grand prize is a risky choice.

Metro was giving away an iPad in their contest. It didn’t go wrong, but the iPad as a grand prize is a risky choice.

#1. Increase The Barrier To Entry

The more time it takes to enter your contest, the less likely people will try to do it over and over again. Ask for phone numbers or favorite products, and keep the right to ban users with invalid answers.

You may also tell the winners that they will be notified over the phone, so they will need to give a valid phone number.

Savor asked for the address of the subscribers.

Savor asked for the address of the subscribers.

#2. Accept the Consequences if you Offer an Expensive Gadget

An iPad as a grand prize will make your audience excited, but chances are that it will attract not only your customers, but also a much larger audience (everyone who wants to win an iPad).

The advantage of such a campaign is that you can quickly grow the numbers on your page (and people take more seriously a page with more likes than one with fewer likes), but the audience will be more diverse.

Another disadvantage is that subscribers may try to enter numerous times with fake email addresses.

#3. Restrict Entry to Once Per Facebook Account

There must be some regulation mechanics for your contest, and restricting entries via an email address is not an option. (It’s easy to create a new email address.)

Additionally, restricting users to their IP address is not a good option either, as it’s easy to beat the system by claiming a new one. (There are people out there who do it every day!)

The best route is to use Facebook Account filtering. This means that your contest app allows only one entry per Facebook ID.

An advanced version of this mechanism is restricting entries per one verified Facebook account, meaning that the person needs to have a valid phone number tied to their account.

Facebook does this on purpose: “We want to make sure that this is really you and that you’re connecting to Facebook with just one account.”

This is the app permission dialog that your subscriber will see if you want to filter per Facebook account.

This is the app permission dialog that your subscriber will see if you want to filter per Facebook account.

#4. Don’t Award The Entry With The Most Votes

Many brands elect for photos contest wherein they give the grand prize to the entrant who gained the most votes.

This can be problematic since, if there are several people close to the one with the most votes, they may try to hack the system (by creating new Facebook profiles, paying others to vote) and suspect that the others cheat.

The solution is to make a jury round. The jury would decide whom the winner is from amongst the top 10 entries.

#5. Have Clear Terms And Conditions

Think about the terms not as a pain, but a way of protecting your company (and sanity). Make sure that you include the right to ban users.

Kyle-Beth Hilfer has written a great post on how to avoid common legal mistakes in social media contests and sweepstakes.

Cheating Can Still Happen

Even if you use the best technical mechanisms to prevent cheating and fraud, it can still happen.

It takes time and effort to outsmart your system, but if someone really wants to, they can do it.

All you can do is increase the barrier to eliminate cheating, so it’s less likely that people will try.

Here is more information on the technical background of cheating during Facebook contests and some solutions to prevent cheating. (It’s not for the faint of heart. There are a lot of details.)

How About You?

Do you have a go-to technique when preventing cheating? Do you use an app platform for that or develop your own apps?

Have you ever encountered backlash because of a Facebook contest’s loose end? Share in the comments below!

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

About the Author:

Zsuzsa Szabo

This monthly Social Media & Mobile column is contributed by Zsuzsi Szabo. Zsuzsi is a co-founder of Antavo Viral Contests, a tool that helps to create sweepstakes, contests and giveaways to Facebook, mobile and web. It’s used by small businesses, agencies and marketers from 150+ countries on 27 languages. Zsuzsi is an award winning radio journalist, now responsible for marketing and customer development. +Zsuzsi Szabo

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