ImageEvery day thousands of Facebook contests are launched on Facebook. Both individuals and big brands -- and everyone in between -- are using the power of contests to increase their likes, engagement and sales. There is plenty of information available about running successful Facebook contests and mistakes to avoid so your contest doesn't get shut down, however, I have found very little information about the best practices for writing rules for a contest.

Any contest on Facebook must include a set of written rules. Facebook outlines some very specific guidelines that you want to make sure to follow, but there are some additional best practices that every business should follow that I share with you in this article.

Here are 9 tips that will help you write a clear set of contest rules:

#1. Adhere to local/state/national or international laws

Some states/regions have their own rules and guidelines for a business that is giving away any prize, including prizes won via Facebook contests. Check with your region's business agencies to ensure that you're abiding by local, state and international law.

#2: Clearly state the contest sponsor

Your rules should make clear that your business, and not Facebook,  is the sponsor of the contest.  The rules should also explain that by participating in your contest, any entrants are agreeing to abide by all of your contest rules and regulations.

#3: Include an eligibility section

Consider the common phrase "everyone is on Facebook" when running a Facebook contest. Even though there are really only 1.06 billion people on Facebook that number includes everyone from kids to senior citizens. Be sure to specify in your rules any age and resident restrictions for entrants.

#4: Outline the contest entry period

Include in your rules a complete outline of your contest entry period. Include a month, day and time for when the contest will begin and end, and when the winner(s) will be selected and announced. If your promotion has several entry periods include the dates for each individual portion of the contest. This description becomes especially important if you're running a contest in which people are entering a photo or video that will be judged and then voted on by the public. You want to include the dates for entry and voting.

#5: Tell fans how to enter

It seems simple enough, fill out the information and you're entered! But giving direct rules about how to enter a contest and letting fans know they must complete all required fields in order to successfully enter a contest, ensures that an entrant understands exactly how and where to enter.

#6: Explain how a winner will be selected

Last week we posted about the best practices for selecting a contest winner. In that article we provided an example of the Winner Selection portion of the rules from a recent contest we ran.  You'll want to make sure you are specific about how you will select a winner, including all judging criteria and rounds of judging.

#7: Discuss the prizes

Provide a list of the prizes that the winner will receive as well as the process of how that prize will be distributed. For example, if the potential winner will receive an email notification and must provide a valid mailing address to receive a prize, include that in your rules. Sometimes shipping can be expensive and complicated, so we always include a section in our rules stating that any incidental expenses and all other costs and expenses not specifically listed as part of the prize are the sole responsibility of the winner and not the sponsor.  We also recommend letting your fans know that their prize is not exchangeable for cash (assuming that it's not!).

#8: Include additional limitations

When it comes to writing Facebook rules and guidelines, cover all your bases. Additional limitations can include disclaimers stating that you have the right to adjust or shut down the contest at any time and you have the right to investigate possible cheating or tampering before you determine a winner.

#9: Let your fans know if (and how) their information will be used

If you're collecting data about your fans, include in your rules that by participating, each participant is granting your business permission to use his/her/business name, contest entry, likeness or comments for publicity purposes.