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Contests and Sweepstakes on Social Media: What Legal Considerations for Businesses You Need to Know

Businesses of all sizes are now using social media to promote their products and services. There are countless ways to use social media influencers and LinkedIn groups to promote contests, sweepstakes, and your products and services.

One way to get people to participate is to hold contests and sweepstakes. Posting a contest and awarding a prize may appear to be harmless, but this is not always the case. If you don’t abide by the rules and regulations, you could find yourself in trouble.

By following the rules, the best competitions not only protect entrants but also protect businesses, according to Suki Harrison of OrigamiGlobe. As a business, you could be fined if you don’t abide by the law, and you could even lose your social media accounts if you don’t abide by the terms of service.

To ensure that you’re running a legal promotion, the first step is to determine the correct terminology. Different words have different connotations when used in the same sentence, so don’t mix up terms like “contest,” “lottery,” and “giveaway.” They all have specific connotations.

A sweepstake is a competition in which the winner is decided solely by chance. A contest’s winner is chosen solely based on his or her ability. According to Gartner Digital Markets content manager and senior analyst Tirena Dingeldein, lottery winners are selected from those who have paid to participate.

Each social media platform has its own set of rules and regulations for running a giveaway. Before you post a promotion on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, here are the rules you need to know.

Contests and Sweepstakes on Social Media


Facebook’s policies on Page, Group, and Event promotions should be familiarized before posting a promotion.

Link to the terms and conditions of your competition. You should specify who can participate, when it begins and ends, how many entries are permitted, what the prize entails (including a description), how the winner will be announced (including a description), and how long they have to claim their prize, per OrigamiGlobe.

Obtain the required authorizations. It’s important to note that not all promotions necessitate licensing. As noted by OrigamiGlobe, it all depends on whether you’re running a game of chance or skill, what state your competition is open to, and the prize value.

Recognize that there is no connection between Facebook and the promotion. You must make it clear on every platform that your promotion is not affiliated with the social media website.

Don’t ask people to share or tag you in your giveaway, and don’t make it a requirement. The promotion cannot be entered by tagging a friend, posting it on their timeline, or posting it on a friend’s timeline. In addition, you shouldn’t ask people to tag themselves in a photo that they aren’t in.

An Ignite Social Media employee, Emily Spurlock, says that one of the legal ways to get people into an event is by commenting on an article, liking or reacting to an article, or checking in at a location.

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Here are the rules you need to follow if you want to run a contest or promotion on Twitter.

Encourage the use of only one account at a time. Those who attempt to enter a contest with more than one account risk having their accounts suspended. Please make it clear that anyone who enters using multiple accounts will be disqualified.

Avoid retweeting the same message multiple times. Tweeting the same or nearly identical updates or links violates Twitter’s rules and lowers the quality of Twitter’s search results, according to Twitter. Keep your users from tweeting the same thing over and over again.

Don’t miss out on any of the competitors. Asking your followers to mention you in their tweets is a good idea on Twitter. The giveaway participants will be hard to locate if you don’t participate in them. You’ll be notified when your name is mentioned in a tweet.

Specify topics that are relevant to the contest As a part of the service, users are encouraged to include relevant hashtags in their posts. To avoid violating Twitter’s rules, do not encourage users to use the same hashtag on unrelated content.

Check out Twitter’s rules and best practices if you’re in any doubt. Don’t go live with your giveaway until you’ve checked the rules and searched best practices for it on Twitter. Check out the Twitter for Business site for additional advice.

On Twitter, the best way to give away prizes is to ask participants to retweet an update, follow an account, or tweet with a hashtag to be eligible for the prize.

Instagram Contests and Sweepstakes on Social Media


Here are Instagram’s rules for advertising on the platform.

The official rules of the promotion should be made available. Facebook-style rules and regulations must be included, as well as information on age and residency restrictions.

Licenses and regulations must be adhered to. Check out your licenses before you post a promotion on Instagram.

You can’t make people tag photos incorrectly. You shouldn’t ask people to tag themselves in photos that they aren’t in.

It’s important to point out that the promotion isn’t sponsored by Instagram. Include a statement that the promotion is “not sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Instagram” somewhere in your post.

If you ask your followers to leave a comment on a post, like a photo, or share it to their feed (with the FTC disclaimer hashtag), you can get them to enter your contest.

Other social media platforms.

Additionally, you need to be utilizing other social media sites like Snapchat, Pinterest, and YouTube in your marketing strategy. Check each site’s guidelines and rules before posting a promotion. Double-checking your promotion is a good idea no matter what platform you’re promoting it on.

As it pertains to a botched giveaway, not only will you lose your audience’s trust, but you’ll also have to pay legal fees, says Dingeldein. “My advice is to consult a lawyer who has experience with social media platforms before running a giveaway,” says Dingeldein.