insights | 04.06.2024

Social media competitions: the dos and don’ts

Article topics
  1. Not all competitions are the same
  2. Set up terms and conditions
  3. Be aware of the rules of each platform
  4. Choose your winner fairly
  5. Award the prize you offered
  6. Be mindful that different countries may have different rules

Social media competitions and giveaways, whether on Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok, are a fantastic way to boost brand awareness and find new customers.

For example, did you know that Instagram accounts that hold competitions grow their followers 70% faster than accounts that don’t?

However, it’s important to run any competitions correctly. This will help you keep customers happy and avoid breaching any regulations in your country of operation.

Here’s what you need to know about running a social media competition in the UK. (Different countries have different rules in place, which we’ll talk about later).

Not all competitions are the same

It’s vital to understand the different types of competitions you can launch on social media. The two key types of competitions are prize draws and skill-based competitions.

A prize draw is based on chance. For example, people enter by liking or commenting on a post, and the winner is randomly chosen.

A skill-based competition is one where customers need to demonstrate skill or knowledge. For example, providing the funniest caption for a photo or answering a question.

Does your competition have to be free to enter? While you can charge for entry, this means you have to adhere to additional regulations. For example, charging for a prize draw means you must comply with the Gambling Act, which may mean obtaining a licence.

No matter which type of competition you opt for, it’s vital to set out the rules clearly and transparently. Before you launch your competition, you need a solid set of terms and conditions in place.

Set up terms and conditions

The Advertising Standards Agency’s (ASA) CAP code states that any promotional competition should have terms and conditions clearly available. These terms and conditions help ensure fairness, manage people’s expectations, and give you something to refer to if there are any disputes.

Your terms and conditions must include:

  • Your company name and address
  • How to enter and what entrants must do to ensure their entry is compliant
  • If a skill-based competition, the criteria you will use for judging entries
  • The number and nature of prizes on offer
  • The closing date and time
  • How the winner will be chosen and contacted
  • What winner’s information you’ll be publishing
  • Any restrictions in place. For example, if you need to be a certain age to enter, or in a specific location

The ASA recommends including all significant conditions (for example, closing dates, number of prizes, and how you will contact the winners) in the social media post, with a link to the full terms and conditions. We recommend hosting them on your website.

The terms and conditions must not be changed during the competition unless there are exceptional circumstances. This is because changing the rules could make the competition unfair to people who entered before you changed them.

You also can’t create and enforce terms and conditions after the competition has launched or is over.

Be aware of the rules of each platform

Different social media platforms have different rules, and you need to take these into consideration when deciding which one to host your competition on.

For example, in the past, many businesses held social media competitions on Facebook where entrants had to tag their friends to enter. Facebook no longer allows this.

Are there businesses that still do this and get away with it? Yes. But if you’re found out, you could lose the Facebook page you’ve worked so hard to build. We recommend sticking to likes and comments as entry mechanisms.

Here are the competition rules for specific platforms:

It’s also important to bear in mind that while social media platforms allow competitions, they absolve themselves of all responsibility. This means you must say ‘this competition is not endorsed by or affiliated with’ the platform you’re using on your competition post.

Choose your winner fairly

When running a prize draw, everyone must have an equal chance of winning. If caught deleting entries or manipulating the results, you can get in a lot of trouble.

You must choose winners at random. We recommend using a random number generator or an app like Comment Picker. The benefit of tools like these is that they can select winners across multiple social media platforms, meaning less administration and reducing the risk of accidentally missing entries.

If this isn’t an option, picking names out of a hat is okay. However, ASA recommends that someone independent of the competition does this for fairness.

We recommend livestreaming the draw results on social media for extra transparency – it’s a great way to get engagement too!

If you’re running a skills-based competition, you can choose the entry that you think is the best, but this needs to be done fairly and without bias. For example, if you state that an entry has to be less than 30 words to win, you can’t give the prize to an entry above this limit.

Clearly explain the judging criteria in your post and terms and conditions, as well as why you chose the entry you did. Transparency is vital.

Award the prize you offered

You must award the prize described in the social media competition post and terms and conditions and do so as soon as possible after the end of the competition.

If this prize is no longer available, you must offer a ‘reasonable equivalent’ of roughly equal value.

There must also be no cost to claim the prize, and you must be able to demonstrate that the prize has been won. This is typically done by publishing the surname and county of winners, although if a winner does not want this information made public, they can object to this.

(Bear in mind though that you may need to provide this information to the ASA if they ask for it)

You need to take adequate steps to contact winners and let them know they have won. The ASA advises that contacting a winner once, either by phone, email, or on social media, isn’t sufficient. We recommend contacting winners multiple times and keeping a record of when you tried to reach out to them.

Be mindful that different countries may have different rules

If you operate internationally, different countries, even states, will have different rules and regulations to consider. This is especially important if you are running a prize draw based on chance.

For example, in Italy the rules are a lot stricter than in the UK. You can only run a social media giveaway if the prize is worth less than one euro. If the prize is worth more, you must complete a form signed by an Italian resident and send it to the Ministry for Economic Development.

In Australia, you need to specify the date, time, and location of when you will draw the winning entries and hold a ‘second chance’ draw for unclaimed prizes.

This makes it a lot harder to run competitions in some countries.

We recommend speaking to a lawyer who specialises in the rules of the country you operate in. They can help you organise a competition that is legally compliant and fair to everyone.

Ready to transform the way you manage your social media presence?

Social media competitions are a relatively easy way to create momentum around your brand, but it’s important to do them right. If not, you risk frustrating customers, attracting negative publicity, and even falling foul of your country’s rules and regulations.

Remember that social media competitions are about building trust. By being fair and transparent, you’re more likely to convert competition entrants into loyal customers.

If you’re looking to drive new customers to your website through social media, we can help. Our expert team will create stunning images that stop the scroll, awesome copy that shows off what you do, and fantastic landing pages that lead to clicks and conversions.

Get in touch today and let’s work together to turn your social media accounts from drab to fab!

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