Competitions, contests and giveaways can be a great strategy for creating engagement or promoting something new on Facebook and Instagram. However it’s important to do them right to protect your brand. Edited July 2020.
What constitutes a contest, giveaway or promotion?
Competitions, or giveaways/promotions offer those entering the chance to “win” something of value. It may be a subscription, a gift basket or box, a a voucher or some other prize. The opportunity to win being given to those who participate by either giving up their details, completing an entry form, providing a story, commenting or some other task.
Pros of running Contests and Giveaways:
- Sparks engagement and excitement to your brand
- Built for sharing
- Generate organic traffic
- Brings your brand to the attention of new audiences
- Can produce great virality
- Creates user generated content (see our previous article on user generated content )
- Awareness of new products or services
- Promote opening a new venue
Cons of running Contests and Promotions:
- Many come for the prize only and will not engage with the brand
- May not be from your ideal customer base
- Short term fans only
- If not run correctly can actually risk your brand
- Can add extra administrative burden
- Sometimes genuine fans/customers are disgruntled when a random person wins (clarity of rules is important here)
Although the rules around Facebook and IG competitions have been around as long as the platforms, there are still many business owners putting their page/accounts at risk by not following the guidelines.
Don’t risk losing your Page
Time and time again we hear of people who have lost access to a Facebook page or Instagram account. Generally page owners feel they have done nothing wrong. Interestingly, a close investigation often (not always) finds that competitions and giveaways were being run on the account which were not in accordance with conditions.
Below we outline the basics you need to know.
Important conditions for all contents and giveaways
The number one most important condition for all platforms is to make sure that you include a disclaimer. This removes the platform from any association with your contest.
Both Facebook and Instagram require that contests or promotions must include:
- A complete release of responsibility for Facebook and/or Instagram toward each entrant or participant; and
- Acknowledgement that the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed, administered by or associated with Facebook and/or Instagram.
The next most important condition for contests and promotions is to ensure you have clear terms and conditions of entry.
Facebook and Instagram both state that these must include the following:
- Official rules of the contest or promotion;
Offer terms and eligibility requirements (ex: age and residency restrictions); and
Compliance with applicable rules and regulations governing the promotion and all prizes offered.
(ex: registration and obtaining necessary regulatory approvals).
- Lotteries (where someone must buy a ticket to win) are not allowed.
General guidelines for contest rules:
Your rules should include the start and end date of the contest or promotion; any age limitations (for example only persons over the age of 18) ; the jurisdiction for which participants qualify (Where they live: for example is the contest local, State, National, Worldwide) and how the contest winner is chosen. Consider, for example will you be doing a random draw, voting by public, judging an entry or other condition? These rules may be posted on a web site but a clear link and statement that entrants agree to the Terms and Conditions must be provided in your post.
It is also important that it is stated that no purchase is required for entry. If an entrant chooses voluntarily to purchase, that a purchase does not increase chances of winning.
When Facebook says “no consideration” it means that nothing of value should change hands. Some countries you may find that giving up an email address or other information is considered a consideration, so make sure you look into laws closely.
You should ensure the details of the prize are clearly described.
It is vital that you also consider any laws for contests and competitions/giveaways in your State or Country. If your contest is open more broadly, then you must ensure that each Countries laws are also covered. For this reason we often recommend either local contests be run and that a contest is not a random draw.
Generally anything drawn at random becomes a “game of chance” and is subject to more legal requirements than a “game of skill”.
A game of skill involves participants having to complete something in order to win, whether it is writing a short essay, completing a puzzle or other task and having entries judged according to a set of criteria. You don’t have to tell entrants why they did not win (no correspondence will be entered into) but you should make sure the rules are clear how the judging process works to ensure it is ethical and fair.
You must also check whether there are other local, state or national laws which impact on the type or value of a prize. Some contests may require being registered.
If entrants are required to produce a creative work (whether image, photograph, illustration or written) that your rules advise them that entering grants you the right to use the intellectual property and use such works in advertising or other promotional purposes.
Having clear rules can protect your brand reputation by avoiding confusion or frustration by entrants.
Be aware that neither Facebook nor Instagram will assist you with contests or promotions. Both platforms state: “We will not assist you in the administration of your promotion and cannot advise you on whether consent is required for use of user content or on how to obtain any necessary consent.”
Best Practice Facebook Competitions & Giveaways
The biggest mistake we still see regularly is the tag and share competition.
Facebook explicitly states: “Promotions may be administered on Pages, Groups, Events, or within apps on Facebook. Personal Timelines and friend connections must not be used to administer promotions (example: “share on your Timeline to enter” or “share on your friend’s Timeline to get additional entries”, and “tag your friends in this post to enter” are not permitted).
This is to try and prevent spamming (engagement baiting) onto profiles and deter the use of fake profiles.
You cannot ask for likes on shares on Facebook as a condition of entry, but you can have links that take entrants off the platform and ask for actions there. This is where third party contest software with referral features can be handy. The main reason is that once something is shared you cannot trace it properly, you need entries to be in one location to ensure all is fair and transparent. You can suggest folk follow the page to keep up to date, but it must not be part of the condition of entry.
You also must not request that entrants tag friends in order to enter. Bringing up the level of excitement so that they want to share with their friends is fine. As long as the tag is not requested as part of the conditions of entry it is fine.
Competitions which require interaction and contribution from contestants work really well.
Make sure you have been clear how winners will be notified, and notify them BEFORE you announce on Facebook.
Best Practice Instagram Competitions & Giveaways
When it comes to Instagram, the rules are not quite as strict but along with the general guidelines indicated above, there are a few other things you can do to protect your brand. Again you must use a brand not a personal profile for competitions
Surprisingly for many, as with Facebook you cannot ask people to tag themselves on an image and share it unless they are actually in the image. That doesn’t mean you can’t ask them to tag friends in the comments , but not on the image.
Place a clear link to your terms and conditions in your BIO.
Create a specific hashtag to use with the competition along with your brand hashtag and ask people to use these tags in entries. This is fabulous if you are asking people to share a photo or image on their feed or in stories that they have created, and which you can also use later on (once again , remember to put that in your terms and conditions).
Don’t tag people or products/brands in your image who are not officially part of your competition or giveaway. Make it clear who is hosting the giveaway (for example with a makeup brand if its a collaboration your own brand, their brand and perhaps the founder if you have permission are ok to be tagged).
Keep it clear and simple, especially if there are multiple steps in the competition. Make it as easy as 1, 2 3.
One of the easiest competition is to ask people to like the image, follow your profile and make a comment. You can ask them to tag a friend in the comments, but avoid asking for more than one (if they do tag more thats up to them). A great idea is to have them nominate someone to win a prize. For example, during Covid19 a competition that nominates a front line worker is a nice way to both thank them, acknowledge them, but also helps your brand. Do be careful choosing this kind of strategy as if it is worded badly it can backfire and look as if you are trying to profit from difficult times. Make sure its all about them, not you.
Running contests with third party apps:
You may decide to use a third party platform to administer contests, promotions or giveaway . These third party programs will give you more control over entries, allow you to collect data and choose winners. Examples of these include Woobox, Shortstack and Wishpond (examples for your interest only, we are not affiliated with or endorse any particular product).
The drawbacks are that you have to pay (free products can be very limiting in features, often payments are for annual use. Also design features can be limited (so your contest can look like others and not stand out as much). Then there is a learning curve (some even require some coding knowledge).
You’ve got this
It may seem a little daunting at first, but once you have written out rules and conditions, its easy to tweek them for future contests. Understanding the rules will become more natural to you as you use them.
Before you run any contest, think about what it is you are trying to achieve. Are you after engagement, trying to build fans, wanting to build a list of prospects, introducing a new product or service, or other launch? Setting a goal will help you define your competition.
If you need help setting up or running a competition, then get in touch with us for help. We offer mentoring and creative ideas sessions to help you get your competition up and running. Contact us today!
Disclaimer: this information is provided as a general guide only. It is up to the reader to ensure they investigate and cover all requirements for running contests and competitions for their brand.
Helpful links :
Guide to writing rules from Woobox
Facebook promotions guide