Running a promotion on social media is an effective way to drive in-store or web traffic, customer acquisition and sales. While you’re probably familiar with best practices for running a solid social promotion, it’s important to familiarize yourself with each platform’s guidelines to ensure you’re playing by the rules. And, OK, you’re probably not going to go to jail over your SMB’s small slip-up, but it is important to be familiar with what you can and can’t do on each platform. “But Katy, I don’t have time to read through all that legal mumbo jumbo!” you say while pressing play on the eighth episode of “Making a Murderer.” Luckily, I’ve done all that for you and outlined the need-to-knows for each platform here.
If you’re using Facebook to run a promotion, you are responsible for the lawful operation of that promotion, including the official rules and eligibility requirements. These vary state-by-state, so check your state’s rules on giveaways and contests. You cannot use a third-party Page to promote your Page or contest, meaning you cannot write or comment on another Page details of your promotion. Finally, the “don’t” I see abused most often is that you are not allowed to ask users to use their personal Timelines or friends’ Timelines to share your promotion. This means “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.
Twitter’s guidelines are easy to remember and easy to follow. Basically, Twitter asks that you avoid duplicates. You can not encourage people to create multiple accounts to enter, and you cannot encourage users to tweet duplicate content from the same account. Not only is this just plain annoying, but posting duplicates jeopardizes Twitter’s search quality.
Like Facebook, YouTube specifically mentions that your contest must comply with all federal and state laws regarding contests, requiring a set of “Official Rules” which link to the YouTube Community Guidelines. Your rules must clearly state that YouTube is not a sponsor of your contest, and include a privacy notice explaining how you will use any data you collect. Additionally, you can not ask users to give all rights or transfer ownership of their entry to you, and your contest must be free to enter.
As a Facebook-owned company, Instagram adheres to Facebook’s policies on official rules and eligibility requirements. It also disallows encouraging users to inaccurately tag content, like asking someone to tag themselves or their friends in a photo in order to enter.
Although a pain, to avoid any legal tie-ups, creating a landing page with the official rules of your contest that you can link to on social media can save you a larger headache in the future. And, once you’ve developed these rules once, they can be easily edited to use for other contests. Not only do rules and eligibility requirements protect you from any legal tie-ups, they show that you are a legitimate company that plays by the rules.