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How To Ensure Your Social Media Promotions & Giveaways Are Legal

Social media has changed people’s way of communicating with each other. When businesses and social media networking sites realized their potential for promotion, it changed how business is done worldwide. That realization gave way to social media being utilized as a channel to use rewards for attracting and engaging consumers.

Promotions and giveaways have always been a part of brands’ methods of engaging consumers using rewards. However, nowadays, with the use of social media, its effectiveness increased due to the reach that it can gather. According to Statista, the number of people using social media is expected to increase to almost 4.41 billion, proving the previous statement.

Before the advent of social media, giveaways were all conducted through the mail, phone, inside business establishments, or email. There were laws in place regarding these types of promotions for consumer protection. Those laws had to be adjusted, and additional ones had to be legislated to address consumer rights protection in an online setting.

Most consumers are more conscious and vigilant about incentives offered by brands on social media, as they should be. So here are ways that you can ensure your social media promotions and giveaways are legal.

Have a cohesive entry process

Establishing rules and guidelines for your customers or any individual to partake in your social media promo is of utmost importance. It serves as your official contract to the public and your compliance with the law, which means it will influence how your giveaway will be perceived. The entry process for joining must be clear and within the boundaries of policies.

The challenging part of doing a promo on social media is ensuring that participants are covered by all the guidelines encompassing social media and promotions during the entry process. It’s because most potential participants learn about the promo from a variety of sources.

It gets tricky because marketers need to balance all the guidelines from the social networking site, company policies, and national and local rules. Balanced incorporation of all those sources in a single set of terms and conditions isn’t easy, but there are practices that you can rely on to achieve it. A good one is to require participants to claim their entries on social media, which ensures visibility.

For example, in a Twitter promo, you can require participants to send out a tweet including a hashtag. After tweeting, participants should receive an automated message with additional information and directions on how to claim their entry. You can use forms to place your promos terms and conditions where they can read and agree with them.

Types of social media promos

Concerning the previous point about creating cohesive entry processes, you must know the different types of typical social media promos. Learning about this will help in creating a more transparent entry process for your promotion. In return, you can avoid the risk of potential liability against consumers that could lead to them taking steps to file a class action lawsuit.


A sweepstake is a game of chance whereby participants win prizes by chance. Winners are randomly selected using an independent auditor or software for a draw. There are no other considerations permitted because it mustn’t exist in a sweepstake. After all, having them means it’s a form of gambling.

A consideration is something that a participant must give up to enter a promo. It can’t exist in a sweepstake because winners are chosen randomly, and participants don’t have to use skill or expend time and effort to win. Considerations can either be monetary or non-monetary, such as their contact information, as determined by some states.


Contests are won based on skill or meeting specific criteria of judging. Participants are required to perform one or a couple of measurable tasks that will be judged or scored based on criteria. Everyone will be assigned to do the same task to qualify to win.

In this type of promo, the marketer must provide clear instructions to avoid confusion among participants. The criteria for judging should also be in the rules posted on social media. All the rules must be observed and followed both by the participants and judges.


Raffles are usually hosted for fundraising purposes rather than winning prizes. Doing raffles on social media makes it convenient for marketers due to the simpler mechanics and broad reach. Raffles are considered a lottery by law.

Depending on the state law, raffle organizers may be required to pay taxes for its generated. Hence, making it difficult for non-profit organizations to do it on social media.

Methods of entry

There are two different categories of entering a social media promo: action-only entries and user-generated content (UGC).

Action-only entries are simple social media engagement instructions that an individual must do to join your promo. This usually means interacting with the promo content that your brand posted. Action-only entries can be liking content, posting a message, following an account, voting on a poll, or submitting a form.

Action-only entries can also help you in interacting with your customers and target audience. It’s useful for getting a feel of their interest and building a custom audience.

On the other hand, user-generated content is an entry method that requires people to expend effort and even use their skills. It entails them to post content that will either be chosen by random or judged using criteria. Typical UGC entries include uploading a photo and writing a caption, posting a photo or a video, or commenting.

UGC and action-only methods can also be used consecutively. Liking a post or following an account and then requiring people to post their content or vice-versa is now a familiar promo mechanic on social media. For fairness, you must have a proper way of aggregating UGC entries, such as using a hashtag.

In the hashtag, you have to specifically mention that it’s for a sweepstake or a contest. The words “contest” or “promo” or any other term you use for your social media promotion must be spelled out correctly. Shortening them would violate trade laws and could easily spell trouble for your brand.

Verbiage for social media promo rules

There are certain words and phrases that you can include on your social media promo rules that make it ethical and lawful. Stating them on your promo rules makes the difference between legal and illegal classifications. It may be simple, but it’s considered one of the best practices for social media marketing.

The following language or details should be included in sweepstakes:

  • “no purchase is necessary.”
  • An alternate method of entry (AMOE)

You should designate an AMOE when you’re doing a giveaway where winners are chosen randomly. It indicates that they don’t need to pay or expend significant effort to qualify for your promo.

You should include the phrase “purchase does not enhance chances of winning” if it involves a product. This phrase can also be used in contests.

Other than the wording of your rules, here are further key details that your giveaway rules should indicate:

  • Promoter identity
  • Eligibility requirements or exclusions
  • The date and time the promo starts and ends (including time zones)
  • The winner selection process and how you’ll notify them. Also, include where participants can see who won.
  • Name and address of the sponsor/s and a link to their privacy policies
  • A statement that says: “void where prohibited.” for wherever your promo is prohibited.
  • Include the odds of winning each prize and their retail value (doesn’t have to be exact)
  • State how you’ll handle technical issues, i.e., duplicate entries

For contests, make sure that you include the number of levels or rounds the participants need to win and how much it costs to enter each, and the maximum cost for all. You should also identify the judges, including the weight given to each criterion. All tax implications should also be provided if necessary.

Obey platform-specific regulations

As aforementioned, you must incorporate the regulations of social media on your promo rules and entry process. All social media platforms have their guidelines for giveaways, and they all vary depending on said platforms. They also tend to change them, which is why you should check before pushing through with your promo campaign.

Here are some contest rules from specific social media websites:


Facebook doesn’t permit promotional contests through connections between friends. If part of your entry process is to share promo on your timeline or your friend’s timeline, Facebook won’t allow it. Tagging your friends as an entry method is also prohibited.

Instead of using other individuals’ timelines, you have to use your Facebook page or group for your entry process. Use your Pages’ timeline to administer your promo and collect entries by asking users to post on it or send a message to your page. Each entrant must also acknowledge that Facebook isn’t sponsoring, endorsing, or administering your promotion.


Like Facebook, Instagram will require a release by each entrant that acknowledges that the platform isn’t sponsoring or associated with your promotion. Furthermore, they also prohibit users from inaccurately tagging content. You should indicate in your rules that encouraging users to tag others who aren’t on the photo is discouraged.


You should know that administering a contest that requires duplicating tweets isn’t allowed by Twitter. You shouldn’t ask users to tweet entry posts for your contest more than once a day. Also, avoid mechanics such as tallying retweets because retweeting a single post more than once is classified as duplicating.

Twitter also prohibits creating multiple accounts for entering contests and giveaways more than once. Aside from violating Twitter rules, it’s also blatant cheating. Twitter encourages marketers to state in their contest rules that those proven to create multiple accounts will be ineligible to win.

You should also have users mention your account in their entries for distinctiveness and aggregation purposes. The platform also recommends using relevant hashtags and discouraging users from including unrelated hashtags in their tweets.

Creating a specific hashtag or requiring users to post on your page is all part of transparency. A contest that requires user-generated content for entries should be clear to your audience. When structuring your promo campaign to yield better participation results and compliance purposes, always keep this in mind.

Post necessary bonds

Depending on the locations you included in your eligibility for participation, you may need to post a bond. Certain states like Florida and New York require sponsors to post a bond for specific conditions. For a game of chance, a bond is required by both Florida and New York if the prizes exceed $5,000.

Different countries also have their laws regarding online promos. You’ll need to comply with their statutes if your contest is open to the world, and generally, all social media promos are like that. Thus, the phrase “void where prohibited” is one of the best practices when structuring your social media giveaway’s entry rules.

Be wary of scams

There are plenty of fraudulent individuals who disguise their schemes in the form of social media giveaways. Consumers should be careful of participating in any social media contests that they see on any platform.

As a marketer, you should protect the integrity of your brand. Inform your customers and target audience about your latest promotion properly and discourage them from believing any other source of information about it. Furthermore, encourage them to report any suspicious accounts that are using your promo for their gain.

Fortunately for your brand and users, social media channels are making an effort to track down scammers. The best way to avoid social media giveaway scams is to look for the blue check beside account names. That blue check means the account is verified and legit, and any profile that uses the same name as a brand but doesn’t have it may be fake.

Wrapping up

Ensuring that your social media promotions are legal is all about how you explain the mechanics to your target audience and complying with all the laws and regulations you must abide by. Do that, and the only thing left to worry about is the success of your promotion.


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