Four Mistakes You Need to Avoid When Running Competitions on Social Media
Running competitions on social media can be a little bit daunting. It can be easy to jump in and start running a competition because a deadline is approaching – but mistakes can easily happen that way.
A little bit of planning first can make running competitions on social media a breeze.

The right side of the law

Running competitions on social media are limited by two things: Firstly, the laws of the country you’re running your competition in, and secondly, the Terms Of Use of the social network on which you’re running your competition.
Looking at local laws, for example, in Australia, a “game of chance” (aka “draw a random winner”) requires a rather expensive permit to run. However, a “game of skill” (aka “provide a unique answer to this question in 25 words or less”) doesn’t require a permit. It’s for this reason that the latter is much more popular in Australia.
The second thing to keep in mind is the Terms Of Use for the social network on which you’re running your competition.
For example, on Facebook, you are allowed to run a competition where someone writes a comment on your post – but you are not allowed to run a competition where someone shares your post to their personal wall.
For the current competitions and promotions guidelines for the major social networks, check them out here:
Pinterest currently does not have any formal rules.
PRO TIP: Don’t put your full terms and conditions on your social media post. Put it in a PDF, upload it on your website and link to it via a link. This keeps your competition post on social media short and sweet, and lets you get into the real nitty-gritty in your terms and conditions without worrying about making a post too long!

Tracking your comp

The next biggest challenge is ensuring that, however, someone enters the competition, you are capable of collating all of the entries to review them all equally.
For example, if you’re running a hashtag competition on Twitter, you need to ensure you’ve got a tool set up to aggregate all of these entries. (You can use something like #IFTTT for a DIY version).
Be mindful that Instagram and Facebook have extremely limited tracking abilities as they limit their APIs to third parties – so if you’re running a competition on those platforms, you may need to search manually each day and list them in a spreadsheet. Otherwise, limit the competition to a particular post (with a lot of manual community management needed to facilitate this approach), or tag your accounts.
Either way, it’s important to test your tracking before you start. If your competition runs for a long time, it can be hard to find content retroactively in a sea of posts.
Related Post: How To Run A Headache-Free Competition On Instagram

The oh-so-fine print

It is important to have Terms And Conditions for your competition. It’s not just a legal requirement in some countries, but if there are disputes around the prize or the winner, you can fall back on these if needed.
Some people make a living off winning competitions. They win a prize and sell it on eBay or exchange it for cash where they can. You need to make sure your T+Cs are ironclad, so your legitimate community members win – not a random professional prize hunter who has found your competition looking for profit.
The common things which cause disputes are how a winner is chosen (i.e., funniest tweet!) and receiving the prize (it got lost in the mail! Can I swap it for something similar?) – so you need to go into a lot of detail on these items to avoid disputes.
I’ve got a checklist that you can download below of the essential things you need to mention when planning your competition to make this less stressful. These points are also a great starting point for your Terms And Conditions because you’ve thought about all the curly questions first!

Winner, winner, chicken dinner

So you’re run your competition successfully (yay!) – now you need to contact the winner.
Let’s say you’ve run a competition on Instagram using a ‘post a pic using this hashtag’ comp and you need to contact the winner. The only way to do so would be to comment on their entry to let them know they have won, asking them to contact you to get their prize.
Commenting on their entry can be problematic because a) you need to contact them and hope they saw the post, and b) give out your contact details, so they get in touch.
One way to mitigate stress with this process is to add in your Terms and Conditions that if you contact a winner, and they do not get in touch with you within seven days, you will select a new winner.
Secondly, I would recommend creating a generic email address like so that people can get in touch with you about their prize, without your private details being on the web.

Your turn

If you’ve got an idea for a competition – go for it! Just plan your competition first. Ensure you’ve got locked in:
your prize details
how people enter
how you find their entries to select a winner
and how you contact the winner.
Good luck!

Want to work with Rachel?

Rachel Beaney is a writer and social media content specialist, helping businesses connect with their audiences.

She’s worked with local, national and global companies, in addition to not-for-profits and government bodies. She loves helping businesses tell their stories with creative and data-driven solutions.

She is based in Sydney, Australia.

Want to work together? Rachel would love to hear from you. Get in touch today.