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UPDATED SEPTEMBER 2018 TO ADD MORE PLATFORMS

I think we can all admit that it’s pretty confusing trying to work out what’s allowed and what’s not when it comes to running competitions on social media. Even finding the official competition rules of each platform is a struggle in itself. So we thought we’d clear up the confusion around Facebook contest rules, Instagram giveaway rules, Twitter competition rules, as well as the rules for running competitions on Pinterest, Google+, YouTube and LinkedIn once and for all. We’ve even included the direct links to the official rules for each platform, so you’ll never be in doubt again.

If there’s another network you’d like us to cover, please leave a comment below and we’ll add it!

 

Facebook competition rules.

Perhaps the biggest confusion is around Facebook competition rules – for example, did you know that in August 2013, Facebook updated their competition rules to “make it easier for businesses of all sizes to create and administer promotions on Facebook”. It’s true, it is now much easier to run a competition on Facebook, but the problem is that there are a lot of outdated articles that pop up on google when you search ‘facebook competition rules’ that refer to the old rules, leaving you confused and questioning whether page likes are even allowed or not. Spoiler alert: you are allowed to ask people to like your page in order to enter your competition.

Screenshot of Facebook's official competition rules for running promotions on pages, groups and events updated September 2018

Translation

Facebook’s rules are our favourite, they’re precise, clear and most importantly, they’re short and sweet. Make sure you link to your competition’s terms and conditions, obtain the necessary licences, include a sentence or two releasing Facebook from association and liability and don’t ask people to tag friends to enter, share on their timeline to enter or share on their friends’ timeline to enter. Easy!

View Facebook’s promotion policy here:
https://www.facebook.com/policies/pages_groups_events/

 

Instagram competition rules.

Instagram’s competition rules are very much like Facebook’s contest rules (which is to be expected seeing as Facebook owns Instagram…), but the good news for us is that Instagram DOESN’T forbid the use of tagging or sharing as an entry method:

screenshot of the official rules for running a competition on Instagram updated September 2018

Basically

Make sure you link to your official rules/T&Cs, get the necessary licences and permits, don’t ask people to tag themselves in photos they’re not in and release Instagram from liability and association with the competition. Again, pretty straight forward – thankfully!

View Instagram’s promotion guidelines here:
https://help.instagram.com/179379842258600

 

Twitter competition rules.

Twitter’s competition rules are pretty lengthy, but we forgive them because they share a few great tips – for example encouraging entrants to mention you by tagging @companyname or using a specific #companyname hashtag instead of simply searching for entries which may not show all entries. Twitter can be used to run a competition by asking people to tweet a particular update, follow a particular user or post an update containing a particular hashtag.

Screenshot of Twitter's competition rules or guidelines for promotions on Twitter updated September 2018

In other words

Twitter’s competition rules stipulate that you must NOT encourage people to create multiple accounts (to get multiple entries for example), you must not encourage multiple retweets of the same content and you must not encourage the use of hashtags irrelevant to the update (to avoid violating Twitter rules). Just like Facebook, Twitter requests you abide by local laws and regulations (i.e. get yourself some T&Cs and relevant licences/permits).

View Twitter’s guidelines for promotions here:
https://help.twitter.com/en/rules-and-policies/twitter-contest-rules

 

Pinterest competition rules.

Screenshot of Pinterest's competition or contest rules updated September 2018

Meaning

Pinterest’s competition rules don’t give a huge amount away, they’re pretty general which is a good thing, but could also leave room for error. The main points are to make sure you don’t ask entrants to pin/save a specific image as this will lead to spamming of the same image, multiple entry is not permitted and don’t suggest that Pinterest sponsors or endorses your competition. They also ask you to take a peek at their brand guidelines. Like all platforms they also ask you to follow relevant laws, which means getting yourself some T&Cs and applying for applicable licences.

View Pinterest’s guidelines here:
https://policy.pinterest.com/en/community-guidelines

 

Google+ competition rules.

We get the feeling Google really don’t want you running competitions on their platform judging by the amount of restrictions they place on contests on Google+ and the length of their competition rules. It’s actually pretty damned hard to come up with a competition that meets their strict criteria and actually gives you and your business any value.

Screenshot of Google+'s competition rules or contest and promotion policy updated September 2018

Put simply…

Google are understandably hot on preventing spam. As such, you CANNOT ask entrants to create multiple accounts, post multiple times, +1 content, follow a user, join a circle or +mention a user that isn’t the competition owner, ask others to enter, participate in a poll or post a video to enter. You must also set a reasonable entry limit to discourage spam and note that searching for your competition entries may not actually bring up all of your entries… Finally – and my personal favourite so I’ve saved it ’til last – if you ask users to hashtag content, make sure the hashtags are relevant:

“For example, do not ask for photos of sunsets with #spaghetti.”

Image of a sunset with the hashtag #spaghetti as a reference to Google+'s contest rules

What can I say? I’m a rebel.

Like all other social media channels, Google+ also ask that you obey any competition laws, which include getting any licences you may need and also having a set of T&Cs which release Google from liability and state that your promotion is in no way sponsored or associated with Google.

You can see Google+’s super restrictive competition rules here:
https://www.google.com/+/policy/contestspolicy.html

 

YouTube’s competition rules.

Don’t underestimate YouTube’s popularity. In Australia, YouTube is currently the second most popular network (yes, even more popular than Instagram) in terms of monthly active users according to a 2018 report by Sensis; and also boasts as many monthly unique monthly visitors as Facebook here in Australia – that’s 15,000,00 unique users per month according to Social Media News Australia.

Screenshot of YouTube's competition rules or contest policies and guidelines updated September 2018

YouTube’s competition rules strictly PROHIBIT promoting competitions through ad units (those ads that play before videos or annoyingly right in the middle or even those text ones that slide into your videos) but they do allow you to engage your audience for competition purposes via the platform. Just make sure your competition is free to enter and you don’t ask entrants to like/dislike, subscribe or view videos to enter as this messes with their neat engagement algorithms and they don’t like that. Just like Google, after all it is owned by them, you’re urged to apply for relevant licences and have T&Cs in place for your competition as well as release YouTube from any liability. Interestingly they also mention covering your privacy policy and how any personal data will be used in your T&Cs.

You can check out YouTube’s competition rules for yourself here:
https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/1620498?hl=en

 

LinkedIn

LinkedIn mustn’t be a very popular channel to run competitions on, as they don’t have a dedicated competition or contest policy. Instead they ask users to abide by their general user agreement found here: https://www.linkedin.com/legal/user-agreement

Their agreement is far too big (and dry) to post a screenshot here so instead here’s an LinkedIn employee and moderator confirming there are no official LinkedIn competition rules:

Screenshot of LinkedIn's confirmation there are no official competition rules updated September 2018

Social media competition rules key takeaways:

As with every social network (and indeed any content) the emphasis must be on giving the best user experience possible and avoiding spammy content. Asking people to use unrelated hashtags or create multiple accounts or pin the same image over and over to enter a competition creates too much poor quality and duplicate content and therefore results in a bad user experience, so you’ll be penalised as a result.

With that in mind, here are your key takeaways:

  • Keep it simple: one entry per person
  • Write a set of T&Cs (or rules) and clearly link to them
  • Make sure you have the relevant licences/permits! I know we say this all the time but it’s crucial! Even the social media platforms think so.
  • Don’t ask people to tag themselves in content they’re not in.
  • Avoid ‘tag a friend’, ‘share with your friends’ and ‘share on your timeline’ if you’re using Facebook.
  • Do not under any circumstances imply that the social network you’re posting on endorse, sponsor or are in any way affiliated with your competition.
  • Make it easy to find your entries when it comes to picking a winner, use @mentions or collect email addresses through a landing page – trust us, it’ll make your life so much easier.
  • Final tip: put your customers and their experience first. If you have a long, complicated entry process; they won’t enter! Make it easy enough that your gran could enter and the social media platform will love you as they won’t have to bother telling you off!

 

Now you know exactly what’s allowed and exactly what’s going to get your competition shut down, you can go confidently in the direction of your competition dreams without fear of breaking the competition rules.

If you’re following all the rules and ticked all the boxes, but just need help with those T&Cs and licences/permits – get in touch, it’s what we do best!

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