UPDATED JULY 2019
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, 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It’s true, it is now much easier to run a competition on Facebook, but the problem is that there are a lot of outdated articles that pop up on google when you search ‘facebook competition rules’ that refer to the old rules, leaving you confused and questioning whether page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.
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 (our T&Cs template has got you covered)
- … and don’t ask people to tag friends to enter, share on their timeline to enter or share on their friends’ timeline to enter.
View Facebook’s promotion policy here: https://www.facebook.com/policies/pages_groups_events/
You can read more about Facebook’s competition rules in our blog post here.
Or if you’re more visual, check out our snazzy infographic on Facebook’s competition ‘laws’ and staying out of Facebook jail.
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:
- 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
You can read more about Instagram’s competition rules in our blog post here.
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.
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
- You must not encourage the use of hashtags irrelevant to the update (to avoid violating Twitter rules).
- … and 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.
Pinterest’s competition rules have recently got a lot more specific than they used to be…
- Don’t ask entrants to save/pin a specific image (this leads to duplicate and ‘spammy’ content)
- Limit your entries to one per person
- Don’t imply that Pinterest sponsors or endorses your competition (just like Facebook and Instagram…)
- Ask entrants to use the words ‘contest’ or ‘sweepstakes’ when pinning their image for the competition so it’s clear the pin is competition-related.
View Pinterest’s guidelines here: https://policy.pinterest.com/en/advertising-guidelines#sub-section-contests-sweepstakes-and-pinterest-incentives
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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.
What it means for you…
YouTube’s competition rules are dry and boring. Here’s what they mean for you if you’re planning on running a competition on YouTube or planning to use YouTube to help promote your giveaway…
- YouTube strictly prohibits 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
- You must comply with all local, federal and US laws (which includes applying for relevant licences
- You must not ask entrants to transfer rights or ownership of their entry to you (don’t worry our T&Cs still cover you for use of those entries)
- Your competition must be 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
- Don’t imply that YouTube is involved with or has endorsed your competition – and release them from liability
- You must have a set of rules (or terms and conditions)
- Your rules must also include how you will use the data you collect (which is good practice and something our T&Cs cover as standard).
You can check out YouTube’s competition rules for yourself here: https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/1620498?hl=en
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:
- 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.