Skip to main content

If you were to open up your social media platform of choice right now and have a quick scroll, I bet you’ll come across a competition or giveaway. Social media competitions are a tried and tested marketing tactic and a great way to build an audience and drive engagement for your brand.

But the perks don’t come without the pitfalls, the legal obligations, the technicalities of accessing your entries, the list goes on.

We’ve created a dos and don’ts for running social media competitions and giveaways to help you reap the rewards of social media competitions without the headaches.

Do think about what you want to achieve.

Social media competitions are fantastic for building an audience (especially when first starting out), engaging your followers and even collecting user generated content.

Social media contests are not so great for collecting email addresses or generating sales, for example.

So before you dive headlong into planning the perfect social media giveaway; take a second to reflect on what you actually want to achieve by running a competition. Once you’ve decided on your competition goal, you should double check that running your competition or giveaway on social media and therefore your entry method will help you achieve that goal.

Don’t forget to apply for relevant licences and permits.

Just because you’re running your competition on social media, doesn’t mean you’re immune to competition licensing and permit laws.

If you’re running a game of chance competition such as follow to win or like to win, where you’ll pick your winner at random from all valid entries, you may need a permit depending on the value of your prize. If you’re running a game of skill competition such as a comment below or post a photo competition, where you’ll pick your winner based on the skill they’ve shown in their entry; you will most likely not need a licence – but be sure to check the permit requirements for your specific country.

TIP: Here in Australia, New South Wales’ laws on competition permits have recently changed (for the better!) so you no longer need a licence to run a game of chance competition in NSW if your prize pool is valued under $10,000 AUD.

Do make sure your business is protected with terms and conditions.

I know what you’re thinking: ‘no one ever reads those anyway, I don’t need T&Cs’.


People do read the terms and conditions – and by people I mean prize pigs – and by prize pigs I mean pains in the proverbial.

Besides protecting you from difficult winners who decide they’d rather have cash than the prize on offer, terms and conditions also protect you from breaking social media platform rules around liability and ensure if you’ve collected user generated content as part of your entry, that you’ll have permission to reuse those entries in your marketing.

We’ve paid the legal eagles for you and put together a fully comprehensive, three page competition terms and conditions template, available for a fraction of the cost we paid the pros.

Don’t ask entrants to tag and share.

Besides being incredibly annoying, tag and share competitions are actually ‘illegal’ on Facebook (and by illegal we mean against Facebook’s Page terms).

Tag and share competitions became a popular way to increase your page’s reach and potentially go viral, but they resulted in a lot of spammy and duplicate content on the platform so Facebook moved to clamp down on these types of posts.

From a marketing perspective, tag and share competitions are usually a huge waste of time and money as reach rarely converts to paying clients without a lot of work.

Take a quick peek at our quick reference guide to social media rules to make sure your competition won’t land you in Facebook jail.

Enjoying this post?

There’s a lot more where that came from! Subscribe to our monthly newsletter for more practical tips, tricks and how tos.

Do think about how you’re going to collate entries and pick your winner.

There are several types of competition you can run on social media – but not all are created equal when it comes to collating entries and picking a winner.

Asking people to like your Facebook page to enter will mean digging around in in your settings to find a list of people who liked you page on which dates – the problem is, did they like your page specifically to enter the competition or did they like it regardless of your competition and have therefore not technically ‘entered’ your competition?

Getting people to like a post on Instagram, for example is significantly easier to locate entries for – simply find the competition post and click the ‘Liked by X and Y others’ link underneath and a list of likers will pop up… however, you can’t export this list to pick a winner legally and fairly.

In case you’re wondering, closing your eyes, scrolling and picking a winner at random is *not* a fair or legitimate way to pick a winner.

Asking people to comment on a post on Instagram or Facebook, for example, isn’t too difficult to pick a winner for if you’re running a game of skill – it just involves reading a lot of comments and picking your winner. For a game of chance, there are third party tools that can pick a comment at random from all comments on a single post – but it can’t collate comments from multiple competition posts, so you must keep your entries to one post only.

As you can see, it’s not easy to gather your entries and legally and fairly pick your winner when it comes to social media competitions, so think hard about how you’re going to manage this process before you launch your competition.

Do make sure you promote the heck out of your competition.

It’s time to wheel out my favourite saying again:

A successful competition is 20% strategy and 80% promotion.

You could spend months planning the most perfect competition in the world, (or hire us to do it for you), create the best copy a competition has ever seen and tailor your competition to your ideal entrant so well you can practically see them standing before you… but if you don’t get that expertly crafted copy in front of that eagerly awaiting potential entrant, you’ve wasted your time.

Promoting your competition is about getting the right message in front of the right person at the right time and then monitoring your results to ensure it’s working and they’re entering.

Competition promotion is so vital to a competition’s success and we want your social media giveaway to succeed – so check out our guide to promoting your competition.

Don’t leave your audience on social media…

Likes and followers are great and all… but sales are better.

Social platforms have made great strides in helping businesses big and small to sell their products via their platforms, but the best sales tool for your product or service is always going to be you and your website.

Your competition strategy should involve a plan to get your audience from social media and onto your website, where you’re no longer competing with other brands, products and services, where you’ve got your audience’s captive attention, where you can gather important data about who they are and what they like and where you can collect their email address to further nurture them towards a sale.

By all means run a like to win competition on Facebook or encourage people to submit cute dog photos on Instagram (and make sure you tag us, we love cute dogs), but please, please have a plan in place to get them from social media and on to your website during and after the competition for the best possible chance at converting them to paid customers.

Don’t leave your competition entrants on social media.

This dog would win any photo competition. Photo by Yuliya Strizhkina (Cartier) via Pexels.

Social media giveaways and contests are a fantastic way to promote your brand and gather entries for your competition. Just be sure to do the dos – set a goal, get T&Cs, think about picking your winner and promoting your competition – and avoid the don’ts – get a licence, avoid tag and share and funnel your audience from social to your site if you want your social media competition to be a success.

Need a hand making sure your social media competition is legal or want to run your plan past the pros pre-launch? Book in a totally free competition chat with our team of giveaway gurus, or get in touch with us via our contact page.