Running a social media competition can unlock a multitude of benefits for brands, creating a buzz and fostering meaningful engagement with their target audience. These competitions, conducted on popular platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok, offer a unique opportunity to captivate and connect with users. By leveraging the power of social media competitions, your brand can:
Boost brand visibility
Reach specific target audiences
Increase their potential to go viral
Receive user-generated content
Gather valuable data and insights
Whether you are running a random prize draw, a photo or video contest, a caption contest, an answer-based competition, a trivia quiz, a contest involving user-generated content or an influencer collaboration, you'll need to have clear and well-defined terms and conditions in place. These terms and conditions outline the rules, eligibility criteria, entry process, and winner selection guidelines. Clear terms and conditions offer several important benefits:
Transparency: Clear terms and conditions provide transparency to participants, clearly stating the rules and requirements for entering and winning the competition.
Protecting your Brand: Terms and conditions protect your brand's interests by clearly defining the boundaries, allowing for the disqualification of invalid entries or non-compliant participants.
Consistency and Fairness: Well-defined terms and conditions ensure a fair and consistent experience for all participants, preventing any ambiguity or favouritism during the competition.
Legal Compliance: Including specific terms and conditions helps you comply with legal and regulatory requirements, safeguarding your brand's reputation and mitigating potential legal risks.
Privacy and Data Protection: Terms and conditions can address privacy concerns by specifying how personal data will be collected, stored, and used during the competition, ensuring compliance with data protection regulations.
Brands can instil confidence and trust by establishing clear terms and conditions. This helps provide a positive experience for participants. But, it also enables brands to protect their interests, maintain legal compliance, and ensure a level playing field for all involved parties.
Social media competition terms and conditions are the official rules and guidelines that govern the participation and conduct of individuals in a social media contest. Drafting terms and conditions in clear and concise language makes them easily accessible to entrants. These terms should comply with local laws and regulations and be prominently displayed or made available through a link in the competition announcement or post.
While the specific terms may vary depending on the nature of the competition and the platform used, here are some common elements typically included in social media competition terms and conditions:
Clearly define who is eligible to participate, including age restrictions, residency requirements, and any other relevant criteria. Remember that entry for social media campaigns are restricted based on minimum age requirements of the particular social media platform of entry. For example, for Facebook and Instagram you must be 13+ to have an account on their platform, so entry into your competition would need to be restricted to persons at least 13+. You may also need to increase the minimum age requirement depending on the product promoted e.g. a promotion involving alcohol would need to be limited to persons 18+ in Australia.
Specify how participants can enter the competition, whether it involves following, liking, sharing, commenting, or submitting content. Outline the necessary steps and any required hashtags or tags. If entry is based on tagging a person on Facebook or Instagram, you need to consider including a limit to state an entrant may only tag the same person once only. Ensure you are also not asking people to tag themselves in photos where they are not featured as encouraging inaccurate tagging is also not permitted under the Meta guidelines. On Twitter, you need to ensure you are not asking users to re-post the same post repeatedly as this would infringe on the Twitter guidelines.
Entry Opening and Closing Dates and Times
Provide a clear opening and closing date and time for entries. This makes it clear to consumers what is considered a valid entry and to allow the company conducting the promotion to invalidate entries that do not comply.
Describe the prizes to be awarded, including their value, quantity, and any specific conditions or restrictions associated with them. This is a must for game of chance promotions as the total prize pool for the promotion and where it is conducted in Australia affects if a trade promotion permit is required to run the campaign. Any conditions or limits applicable to the prize should also be made clear to the entrant to avoid potential misleading and deceptive conduct concerns.
Explain how the winners will be selected, whether through a random draw, judging panel, public vote, or other means. If applicable, specify any criteria or factors considered in the selection process.
In Australia, for game of chance promotions you are legally required to specify draw date and time and location; and include a second chance draw for any unclaimed prizes (for a national campaign this generally needs to take place 2 months after the original draw).
Furthermore, there are also requirements for announcing winners (for a national game of chance campaign this must be published online within 30 days of the draw; and winner must be notified in writing within 7 days of the draw).
For any other campaign it is important to still note in the terms when this takes place so you do not have numerous consumers contacting you asking when this takes place.
Notification and Claiming Prizes
Outline how winners will be notified and the timeframe within which they must claim their prizes. Include any necessary steps or documents required for prize acceptance.
Rights and Ownership
Specify any rights and ownership associated with the content submitted by participants, especially if your brand intends to use or feature the content in their marketing materials.
Disqualification and Exclusions
Clearly state any circumstances under which participants may be disqualified or excluded from the competition, such as fraudulent or inappropriate behaviour.
Liability and Indemnity
Disclaim your brand's liability for any losses, damages, or injuries incurred during the competition and require participants to indemnify the brand against any claims arising from their participation or use of a prize.
Modifications and Termination
Reserve the right to modify, suspend, or terminate the competition if unforeseen circumstances arise or if there are any violations of the terms and conditions.
When embarking on social media competitions, it is of utmost importance to prioritise compliance with laws and regulations. By taking a comprehensive approach, you can navigate the legal landscape while maintaining a fair and transparent competition environment.
Social media platforms usually provide terms for conducting a promotion via their platform. While the specific requirements may vary, here are some general guidelines to consider:
Comply with Facebook's promotion guidelines
Prohibit participants from tagging themselves or others in content they are not depicted in.
Include a release of Facebook from any association with the contest.
Clearly state that the competition is not sponsored or endorsed by Instagram.
Comply with Instagram's promotion guidelines.
Prohibit participants from inaccurately tagging content or using irrelevant tags.
Require participants to follow any relevant guidelines related to user-generated content.
Comply with Twitter's terms of service and rules.
Clearly state that the competition is not sponsored or endorsed by Twitter.
Prohibit participants from creating multiple accounts to increase their chances of winning.
Discourage participants from posting the same tweet repeatedly e.g. person who re-tweets the most wins would not be permitted.
Make sure you ask entrants to mention the brand’s Twitter account handle in any entry tweet so you are able to view their entry (public search will not pick up all relevant tweets).
Ensure that the competition does not violate any specific Twitter rules, such as spamming or automation.
Comply with TikTok's community guidelines and terms of service.
Clearly state that the competition is not sponsored or endorsed by TikTok.
Encourage participants to follow TikTok's guidelines for content creation and usage.
Ensure that the competition does not violate any specific TikTok rules, such as promoting harmful or misleading content.
Clearly communicate in the competition terms how participant data like their email will be collected, used, and protected during the competition.
Ensure the competition terms specify that the brand will use participants information for the purpose of the competition and clearly state if any third parties will have access to the data.
Ensure compliance with applicable privacy laws and regulations, such as obtaining consent from minors or adhering to data protection regulations.
Implement robust security measures to safeguard participant information and prevent unauthorised access.
When contacting winners, it is best to do so via a tag in the competition post for entry and ask for them to message you directly. We have seen company Facebook accounts get taken down for a period as the promoter has sent a private message or dm to the winner and the winner has thought this is spam and then flagged this with Facebook.
With competitions on social media, it's important to include specific clauses in the competition terms and conditions addressing intellectual property rights, copyrights, trademarks, and user-generated content. By clearly communicating these terms to participants, and requiring them to acknowledge and agree to these terms before entering the competition, your business can minimise legal risks while also respecting the rights of content creators. Here are some key considerations:
Original Content: Encourage participants to submit only original content that they have created themselves or have proper permission to use. Clearly state in the competition terms and conditions that participants are responsible for any intellectual property infringement resulting from their submissions.
Copyrighted Material: Prohibit participants from using copyrighted material without proper authorisation or permission. This includes images, music, videos, or any other copyrighted content. Remind participants to use royalty-free or properly licensed content in their submissions.
User-Generated Content Rights: Clearly state the rights associated with the content submitted by participants. Specify whether your business will obtain a licence to use and display the content, and if so, how and where it will be used. Seek participants' consent to use their content for promotional purposes related to the competition.
Intellectual Property Disputes: Establish a process to handle any intellectual property disputes that may arise during or after the competition. Promptly address any infringement claims by promptly investigating and taking appropriate actions, such as removing infringing content or disqualifying participants.
Trademarks: Prohibit participants from using trademarks, logos, or brand names in a way that could create confusion or infringe on intellectual property rights. Clearly state the restrictions on the use of trademarks in the competition rules.
Sound Recordings: If you are encouraging people to post videos, either provide them a sound recording/song to use which your brand either owns or has a licence to use; or instruct users to only use sound recordings/songs which they have a licence to use or own.
Clearance and Permissions: If the competition involves using third-party content or collaborating with influencers or partners, ensure that proper clearances, licences, or permissions are obtained. This includes obtaining rights to use their intellectual property and ensuring compliance with any contracts or agreements.
It is important to be aware of and comply with advertising and promotion regulations specific to your jurisdiction to ensure a fair and legally compliant competition. Here are the main considerations:
Ensure like any advertising you are not misleading to consumers and comply with general promotional and advertising laws
Ensure that all advertising and promotional materials accurately represent the competition, prizes, and any associated claims. Avoid misleading or deceptive statements, false endorsements, or exaggerated representations.
Any significant conditions of the competition must be made clear in the ad. For example this includes things like entry limits, eligibility requirements, where full terms may be found, etc.
In order to ensure a fair and transparent social media competition, it is essential to draft robust and enforceable terms and conditions that outline the rules, eligibility criteria, entry process, winner selection, and other important aspects of the competition. The terms and conditions serve as the guiding framework to protect both your brand and the participants, providing clarity and maintaining a level playing field for all involved.
Including clear and transparent terms for a social media campaign provides participants with a clear understanding of the campaign's rules, requirements, and expectations. Clear terms help avoid misunderstandings and disputes, as participants are aware of what is expected of them and what they can expect in return.
When running a social media competition, your business needs to address liabilities, warranties, and disclaimers to protect themselves and clarify participant expectations.
Liabilities: Clearly state that your business is not liable for any losses, damages, or injuries incurred during the competition or as a result of participation. This includes any technical issues, errors, or omissions that may occur. Specify that participants enter and engage in the competition at their own risk.
Warranties: Make it clear that participants are responsible for the accuracy and legality of the content they submit. State that participants warrant that their submissions are original, do not infringe on any intellectual property rights, and do not violate any laws or regulations. Clarify that your business does not make any warranties or representations regarding the prizes or the competition itself.
Disclaimers: Include disclaimers stating that the competition is in no way sponsored, endorsed, or associated with the social media platform on which the competition is run.
Most platforms have an age restriction of 13+. You should also include that any person between 13 and 17 years of age has parental consent to enter.
Establishing clear guidelines and measures helps maintain the integrity of the competition. Implement mechanisms to detect and prevent fraudulent activities, such as the use of automated bots, fake accounts, or multiple entries or votes by the same individual. We often see that people pay for votes for social media promotions where winners are based on highest votes, so it is important to include conditions and safeguards in place to allow you to delete fraudulent votes.
Clearly state that any such practices will result in disqualification. Emphasise that the competition will be conducted in a fair and transparent manner, with all participants having an equal opportunity to win based on the stated criteria. Regularly monitor and review entries to ensure compliance with the rules.
Draft clear dispute resolution and termination clauses which outline your business's ability to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the competition and invalidate any affected entries, if the competition is not capable of running as planned, including by reason of computer virus, communications network failure, bugs, tampering, unauthorised intervention, fraud, technical failure or any cause beyond the control of the Promoter. It is important to note that you cannot simply cancel a competition if you do not receive sufficient entries, as once you advertise a promotion and accept entries, you are legally required to fulfil the award of the prize.
You need to ensure you include clauses on how disputes will be resolved and outline this in the terms. For example, both the participants and the business agree to first attempt to resolve the matter amicably through good-faith negotiations. And if no agreement will be reached the business’s decision will be final.
Communicating the terms and conditions to participants of a social media competition is crucial to ensure transparency, clarity, and mutual understanding of the rules and requirements, fostering a fair and engaging experience for all involved.
As links are not clickable in Instagram posts/captions, it is important to include a link to the full terms in the Instagram bio and in the relevant promotional post refer people to the Instagram bio for the link to the full terms.
Facebook, Twitter and TikTok
We recommend including a link shortener such as Bitly or Rebrandly to the full terms in any promotional post e.g. T&Cs apply; INSERT SHORTLINK, this keeps the copy for the post short.
Please note that further conditions would need to be included as part of the post for legal compliance e.g. eligibility requirements, any significant conditions etc.
Ensure you also use clear, easy to read instructions on how to enter in any post on social media. For example, dot points are normally used. This is especially important when the user must complete multiple steps for entry, otherwise they may only complete one step and you will find there are a lot of ineligible entries. An example of a competition with multiples steps for entry would be to ask people to tag a friend and follow certain social media accounts for entry. When you are verifying entries make sure you also check they comply with the entry requirements before you contact them to let them know they have won.
Your promotion and corresponding terms should also be in the language your main audience is. For example, if you are an English speaking team intending on running a competition on WeChat (Chinese social media platform), you’ll need to consider translations for your promotion, and its terms and conditions.
Familiarise yourself with the specific formatting requirements and guidelines of the social media platform(s) you are using. Adhere to image size restrictions, character limits, and any other formatting guidelines provided by the platform to ensure your competition content meets their requirements.
Though you can conduct a competition on social media via a digital entry pop up form, a majority of social media promotions do not require users to complete a form to enter e.g. you may only require them to tag a friend in a post to enter. In such a case you need to ensure the full terms cover any privacy requirements and you are outlining that full terms apply and where to find this within the post. If you are to do something above just contacting winners for a competition, make sure this is also clearly highlighted in the post itself, as consumers would not anticipate further contact.
It is always best to simply tag a person in a post to let them know they are a winner and ask them to contact you first rather than sending them a private message (as this may also end up in their hidden messages).
Enforcing the terms and conditions of a social media competition is vital to maintain fairness, uphold the integrity of the competition, and ensure compliance with the stated rules and guidelines.
You need to ensure you are invalidating entries which do not meet the eligibility criteria specified in the terms. For example, if entry is limited to 1 entry per person and a person has submitted multiple entries, ensure you remove any entries in excess of one from any person prior to conducting the draw.
You need to ensure people are completing the full entry requirements so if following accounts is required, you must check this process has been completed.
A common issue we see is for game of skill competitions where a 25 word or less requirement applies to a question and the promoter provides a prize to a winner whose response is more than this word limit. This results in complaints from other entrants and usually means you need to obtain a secondary prize and award this fairly.
Ensure you are also asking for proof of residence and age prior to awarding any prize. For example, if the entry is limited to persons 18+, you need to ask for a valid proof of identity to verify the age restriction is met.
Terms and conditions should not be updated once the promotion goes live and entries are received. We often are asked if entries can be extended once a competition is live, and this should not be done as it would mean the advertising and terms which advertise the original end date would be misleading and it could also result in entrant complaints (as it would normally result in more entries which would reduce an existing entrant’s chance of winning).
Running a social media competition can bring numerous benefits for brands, including increased brand visibility, engagement, and the potential to go viral. However, to ensure a successful and legally compliant competition, it is crucial to have clear and well-defined terms and conditions in place. These terms and conditions provide transparency, protect the brand's interests, ensure fairness, and address legal compliance and data protection.
Legal professionals can provide expert advice tailored to specific jurisdictions and help navigate the complex landscape of advertising and promotion regulations. However if you need to get to market fast, Plexus Promotion Wizard offers a convenient solution with pre-drafted, customisable terms and conditions templates that align with legal requirements.
Plexus Promotion Wizard offers end to end legal support for competitions & promotions. Custom T&Cs and the right competition permits without the hassles. 90% faster and half the cost of traditional legal firms.
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