Giving Stuff Away? – Don’t Give Away the Farm, Too – Part 2

On Wednesday I began talking about Social Media Promotions.  Let’s start to get into more of the nuts and bolts of running promotions in social.  I’m going to save developing rules for promotions for part 3 and talk about the platforms that are available to you and what those platforms have to say about you running a promotion there.

Facebook and Like-Gating

How many promotions have you seen on Facebook?  What percentage of them do you think are following the guidelines that Facebook puts out.  Let’s look at some of the more problematic parts of Section E, Promotions portion of Facebook’s Page Terms.

  • Just because you are running a promotion on Facebook doesn’t mean that you can skirt all the other rules, laws and restrictions.  Facebook is very explicit about this, so if giving away that WWII tank is not allowed where you are, giving it away on Facebook doesn’t make it more allowed.  “[Y]ou are responsible for the lawful operation of that promotion…”
  • Facebook, just like I did in Part 1, advises you to consult with an expert.  We all trust Facebook, so listen to them.  “Promotions are subject to many regulations and if you are not certain that your promotion complies with applicable law, please consult with an expert.”
  • Here is the biggest violation that is made in promotions on Facebook – Like-Gating (also known as fan-gating).  Even the act of liking a Page might be problematic if you “automatically register or enter a Promotion Participant” through that mechanism.  What this means is you can put your application on your Page and make it accessible to only your fans.
  • Don’t use any feature of functionality of Facebook as your means of entry or means of selecting a winner.  How many promotions have you seen where the number of likes or comments to a post was the means of winner selection?  If you do that, stop.
  • Show of hands – who has notified a winner by message within Facebook?  Also, not allowed.

Those are the things you cannot do, what about the things you must do.  Facebook is pretty explicit about this as well:

  • Disassociate the promotion from any connection with Facebook.  You must disclose that the participant is only providing information to you.
  • You must state somewhere (probably in your official rules) that the promotion is in no way connected to Facebook.

Most folks that have been running promotions on Facebook for a while have been using custom-designed apps for them, and I suggest you do the same.  While some have decried the costs of development, it is a small cost compared to getting kicked off of Facebook.  Low-cost alternatives would be of the “email us at contest@contests-r-us.com” post.

Whither Twitter?

Twitter is almost a walk in the park compared to Facebook, but considering the lightweight nature of the platform that is not surprising.  Their guidelines are pretty simple and the biggest thing to consider is if your promotion encourages the users to violate Twitter’s other terms.  The rest of what they talk about are actually helpful suggestions:

  • so you can count all the entries, have your users use an @reply to you
  • encourage the use of hashtags relevant to the contest

The thing to consider is that you still need all the other legal requirements for a promotion, like rules.  If you use Twitter for what I think the intended purpose is, your rules can be fairly short-form.  I consider the intended purpose of Twitter promotions to be small giveaways that fall under even the most restrictive bonding requirements.  Shorter duration also helps.

Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, Oh My

Tumblr takes the same approach as Facebook, but it much nicer terms.  Keep your contest separate from Tumblr, comply with applicable laws and regulations and don’t use Tumblr’s social features as entry methods.  Tumblr also tells you to take other laws and regulations seriously and ask an expert if you have questions.

Pinterest is pretty short with their guidelines, and while they don’t require what Tumblr and Facebook do with a release of the platform from all liability in the rules, they do state that they are not responsible for liable for using Pinterest as part of your promotion.  They also recommend working with an expert.  One of the trends lately has been the “Pin-It to Win-It” type of contests.  If your brand is visually oriented and you want to jump into the fray on this, find someone who has done it or someone who is familiar with the pitfalls of doing it.

I can’t find anything from Instagram, though use the other platform’s as general guidance.  Try not to use the features and functionality of Instagram as an entry mechanism and release Instagram from liability. And I think as other platforms emerge if you use those as your baseline guidelines you will be pretty safe.

Second Conclusion

Parts 1 and 2 have been the fun parts of this series, but Part 3 may be the most important.  Knowing what kind of contest you are running and what you can and cannot do on the platforms are the easy part.  Those decisions will also not get you into trouble (other than being kicked off a platform, which is serious, but I doubt that would be imposed on you).  Getting the actual rules wrong will land you in court, or worse.  So while the rules are not as fun, they are serious.  So, in Part 3 I will talk about the parts of your rules and what they should contain.

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