Stay Out of Social Media Hot Water! [Social Media Tip]

DhariLo Social Media Tip 28- Dont Get In Trouble - Legalities of social contests

Did you know that asking people to “share” a post to their timelines as part of a contest or sweepstakes on Facebook goes against guidelines and can get your fan page deleted? There are so many moving parts to social media marketing, and staying up to date with rules and regulations is a part of it- a little rule reading can go a long way!

Besides obvious laws, rules and regulations that shouldn’t be broken, it can be a little difficult to figure out what is or is not allowed when it comes to social media, and running social media contests. It would be a shame to lose an entire network of an audience over a silly mistake. My advice is use common sense, read and research before you begin any posting or individual promotion.

A few tips to stay out of hot water:

  • Read the social media network’s guidelines: This should be regular practice before or when you join a social network. Guidelines familiarize you with rules and what is expected of the network’s users.
  • Are you running a sweepstakes or a contest? Determining what kind of promotion you want to run can simplify or complicate things legally, so it is important to figure out which type of promotion makes more sense. It can be difficult to differentiate between the two “contest” and “sweepstakes” term, but the main differences are that sweepstakes do not require anything more than the contestant submitting their information, and winners are usually chosen at random. A contest requires the entrant to perform a task such as submit photos, create a graphic or recipe, and so on.
  • Define Rules. Networks, groups, and contests require rules and regulations. Creating these documents can be a pain in the neck, but they cover you legally (for contests or sweeps) and let your network know what you expect of them.
  • If it isn’t original content, source or link to it.
  • Ask before you repost customer photos, or if at an event, let them know photos may be used online.

Don’t let me scare you! I am the type of person that likes to play out every possible scenario in my head, and as I’m sure you’ve heard before “victory loves preparation”. There is nothing wrong with triple checking and covering your butt so that situations don’t blow out of proportion.

Social media continues to become a bigger part of the marketing mix, which leaves it more open to regulation and change. Remember when Cole Haan got in trouble with the Federal Trade Commission? The FTC sent a letter to the brand, stating that the hashtag for a particular promotion was not sufficient disclosure of a contest. Cole Haan only got a letter that time, but this doesn’t mean these rules won’t be reinforced more strongly in the future. According to an article via Ad Age “The FTC did not take any enforcement action because it had not previously publicly addressed whether this sort of entry into a contest on social media could be considered a form of material connection.”

Social media is ever evolving, make it a point to stay informed on all parts of the industry! (but your best bet is to hire someone who knows law to handle the actual legal stuff lol)



P.S. Read this article via Social Media Examiner breaking down the FTC’s “.com Disclosures” and how they affect digital advertising:




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