Sarah Burns of Prizeology has some words of wisdom on how to run prize promotions campaigns on social media that comply with UK law and the CAP Code

Top tips for running compliant promotions on social media


Sarah Burns of Prizeology has some words of wisdom on how to run prize promotions campaigns on social media that comply with UK law and the CAP Code

I love social media. I love social media because it enriches what leisure time I have in oh so many ways, especially when it comes to watching skateboarding dogs; but also because it’s brilliant for prize promotions, which is what I fill my working days with.

YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest – they all have their merits and indeed their quirks, but I like these platforms because, unless you don’t understand how the channel works and get the mechanic completely wrong, the audience is almost always engaged and responsive.

Also, because these are still new and evolving spaces, promoters can be innovative – although, of course, they can’t make up their own rules, because each platform has its own acceptable use policies and guidelines for promotions.

Facebook, for instance, insists prize draws must be run through an app within Facebook or a business page, not a personal profile, while Instagram says you mustn’t ask people to tag themselves in photos if they aren’t actually in the pic. A competition in which the most retweets wins breaches Twitter guidelines and you can’t permit multiple entries to a Pinterest promotion or ask entrants to re-pin a specific image.

If you don’t follow these platform guidelines for promotions your account or – much worse – your client’s account is at risk of being shut down. It goes without saying that I don’t want one of the primary ways in which my client engages with its customers to be blocked.

I see it as my responsibility because my company makes full use of our clients’ business logins to monitor their social media campaigns. We answer queries, review the stats and check the promotion is being seen. Facebook’s recent algorithm change now means giveaways, for instance, might not always appear organically in feeds and brands will need to pay to boost their posts in order to gain visibility, so that presents a new challenge.

In addition to these site-specific idiosyncrasies, online prize promotions must abide by the regulations and laws of the land. Like all non-broadcast promotional marketing in the UK, social media prize draws are regulated by the CAP Code (the self-regulatory code which governs advertising and marketing in the UK), so they must have clear terms and conditions. These can be abridged – Twitter is still a tight squeeze although it’s slightly easier now there are 280 characters to play with – but the full and frank version should never be more than a single click away. If your promotion is global, take care, because different countries have different rules and what’s legal here isn’t necessarily legal elsewhere.

Whatever platform you use, you have to be able to pull all the entry data if you’re asked for it and prove that your prizes have been awarded fairly, so you need an app or program for doing this. On platforms like Twitter and Instagram, as well as asking entrants to use a specific hashtag, get them to tag your brand, as this helps you sort people who have actively entered your prize draw from those who have coincidentally used the same hashtag.

You also need a verification process to ensure entrants are who they claim to be, own the content they’ve entered and haven’t broken any other terms and conditions.

If you rely on notifying your winners by naming them in a Facebook post or tagging them on Instagram, you can’t guarantee they’ll see that post or, if they do, it might be months later, by which time you’ll have given the prize to someone else. People really do set up fake accounts simply to claim prizes, so always contact winners privately. On Twitter, for example, this may mean asking them to follow you so you can direct-message them.

Best practice on social media means running effective but compliant promotions. I would be mortified if a consumer complained to the ASA about a promotion I had run. But more than that, non-compliance, including by social media influencers who fail to make the correct disclosures of any commercial relationship with the brands they are promoting, undermines consumer trust and damages the promotional marketing industry as a whole, so following platform guidelines and adhering to the law benefits us all.

I am out to spread the love, because although I do love social media, I also love compliance too – and I don’t care who knows it!

Sarah Burns is Founder of Prizeology, a consultancy specialising in the management and implementation of all aspects of prize promotions, on both strategic and tactical levels. Prizeology is one of the Headline Sponsors of Connect 2018, the IPM’s Members Networking Event which is taking place on Wednesday 31st January. For more information about Connect 2018, see the IPM website.

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