Contests, Sweepstakes, and Promotions on Social Media

Contests, Sweepstakes, and Promotions on Social Media

As part of its advertising law practice, Saper Law counsels a range of clients on how to legally operate sweepstakes and contests. We’ve drafted the Official Rules for promotions involving brands from Samsung to Emerald Nuts to the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Increasingly, these promotions—which used to involve mail-in entry forms and business cards in fish bowls—are being run on online platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.

Sweepstakes and other promotional contests are heavily regulated by both state and federal laws. Now, in addition to these government regulations, promotions must comply with the Terms of Service of the platforms on which they’re hosted.

For example, Facebook’s promotions guidelines prohibit contest sponsors from conditioning entry based on use of certain Facebook features, such as “liking” a comment or uploading a photo. They also require certain provisions within the contest’s Official Rules protecting Facebook from liability.

Similarly, YouTube doesn’t like promoters manipulating channel functions (like views and votes) by making that the criteria by which a contest winner is selected. And that’s not the only restriction in YouTube’s contest policies and guidelines place on would-be video-contest sponsors. According to the behemoth video repository, companies using their platform are not allowed to require entrants to transfer ownership of their entries or to use the information collected from entrants for marketing purposes.

While flouting a website’s terms of use might not subject you to criminal liability like ignoring state lottery laws (see earlier Saper Law blog posts on running a legal sweepstakes), non-compliance could theoretically result in your social media account being terminated, which could be a disaster if it happens halfway through your promotion.

If you are in the process of creating or developing a contest or sweepstakes, call Saper Law, (312) 527-4100, to make sure your promotion is legal and in full compliance with your social media platform of choice.