tips for affiliate program newbies

15 Tips on Writing Contest Rules for Social Media

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We are no strangers to running promotions on social media. At Sideqik, we spend our time trying to come up with the best way to run easy cross-promotions to suit our customer. We have notice one of the more overlooked areas when running a sweepstakes is writing up detailed rules. Mostly because it seems daunting and probably a little bit because people aren’t sure where to start. We laid out 15 tips to writing contest rules for your social media promotion to help you become a rule writing pro.


1. Make the sponsor clear.

Gathering entries from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Youtube may lead some of your entrants to think the contest is sponsored by them. State clearly in the rules which brand, or brands if you are partnering, are actually running the promotion.

2. Who is eligible?

Giving away a case of beer? A chainsaw? A motorcycle? All three? Sure that officially makes you the coolest giveaway on earth, but you probably don’t want 9 year old Polly Ann winning. If your prizes are only suitable for adults say it in the rules.


3. Who isn’t eligible?

Besides implicitly denying contestants too young to win, you might want to add a line for who else is not eligible. If you don’t want anyone who is working for the brand(s) that sponsored the sweepstakes or contest, their relatives, or even their roommates to win you should list it in the rules to avoid confusion and keep a fair reputation.


4. Check your local laws.

Every state has different rules in place for promotions. Like, did you know in New York if a prize over $5,000 is offered the law requires that consumer sweepstakes be registered and bonded 30 days before the commencement of the sweepstakes? Make sure you are well versed with the laws in which your contest is taking place and you know the difference between a sweepstakes, contest, and lottery. If there are any special considerations in your state write it out in the rules so contestants are aware.


5. How will personal information be used?

If you are gathering emails and you will be using them for marketing purposes later, state that in the rules. Entrants should know that by entering the promotion, they are giving you certain permissions to use (not abuse, but you know that) certain pieces of their information.


6. Identify contest entry period.

Is this promotion running for a week, two weeks, a month? Let your fans know the deadlines for their entries. It could save you from getting tons of email submissions long after the contest has ended.


7. Let ‘em know how to enter.

Listen, we know it’s probably pretty straight forward, click this, fill out that, submit, and you are entered for a chance to win. WE know that, but just in case this is the first promotion anyone has ever attempted, throw in a sentence about the steps for entering.


8. Your rights as a contest holder.

You have the right to remain silent….wait those are your Miranda rights. OK as the promotion holder you do have a right to stop the contest (say if your prize giver suddenly pulls out of the promotion) at any time. If you have reason to believe people are deliberately trying to scam the system in some way, you can investigate and choose another winner. Reflect your rights in the rules to protect yourself.


9. Layout the prizes.

Even if you have made a huge graphic with all the prizes shown, write them out. The rules should include all the prizes every winner or tier of winner is entitled to upon being selected.


10. Who is responsible for prizes if partnered?

Some of your promotions will (hopefully) have partners to help by donating prizes and getting the word out. In the case when a partner is handling the prize shipping, write plainly in the rules who will be handling the distribution of prizes. This will help you avoid the “Where is my prize?” email and phone calls, when you truly don’t know.


11. Explain how winners will be selected.

Will it be a random selection? Are you going to pick the funniest pictures or most creative band name? Will someone be throwing darts at a board full of pictures? Make it clear if it is random no amount of hilarious photos or cleverly thought out parody songs will help entrants win.


12. How will winners be notified?

It is best to include this information in the rules, mostly to get it out of the way and to keep your inbox clear. Give the contestants a clue on if you will be calling, emailing, texting, messaging, or sending carrier pigeon. That way they know what medium to check for tip #12.


13. What’s the timeline on claiming prizes?

Certainly you don’t want to have your prize(s) in limbo forever. Don’t keep participants in the dark about having 3 days or 3 weeks to claim before you choose a different winner. Telling all entrants in the rules how long they have to claim a prize is a best practice for sure.


14. When to expect prize(s)?

If you are the one handling the prize distribution and you know for a fact it will take 4-6 weeks to get delivered, include that in the rules. This one sentence will save you from the “WHY ISN’T IT HERE YET?!” messages you will get starting the day the winner is chosen until the prize gets there. Seriously, ain’t nobody got time for that.


15. Who to contact for support issues ?

This may seem like an unusual idea, but giving them a place to turn when entering isn’t running smoothly is a great way to save from all those “this is broken” posts. List a support email to contact in the rules in case any problems arise and save yourself some unkind comments.

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