Risk of using social media for competitions

Using social media is now a second nature to most of us. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, FourSquare. Whatever platform we may be browsing and chatting and checking in on, business alike are fast becoming ‘experts’ in how to use and interact with customers and potential consumers. They know how to push our buttons so we end up pushing their ‘like’ and ‘follow’ buttons! One of the best ways they like to engage with us is offering us free things – competitions.

It seems fairly easy and simple to set up a competition on third parties such as Facebook and Twitter. For one, there is no need to create a dedicated webpage for them – they are right there and waiting to be used with the tools and tabs accommodating the competition. So you put together a competition, whack it on Facebook and hope for the best? WRONG! Companies are coming up against a hard hitting fight in the form of competitions on such third party social media sites. You need to be very aware of the internal rules and regulations you are required to adhere to.

Weekly ASA rulings state that more and more companies these days are getting into trouble. The lack of awareness or utter disregard for these online rules and regs is causing more businesses and companies to become embarrassed when they get things wrong, and can really suffer from the backlash of a badly run competition. The potential financial loss, as well as the brand damage that can occur, all for the sake of by-passing the rules isn’t worth the hassle. Section 8 of the CAP code sets out the guidelines that must be adhered to when running a competition

Something that a lot of companies believe is that the terms and conditions writing responsibility lies with the third party site e.g. if you are conducting a competition on your company Facebook webpage, a lot of companies think that the competition t’s + c’s lie with Facebook. WRONG! The promoter is responsible for ensuring all aspects of the competition are run correctly; this includes the terms and conditions of the competition, as well as adhering to the terms and conditions, rules and regulations that govern the social media platform you’re running it on. Don’t be tempted to ignore the rules – You can be blocked, kicked out and even more recently fined or face legal action.

Using social media for competitions can be difficult in itself without all the complications of rule compliance. It is exceedingly difficult to run a competition fairly. Facebook is a world-wide site, so stipulating UK entrants only where people can see can be difficult, as well as stipulating how many times an entrant can apply to the competition. With the use of modern technology and bugs, entrants can use software designed to bombard the site with multiple entries, ensuring that they are above the odds to win the prize.

Whilst these rules and punishments may seem harsh, the reality is they are occurring more and more. Make sure you proof, check and check again. As dull as it may be, it really is worth the time to read through the terms and conditions, rules and regulations and even have a brief look over your local and consumer law acts, to ensure that you are doing everything in your power to adhere to all the rules and run a safe and fair competition.