Shaken & Stirred - Influential Brand Profiling and Positioning

10 top tips for running promotions on social media / PromoVeritas

Social media promotions are easy to set up and at low cost they can offer a big audience and fast turnaround – but there can be pitfalls too. Bad news travels fast, and reputations can be damaged in seconds, campaigns can be blocked by the platforms for breaches of their various complex rules and gathering all the data on entrants can sometimes be tricky.

So here is our top ten list of things to do to avoid problems with social media prize promotions.

1. Know the rules

The major platforms strive to be fresh and engaging and they often introduce new features – but they also regularly produce new rules that can impact the way we run promotions. You need to know these – as well as the local laws that promoters must stick to depending on which countries you are running a promotion in.

2. Plan Ahead

Yes you can put up a promotion in minutes, but as the saying goes ‘act in haste, repent at leisure’. Poorly planned promotions bring a host of problems which could land you in hot water. With a little extra time (and advice from experts like ourselves) you can get all aspects of the promotion right including good terms and conditions and ensuring you can capture entry data.

3. Don’t skimp on your T&Cs…

Promoters often think that terms and conditions for social media promotions don’t need to be as substantial as those for offline or on-pack ones. They are wrong – you need a full set of terms and conditions drafted for every promotion you run – even a brief Twitter campaign that lasts a couple of hours. Not only is this a CAP Code rule, but it is also a chief requirement of most platforms that you include promotional terms – and most importantly that they contain a disclaimer keeping the platform immune from any legal problems if things go wrong.

4. …and remember to post them

All too often we spot social media promotions with no link to their terms. CAP Code rule 8.28 still applies: ‘Participants must be able to retain conditions or easily access them throughout the promotion’. If you cannot post the full terms because of space issues you can add them to the notes section (in Facebook) or post summary terms plus a link to the full terms elsewhere (we can host them for you on our PromoTerms server). For Twitter we recommend a post underneath the initial tweet, just for the key terms and a link to the full ones.

4. Gather data properly

For your promotion to be compliant you must be able to prove that you have selected or chosen winners from all the relevant entry data. Unless you have the correct software and expertise it can be impossible to guarantee this because some platforms only allow you to ‘scrape’ limited amounts of data (in quantity or time) and others can only be extracted if the data request is set up in advance. For example on Twitter you can only scrape off the last 120 Likes and Instagram will allow just 150 comments per image – so making sure you know what you want to achieve in advance is essential. Our bespoke software can scrape data from all promotions guaranteeing compliance and completely fair winner selection.

6. Engage with your fans

Running ‘Like and Share*’ prize draws is easy, but creating compelling and imaginative promotions will mean your audiences will engage and connect with your brand more deeply.  They may be a bit more time consuming to set up and often require judging but they will usually result in more exciting user-generated content that will bring your social media to life. We often find that interacting in real-time with your most avid fans is the catalyst needed to encourage less willing followers to enter more ‘unique’ promotions. * not allowed on Facebook.

7. Judging 101

Competitions are the ideal mechanic for many social media platforms because submitting entries is so easy. Instagram and Pinterest are great for photo and video contests and even Twitter can be used for a ‘complete the slogan is less than 140 characters’ type competition. But they need to be set up correctly to ensure compliance and avoid irate entrants from complaining publicly.  You need well defined judging criteria that enable entrants to create the most appropriate content, and give judges the direction they need to pick the best.

Never underestimate the time that it takes to judge – potentially days. With our efficient judging platform we can shortlist entries down to a manageable number that can either be put to the public vote or judged by your own panel of experts or team members.

8. Choose your hashtag carefully

Using a hashtag is essential for promotions run on Twitter or Instagram but avoid a disaster by making sure that yours is unique. With a hashtag such as #winaholiday you are likely to get entries from other promotions or countries. And watch out for misinterpretation, so Switzerland’s Hobbit promotion hashtag #Hobbitch is a good example of a bad hashtag as opposed to the one for Susan Boyle’s 2012 record launch #Susanalbumparty.

9. Don’t forget your winners

As with all promotions you must be able to contact your winners within a reasonable amount of time. With some social media platforms this can be harder than you think – each platform has different functionality for communicating with users, especially if they allow Private settings – and failing to announce one or get in touch on time could mean very public complaints from entrants.  It is a requirement of the CAP Code that you make your winners list available even for social media promotions so don’t forget to announce them or let your followers know where to find the list (again we  host winners lists easily on our PromoWinners server).

10. Plan for the worst

Finally, everyone knows how quickly bad news can spread on social media. This is why it is essential to plan your promotion carefully but you should also plan for the worst. Run a full risk analysis, have standby statements pre-agreed and anticipate problems occurring at weekends (so know your developer’s mobile phone number). One memorable promotional disaster concerned Boots who offered a prize of a trip to Barcelona, but accidentally sent a winners notice to ALL 9,000 entrants. It cost them a lot of money and damaged their reputation considerably!

Let PromoVeritas take the stress out of running social media promotions. Our team of social media experts can help take care of any element of your promotion from the terms and conditions to setting up the back-end, to scraping and compiling the data from your chosen platform.

PromoVeritas : Find out more by contacting us on 0203 301 7360 or emailing

Graphics by Shutterstock