Social media contests are quite popular on Facebook nowdays. Our office hasn’t held a contest in years, but we are hoping to start holding them again (yay!). While doing some research, I found some interesting information regarding the do’s and don’ts of social media contests and decided to share a few key points from the articles I read with you all. Hopefully, these tips will prevent someone’s contest from being ruined by the woes of legal troubles.
Tip #1: Know what type of promotion you are running.
By law, there are three types of promotions: sweepstakes, contests, and lotteries.
- Sweepstakes involve a winner being randomly chosen.
- Contests occur when a winner is chosen due to merit. Examples include the cutest photo, best song, etc.
- Lotteries require a person to pay for their chance to win.
Tip #2: “Payment” includes more than handing over money.
Lawyer Kerry Gorgone explains,
“[Payment] could mean the time you take to comment on a blog post, complete a questionnaire, or Like someone’s Facebook page.”
Why is payment a concern? Look at the definitions above again. If patients must pay to enter, the promotion is now not only a lottery, but an illegal one.
Tip #3: Disclosure is key.
Things can spread on the internet in a matter of seconds, and you never know who might end up seeing posts related to your contests. When someone sees a post saying “Here I am rocking my new shirt from Dr. So-and-so’s office while on vacation in Florida,” they may not know that it has anthing to do with a contest. Have everyone who enters your contest mention that their post is a contest entry to avoid being fined for undisclosed endorsements.
Tip #4: Write official rules for every promotion that you run, and make them easily accessible to the public.
There are several terms that must be included in the rules, such as “No purchase necessary,” the opening and ending dates of the promotion, and who can participate.
Tip #5: Find out what specific laws apply to you.
States, state dental associations, and even Facebook and Twitter have their own rules when it comes to running contests. Make sure you are aware of the rules that apply to your dental practice.
Phew… that’s a lot to take in, isn’t it? In case you are feeling stressed after reading all of this (and probably realize that you have even more research to do!) here’s a cute compilation of Corgi videos from BuzzFeed.
The information shared in this blog post was adapted from the following articles, which I found to be a huge help. Read them to learn more about ensuring that your contests and sweepstakes are legal.
- “But Everyone Else is Doing It: Why There are So Many Illegal Social Media Contests” by Kerry Gorgone.
- “Social Media Promotions and the Law: What You Need to Know” by Sara Hawkins
- “Not Just a Game: Legal Considerations for Social Media Contests and Sweepstakes” by Daliah Saper
- “4 Tips for Running a Legal Dental Patient Referral Contest on Social Media” from dentaltown