Blogging Out Loud

Connecting You with the Latest Marketing Tips and Trends.

Social Media Promotions: Keep Them Engaging and Legal

Everyone loves free stuff! One of the keys to creating a successful social media promotion is inspiring people to interact with your page, as Golden West Casino did with their Fan-of-the-Week promotion

Everyone loves free stuff! One of the keys to creating a successful social media promotion is inspiring people to interact with your page, as Golden West Casino did with their Fan-of-the-Week promotion.

There were 1,730,000,000 active users on social media by the end of 2013, a full quarter of the world’s population. Social Media continues to grow at an unfathomable rate , while inspiring conversations and sparking ideas worldwide.

Businesses see the nearly limitless opportunity in social media to grow their customer base. That’s why 83% of businesses worldwide have a presence on social media. And most businesses are far savvier in terms of how to use social media to their best advantage than they were just a year ago. They’re learning what works. Social media promotions—sweepstakes, contests, giveaways and exclusive deals—have proven to be an incredibly valuable tool for many companies. In fact, over 70% of companies with an online footprint have utilized social media promotions at least one time.

But in their eagerness to roll out social media marketing promotions, some companies are missing out on making their programs as effective as they could be—and equally important, they’re neglecting to educate themselves on the laws that regulate these chance promotions. When planning your social media promotions, it’s important to take all aspects into consideration.

It’s about connecting, NOT selling

So first things first. Determine your motivation to holding the online promotion. If it’s just to get Facebook likes, then you need to step back and re-evaluate your plan.

Cristina Vazquez is the social media marketing specialist and Senior Account Executive at Vertical Marketing Network. She guides leading client companies in the packaged goods, beverages, retail, and entertainment categories through various social marketing promotions. She stresses that any kind of social marketing promotion is ultimately about engaging your audience and creating a relationship that establishes your brand as the “go-to” in the audience’s mind.

Golden West Casino's Share Your Story promotion invited fans to  post their "most winning moment" at Golden West Casino. Fans loved sharing their stories and interacting with each other

Golden West Casino’s Share Your Story promotion invited fans to post their most memorable moment at the Facebook Tournament event. Fans love sharing their stories and interacting with each other.

Golden West Casino  has done a masterful job of setting up social media promotions that accomplish exactly that. Vazquez manages and implements their weekly contest on their Facebook page that is nearly irresistible to their fans. Each week, Golden West Casino features a Fan of the Week in which page visitors are awarded points based on their interaction with the page during the preceding seven days. The more they share, like or comment on posts, the more points they earn. The result is that many fans interact on a daily basis—not just with the page itself, but most importantly, with other fans.

So what are the differences between sweepstakes and contests?

Whether you’ve already ventured into the world of  social media promotions or are just dipping the proverbial toe into the water, it’s helpful to know what the official differences between them are. They may go by different names, but these promos fall into different legal categories:

This is an example of a company that did it right with this Instagram contest: San Francisco Travel organized a contest that generated good visual content that can eventually be repurposed on other social media outposts. It also created buzz around a given theme – in this case celebrating the anniversary of the Golden Gate bridge.

This is an example of a company that did it right with this Instagram contest: San Francisco Travel organized a contest that generated good visual content that can eventually be repurposed on other social media outposts. It also created buzz around a given theme – in this case celebrating the anniversary of the Golden Gate bridge.

Sweepstakes: In a sweepstakes, the winners are drawn completely at random. Some examples of sweepstakes include promotions where people submit information that may include their name, email, or address, or retweet a phrase with a pre-determined hashtag. In legal terms, sweepstakes are also referred to as a contingent giveaway.

Contests: “In a contest,” explains Vertical Marketing’s Vazquez, “the entrant needs to demonstrate a skill. For example,” she continues, “amongst the most popular contests implemented are photo contests, where a panel of judges will judge each entry based on pre-determined and pre-published criteria.”

Most social media promotions fall under the “sweepstakes category,” because they are less costly for client implementation than contests. Both require the development of official rules with sweepstakes rules generally a bit less complicated.

Social media and the law

For over 17 years, Vertical Marketing has exclusively retained Cohen Silverman Rowan LLP as its promotion law specialists for the ever-changing legal requirements associated with the development and implementation of promotions for the agency’s clients. Vertical Marketing works directly with partner Scott A. Schleifstein, whose practice deals exclusively with promotions, sweepstakes, giveaways, contests, and the like. Schleifstein an acknowledged expert in the field. But even he admits that legal guidelines are not keeping up with the changes brought by the explosive growth of online and social media promotions.

“While social media continues to grow at an astounding rate,” he says, “the law often lags far behind.”

The laws that governed promotions prior to the plethora of social media, online sweepstakes, and contests still apply. They are, Schleifstein says, the cornerstones of social and online promotions. People need to make themselves aware of these prior to starting any social promotion—even  a small contest can be fraught with unintentional violations of the law.

While it is the responsibility of the brands (or the agency they hire) to make sure that their social media promotions are handled properly, that can take time and money. Small companies in particular sometimes skip this investigative step—not because they are dishonest, but because they aren’t aware of the issues they may incur by not following appropriate guidelines.

Best ways to set up a social media promotion

Facebook ranks at the top of social media platforms for businesses. Twitter is a close second. For both of these platforms—and  the rest of the various social media platforms out there—you can create contests, drawings, and giveaways through a third-party app like Woobox, Heyo, Shortstack, or any number of others.

A Facebook poll can be an effective way to engage page visitors. Ask a simple question  with the option for the user to click either yes or no. You can create a poll that has a local angle, or is specific to your business. Participating in the poll means interacting with your page, which is always good.

A Facebook poll can be an effective way to engage page visitors. Ask a simple question with the option for the user to click either yes or no. You can create a poll that has a local angle, or is specific to your business. Participating in the poll means interacting with your page, which is always good.

“When you run a sweepstakes using a third party app,” says Vazquez, “you need to figure out your goals ahead of time. If, for example, you want to collect cell phone numbers for later re-marketing, you can set up the third party app to collect that information from the people who enter.”

Facebook also allows page owners to create instant contests directly on their timeline, without requiring a third party app. “This is great for running things on the fly,” says Vazquez. “For example, if you have tickets that you want to give out for tomorrow night’s concert, you can create a giveaway on your brand’s Facebook page. It’s a great way to keep visitors coming back to your page on a regular basis, to see what other types of spontaneous giveaways you may be having.”

“We already know it is important for brands to be on social media,” says Vazquez. “And people love free stuff! You need to give away special things. Marketers need to make giveaways part of their overall social media strategy.”

It’s your turn

James Hardie Building Products held the “Play Haus Design Competition,” created by Vertical Marketing Network, that asked participants to submit blueprints for a playhouse. The winning design was build by James Hardy and then donated. The promotion was hugely successful in driving visitors to the James Hardie site so they could vote for their favorite design.

James Hardie Building Products held the “Play Haus Design Competition,” created by Vertical Marketing Network, that asked participants to submit blueprints for a playhouse. The winning design was built by James Hardie and then donated. The promotion was hugely successful in driving visitors to the James Hardie Facebook page so they could vote for their favorite design.

The topic of how to run social media promotions successfully while staying within the all-important parameters of what is legal is a complex one with many layers. Social media promotions can be an astoundingly effective way to get people involved with your brand. They can also be a huge headache if you don’t cross your Ts and dot your Is, so be sure you’re up to date on all the applicable laws and guidelines or at least hire an expert agency.

So what’s your perspective on social media promotions? Have they worked well for your company? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

And if you’d found this article helpful, feel free to share.

 

 

 

 


Brought to you by Vertical Marketing Network, a Leading Integrated Marketing Agency.

Screen captures intended as illustrative examples only. Registered trademarks and logos are the property of their respective owners.

 

 

Advertisements

9 comments on “Social Media Promotions: Keep Them Engaging and Legal

  1. Pingback: Five Ways to Inspire Immediate Response on Social Media | Blogging Out Loud

  2. jeffs zen garden
    July 16, 2014

    Just today I had a client ask me if was alright to “thank” their facebook and twitter followers with a $5 discount for showing on their phone that they had voted for the client’s restaurant in a “Best of” contest in their location city’s newspaper. The client was concerned that this could be considered “buying votes” and put them in legal hot water.

    I told them to steer clear of it, not because I was concerned about the legalities of it, but because of the negative publicity it could generate.

    Like

  3. joannemhilton
    June 25, 2014

    Social media is a phenomenal way to engage consumers into participating in either sweepstakes or contests. It promotes instant gratification that you are engaged in the event. Gone are the days where you had to print your name, address and phone # on a 4 x 6 card, then mail it in a #10 envelope … and wait for months to know if you were a winner (and that was if you enclosed a self-addressed envelope for the winner’s list!) You could enter as often as you wanted, but it sure incurred an enormous amount of time and costs for the supplies and stamps! LOL!

    Like

  4. karen
    June 19, 2014

    My entertainment client gets great social media coverage from their partners for their priority titles when they give free product or content. The best part of giving the prizing to the partner is that you are strictly a “prize provider” and your partner is responsible for the rules and regulation of the giveaway. I definitely will go back to sites that I know give free stuff that I like–books, tkts. etc. It is a great way to get people to check in to your page often.

    Like

    • Kim Haman
      June 20, 2014

      Hi Karen! You’re right–having a prize partner is a great way to get your clients’ names out there. Thanks for bringing this up.

      Like

  5. Jackson
    June 19, 2014

    Thanks for the info! I am starting to notice a lot of giveaways out there on Facebook, etc. and was wondering about the potential legal ramifications if there were “too many” winners due to a poorly worded ad or promotion. I believe a Mexican food chain offered a free burrito if you showed up wearing a cap and gown–obviously directed towards recent grads. But what if I dusted off my old HS cap and gown? Could I legally claim my free burrito? I love burritos, especially free ones! I know this example is “small potatoes”, (or should I say, “small burritos”), but wonder what my legal standing would be.

    Like

    • Kim Haman
      June 20, 2014

      Hi Jackson,
      I love your question about the free burrito. And yes, if the chain didn’t specify what year the person graduated or put any other restrictions on the giveaway, you certainly would be entitled to a free burrito. Companies are required to post the rules about their giveaways in a place that is easy to access to that potential participants are clear on that they are.
      As for the question about too many winners, that has happened in the past. Several years ago, Dodge had a Dodge Caravan sweepstakes–but neglected to double check their promotional language. There ended up being over 100 winners. Of course, Dodge blanched at that idea. The winners sued. It took years, but eventually the courts decided that Dodge was responsible for providing the prizes. An expensive lesson for Dodge, but one that other companies can learn from.

      Like

  6. Kim Haman
    June 18, 2014

    Diane,
    Wow! That is amazing! Given those numbers, you seem to have found the key to social media promotion success. What platform did you use? What was the giveaway? Are you structuring the sweepstakes the same way for the next three times, or changing it? And if so, how?
    Looking forward to your reply!

    Like

  7. Diane
    June 18, 2014

    One of our clients just finished up a social media promotion with a popular DVD rental kiosk company that garnered 375,000 entries the very first week. Given the success there are now 3 more sweepstakes scheduled this year. Agree on the legalities – I recently heard that not waiting for the proper bonding time in Florida could result in being blacklisted permanently.

    Like

Share your thoughts!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Enter your email.

Archives

Follow us!

%d bloggers like this: