How to win at running competitions on social media

Competitions are a great way to increase awareness of your business on social media. The prizes you offer don’t need to be massive to get people entering, but they can do big things for your engagement levels and follower numbers. Most of us like the thought of being in with a chance of bagging something for nothing, but the trick with running competitions on social media is to make them as simple as possible to enter. And that’s not the only rule. In fact, there are a number of dos and don’ts when running competitions on your social media platforms that it’s important to abide by, to avoid getting into hot water.

To begin with, there are a whole host of guidelines that are well worth reading on the Advertising Standards Authority website. These are really top level and apply whenever and wherever businesses run promotional competitions, and include such rules as being fair and impartial, compliance with GDPR legislation and awarding the prize within 30 days.  

Once you’ve ticked all of the ASA rules off the list then make sure you also comply with rules that are specific to the social media platform that you plan to run the competition on. Some of the main ones I’ve listed here may surprise you, as I see lots of people breaking these rules all the time, but you risk penalties from the platform if you do so and that’s simply not going to win you any followers. 

On Instagram:

  • You must not inaccurately tag content or encourage users to inaccurately tag content (don’t encourage people to tag themselves in photos if they aren’t in the photo).
  • You must acknowledge that the promotion is in no way associated with Instagram.

On Facebook:

  • Personal Timelines and friend connections must not be used to administer promotions. That means that you can’t make tagging friends or sharing on timelines a requirement of entry (although LOTS of people make this mistake).
  • You must acknowledge that the promotion is in no way associated with Facebook.

On Twitter:

  • You must include a rule stating that anyone found to be using multiple accounts to enter will be ineligible.
  • Avoid duplicate tweets with rules such as ‘whoever Retweets this the most wins’.
  • Ensure entrants @mention you so you can see ALL entries.  
  • Any competition hashtags need to be relevant to the tweet it is applied to.

Before clicking publish on your social media competition, check  the guidelines on the platform’s help page, so you can be sure you’re on to a winner.

As with any competition, it is important that the terms and conditions of entry are clear and easy to find. The best way to do this is to display them on your website and provide a link to this on the competition post itself. 

If you would like more information about running competitions on your social media platforms effectively, email me at and book a discovery call today. 

Published by Kelly Lavender

Social Media Manager and Content Writer, based in Northamptonshire.

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