Hosting a legal and successful blog giveaway
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Whether you own a business, website or blog, hosting giveaways is a great way to increase traffic, raise brand awareness and attract potential new customers or readers. If you’re hosting a promotion with prizes you must have Official Rules (US)/Terms and Conditions (UK) – most importantly, these should be easy to understand and easy to find! It might seem like a chore, but writing thorough rules is essential – get them right first time and you can use them as a template for future giveaways, saving time in the long run. This post tells you what needs to be covered, with examples and advice on making your rules clear and concise. There are also tips on promoting your giveaway and ensuring it’s a success. Before we look at essential giveaway rules, familiarise yourself with a few terms. ‘Prize promotion’ or ‘giveaway’ is fine to use in a blog post, but here are the correct terms you should be using in the rules/T&Cs:
Sweepstakes / Prize Draw
These are giveaways where the winners are chosen at random. In the US, there must be no purchase necessary in order to enter a sweepstakes – in the UK (but not Northern Ireland), a promoter can require a purchase in return for prize draw entry.
Competition / Contest
These are giveaways where the winners are chosen based on merit – for example, entrants need to write a slogan, upload a photo or create a recipe to participate.
A lottery is a prize draw where people must pay to take part, and is highly regulated by law.
Here’s my suggested checklist of the essential information you should include in your post and T&Cs.
When does it end?
- Include the date, year and time (and to avoid confusion, the day of the week) – if it’s open to different countries, include the timezone.
- If you’re posting about a promotion that hasn’t started, include the launch date.
- The closing date is 31st December 2017 at 23.59 (GMT).
- Entries must be received by 5pm on Wednesday 30th September 2017.
- You must stick to your deadline, even if you don’t get many entries. You have entered into a contract with your intial entrants, and they have every right to complain if you extend the date (in the UK, they may register a formal complaint with the Advertising Standards Authority).
- If you use Rafflecopter, the widget counts down to the entry deadline – make sure you also state the date in the blog post and rules/T&Cs to avoid any confusion.
What is the prize?
- Describe the prizes, and state how many there are – in the US, include the retail value of the prize (approximate value is OK).
- State whether the prize can be exchanged or transferred, and if it has an expiry date for use.
- Five winners will receive a £20 voucher to be spent at www.lovelyhandbags.com. The voucher will expire 12 months after issue and is non-transferable.
- There is one prize of tickets to Disney on Ice in London on 21st October 2017. These can be transferred to a family member or friend on request.
- Host giveaways for prizes that are appropriate and relevant to your blog.
- If there is a sponsor, confirm EXACTLY what the prize is with them – don’t risk your winner complaining when it’s not exactly as stated in the rules/T&Cs.
- Sometimes it’s more appealing to have several small value prizes rather than one big prize.
Who can enter?
- Mention any age restrictions (it’s sensible to restrict entry to people aged 18 and over, as the US has strict privacy protection laws for under-18s).
- Location – state whether the giveaway is open worldwide, or restricted to certain countries.
- Other restrictions – eg. registered members of a website, Twitter, Facebook, etc.
- List exclusions such as family members or anyone professionally connected to the promoter or sponsor.
- This competition is open to US residents aged 18 or over. Entrants must be a registered Twitter user.
- Open to UK residents aged 18 or over, excluding employees of the promoter, the sponsor, their families and anyone else professionally connected with this promotion.
- Excluding ‘compers’ or ‘professional competition entrants’ from entering your giveaway is unfair and could give rise to an ASA complaint. If you really don’t want compers to enter, then ensure your giveaway isn’t listed on competition websites (you can contact them and ask them to not feature links from your blog).
- If you prefer to award prizes to other bloggers, why not host a competition where a blog post is required?
- Consider your entry mechanic and tailor it so that most entries will come from your target audience – eg. for a fashion blog, ask them to submit a Polyvore set or Pinterest board. You’ll get less entries for a creative competition, but you can be assured your entrants really want the prize!
How do people enter?
- Describe the method of entry (Rafflecopter, Gleam*, Twitter, Instagram, app download, blog comment etc.)
- Explanation of entry method – are the tasks mandatory or optional? (this is really important if you use Rafflecopter or Gleam, as on the widget it can be unclear which tasks need to be completed)
- To take part, leave a comment on the blog telling me which of these outfits you like best.
- Entrants must log in via Gleam and answer the question in the widget – this is the ONLY mandatory task. You can gain extra entries in the draw by tweeting a link to the giveaway, visiting my Facebook page or following my blog on Pinterest.
- To take part, entrants must write a blog post and tweet a link with the hashtag #LovelyHandbagsContest.
- If you’re hosting a simple sweepstakes or prize draw, using a free service such as Rafflecopter or Gleam* will make data collection, review and winner selection much easier than analysing blog comments.
- Stick to a single mandatory entry task, such as answering a question or leaving a blog comment – not all blog readers will be using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, so have these as optional bonus entries.
- Don’t make entry too complicated, especially for low value prizes.
- Think about what you want to achieve from the giveaway – Facebook Likes, traffic to the sponsor’s site, app downloads, newsletter signups for example – and tailor entry methods to achieve this.
- If you’re using Rafflecopter/Gleam, try and keep entry values low – large entry numbers (10 entries for a tweet, 20 for following on Bloglovin’ etc) may look good to your prize sponsor, but are unrealistic and can put off prospective entrants.
- I’ve written posts on ‘How to Enter Rafflecopter Giveaways’ and ‘How to enter Gleam giveaways’ which you may want to link to.
What entry restrictions are there?
- State how many entries people can make
- Only one entry per person.
- Entrants can submit a maximum of five different photographs, but will only be eligible to win one prize.
- One entry per household, per day.
- Some entrants may try to cheat by doing ‘third party’ entries using different email addresses from the same IP address – using the ‘one entry per household’ rule will allow you to disqualify them.
How is the winner chosen?
- Random – if your promotion is a prize draw/sweepstakes, the winner should always be chosen at random from all valid entries. Rafflecopter and Gleam automatically choose a random winner, try Tweetdraw for Twitter comps, use random.org or for Facebook Like/Comment giveaways, or copy your post URL to FanPage Karma’s free tool.
- Voting – if voting is to be used, state this clearly on the original post. Use the term ‘eligible votes’ in the rules, so you’re able to disqualify votes from suspicious sources – cheating and fake accounts are common in voting competitions.
- Judging – if you’re judging entries, you should be using at least one independent judge and should always specify the criteria for selecting winners.
- A winner will be generated via random.org
- The winner will be chosen at random from all correct entries.
- Winners will be decided by a panel of independent judges on the basis of creativity and relevance to the brand.
- The five entries with the most eligible votes will be put before a judging panel to decide the winner. The winning entry will be the most fun and original.
- The ten most apt and original entries will be shortlisted by the judges and then put to a public vote on the Facebook page, where the entry with the most valid votes will win.
- Public voting to decide winners or shortlisted entries is not recommended as it is so controversial and encourages cheating – see my post ‘Ten reasons why voting competitions are a bad idea’. If it must be used, consider also offering a prize for the best entry and/or a random entry.
When and how will the winner be informed?
- State how long after the giveaway ends the winner be chosen – and how they will be informed (usually via email).
- Decide how long the winner has to respond to a winner notification.
- The winners will be informed by email within 7 days of the closing date, and must respond within 7 days to claim their prize.
- Don’t announce winners before contacting them first and waiting for a response. Your winner could respond with an address outside the valid countries, or turn down the prize.
- Where possible, contact your winner via email. If you get no response, try a Twitter DM or @mention, or Facebook message (note that Facebook messages will go into their ‘Message Requests’ folder and could remain unseen).
- In your email contact, state a deadline for the winner to respond. In the UK, the CAP Code recommends promoters allow at least 28 days for a winner to respond – unless the prize is time-critical (eg. event tickets)
When will the prize be delivered?
- If the prize is being fulfilled by a sponsor, agree with them a timescale for despatch and include this in the Rules/T&Cs.
- Lovely Handbags is the sponsor of this giveaway and is responsible for prize fulfilment. The prize will be despatched by Royal Mail Special Delivery within 28 days of receiving the winner’s address details.
- Consider using a tracking service and always put a return address label on the parcel – prizes can go missing.
- If you’re forwarding the winner’s details to a sponsor, ask them to email you when they have despatched the prize, and ask them to send by tracked post or courier. Check your winner has received it.
- The promoter should do everything can to ensure the winner receives their prize – be sure that your sponsor is a reputable company before agreeing to host a giveaway on their behalf – if the prize doesn’t arrive, YOU are responsible!
Other terms to include
- State who the promoter is, with an address – this is your blog, or the company/agency sending the prize – or a joint promotion between both of you.
This is a joint promotion by SuperLucky and Lovely Handbags, London Road, Brighton
- If requested, you must give the winner’s name. If you want to announce the winner’s name and use their photo or entry for promotional purposes, you need to state that in the terms.
Winners names available on request
- For creative competitions (photo/video/recipe/tiebreaker, etc), you must state if entries will become the property of the promoter and how they will be used.
Copyright to the entries will remain with the entrant but the entrant licences Lovely Handbags to use their photographs to promote the brand across websites and social media
- If you’re running a promotion in England, you might want to include this:
This prize draw is governed by English law and the courts of England shall have exclusive jurisdiction over any dispute arising in connection with it
- In the US, there are several standard phrases which should be used:
– ‘The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning.’
– ‘Void where prohibited by law’
– ‘No Purchase Necessary’
Administration and choosing a winner
- For multiple entry giveaways (eg. Rafflecopter tasks) always check the winner has done not only the winning task, but any compulsory task required too. If they haven’t, delete that invalid entry from the draw and choose again.
Tips on promoting a blog giveaway
- Create a graphic featuring the prize, the blog name and ideally the closing date and the URL – try Canva for simple picture editing. I usually set my graphics at 1024 x 512 pixels to work well on Twitter and Facebook.
- Use this graphic in your blog post and add a ‘Pin It’ button. Share it on your Facebook page, Instagram feed, pin it to your Twitter profile and add to Pinterest boards – ask the sponsor if you can share it on their page too.
- Use a URL shortening site like www.bitly.com to create a customised link eg. http://bit.ly/WinLovelyHandbag
- Add your competition to my monthly Blog Giveaway linkys at SuperLucky
- Submit your giveaway to free listings sites. In the UK, try www.theprizefinder.com, www.competitiondatabase.co.uk and www.loquax.co.uk. In the US, add your giveaways to www.online-sweepstakes.com and www.bloggiveawaydirectory.com/blog-giveaway-linky
- Tweet the link to popular compers/sweepers – they will usually retweet or share on Facebook for you!
- For more tips, see my post on where to promote a competition
Finally – don’t let all these rules and regulations put you off. Running a blog giveaway can be fun and rewarding, and publishing clear rules at the outset should make it a stress-free experience for both the blogger and the entrant!
If you’d like more guidance on running a fair and successful prize draw on your blog, why not buy my e-book on running giveaways for just £1.99?
Disclaimer: This post contains suggested guidelines and does not constitute legal advice. It’s recommended that you should check local laws affecting prize promotions, and consult with your own legal representation if you have any questions about contests and competitions hosted on your blog.