An oftentimes overlooked aspect of participating in marketing endeavors is the importance of a sound Terms & Conditions section. Even the best campaigns can ultimately fail if they don't have the legal aspect sussed out. To make the process less stressful for you as a host, we have decided to compile a guide with a few key pieces that should always be included when running a giveaway through not only our application but on social media in general.
Make it understandable
To begin with, the Terms & Conditions should be written in layman's terms, in a structure that is easy to read. One of the best methods of ensuring that is making the organization styled like an outline with numbers accompanying every single thought. That way it will be easier to refer to each condition with a simple “clause #.” The length is also an important consideration. You want to be thorough with your Terms & Conditions, however, a too-long one could deter many users to read it in its entirety.
Specify giveaway's duration
One of the first things that should be mentioned is the duration of the giveaway, meaning a concrete schedule of the periods from start to finish. This ensures every user has a fair shot of entering without there being a chance of confusion, causing some users to not be able to participate before the end of the campaign.
Define the eligibility
Second on the list is conditions for entry, namely qualifications. If there is an age restriction, the Terms & Conditions would be the place to mention it. If some form of identification is required, that should also be included. Country of residence, necessary steps to participate, examples of legal violations, and proper channel to contact a potential winner must all be established in this section of your giveaway. This helps reduce the chance of winners being chosen and then later finding out they are ineligible because of some small requirement they were unaware of.
Describe the prizes
Another thing that should be clarified is the prize(s). This is where you specify the number of prizes, the frequency of their distribution, and the correct way for the user to receive it. You should also walk your users through the process of picking winners. Our application does not allow for hosts to ask for some payment in exchange for the prize, however, if you use the opportunity to advertise an application that happens to require a payment, that still lies in the legal sphere. If a winner does not claim their prize, a time limit should be determined and listed to accept it. There should also be a protocol established in dealing with cheating/fraudulent actions to explain what becomes of that winner's prize.
Follow the laws in your country
One other thing to keep in mind is that some countries and states have different legal implications when it comes to offering free prizes to the public. Usually, the laws consider three types of promotions or giveaways:
- lotteries are giveaways where the winners must pay to enter;
- sweepstakes are giveaways where the winners are chosen by randomness or 'the luck';
- contests are promotions where the winner is chosen by some merit, usually creativity ('best photo' contest is a good example).
In the United States, giveaway and promotion laws are subject to state laws and, in some states, also state laws. In general, the laws in the United States are quite liberal compared to other countries. All you should consider is that your social media giveaway cannot be a lottery, so it must include a no-cost way to enter. If you have to pay or make a purchase to enter, it will be considered a lottery. Thus, your giveaway should be a sweepstake or contest. Note, that some restrictions may apply if the prize value is over $5000 and if you are giving specific products like tobacco or alcohol. The laws can be different from state to state, and that's why residents form some states that are sometimes excluded in the giveaways.
Some European or Asian counties specifically control random draw promotions under their anti-gambling laws. The restrictions can have a different form, usually, you should register your promotion or get permission from the state office.
The restrictions usually refer to lotteries and sweepstakes, but only if they use a random winner draw. If the draw is not based on randomness, but on other factors, like creativity, skills, time, or overall amount of points gathered, the giveaway would be considered a contest and it would not be restricted. That's why it in some countries it is very common to use creative questions and choose the winner who submitted the best answer. Considering this, in Socialman, we always provide both ways to select the winner: random and manual. Using open creative questions or quizzes along with manual winner draw lets you stay legal even if gaming laws in your country are very strict.
Stay updated on the legislative changes in your respective countries to avoid potential issues. At best, ask your lawyer, or at least search for suitable information about the laws in your country on the internet.
So in the spirit of the brevity that we preach, here is a short to-do list for creating the Terms & Conditions for your giveaway:
- The language should be simple. The possible effect of ignoring this rule is that you do not successfully relay information to your participants.
- Inform your participants of all the details and requirements for entry. Complete transparency is what we strive for in business handling.
- Explain in detail the conditions for distributing prizes; this is, really, a participant's biggest concern. Chat it up.
- Always check the laws in your country. Avoid winner draw based solely on randomity if your country has strict lottery laws. Use the creative questions and manual draw instead.
These are some basic ideas that should be mentioned in your Terms & Conditions. Note, however, that each campaign is different and requires various considerations. Though you can use a template, the actual content must be specific to that specific giveaway, that specific country, etc. Hopefully, these points can help you be completely transparent with your users and allow for your giveaways to take place without an issue.