How To Legally Run A Competition On Social Media

Updated: Mar 13

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Running a competition can be a great way to increase brand awareness, promote your offerings, gather feedback, encourage email signups and so much more. All too often businesses, both large and small, run competitions on their social media platforms without realising the potential risks they are placing their business under by not complying with both platform specific Terms and Conditions and the Advertising Standards Authority guidelines. I don’t profess to have legal knowledge or know the complete ins and outs of all the regulations, my intention with this blog post is purely make you aware that running a competition is much more detailed than you probably imagine and to provide you with links and pointers to help you on the road to ‘competition compliance’!

Summary of ASA Competition Guidelines:

General Points:

  • Competitions must be administered in a fair and impartial way.

  • You should comply with GDPR legislation.

  • It is your responsibility to make sure that consumers who receive your winning item are ‘safe’ from harm. Literature accompanying promotional items must give any necessary warnings and safety advice.

  • Alcoholic drinks must NOT feature in promotions directed at people under 18.

  • Promotions must not encourage excessive consumption or irresponsible use of the prize.

  • Using the phrase “subject to availability” (or similar) is not an excuse for disappointing participants regarding the prize.

  • If there are any issues with prize availability you need to get in touch in a timely manner and offer a reasonable substitute or refund.

  • The promotion must not encourage a purchase to enter.

  • If the competition involves judging an entry, then an independent judge is required.

  • The prizes must be awarded by random chance using either a computer process that produces verifiably random results or an independent person or under the supervision of an independent person.

  • Prizes must be awarded within 30 days.

  • You can only withhold a prize if the winner does not mean the eligible criteria.

The entrants must be made aware of:

  • How to enter and any special conditions or costs they might incur as a result of entering.

  • The nature of the prize in terms of quantity and what exactly it is.

  • State the start and end date of the competition.

  • Who is eligible to enter.

  • Explain clearly how to enter, how the winner will be picked, how and when the winner will be notified.

  • If the prize will not be awarded within 30 days the date the prize will be received must be specified.

  • Promoters full name and address must be included if this is not obvious by via entry method or via a dedicated website with this information.

  • Any restrictions on number of entries.

  • Intention to use winners in post event publicity.

If using User Generated Content:

  • Who owns the copyright of the entries.

  • Intention to use in post event publicity.

This is NOT the full rundown of ASA ‘marketing rules’ and I strongly recommend you visit the ASA site and make yourself familiar with ALL the guidelines. In addition to these each platform has it’s own rules which you need to adhere to.

Platform specific rules:


  • You must not inaccurately tag content or encourage users to inaccurately tag content (example: don’t encourage people to tag themselves in photos if they aren’t in the photo).

  • A complete release of Instagram by each entrant or participant

  • Acknowledgement that the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Instagram.

View them here.

The current 2021 trend to ask for 'saves' as a criteria for competition entry is impossible to track to individual accounts and means the competition can be deemed 'unfair' (see point 8.2 in the ASA ‘code of competition conduct’).


  • Personal Timelines and friend connections must not be used to administer promotions. So all those “share on your Timeline to enter” or “tag your friends in this post to enter” are NOT permitted. Because of the private nature of so many Facebook accounts it is IMPOSSIBLE to track all shares and thus renders the competition unfair which is the 2nd guideline in the ASA ‘code of competition conduct’.

  • A complete release of Facebook by each entrant or participant

  • Acknowledgement that the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed, administered by or associated with Facebook.

View them here.


  • You must include a rule stating that anyone found to use multiple accounts to enter will be ineligible.

  • Posting duplicate, or near duplicate, updates or links is a violation of Twitter’s rules so do not encourage users to tweet multiple entries from their account.

  • Participants need to @mention you so you can see ALL entries. Running a public search may not show every single entry as some people may be filtered out of the search due to ‘quality’ issues.

  • If using a competition hashtag it needs to be relevant to the tweet it is applied to.

View them here.

What you need to do with all these guidelines is to make them clear and easily accessible for all possible entrants and the easiest way to display these full Terms and Conditions is on your website. Avocado Social have a great free template to make this part of the process easier for you.

Now you’ve got all the laws and regulations sorted be sure to think carefully about your competition’s goal, choice of prize, how to monitor entries; how to promote the competition and follow up on the entries and make all this work worthwhile.

Photo by Kirsten Marie Ebbesen on Unsplash

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