Rules for running competitions on Facebook – mandatory legislation and terms of service

Blogs October 17, 2017


Marketing and Consumer Protection

Ten years after the launch of Facebook, one thing comes up in different Facebook groups on a daily basis: how do I run correctly a competition or prize draw on Facebook and what should be included in the terms and conditions of prize draw or competition?

Always respect the participant – explain the terms and conditions!

Even if the campaign is run on Facebook or through another social media platform, mandatory legislation (e.g., Consumer Protection Act, Personal Data Act and Copyright Act) still applies to the marketer in conjunction with the general terms of the social media platform used. It is not enough, for example, to only comply with the Facebook’s general terms if you want to ensure that various laws have been obeyed.

According to Chapter 2, Section 4 of the Consumer Protection Act, marketing must clearly show its commercial purpose and who is behind the marketing. For example, a marketer of a campaign cannot disguise as an ordinary user, nor can communication be disguised as user generated content. Users must be able to tell which user is acting as the marketer. This also applies to prize draws and competitions. According to Chapter 2, Section 13 of the Consumer Protection Act, the terms and conditions of participation in marketing-related prize draws, competitions and games must be clear, unambiguous and easily accessible. According to the Consumer Ombudsman, terms and conditions must be placed so that they are not ambiguous or difficult to access for the consumer.

What should be included in the terms and conditions?

Properly crafted terms and conditions are a good way for a company to stand out as a brand, as clear terms and conditions make a company and its way of doing business appear reliable. Fraudulent pages and prize draws in the name of various companies have recently been circulating widely on Facebook. It is a good idea to create some distance to these fraudulent pages through a carefully crafted campaign.

Here are some practical tips for writing terms and conditions:

  1. Explain the terms and conditions clearly in the post or use a link to direct participants to a separate terms and conditions document. The marketer should always reserve the right to change the terms and conditions.

  2. Explain who can participate in the campaign (including age limits, geographical boundaries and any other terms of participation) and how people can participate in the campaign, and who is the marketer of the competition or prize draw. It should be noted that minors have a special position in marketing and as content producers. Marketing that is directed at and reaches minors is always assessed more strictly than other marketing.

  3. Explain what is the campaign period and when the participants can participate in the prize draw or competition, and when the winner will be selected or the draw will be happening. In the case of a skill or knowledge-based competition, you should indicate what criteria are going to be used to select the winner. Keep in mind that the information on prizes must be sufficiently detailed. For example, consumers should not be given the impression that there is a possibility of a prize if the prize is not available to everyone (MT:2000:004).

  4. Explain who will pay the cost of delivering the prize to the winner and whether the prize is subject to special conditions (e.g., the obligation for a travel prize winner to participate in company promotions at the destination).

  5. Explain who will pay the taxes and whether there are taxes to pay on the prize (always check whether the lottery tax is applicable or not).

  6. Make sure that you obtain the rights to, for example, photo competition images from the participants if you want to use the images in your own advertising or communications.

  7. Explain how the winner will be notified and the prize given, and whether the winners will be announced, for example, on social media or on the company’s website.

  8. Make sure that the Personal Data Act has been complied with if you process participants’ personal data.

  9. Facebook requires participants to release Facebook of any liability. In addition, it should be stated that Facebook does not sponsor, recommend, or manage the campaign in any way, and it is unrelated to Facebook.

What can I do and not do under the Facebook terms of service?

You can ask:

  • participants to like and/or comment on content you have produced to enter the competition.

  • users to vote (e.g., by liking a picture) or to send a private message to the page administrator to enter the competition.

  • participants to like your page to enter the competition. (Note: selecting the winner is difficult because you may not be able to see everyone who has liked the page from the page administration. Contacting the winner may also be difficult because you will not be able to use the message function in the name of the company unless the participant has messaged the company first.)

The timeline of your page is available to you.

You cannot require:

  • users to share the competition/prize draw on their timeline to enter the competition.

  • users to share the competition/prize draw on their friends’ timelines to enter the competition.

  • users to tag a friend in a comment or photo to enter the competition.

Therefore, a personal profile must not be used for a company’s activities.

User’s timeline or their friends’ timeline is not available to you.

Remember that you can always ask a person to like your content and ask users to share it, but ‘like and share’ cannot be a condition for participation in the competition or prize draw.

Are you interested in learning more about social media marketing rules? Sign up for Fondia and Grapevine’s free social media breakfast on 15 November 2017 and get to grips with effective marketing! The event is held in Finnish.