One of the most important elements of your sweepstakes or contest is how you advertise. After all, this is the way you encourage entrants to enter, learn more about your brand, and hopefully, spread the word to their friends. How you advertise your sweepstakes is up to you. But, there are a few regulations to consider (especially those from the FTC) that you must be in compliance with before you start.
FTC Requirements When Advertising a Sweepstakes
- Truth in advertising rules apply. When advertising your sweepstakes or contest make sure it’s always truthful, non-deceptive and fair. For example, you don’t want to mislead consumers by insinuating someone has won something if they haven’t. You also want to be extra careful how you advertise the prizing you are awarding. So, if you’re awarding the chance to win $1,000,000 for making a hole in one, be sure it’s clear in your advertising that a hole-in-one is the only way the million can be won.
- Use hashtags on social media. Although the FTC doesn’t have a specific mandate for advertising on social media, they do have some strong recommendations about disclosing a sweepstakes when you’re advertising one. Use hashtags like, “#contest” and “#sweepstakes” on social media networks when advertising your promotion. The FTC wants to see transparent communication. They don’t want anyone to be confused about what you’re sharing, especially if it’s an advertisement. So, don’t try to save space by using abbreviated terms like “#sweeps”. It could get you in hot water.
- Educate your influencers about disclosures. If you’re using social influencers to promote your sweepstakes, make sure you’ve made them aware of the FTC requirements for disclosing the relationship. Influencers must disclose the material relationship between the Sponsor and the influencer in blog posts (disclosing whether a good or service was received in exchange for a post or other monetary compensation was received) and on social media (with hashtags, like “#sponsored” and “#ad”).
- Know the cost of non-compliance. Like it or not, the FTC does enforce their rules. The penalties depend upon the nature of the violation, and in most cases are not cheap. You may receive a cease and desist order along with a fine of $40k+ per day per ad if you violate it. There are also civil penalties (ranging from thousands to millions of dollars) and corrective measures, like fixing your ads, official rules and other material disclosures where misinformation exists.
More on Hashtagging
Most standard online promotions involve some type of entry form the entrant needs to complete in order to receive his or her entry. A hashtag contest or sweepstakes works differently in that the entrant obtains his or her entry by posting a designated hashtag to a particular social network.
You can run hashtag promotions on a variety of social networks (including Instagram and Twitter to name a few). But you’ll need to pay careful attention to each individual social network’s promotion guidelines to ensure compliance (don’t worry, we’ll help with that). Facebook in particular can be a tough one when it comes to hashtag contests and sweepstakes.
- Why should I run a hashtag contest or sweepstakes? A lot of our clients run hashtag contests and sweepstakes because they are cost effective. You don’t have to set up a promotion website and they are a great way to grow your social following. In short, they’re pretty easy to get up and running. Pair that with the various cost savings and it’s a win.
- What does the FTC require? According to the FTC’s requirements, making the word “contest” or “sweepstakes” part of the hashtag should be enough to alert readers that a post was incentivized. A sample of that would be to use #ABC_Sweepstakes instead of “ABC_sweeps or separate hashtags like, “ABC and “Sweeps.
- How much do they cost? Hashtag promotions offer a great savings in that there is no website to build for entry collection. You do still need to comply with promotional laws which require things like Official Rules and bonding and registration (if the total prizes awarded exceed $5,000). You may choose to pull the entries directly from the public social feed on your own or ask us to do it for you. Either way we can help with the various administrative tasks (which also includes winner notification, verification and prize fulfillment).
While there are tons of effective marketing strategies to grow your business, there are a few that, while seemingly simple in concept, are the most effective (and cost effective). Below, we’re talking about influencer marketing and why developing a marketing strategy surrounding social influence is an awesome way to promote your sweepstakes (and brand!).
- What is influencer marketing? Influencer marketing uses key people to drive your brand and message to a much larger market. Instead of marketing to the consumers yourself, you hire and pay (and often inspire through your own creative and copy) influencers to spread the word for you.
- What is a social influencer? Since influencer marketing is social and content driven, most influencer campaigns involve some level of social media (including requirements to share on various social channels). Since a lot of social influencers have blogs of their own in addition to social media, many influencer campaigns involve sponsored posts and advertorials, which are also then shared on social media.
- Why should I use them? Word of mouth advertising is the primary factor behind 20 to 50 percent of all purchasing decisions*. That’s pretty compelling. If you’re running a sweepstakes or other awesome promotion, incorporating influencer marketing into your advertising strategy is pretty much a given. Why wouldn’t you want to increase the viral capacity of your sweepstakes (and get more entries, more names to market to in the future, and more people spreading your brand message)?
- How do I find them? Adweek recently posted a great article discussing the advantages of tapping into Insightpools Universal Search Tool to find all types of influencers. It’s a great read and super helpful!