Dos and Don’ts for Running a Social Media Contest

So, you’re feeling like your social media game is stale. “I want to run a contest,” you say to yourself. Great! But, where do you begin? Brushing up on the rules of the road is a good place to start. After all, you want to create an experience for your social audience that is memorable and interactive, but you don’t want to get in trouble, right? Here is what you need to know while you’re brainstorming for your next social media contest.

Before You Get Started

The biggest thing to keep in mind is that you have to make it crystal clear that the social media platforms you are using aren’t associated with your contest in any way. You have to state explicitly that the platform doesn’t administer or sponsor your content or your promotion. You can state this in your contest’s official rules.
(Pro Tip: You should always have contest rules no matter which platform your contest is running on. These rules should also be easy to find.)



You can ask your audience to do any of these things:

  • Liking a post
  • Commenting on a post
  • Liking & Commenting a post
  • Posting on the Page’s timeline
  • Sending a Message
  • Having the comment with the most Likes


  • Ask your audience to tag people in your content to be eligible to enter. Facebook/Instagram is trying to regulate content by making sure it pertains to the people that are tagged.
  • Ask people to change their cover photos to one you’ve created to be eligible to enter.
  • Ask people to share the post to be eligible to enter. (Encourage them to share, but you can’t make it a requirement for entry.)



  • Discourage the creation of multiple accounts to enter your contest. All profiles could be suspended.
  • Discourage repetitive tweets. Posting nearly identical tweets continuously violates Twitter rules.
  • Encourage hashtag topics as long as they are relevant.
  • Ask people to mention you in their tweets so you can track participation. You can also do this via hashtag as long as it is unique.


  • Repeatedly post duplicate content.
  • Come across as spammy by overusing hashtags and trending topics.
  • Send automated replies. These are not authentic and seem robotic.
  • Use bots to duplicate messages based on keywords. Your interactions and messaging should be as authentic as possible.
  • Post similar messages over multiple accounts.
  • Aggressively follow and unfollow people.



  • Make participation easy for the user by being clear and providing simple instructions.


  • Use any of Snapchats products’ or services’ names, trademarks, logos or other intellectual property. This eludes to their sponsorship.
  • Encourage illegal or illicit behavior.
  • Encourage spammy behavior, such as asking participants to send snaps to friends.



  • Utilize pin-to-win contests
  • Encourage users to create their own boards
  • Allow submit a pin to a landing page.


  • Don’t ask people to save a specific image. However, you can ask them to choose from a collection of images.
  • Don’t allow more than one entry per person.

Social media contests are a great way to ramp up your engagement and increase your following on your channels. Becoming familiar with these rules and regulations on each platform will help you protect your brand. If you’re looking for inspiration, here’s an example of a Pinterest contest to get your wheels turning. If you need a little extra help, reach out to us! We’d love to help you come up with a great contest for your brand.

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