Follow Social Media Contest Guidelines So You Don't Get Shut Down

As I’ve traveled across the country speaking to indie retailers, there is one question that is always asked during my social media seminars. One piece of information that I share that always needs to be stated again because at least one person in the room is doing exactly what I tell them not to do. And I often feel like I’m delivering bad news because this one thing is a great way to boost your likes, followers and overall engagement on several social media platforms.

Any guesses as to what I’m talking about?


Contests and sweepstakes are one of the best ways to increase engagement and network size when it comes to social media marketing. Consumers love to enter to win specific, popular items or gift certificates to pick out something for themselves or their home.

Each social media site has its own terms you must abide by when running a contest online. To help sort out any confusion or misunderstanding, during this week I’m going to break down each network’s contest rules.

*NOTE* If you are not abiding by these terms of service, you could get shut down and lose the online audience you’ve worked so hard to build and maintain. It is not worth breaking these rules so I strongly recommend you follow along this week to learn everything you need to know when it comes to running contests on social media sites.

In order to see the rules for each network, you’ll need to Like my Facebook page as I’ll be sharing the rest of the networks there throughout the week versus emailing you every day.

So, Like Crystal Media on Facebook and read below to learn all about Twitter’s contest rules. Then, be sure to check my Facebook page each day at 10am PST, 1pm ET to learn all about the contest terms for each network – here’s the schedule:

Wednesday = Pinterest

Thursday = Facebook

Friday = Google+

Saturday = Instagram


Twitter Contest Guidelines and Best Practices

If you Tweet, running a contest can be a great way to get people to follow and promote you and your store. To enter to win, they might need to follow and RT (Retweet) a status update, or use a specific branded contest hashtag. However you decide to organize your contest on Twitter, be sure to follow the below guidelines:

  1. To easily monitor entries, require participants to include an @reply to you in their contest entry Tweet so you can monitor all mentions to see who’s entered to win without doing any kind of search.

  2. Do not ask users to post the same Tweet repeatedly (Ex: “whoever RTs this update the most wins a $50 gift certificate.) Duplicate content on Twitter is a violation to their rules and jeopardizes search quality, meaning the user could automatically get filtered out of the Twitter search results (yikes!) Plus, if a user is Tweeting the exact update over and over, their followers can become annoyed and your store name and/or contest hashtag would be within this Tweet, associating your brand to an annoying contest.
  1. Do not require users to create multiple accounts in order to win. If a user creates lots of accounts in order to enter your contest, they could get all of their accounts suspended and possibly shut down. To avoid this, include a rule within your contest terms that stats that ‘anyone found using multiple Twitter accounts to enter will be ineligible.’
  2. Make sure the contest Tweets are relevant to your store and what you’re giving away. Ex: use relevant hashtags like #contest #giveaway #storename #storenamegiveaway #productname and never abuse trending topics or hashtags.
  3. Don’t create multiple Twitter accounts to promote the same contest as well as other store information. Your store should have one Twitter account unless you have multiple locations or different departments. Ex: general Twitter account, corporate and customer service.
  4. Never sell Twitter usernames of entrants.
  5. During a contest or any time while Tweeting, always follow the Twitter Rules which can be found here.
  6. Ensure you’re compliant with local laws and regulations for your town/city.