Social Media Competition Rules - a quick reference guide

Social Media Competition Rules - a quick reference guide

“Like this photo, tag 3 friends then write a short haiku and comment below and tell us why you should win this all inclusive 14 day, 15 night cruise for two with flights for one to new York and $50 spending money, please include your full name at birth, age, eye colour, lip plumpness, height, BMI score, national insurance number, sort code & account number, Government Gateaway ID, email address and postal address”

Sound familiar to you?

Okay, so in hindsight this example is totally over-the-top and would never work on Social Media without all the trolls jumping on it, but no doubt you have entered a Competition like this before in some magazine or online competitions hub, because those competitions serve one purpose and that’s Data Capture. Which is not a great way to promote your brand.

However, competitions on Social Media work well, they provide a fun way for people to engage with your brand, as well as opening up the doors for your business to grow and also get more followers and likes. But you just can’t simply ask people to like and share everything. There are strict rules to running competitions on Social Media and there are lots of rumours floating around out there.

So, we've created this reference guide which outlines the rules & regulations around competitions on Social Media to prevent you from landing in deep water with the platforms and potentially local government bodies.

Jump to a section:

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Youtube | LinkedIn | Google+ | Local Governing Bodies | Key Takeaways

Facebook competition rules

It may be the biggest network in this list, but there’s so much confusion around this. Ever since Facebook updated their terms & conditions in August 2013 around competitions.

It changed to “make it easier for businesses of all sizes to create and administer promotions on Facebook” which is true, it’s now far easier to run a competition on Facebook than it used to be. But the internet is massive like it’s huge. There are hundreds and upon hundreds of outdated articles on google that surface that tells you the old rules.

Time to be the biggest troll and give you a spoiler! You are NOT allowed to ask people to like your page, tag friends and share the competition with their friends in order to enter the competition.

Facebook’s rules are great, they’re clear, precise and probably my favourite thing is they’re short and sweet.

Facebook Competition Rules


  • Don’t ask entrants to;
    • Share your page or the competition to enter
    • Write a status about the competition to enter
    • Tag friends in the post to enter
  • Include a link to the terms & conditions of the competition
  • Include a blanket statement that releases Facebook from association and liability from the competition.

If you still feel confused, we suggest viewing Facebook’s promotion policy here:

Twitter competition rules

Probably the bible of competition rules, Twitter’s competition rules are pretty lengthy. But the reader is treated to some great tips! For example, twitter encourages you to ask entrants to mention you by tagging @companyname or using your hashtag #companyname, you can even request entrants to follow you to enter. Twitter is great to run a competition, just as long as it’s done right and within the rules.

Twitter Competition Rules


  • Don’t tell users to create multiple accounts or share the same tweet over and over again to enter
  • Don’t encourage the use of irrelevant hashtags
  • Follow the general Twitter rules
  • Include a blanket statement releasing Twitter from association and Liability.

View the Guidelines for competitions on Twitter here:

Instagram competition rules

Instagram’s rules around competitions and promotions are very much like Facebook’s (funny that considering Facebook own Instagram) but there's some good news here, nothing forbids us from tagging or sharing as an entry mechanic! Woohoo! (Ohhh Nurfver!)

Instagram Competition Rules


  • You CAN request entrants tag friends in the comment, do NOT ask them to directly tag the photo.
  • Include a link to the terms & conditions in the post or your bio.
  • Include a blanket statement releasing Instagram from liability and association with the competition.

View Instagram’s promotion guidelines here:

Youtube competition rules

Youtube is a wonderful place, millions upon millions of users watch thousands of hours of content a day and is currently the second most popular network, It’s also amazing for brand engagement with an audience which is why Competitions work so well on Youtube.

Youtube Competition Rules


  • Do not promote your competition via ad units.
  • The competition must be free to enter
  • Don’t ask users to like/dislike, subscribe or watch a video to enter (We recommend including any competition detail at the end of a video)
  • Include a link to your competition T&C’s
  • Include a statement that releases Google & Youtube from association and liability from the promotion.

You can check out YouTube’s competition rules here:

Linkedin competition rules

Go wild, Linkedin has no competition rules, just make sure it’s not violating the user agreement. But also consider 'Is LinkedIn a great platform to run a competition?' - If your nature is B2B trading then LinkedIn is the platform for you!

Here’s a screenshot of a Linkedin employee confirming this.

LinkedIn Competition Rules

Their agreement is far too long to post a screenshot of, but you can find it here:

Pinterest competition rules

Pinterest’s rules around Competitions don’t really give a huge amount away, they’re pretty generic which is a good thing for us. But this could also leave the potential for error.

Pinterest Competition Rules


  • Don’t ask entrants to pin/save a specific image
  • Multiple entries is not permitted, a user can only enter once.
  • Include a blanket statement releasing Pinterest and it’s sponsors from liability and association with the competition.
  • Make sure you understand their brand guidelines.

View Pinterest’s guidelines here:

Google+ competition rules

It still shocks me to this day to hear a brand tell me they use Google+, however for some brands it works! Now going by the number of restrictions they put in place around competitions on Google+, I personally get the feeling that Google loathe competitions and they don’t want you running them on their platform. It's actually pretty hard to come up with a competition that meets their criteria and actually benefits your company.

Google+ Competition Rules


  • #catsarepeopletooDon’t ask users to create multiple accounts to enter
  • Do not ask for photos with irrelevant hashtags (Ie a photo of a dog with the hashtag #CATSAREPEOPLETOO)
  • Do not ask users to +1 content
  • Do not ask users to follow you or a specific user or join a circle
  • Do not ask users to mention anyone
  • Do not ask users to watch a video or participate in a poll to enter
  • Set a reasonable entry limit to discourage spam
  • Obey with any local competition laws
  • Include a link to the competition T&C’s
  • Include a blanket statement releasing Google from liability and association.

Need a novel to read this year? – We recommend Google+’s super restrictive competition rules:

Governing bodies

It's not just Social Media Networks that have strict rules around competitions, local governing bodies have strict rules too and this totally depends on the country you are based in.

Luckily, for businesses in the UK there are no laws around running free prize draw competitions. You just need to make sure they are not organised in a way which would constitute an illegal lottery. check out the guide from the Gambling Commission below.

Download a copy | More Info


  • Make sure you're not running a lottery
  • Check local governing bodies in your country/state.

Key takeaways

With every social network and of course your content, the emphasis should be on given the user the best experience and not creating or encouraging spammy content (leave that to the memes!)

Here are the key takeaways from the rules around using Social Media to run a competition:

  • Keep it simple, one entry per person and don’t encourage they create multiple accounts
  • Don’t ask entrants to tag themselves or friends on content they are not in, keep that to the comments on Instagram.
  • Avoid “Tag A Friend”, “Share this post” and “Like our Page” if you're using Facebook
  • Make it easy for yourself to fine entries when selecting a winner, or collect emails through a landing page
  • Make sure you understand the platforms competition rules
  • Make sure you have any necessary licenses and abide by the competition laws for your country
  • Don’t encourage spam content, keep it relevant!
  • Make sure you adhere to local governing body regulations
  • Finally, always put your customers first, think about the guest journey. A long entry process will deter entrants. If your nan cannot enter the competition then you’ll probably hear from the social media moderators who will remove the post or in most cases disable your page.

And there you have it, now you know the rules & regulations around running a Competition and what exactly will get the competition or worse, your page shut down, you can now confidently create a competition and watch that new audience flock in without fearing breaking the rules and being exiled to Social Media jail.

If this still all seems daunting to you, and something you just can't grasp or just need more advice and help, give us a call on 01752 651414 or drop us an email to [email protected] and we'd be more than happy to help!