(PROPER) Promotion #hashtagging Makes the FTC Happy
It seems simple enough to run a sweepstakes or contest on social media: come up with an idea, institute it, and reap the viral rewards. But, before you pull the trigger, you'll want to make sure you are up to date on both the social networks promotional guidelines, as well as the various laws surrounding social promotions, - Cue the FTC.
We've been seeing lots in the news regarding the FTC's social media guidelines, from requirements for endorsing / products (did you read about Kim Kardashian's "Instagram Fail"?) to properly notifying readers that posts are incentivized.
What we used to call "best practices" are no longer that simple. According to Davis & Gilbert attorney Allison Fitzpatrick's interview with Marketing Land, the FTC has a new message to online marketers: "We have given guidance. You are all on notice. So you are not going to get a warning letter. You are going to get an action."
Well, we don't think it needs to be that scary. Here's what will make the FTC happy and keep those actions far, far away:
DO THIS: "#ABC_Sweepstakes" / NOT THIS: "#ABC_sweeps" or "#ABC" and "#Sweeps"
Let's say you're running a sweepstakes or contest whereby entrants are required to submit a Tweet with a promotion hashtag in order to get an entry. 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. Just don't use "sweeps" as the FTC feels this is not a term most people would understand. And, make sure the name of your brand or product AND the word "sweepstakes" or "contest" are in the same hashtag. Otherwise, the fact that the two go hand and hand may get lost in translation.
Just remember, there are many different requirements when it comes to running a sweepstakes or contest, including regulated industry requirements (such as the alcoholic beverage and financial industries), bonding & registration requirements, etc. We're here to walk you through it - 800-894-5461.