Including T&Cs for your contest or sweepstake is absolutely essential, and should not be considered as optional, even if you’re running something like a Twitter competition.
Terms and Conditions not only allow your entrants to scrutinise exactly the rules and details related to your promotion, but also allows you to back up the enforcement of any rules against your entrants in the event of an infraction or dispute. Herein are our best practice tips, and also a selection (note: not exhaustive by any means) of what you should be including. First, though, some Dos and Don’ts:
– Include terms and conditions, always. It does not matter if you’re running a contest on social media, you must still link to your terms and have them easily accessible.
– Be explicit. Don’t be shy to explicitly state what you do and don’t want your entrants to do. It may sound like overstatement, but the barring cheating, fraudulent or automated entry should be explicitly prohibited, as users may claim that such actions are accepted in the absence of statement to the contrary.
– Be clear. Legalese won’t help clarify what the rules are. Don’t give infringing entrants a margin of appreciation.
– Change your terms and conditions after you have launched your promotion. This is misleading, and can cause conflict down the line, as well as potential compliance issues. Make sure, thus, that you have adequately planned every aspect of the campaign prior to launch;
– Lie. Don’t make in your terms and conditions (nor anywhere else) misleading statements, nor statements that you can not back up if challenged (e.g. if you make a claim that winners will be contacted within a certain time period, make sure you can demonstrably show this).
– Be unreasonable. You have every right to enforce your terms and conditions, but do not use them as a method of capriciously denying rightful winners their prizes. Don’t include rules that are wholly unreasonable or unrealistic to follow.
What to include:
What you include in your terms and conditions will broadly depend on what type of promotion you are running, and where you are running it. Territorial requirements (i.e. the country or state you are running it in, and whether it is restricted to one territory or is cross border) will determine exactly what you need to include to comply with local marketing or data protection requirements. But here, without being exhaustive, are some of the things you should be sure to include in your Ts&Cs.
- Start and end dates, including the local time on those dates of opening and close
- Dates of winner(s) announcement and dates of prize fulfilment or any structured liaison
- Geographical (e.g. “valid in UK and Ireland”), age (e.g. “18 years or older), and conflict (e.g. “excluding employees and agents of”) restrictions
- The exact nature and number of the prizes
- Whether replacements or equivalents (e.g. cash value) will be offered and their nature
- Details of all methods of entry, including free entry methods
- Details of winner selection, rounds, if a random draw, if judged (and if so; how)
- Restrictions on entry based on the nature of the prize (e.g. alcohol or driving)
- Prohibition of cheating, duplicate/fraudulent/3rd party entry
- The use of winning entries and winners for PR purposes if applicable
- The retention of copyright over entries if applicable
- Legal jurisdiction
Don’t leave your rules and regulations until the last minute. With strong, dependable terms and conditions, you can be confident in launching your promotion, and weathering any issues; however unlikely.