5 things NOT to do when hosting a giveaway!

Hosting a giveaway is a fun and effective way to increase your social following and website views, and hopefully you’ll gain lots of interaction and new readers. But it’s not as easy as it seems – prize promotions need careful planning to ensure success. Every competition and prize draw in the UK – whether it’s a lipstick or £100,000 cash – must comply with the CAP Code, and if you collect data from your entrants you will also need to ensure compliance with GDPR and  the Data Protection Act.

Below are five common mistakes people make when hosting a giveaway, and how you can avoid them.

DON’T change the terms and conditions

First of all, make sure you’ve actually written some terms and conditions, and that these are easily accessible to entrants. You should not change the T&Cs after someone has participated. If a PR contacts you and asks you to move the closing date, direct them to the CAP Code 8.17.4e and explain you can’t do it unless in ‘unavoidable’ circumstances – technical problems with an entry form for example. It’s the same for any of your T&Cs – if somebody has entered your competition or prize draw, they are agreeing to your terms and you shouldn’t change them. Before you launch your giveaway, ensure your prize sponsor has seen and approved the T&Cs and closing date. Also remember that YOU are the promoter of a giveaway on your blog or social media accounts, and are ultimately responsible for ensuring your winner receives the prize – it’s NOT the responsibility of the sponsor or the PR agency!

DON’T presume people know how to enter

If you struggle to find a valid entry when choosing a winner, it’s usually because your instructions weren’t clear enough or you gave entrants too many mandatory tasks to do. Not everybody has encountered Rafflecopter or Gleam before, and they can be bewildering for a first timer. Include a step-by-step guide to entry, add clear instructions in the widget and try to keep things as simple as you can. Asking an entrant to ‘Follow on Instagram but if you’re already a follower, heart a post and paste the link of the post here’ as a task is confusing for anyone but the most experienced comper! Including clickable links is a must – simply leaving a name means someone has to copy it, open Instagram and search for your name. Gleam offers a much simpler interface for the entrant, with one-click Twitter follows and tweets validated automatically at the point of entry rather than time-consuming checks for the blogger when the giveaway has ended.

DON’T forget about GDPR

Announcing a winner is a great way to show your giveaway was genuine – but you need to be careful about doing so, because of GDPR. Rather than announce publicly on social media, contact your winner privately first to congratulate them. Ask them to confirm they want to accept the prize and check they have complied with your T&Cs (eg. they’re over 18 and a UK resident). Then ask if you can announce them as the winner – they have the right to refuse permission under GDPR. Generally though, most winners are happy for their name – and winning entry, if applicable – to be shared!

Don’t automatically add entrants to a mailing list either – to comply with GDPR, you should make it possible for an entrant to enter a giveaway without opting in to receive further communication either from you, or the sponsor. Usually there would be two tick boxes on a prize draw entry form, one for the entrant to accept the T&Cs, and one for the entrant to opt in to future communications. Or if you use Gleam/Rafflecopter, you could add an optional task to visit a web page and sign up. Note that if you collect email addresses via your blog – whether that’s for a prize promotion or for your mailing list, you’re a data processor and should register with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) at www.ico.org.uk. If you don’t register, it’s a breach of the Data Protection Act and you risk being fined. Currently, this costs £35 a year and your name and address will feature online in their register of data controllers, along with the type of data you process.

DON’T run a Like & Share on Facebook

Liking a Facebook page is not allowed as an entry method for a prize promotion (this is why Rafflecopter and Gleam award entries for visiting a page, rather than liking). In addition, Facebook terms of use state you shouldn’t ask people to share a post on their personal profile in order to enter a competition or prize draw. It’s better to ask for a comment on the giveaway post, and simply suggest that they might like to share the post with their friends, ‘but it’s not a condition of entry’. When it comes to choosing a random winner, don’t waste time with random.org and counting comments (or even worse, bits of paper in a hat!) – simply use the free tools provided by Rafflecopter, Woobox or Fanpage Karma to choose your winner. If the winner left a comment, you can click underneath it to message them directly as your page. Of course, most promoters don’t give a stuff about Facebook rules, and continue to run Like & Shares – but it’s impossible to choose a winner fairly and randomly, as only the public shares are seen by the page admin. In addition, contacting a winner is tricky, as many entrants don’t know about their hidden Facebook ‘filtered’ messages folder, where a winning message can linger for years.

DON’T encourage Instagram spam

A popular entry method on Instagram is to ask entrants to tag as many friends as they like, with a new comment for each one – but excessive tagging can trigger a comment ban for the entrant, and believe it or not some people tag non-existent accounts to get more entries! Keep it simple – asking an entrant to tag 2 or 3 friends in a single comment is enough to spread the word – asking people to jump through hoops just to win a box of chocs will put people off. If you’re running a simple ‘Like and Comment’ Instagram giveaway, the GetComBot website will choose your winner fairly – although if you add bonus entries such as ‘add this post to your stories’ then you will have to manually keep track of entrants.

Ultimately, your aim should be to ensure your giveaway is ‘demonstrably fair’, as required by the CAP Code. Following these tips should help ensure you’re doing the right thing!

If you’d like to find out more about running stress-free giveaways, find advice in the Promoters category of Di’s SuperLucky blog.


Pin it for later: Thinking of hosting a giveaway? Make sure you read this post with all the rules Including terms and conditions, CAP CODE, GDPR, Facebook rules and more!

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  1. 24 June 2016 / 16:50

    Great tips, especially regarding Twitter giveaways. I’ve hosted a couple of RT giveaways and it was a complete nightmare

  2. 28 June 2016 / 22:48

    Great tips as always, Di. I’ve been asked a few times to run a Twitter RT giveaway and I’m glad I asked you for advice on that one and suggested an alternative to the client: way too unfair!

  3. 13 July 2016 / 13:13

    Really useful post, I wasn’t aware that we should be registering as data collectors if we have a mailing list on our blogs – that’s really interesting to know 🙂