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How To Run a Sweepstakes | Do I Need Official Rules?

February 26, 2024 1:32 pm Published by

Quite often we get asked if “official rules” are needed by those who are looking into how to run a sweepstakes. Some clients and prospects think that it’s only a small “giveaway” that they’d like
to run, and it doesn’t include a major prize, so maybe it’s not necessary to make official rules.

The short answer is yes. When learning how to run a sweepstakes, giveaway, contest, or promotional campaign of any sort, there are rules and regulations that you must follow in order to be compliant. Therefore, you need to have a set of specific rules that outline the promotion and will be your official contract with the public.

Sweepstakes vs Contests

Successfully running a sweepstakes means ensuring that it aligns with your desired promotional campaign. Previously, we wrote this post reviewing the differences between sweepstakes vs contests and what the major objectives are for running either of them. To summarize sweepstakes are a game of chance where the winners are randomly chosen. Contests on the other hand are a game of skill and participants are usually invited to submit some content
(photo, video, essay, etc.). A panel of judges then chooses the winners based on criteria that are defined in the official rules.


A factor to keep in mind is the FTC’s Endorsement and Testimonial Guidelines. They recently published a list of Q&A’s that state that when it comes to sweepstakes and contests, any
incentive, no matter how minimal, such as an entry for making a post on social media sites, may be an endorsement. Thus, it requires a disclosure. The constantly updated Q&A’s describes the specific verbiage needed to follow best practices.

Properly Utilizing Social Media

A very popular trend on social media is inviting participants to earn extra entries by performing different tasks and challenges on various platforms. Not only do you need to follow the guidelines of each social media platform, but you also need to keep in mind the degree of effort that you are asking participants to perform to gain an entry.

So how much time is too much and what can you really require? The Supreme Court did rule that watching a 30-minute TV show wasn’t too much time, so that’s a guideline to follow. But keep in mind that while awarding bonus entries for sharing/referring may not likely fall under consideration, it may be against Federal CAN/SPAM regulations.

Another rising trend today on social media is running a sweepstakes or contest utilizing only a hashtag with no entry form. Entrants may be invited to post a tweet on Twitter or upload a photo on Twitter or Instagram utilizing a promotional hashtag. Many marketers utilize these types of promotions since it creates buzz and makes it easy for entrants.

However, hashtag entries do not collect data on the entrants since there is no entry form to fill out. Data collection is the number one reason why marketers run sweepstakes. Without collecting data this also can make it more difficult to contact winners. There are, however, applications that you can utilize that include both such as what was discussed in this post.

To Wrap It Up

In knowing how to run a sweepstakes, it all comes down to what your main objectives are for running your promotion. You need to consider what the risks may be, while also being realistic
in what you are asking participants to do. Most of all, be sure to cover yourself and your company by running a successful and legally compliant sweepstakes that includes a set of Official Rules.

American Sweepstakes for Your Promotions

Interested in launching your own sweepstakes? Let American Sweeps handle the administrative support. Our seasoned experts ensure all aspects of your promotion will be taken care of, so
you can focus on running a successful campaign for your organization.

Ready to get started?

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