Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Rules for your social media contests

rules for social media contests

Everyone likes a contest and restaurant giveaways are very popular with your regulars. Whether you are giving away a free meal, a gift card, or some other great prize, it's important that you follow the rules so that you don't get into legal trouble down the road.
What kind of contest?
First you need to know the difference between contests. Generally restaurants do two kinds: sweepstakes and contests.  A sweepstakes is "luck of the draw"— many people enter and one person is selected randomly as the winner.  A contest is awarded based on merit—often asking people to submit a photo, a comment, or some other type of submission.
Watch the value of your prize
Keep in mind that any prize valued over $600 will need to be reported for IRS reasons. This will require getting the winner's personal details, including their social security number. You will then be required to submit a U.S. tax form #1099.  Generally restaurants are way under this limit.
Always post the rules!
Rules must be easy to find for your giveaway. While you can put them on another webpage with a link to them, be sure your link is large and clear so that it is easy to spot.
Rules MUST include:
  • “No purchase necessary.”
  • The alternative method of free participation.
  • Geographic area of the sweepstakes and/or who is eligible to participate in the sweepstakes.
  • Opening date and scheduled termination date of the sweepstakes.
  • Complete name and address of the sponsor and promoter of the contest.
  • Number of prizes, the accurate description of each prize, the retail value of each prize and the odds of winning each type of prize.
  • Whether all prizes offered will be awarded and how the prizes will be awarded.
  • Manner of selection of winners and when a determination of winners will be made.
  • Where and when a list of winners can be obtained.
You might have to add additional details such as any restrictions or if a person will have to sign a release for some press related items. Keep in mind that if you use their likeness in any way, you will need a release.
Also pay attention to age restrictions. There are more laws regarding contests for minors, so it's best to stick to contests for those over 18.
Don't make changes!
Follow your own rules exactly when it comes to picking a winner. Never change the conditions of your contest after the rules have been posted.  The only acceptable reasons to change the rules are acts of God or other such serious circumstance.
Check your State's laws
The information posted here has been the general rule of thumb for social media contests, but every State has different laws. Be sure to find out the laws for your particular State.
In the end, contests can be great fun for people to enter. Contests keep your name/brand out in the social media world, create engagement, and can attract new customers. Just keep things simple and fair and everyone will be a winner.

Presented by Guest Innovations. Be sure to check out our affordable hospitality products RezkuWaitkuSendku, and Dinnerwire.

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