Did you know there are laws about what you can and can not require in a giveaway? Did you know that as bloggers, we don’t actually have “giveaways”? Did you know that you can’t actually require someone to follow your blog to enter your giveaway? I bet you didn’t! Cause I sure as heck didn’t before I did some research. Turns out most of us haven’t a clue about how to run a giveaway without risking a lawsuit or a run in with the FTC.
Giveaway vs. Sweepstakes vs. Contest vs. Lottery:
Most of us call it a giveaway, and while that is not “wrong” per say, Its not legally accurate either. The legal term for what we, as bloggers, do is “Sweepstakes” not quite as catchy though, eh?
I like how Sara from Saving for Someday defines the differences between Sweepstakes, Contests and a Lottery.
“Sweepstakes are prize giveaways where the winners are chosen by the luck of the draw. Prizes can be almost anything a blogger can think of from handmade cards to an all expenses-paid trip.
Contests choose a winner based on some merit. The winner is chosen based on some criteria such as best photo, funniest parenting tip, etc.
A Lottery is a prize drawing where people must pay money to buy a chance to win. Lotteries are highly regulated and should not be run without consulting with legal counsel.”
The Tricky Part:
Did you know that asking someone to Like your page or follow your blog is classified as a “consideration”? Required considerations are BIG no-no’s!
“Consideration – something of value. Often it’s money, but it doesn’t have to be. Depending on what you require entrants to do, you could be pushing the envelope on this element. Each state may have their own particular definition making it very difficult to manage.
When it comes to bloggers, there are few things more valuable than followers. As such, requiring someone to ‘like’ you or ‘follow you’ could be construed as consideration. Even more important, asking an entrant to go to a third-party site, navigate to find a product or services and then report back to your site is even more likely to be deemed consideration and thus placing your giveaway into the classification of illegal lottery. Time is exceedingly valuable!” ~ Sara from Saving for Someday
My Interpretation: Requiring someone to Follow your’s, or any other blog, as a mandatory entry, is probably against the law. From everything I’ve read, adding these as OPTIONAL entries is ok, but that is a grey area. The internet is changing and expanding faster than law makers can make the laws. Err on the side of caution!
The only mandatory entry that is really safe to require is a comment. ie: “Leave a comment below telling me your favorite color”
Your Giveaway, Sweepstakes or Contest must have OFFICIAL Rules:
Official rules need to include the following…
- It must state “no purchase necessary”
- It must state eligibility requirements – Age, residence, etc.
- Duration (start and end dates) and any deadlines.
- Prize description. Yes you need to be specific. Yes you need to include the retail value (approximate retail value if actual price is not known).
- The odds of winning. Most of the time, blogger run giveaways don’t have specific odds. Include something along the lines of this statement – ” The number of eligible entries received determine the odds of winning”
- It must include how to enter.
- It must include how and when the winners will be selected.
- Include a liability release (you don’t want to get sued!)
- What you will do if the prize is forfeited or unclaimed.
- Who is responsible for paying any taxes related to the prize.
- That you have to right to obtain and publicize the winners name and likeness.
And always, ALWAYS include “Void where prohibited by law” ALWAYS!
There is lots that you should know about running a giveaway. Some of it should just be common sense, like use a random number generator to pick a winner or a that giveaway app like rafflecopter makes it a lot easier. Each country and state have their own laws regarding contests and giveaways.
And In case you were wondering, I am not a lawyer. In fact I didn’t even take law classes in high school… so this information should be viewed as my interpretation of the “rules”. Do your own research and cover your butt. Just saying.
IF you want to do your own research (and you should) these are the articles that I learned a lot from!
Now onto the part of this post where I rant and rave about giveaways….
Did you know that a giveaway that includes more than 2 other bloggers can take upwards of 8+ hours to put together? That is a whole freaking work day! We’re talking lots of emails, spreadsheets, stress, photos, graphics, images, pic monkey collages, stress, HTML coding, button making and then more emails!
So here’s what ticks me off… and yes I am speaking from personal experience… I go through the hassle of putting together a kick butt giveaway, say for instance a $150 target Gift card, and when I go to pick a winner, I have to redraw a winner 4 times. Why? Because someone didn’t do what they actually said they did!!!
Most bloggers take the time to verify the entries. I do. So we know if you didn’t actually like that facebook page, or leave a comment like you said you did.
In my books… saying you did an entry that you didn’t do is cheating! And my mother told me that cheaters never prosper. So there *insert me sticking my tongue out at you*
And the other thing…
I enter giveaways. Sometimes lots of giveaways. And if you want me to follow 10 other blogs by email or GFC before I can even get to the regular entry stuff like twitter and facebook, I’m not interested. That’s just crazy!
**Disclaimer** In case you couldn’t tell, I am not a lawyer. This is my opinion. If you get in trouble, its your own fault 😉 I am not to blame. I’ll say it again… do some research!