#Hashtag Contests 101
The buzzword in contests right now are hashtag contests (or hashtag sweepstakes). These types of promotions are easy to run, less expensive than setting up a contest web site, and don’t require a lot of lead time. The simplicity and low cost appeals to a lot of businesses anxious to expand their social channels, but you will still need to follow some best practices to ensure that you don’t run into any issues.
What is a hashtag contest?
A “hashtag contest” or “hashtag sweepstakes” is a promotion that requires users to post to a social channel using a unique hashtag. Any post that is made during the posted timeframe of the promotion that has the pre-determined hashtag is considered an entry. An example of a hashtag contest would be a photo contest on Instagram that asks for people to post photos of their pet with a unique hashtag, such as #GonnaBeAPetStarContest.
What social platforms let you run hashtag contests?
Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube and Pinterest are ideal platforms for hashtag promotions. Facebook can also be utilized, but there are strict Facebook promotion guidelines limiting how the contest or sweepstakes works that must be followed. (Check out the links to get more on best practices for each platform.)
How is data collected?
Each social platform has a public data stream that you can utilize to capture data. Some companies set up their own data capture on their own, or you can utilize a social tracking tool to capture entries. (Marden-Kane has a social tracker that can be utilized for any hashtag contest or sweepstakes. Contact us to get a quote today!)
How do you contact winners?
Winners can be contacted via the social platform the entries were posted to. There are some idiosyncrasies to be aware of, though, so do your research before your contest starts to make sure contacting winners will be a smooth process.
What about legal requirements?
You have to remember that these types of promotions are still bound by sweepstakes and contest laws. Full official rules MUST be written and posted publicly so that anyone can read them. There are also strict FTC guidelines regarding using the word “ad” or “contest” or “Sweepstakes” in your call to action and in the program hashtags themselves. Saying you “didn’t know” or “everyone else does it like this” will not protect you from an FTC investigation or lawsuit or fines, so you should rely on a promotional marketing expert or legal counsel to guide you through the process of setting up your hashtag contest.
How do I get started?
Dream up a great call to action! Then contact an expert in social platform guidelines and legal best practices to get you started. Like us! We can have your hashtag contest up and running quickly!
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