How to Run a Legal TikTok Contest or Sweepstakes


TikTok recently posted advertising guidelines for the US and EU, which don’t give a lot of guidance about contest guidelines, but that doesn’t mean that there are no rules to follow. To keep your TikTok Contest or Sweepstakes legal you should adhere to these seven basic recommendations for running a promotion on a social platform:

  1. Use a unique hashtag to track entries. The best way to track entries for a TikTok contest is by 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.
  2. Include official rules. Official rules are what protect you in court should anything go wrong and you need to defend yourself, and are one of the few things the TikTok ad guidelines specify that you need. A good set of rules will outline who can enter, how to enter, what the prizes will be, and when the promotion ends. It should also provide a way to enter without requiring a purchase (you can see why you need that here). And you must include in your rules an acknowledgement that the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, TikTok. The rules need to be posted prominently as a link anywhere you post about your TikTok contest, including in your own video about the contest, the video caption or social ad, or as a link on your social bio.
  3. Watch out for copyright infringement. You can’t require or allow a contestant in your TikTok contest to use music, photos, brand logos or any other copyrighted material to produce their entry.
  4. Give away great prizes. Before you run a TikTok contest or sweepstakes, consider what types of prizes your audience will want to win. Great prizes will always garner more interest. However, keep in mind that in the US, prizes over a $600 retail value have IRS filing requirements for winners.
  5. Follow laws and social guidelines. Each state and social platform has unique laws and guidelines for sweepstakes and giveaways. There are also federal laws and strict FTC guidelines regarding using the word “ad” or “contest” or “Sweepstakes” in your call to action and in the program hashtags themselves. And in other countries, the giveaway laws can be even more strict. Saying you “didn’t know” or “everyone else does it like this” will not protect you from an FTC investigation or a lawsuit or fines. Do your homework.
  6. Keep the entry dates reasonable. To maximize the number of entries you receive, you should not have your promotion entry period be too short, nor should it drag on too long. For a simple contest with a few prizes a week should be long enough. If you have multiple prizes and different tiers of winners you might consider running a month long promotion, and be sure to allow for ample time to judge entries for a contest.
  7. Limit the length of each video for your contest. Trust us. You don’t want to watch 100 sixty minute videos. No longer than three minutes is usually more than enough time to evaluate the quality of a contestant.


The best way to ensure that you run the best giveaway possible is to use a reputable promotion agency to help you write official rules, ensure that you are not breaking any laws, and work with you to comply with TikTok community guidelines. Marden-Kane has helped TikTok run their own contests and is familiar with their platform. Contact us and we can help.

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Updated 1/3/2020