First of all what is the difference between a contest or a sweepstakes. A contest is something where the winner is chosen based on merit. For example, a design contest or choose the best items for the perfect beauty routine. Sweepstakes winners are chosen completely by chance and each entry must have the same weight. Everyone must have equal chances of winning and be chosen at random.
The most important thing to remember is that you must conspicuously display the rules.
Official rules must always 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. For legal reasons, it is really best to only open contests to US residents over 18 because it is nearly impossible to comply with each country's specific laws governing contests and sweepstakes.
- Opening date and scheduled close date of the sweepstakes.
- Complete name and address of the sponsor and promoter running the contest.
- Number of prizes, an accurate description of each prize, retail value of each prize and the odds of winning each type of prize. For the odds of winning, the most common verbiage is to state that the odds of winning depend on the number of entries received.
- Whether all prizes offered will be awarded and how the prizes will be awarded.
- List how winners will be selected and when a determination of winners will be made.
- Where and when a list of winners can be obtained.
There are a number of contest management apps and sites that can help ensure that you are complying with regulations and make life a whole lot easier for you. Here are a few of our favorites:
- Woobox- A paid service that provides amazing tools to help you run contests and sweepstakes across multiple social media platforms. Pricing starts at $15 and this is most helpful to run facebook or twitter based contests.
- Wishpond- This paid service has more functionality across a broader range of platforms than Woobox, but is more expensive. Their month-to-month service plans start at $29.
**Disclosure: The above blog post does not constitute legal advice.