Yellow table with confetti and a gold medal with "winner" spelled out in dice pieces

Essential Social Media Contest Rules for Canada

“Congrats, you’ve won!”

That’s a fantastic thing to hear, right? Your customers and clients like winning contests. It’s a great way to increase your business reach and get people talking about you. But, it has to be done following the rules.

Social media contests rules in Canada are very detailed and the social media platforms you host them on have their own rules. Thankfully it sounds scarier than it actually is.

Here’s our guide to why your business should be hosting contests and giveaways on social media and what you need to know about social media contest rules in Canada.

The benefits of social media contests for businesses

Running a social media contest can serve different business goals, depending on the type of contest you run. You can leverage contests to:

  • Promote a launch
  • Expand your reach
  • Do market research
  • Build your brand
  • Support a cause
  • Thank your customers
  • Get new business ideas
  • …and so much more!

Your ultimate goal for this activity will help determine the type of contest you run, for example:

  • Voting or survey contests: help you do market research
  • User-generated content contests: help you crowdsource or boost brand awareness
    Random draw: increase followers or exposure
  • Like, comment, follow, or share to win: increase followers
  • Purchase to enter: encourage brand loyalty or support a cause
  • Photo caption: promote social media engagement

9 Steps to planning a compelling social media contest

Doing a contest over social media requires a bit of planning, but it doesn’t have to be difficult if you follow these 9 steps:

  1. What’s your goal: Your goal will dictate what type of contest you do and possibly the deliverables and timeline.
  2. Find collaborators: Some contests are collaborations between 2 or more businesses. If you plan to do this, find the right one that complements your business goals without being a competitor.
  3. Choose a prize: Bragging rights aren’t generally enough. Pick a physical or digital prize that you can award the winner. Make sure the value of the award matches the effort it will take for people to enter your contest when possible. For example, Don’t make people do 10 things to win a pencil.
  4. Select a platform: Choose a platform where you have a decent amount of followers already and one that matches your contest’s goals.
  5. Don’t complicate it: Simpler contests will often get more engagement and reach than complicated ones. Those “Tag a friend and like our page” type contests are quick and easy, and you’re likely to get many entries. Contests that require people to submit a 5-minute video take more work, and you may not get as many participants. Don’t let that deter you because those high-effort contests can be quite valuable when done right.
  6. Create your contest timeline: Knowing the dates your contest will run is a good first step. Then work backward and write your project plan regarding what needs to be done, who will do it, and deadlines.
  7. Create graphics and promotions: Create a list of all graphics and promotions you need. Do you need to build a landing page for the contest, or can it be done through comments and likes on your social media post? Are you going to send a newsletter to your contact list inviting them to join you on social media to participate?
  8. Check laws and rules: Be sure to set your contest rules and ensure you’re following all contest laws in your country and for the social media platform you’re using. (We’re going to talk more about these in the next section.
  9. Run your contest and evaluate afterwards: Run your contest and monitor it often to ensure nothing is broken and respond to any queries or questions as soon as possible. After you end the contest and announce the winner, be sure to do an internal evaluation of the contest to see if it met your goals. This could help you when planning and executing future contests and events.

Canadian law for social media contests

Social media contests are legal in Canada when you follow the legal and ethical rules of this country. These rules are in place to encourage fair competition and avoid any misleading or false information or inferences.

Skill-testing questions
In Canada, it is illegal for chance-based contests to award a prize in exchange for money (like a purchase). This is why when you buy a drink that comes with a contest scratch ticket, you need to answer a skill-testing math question before you collect your prize, even if it’s a donut or coffee.

No purchase necessary
Your online contest could have an Alternate Method of Entry (AMOE) that doesn’t cost anything. This allows the contest promoter to claim there is no quid pro quo required to enter the contest.

Contests in Quebec
The province of Quebec has its own set of rules regarding regulations for online contests. This is why you’ll often see wording like “Valid in all provinces, excluding Quebec,” so contest promoters don’t have to deal with the additional requirements in this region.

One of these requirements is using English and French in all promotional materials.

Short vs long rules
Consult a lawyer to write the detailed version of your contest promotion rules to be displayed on your website or somewhere easily accessible online. This full version doesn’t need to be on every single event promotion though. For those, you can include a shorter variation that covers the key eligibility and prize information. Your lawyer can advise what information is required in each version.

Other information to disclose
As it applies to your social media contest, you may also be required to disclose the following in the short and long version of your rules:

  • Number of prizes available
  • Regional distribution of prizes (if applicable)
  • Chances of winning
  • Value of prizes
  • Details regarding the distribution of prize to the winner(s)

Facebook contest rules for Canada

Facebook had detailed contest policies for its platform. Here is a summary of some of their key ones:

  1. No content shall be purposefully misleading or intended to scam people out of money or personal information
  2. You must not impersonate or falsely represent any brand
  3. Can not promote gambling activities where money is required to play (this includes sweepstake contests)
  4. Include a statement that his contest “is in no way sponsored, endorsed, administered by or associated with Facebook.
  5. No contests can be run through personal profile accounts. They can only be done through business pages, groups, events or apps within Facebook.
  6. You can not ask people to share or tag people to enter contests
  7. If you collect entrant data, you must clarify that you are collecting it (not Facebook) and provide details about how you will use and safeguard any data you collect.

Instagram contest rules for Canada

Instagram has less detailed policies for contests, but here are some of the key ones:

  1. You must display official rules and terms and eligibility requirements
  2. You can’t inaccurately tag or encourage tagging of content
  3. Include a statement that the contest or promotion “is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Instagram.”

International Contest Rules

If you plan to run contests where your entrants are international or from other countries, there may be additional requirements for these regions. In some countries, specific contests are banned (for example, games of chance are prohibited in India). In other countries, there are particular rules including:

  • Permits may be required from governing bodies (Australia and others)
  • Filing of official contest rules with a Baliff (France)
  • Entrants can request reimbursement for internet or postage to enter your contest (France)
  • A public official must select the winners (Italy)
  • Contest drawings must be done with a notary present (Spain)
  • Stricter compliance on data collected during the contest (UK and Germany)
  • Translation of all promotional material into other official languages may be required (many countries)

In your contest eligibility criteria, if you don’t want to worry about requirements in certain regions, mention what regions you are allowing in the contest rules.

Ready to start your contest?

Running contests on your business social media profiles can be a lot of fun and help you meet your business growth goals. It’s a fun way to gamify social media and engage with your customers.

The Out-Smarts team has helped many clients plan and execute contests that increased their business reach, grew their followers, and build their brand. We can help you navigate the rules and regulations for social media contests in your area too. Contact us today for a chat about your next contest.

Legal Disclaimer: The information provided in this post is for informational purposes only and is subject to change. Nothing in this post should be construed as legal advice. We advise consulting a legal professional to ensure you are compliant with all rules and regulations for your social media contests.