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Running Sweepstakes, Competitions & Giveaways on a Budget

Running Sweepstakes, Competitions & Giveaways on a Budget

My site Scullywag Astrology is coming up to its first birthday, so I thought I would run a competition or giveaway of a few natal horoscope reports. And so began my journey into what the legalities of running a competition or game of chance on social media involved.

In the spirit of full disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This means I may earn a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you purchase something using one of my links.

I was fairly certain that you were not allowed to solicit Facebook Page likes or ask people to share a Facebook Page or post to enter a competition, but I had seen other companies do it (and some of them quite large companies), so I did a little research.

Rules and Regulations

So off to Google I went to search out what I could and could not do, and any good programs to help me do it.

One of the best articles I found was from SEMrush and it had a lot of information in it, particularly if you want to advertise your promotion on Facebook.

Another excellent article covering rules and regulations for United States citizens was found on the lawtrades website.


  • Sweepstakes are when a prize is given away and the winner/s are chosen by chance.
  • Giveaways are essentially Sweepstakes and should be called as such according to the lawtrade website.
  • Contests are where the winner/s are chosen because of some skill, i.e. they may have submitted the best entry or received the most votes.
  • Lotteries are where people pay a fee to be in with a chance to win something.

Your obligations

  • In the United States, the different States will have their own laws that need to be abided by, as will most other countries.
  • Depending on the geographical areas included in the competition or sweepstakes; there may be restrictions on including such things as alcohol, tobacco and gasoline.
  • There must be no “consideration” given for either a contest or sweepstakes. This means, no money or benefit should have to be given to the organizers of the event for people to participate. This can include such things as watching a demonstration, filling in an application, liking or following  a social media account, or even in some U.S. states, having to pay for postage when mailing in an contest form.
  • If you are relying on a sponsor or supplier to provide the prizes, you will be responsible for providing them if your sponsor or supplier doesn’t for whatever reason.
  • When the prizes are items that are covered by trademarks, service marks and copyrights, you need to be especially careful in obtaining licences and permission to do so.
  • The official rules should be easily accessible by anyone wanting to enter.
  • When running competitions, you need to clearly outline the rules, eligibility, dates it will run for, how winners are selected and the terms and conditions involved.
  • If you wish to use the winner/s or their entries for promotional purposes, you will need to obtain their written release to do so (preferably at the time they submit their details for the event).
  • If your event is geared toward children 13 years or younger, you will need to obtain parental permission.
  • If you wish to contact entrants by email at a later date, you need to obtain their permission to do so at the time of them entering .
  • Some countries and states may charge taxes on winnings valued over a certain amount. If this will be applicable, it is best to have that in the terms and conditions. 
  • It is usually illegal to run a giveaway or competition that rewards someone for voting a certain way. 

Facebook and Competitions and Sweepstakes

  • Facebook requires you to gain a complete release of Facebook from every entrant or participant.
  • You must state that your event is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.
  • These events should be carried out on a Facebook Page or within apps on Facebook. They should not require people to share something on their personal timeline, or share it on a friend’s timeline or tag someone. 
  • You can use Facebook likes or check-ins to find a winner, but you can’t ask people to like your Facebook Page as a requirement for entering the competition, as that is construed as being of benefit or having to make a payment of sorts.
  • Facebook does not allow you to run a contest that requires someone to have to make a purchase to enter on their platform.

What I really did like about the SEMrush article though is that they spelled out exactly what you need to do when it comes to meeting your obligations regarding the terms and conditions for the contest, sweepstake or giveaway.

SEMrush is also a great place to find keywords and a lot of analytical data about your website.

You can get a limited view for free or sign up for one of their plans. I first came across SEMRush while doing my social media course.


Test in Sandbox Mode First

Another really great tip in the SEMrush article was to set up a separate Facebook Page to work in it in sandbox (testing) mode. 

Sandbox mode basically allows you to work on your content and test how it will look without having to worry about your followers seeing. It’s a simple idea but a brilliant one. I was like – “Why didn’t I think of that?”

Websites to Help Run Your Competitions, Sweepstakes or Giveaway

So, I looked around at what was available for free, because frankly, who doesn’t like free? Plus, I always like to try before I buy. 


Woobox is a site that has some great apps that you can use on your facebook page. I use them on the Scullywag Astrology Facebook page to show my feeds from my YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram on my page.

With Woobox, you can add your Facebook Page/s and use their software to select a random winner from people who have liked or commented on a selected post. 

 You can also do this with Twitter or Instagram posts if you upgrade to a paid account with Woobox. 


Rafflecopter is an interesting site which allows you to do some limited stuff on their free plan.

There are different options for someone to enter your competition; and you can give different weightings depending on how they enter (e.g. more points for liking a page or tweeting a comment).

You can also make certain actions mandatory to enter.

Rafflecopter makes it very easy to select winners and to promote your contest, however, if you want your sweepstakes to look like the one above, you need to upgrade.

The prices on the paid plans are quite affordable though and there are no long-term contracts.

Contests for Pages

Contests for Pages allows you to run various contests on Facebook. You can choose from simple giveaways, photo submission or voting contests, instant contests and timeline comments contests. To run these effectively you need to pay for a plan.

While the pricing given is per month, you are required to pay in full for a year, no monthly plans exist.

For a timeline comments contest, you would probably be better off using Woobox to select a random winning comment for yourself.

The photo uploading contest seems quite good, as after someone has entered you can add an option for them to  subscribe to your newsletter, invite their friends, or to post the competition on Facebook.


Agorapulse also allows you to run free contests on your Facebook Page timeline as part of their free package. You have the option to run sweepstakes, a quiz or photo contest on Facebook.


Their article on running Facebook promotions is well worth a read too, packed with lots of information you need to know before running a contest.

Two other free tools that Agorapulse includes that are well worth trying out are the Facebook Page Barometer and the Twitter Report Card.


Shortstack looks great and comes with lots of options to customize the look of your contests.

There is a wealth of knowledge to dip into as well, with plenty of documentation on how to use their system, as well as a YouTube Channel to walk you through it all. 

Create engaging social media contests and marketing campaigns with ShortStack

The free version only works for 100 entries so you may find yourself needing to upgrade to one of their plans but there are no minimum contracts and no cancellation fees.

They have written an excellent article on how to promote your contest/s.

Additional Tie-Ins

Running a competition is also a great time to change your Facebook Page cover photo to feature your contest or sweeppstakes. 

Canva is a great place to create a new Facebook Cover photo advertising the contest and  you can find lots of templates and all sorts of goodies to help you create the look you want.

This also an optimum time to create an event on your Facebook Page to drum up enthusiasm and more publicity for when the contest, sweepstakes or giveaway is drawn.  

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