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Running promotions on social platforms

Learn the ad rules around running promotions on social media.

What you need to know

If you are an influencer or brand running a giveaway, prize draw, competition, or any other type of prize promotion on social media, there are rules which you need to follow.

To help you learn about these rules, and find out how they apply to your promotional marketing in practice, we have created multiple resources, from handy, easy-to-follow checklists and videos, to detailed AdviceOnline entries. Scroll down to find out more about the rules which apply, and use our guidance to help you create compliant promotions.

The UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing (the CAP Code) applies to all non-broadcast promotions, including those on social media. 

Find further detailed advice and guidance on the rules below.

Infographics, videos and webinars

In addition to our detailed AdviceOnline database, we have published some handy, easy-to-follow advice:

  • Plan for success checklist. Are you running a prize promotion, such as a prize draw, giveaway, or competition on social media? If so, use our handy checklist to remind you of the key points to remember at each stage every time you run a promotion.
  • CAP Bitesize is a series of videos to help marketers get their ads right, by setting out the principles behind the advertising rules in an easily digestible format. Our first series was all about prize promotions – find them here.
  • CAP regularly creates new webinars to help marketers comply, and previous webinars have provided advice on the rules which apply to influencer marketing, and promotional marketing. If you didn’t get a chance to join one live, you can find them here.

AdviceOnline and Advertising Guidance

To accompany the rules, we have an extensive amount of in-depth guidance and advice on numerous topics on our website, including running prize promotions online. This detailed guidance is called AdviceOnline.

AdviceOnline entries provide guidance on interpreting and applying the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing, and give practical advice, putting the issues into context by using examples of real promotions which have been investigated by the ASA.

Advertising Guidance are formal CAP and BCAP guidance on the application of the Advertising Codes in specific sectors or on particular subjects. These can be used in conjunction with the AdviceOnline database. Find these AdviceOnline entries and Advertising Guidance below:

CAP Insight articles

Every fortnight, CAP publishes news style advice, all written by the experts. Here are some recent news articles about social media promotions:

Like, tag, comment, follow and share to win! Selecting winners in social media promotions.

Asking followers to like, tag, share or comment on a post or social media page to enter a prize draw may be a good way to encourage followers to engage with a brand, but this can prove difficult to administer. Promoters should think carefully about how they plan to select winners, and make sure there is a fair and robust process in place. Check these key learnings from three recent rulings to find out more.

Top Tips for Influencer Giveaways

Prize draws or ‘giveaways’, where a winner is chosen at random from all valid entries, are increasingly being run by creators and influencers for the benefit of their followers. Although running prize draws can help boost engagement, they can be difficult to administer in order to ensure that all entrants are treated fairly. This is especially the case if you have a high number of followers or subscribers. If you’re thinking of running social media prize draws, here’s some advice to get you started.

Sign up to our Insight Newsletter to get sent new Insight articles fortnightly.

Relevant ASA rulings

Our rulings are published every Wednesday, and are a transparent record of what is, and isn’t acceptable. These set out on the public record how, following investigation into ads, the advertising rules apply and where the ASA draw the line in judging whether an ad has broken the rules. Here you will find some of our rulings on promotions run on social media, to help you avoid making the same mistakes:

Molly-Mae Hague t/a mollymaehague, 03 March 2021. Complaints about an Instagram post were upheld because the promotion was not administered fairly, in line with the Code, and because the promoter could not demonstrate that the prizes were awarded to genuine winners in accordance with the laws of chance and by, or under the supervision of an independent person.

Stephen Bear t/a Stevie Bear, 16 June 2021. A complaint about a YouTube ad for a prize draw was upheld because the promoter did not award prizes as described in their marketing communications.

Briley Powell, 18 August 2021. A complaint about an ad for a prize draw on Instagram was upheld because the promoter did not award the prizes as described in her marketing communications.

Hughes TV and Audio Ltd, 01 September 2021. A complaint about Instagram, Twitter and Facebook posts was upheld because the ads did not include all relevant applicable significant conditions.

Prettylittlething.com Ltd, 01 September 2021. A complaint about an Instagram post was upheld because the promotion was not administered fairly, in line with the Code, and because the promoter could not demonstrate that prizes were awarded to genuine winners in accordance with the laws of chance and by, or under the supervision of an independent person.

Bellatricks Ltd t/a Get The Gloss, 01 September 2021. A complaint about an Instagram post was upheld because the promotion was not administered fairly, in line with the Code, and because the promoter could not demonstrate that prizes were awarded to genuine winners in accordance with the laws of chance and by, or under the supervision of an independent person.

Click here to find the full database of published ASA rulings.

Who makes sure I stick to the ad rules, and what happens if I don't?

The UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing (the CAP Code) is enforced by the Advertising Standards Authority, or ASA for short. The ASA responds to complaints from members of the public, competitor businesses and also undertakes proactive work to make sure businesses are sticking to the rules.

The vast majority of advertisers agree to follow ASA rulings, and for those that are having difficulty doing so, rather than punish them, our aim is to work with them to help them understand, and stick to the Advertising Codes. However, for the small minority of advertisers who are either unable or unwilling to work with us, we do have sanctions at our disposal if an advertiser is unwilling to work with us to put things right.

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