So you’ve decided to make the most of your growing Instagram audience and run a sweepstakes based on the selection of a random comment. Yay and fun, right? You can’t wait to see all the terrific feedback and engagement your tribe is going to bring to the party.
Here’s the not so fun part: you have to ensure you handle the winner’s selection in a way that is fair, unbiased, and compliant with federal and state laws. Boring? Maybe. Totally necessary? Absolutely.
Let’s dig into the details on running your Instagram comments contest the right way to keep you out of trouble and to assure your followers that you’re facilitating the drawing in a fair and square manner.
Here’s what we’re going to cover:
- Step 1) Familiarizing yourself with federal and state rules and regulations when running a giveaway
- Step 2) Complying with Instagram policies
- Step 3) Defining your giveaway goal
- Step 4) Determining what constitutes an eligible entry
- Step 5) Preparing and posting official rules
- Step 6) Selecting a winner at random using an Instagram comment picker or Instagram winner picker
- Step 7) Announcing the winner
How to Randomly Pick Giveaway Winners from Your Instagram Comments (The Right Way)
First things first: I am not a lawyer. I’ve never played a lawyer on television. The following tidbits are based on researching what lawyers have written about random drawings and contests. With that disclaimer out of the way, here’s the scoop from legal experts online.
Avoid running an illegal lottery. Lotteries are heavily regulated, and the government prohibits private lotteries. How do you know if your contest or giveaway is a lottery? Determine if these three conditions are present:
- A prize with a value
- An element of chance (random drawing/selection)
Consideration is where things get tricky. If you require the purchase of your product or some other action that requires considerable time/effort on the part of the participant, that is “consideration.” The easiest thing for you to do is remove any requirement of purchase or extensive time/effort. If you’ve ever wondered why so many sweepstakes say, “no purchase necessary,” now you know.
Understand the state laws of the potential winners. Ugh, right? Intellectual property lawyer Matt Knight writes, “Since most giveaways are online, you need to consider the giveaway laws of every state when designing your promotional campaign.”
Thankfully, as he points out, if you haven’t created an illegal lottery, you probably won’t have many issues when it comes to compliance with state-specific laws. Just remember that word, “probably.” If you want to be closer to 100% sure, check with your lawyer or corporate counsel.
Whew! We’ve gotten past those pesky federal and state rules and regulations, but the compliance fun doesn’t stop with the government. Instagram has its own set of rules that you need to follow when running a contest or giveaway on its platform.
Here’s the thumbnail sketch on the do’s and don’ts when running a promotion on Instagram:
- Provide official rules.
- Explain contest terms and eligibility requirements.
- Comply with state and federal laws governing giveaways and contest promotions.
- Include a complete release of Instagram by each entrant/participant.
- Acknowledge that Instagram is not a sponsor nor does it endorse, administer or have any association with your contest.
- Use inaccurate tags on content and don’t encourage other Instagram users to tag content inaccurately.
- Expect any help or advisement from Instagram in the administration of your promotion.
If you aren’t clear on what you’re trying to achieve with a comments contest, then you’re already starting on the wrong foot.
Why are you launching this contest? Do you want to increase engagement? Are you hoping to gain more followers by including a “tag a friend” requirement? Are you trying to generate awareness for a new product or service?
Think through your goals and align your giveaway with that goal. Just be doubly sure that nothing in how you plan to execute your promotion requires (or even hints at) any form of “consideration” for participants to enter.
Since this post is about using comments as entries into a giveaway, a comment as an entry is a given. But are there requirement around the specifics of the comment?
- Are you asking people to tag a friend in the comments? (Side note: Social Media Examiner explains that tagging people in a comment is OK for a contest; just don’t tag someone in a picture or the post itself if they aren’t part of the content.)
- Do they have to use a specific hashtag or mention something specific in the comments?
Nail down your expectations for entries before you launch the promotion.
With a clear description of your promotion, eligibility, prize description, and other details, you reduce the chance of misunderstandings and sour grapes. Address these elements in your official rules and regulations content:
- A description of the prize: name, accurate description, retail value, the total number of prizes that will be awarded.
- Details about the sponsor: give the name and address of the sponsor and promoter.
- Specifics on how to enter and how you will operate the giveaway.
- Who can enter (US residents, people over 18, and so forth)
- Who’s excluded (people under 18, 13? People outside of the US? Employees or family members of the sponsor or promoter?)
- Note the location of the giveaway (sponsor/promoter’s location)
- Highlight the fact that no “consideration” is required to participate (no purchase necessary)
- An explanation of any restrictions
- An outline of how you will execute the giveaway (how you will conduct the random selection, what will happen if there are ineligible entries, entry deadline, when and how you will notify the winner(s)
Make sure your official rules are easy to find and readily available. Add the high-level requirements with your Instagram post along with a link to a dedicated page that outlines eligibility, rules, and requirements.
When the big day to select a winner arrives, you have to pick a winner randomly. If you’re planning on just scrolling through your comments and stopping on someone’s comment, don’t. Maybe you will be very consciously impartial in your “scroll, stop, select” process, but who knows what unconscious bias may get in your way of a truly random selection.
Instead, you need to avoid anything that looks fishy to your followers. Use an Instagram comment picker like Woobox offers; it’s an easy way for you to select a random winner from your comments promotion.
- Upload your content to Instagram along with participation instructions spelled out in your caption.
- When the day arrives to pick a winner, you just log into Woobox, click Posts at the top, then click Instagram on the left. Find your contest post and click the Pick a Winner button.
- Next, you see the Pick Winners screen. Select the option “Users can enter by commenting on this post.” You can even limit entries to one per user. Click the green Pick a Winner button.
- Woobox selects a random comment as the winner. If the comment doesn’t meet eligibility guidelines, don’t worry. Woobox doesn’t automatically contact the random commenter. You can “unpick” the ineligible entry and try again.
When you use a platform like Woobox to select a winner randomly, you and your giveaway participants can feel good about how a winner was chosen.
After you’ve got your randomly selected winner, it’s time to spread the good news! Send a direct message to the winner so you can notify that person first and make any arrangements to deliver the prize (getting his or her email address for a gift card, for example).
Next, share information on Instagram, your website, and other channels to celebrate the winner and the close of the giveaway. You might even take this chance to point out some of your favorite comments as a way to recognize fans for participating.
Ready for IG Giveaways Based on Comment Selection?
If you are a fan of the “scroll, stop, select” method of picking a random comment as the winner for your Instagram Giveaway, maybe this post has made you reconsider. You have a couple of really significant reasons to consider using a tool like Woobox for random winner selection:
- Woobox can help remove any hint of bias or general “shenanigans” in the winner selection process.
- Woobox’s method of random selection removes any appearance of “consideration.” With “scroll, stop, select” as your means of choosing a winner, how can you prove you weren’t weeding out non-customers?
If you have questions or need help using Woobox with your Instagram giveaway, the Woobox Support staff is always happy to help!