Creating a comprehensive social media plan for giveaways often includes multiple platforms. And with each platform and network having their own rules, it’s important to know how to build your giveaway strategy to be compliant. With Google+ becoming a power-player for B2B and B2C promotions, you may want to know how to use G+ for your contest of sweepstakes.
The short answer? You can’t!
No, really, you can’t use Google Plus for your contest or sweepstakes. I’m not making this up. If you’re running an online sweepstakes or contest and have Google+ as a means of entry you are violating Google+ Policies and Principles. G+ has a specific Contests and Promotions Policy. And despite using the word “contests” the policy covers both contests and sweepstakes.
So, what does it say?
You may not run contests, sweepstakes, or other such promotions (“Promotion”) directly on Google+ or in a manner that requires use of G+ features or functionality, except by pre-approved means.
That’s pretty straightforward, isn’t is? And what are these “pre-approved means”? There’s just one and that is:
You may display a link on Google+ to a separate site where your Promotion is hosted so long as you (and not Google) are solely responsible for your Promotion and for compliance with all applicable federal, state and local laws, rules and regulations in the jurisdiction(s) where your Promotion is offered or promoted.
So why do you see all these online giveaways with an entry for plussing an update? Basically, people don’t read the terms and conditions of the platforms. And this includes “social media experts” and agency and brand reps who are setting up these online programs.
Don’t hate me, I’m just the messenger. And don’t turn a blind eye to this because we all know that if Google wants to suspend your account they can and will. There’s no need to try and get around this by having people comment or share in other ways because the policy is not vague.
Whether you’re a blogger, entrepreneur, social media strategist, agency, or brand unless you have permission from Google to run a sweepstakes or contest and incorporate Google+ it would be unwise to do so. Even though others may be doing it, it doesn’t make it right. And if you’re advising clients to use the platform for their online giveaway understand that your client may have the right to seek damages from you and/or your agency for your erroneous advice.
Stick to platforms that have clear guidelines and run a contest on Pinterest or host a sweepstakes on Facebook. Even Twitter has rules that allow you to use the platform for online giveaways.
Sara Hawkins is an attorney with a focus on legal issues that impact the digital and social media space. She’s also one of my smartest friends, so having her contribute to the V3 blog is always a treat for us. Sarah has worked with entrepreneurs and online professionals for over 15 years, and always manages to make the law understandable and approachable without being overwhelming. She shares legal information at sarafhawkins.com, tweets from sarafhawkins, and plusses at sarafhawkins and you should, without question, be following, circling, stalking her!