January 7, 2014

These days, running a contest invariably means social media (or multiple social media) and typically Facebook and Twitter.  So when I talk to clients about the promotions they have in mind, I often start (or almost start) the discussion with how they want to promote their contest.

It used to be this discussion largely turned around more traditional media such as radio, TV, print advertising, point-of-purchase, etc.  Now, of course, social media tends to be a large part of the discussion.  As such, just as contest rules need to be tailored to a particular promotion, a contest needs to comply with the social media platform’s (or platforms’) guidelines on which it is run.

This is typically fairly straightforward, involving a discussion of the functionality of the promotion (i.e., how the social media is intended to be used) and language included in the contest terms and conditions (Facebook, for example, has mandatory language that must be included in contest terms and conditions).

While Facebook recently loosened up its rules for running contests using Facebook, including using Facebook functionality to participate, interestingly Pinterest recently tightened up its contest guidelines including functionality restrictions (see: Pinterest Brand Guidelines).  It seems that Pinterest’s new contest guidelines are largely intended to make its site less spammy and minimize irrelevant content.

New Pinterest “do’s”: (1) remember that Pinterest is all about people discovering things that inspire them – reward quality over quantity; (2) make it easy to get involved with clear and simple instructions; (3) read Pinterest’s anti-spam measures to keep your contest fun and useful; (4) check Pinterest’s branding guidelines if referencing Pinterest in any way.

New Pinterest “don’ts”: (1) suggest that Pinterest sponsors or endorses you or the contest; (2) require people to add Pins from a selection – let them add what they like; (3) make people Pin your contest rules; (4) run a sweepstakes where each Pin, board, like or follow represents an entry; (5) encourage spammy behavior, such as asking participants to comment; (6) ask people to vote with Pins, boards, or likes; (7) overdo it – contests can get old fast; (8) require a minimum number of Pins – one is plenty; (9) call your contest a “Pin it to win it” contest.

Pinterest also reminds promoters to ensure that their contests comply with relevant laws and get legal advice for local contest law requirements (for an overview of Canadian contest law and some tips to effectively run contests in Canada see: here).



Need contest rules and forms for a Canadian Contest? I offer a selection of Canadian contest rules and forms for common types of Canadian contests. For more information see: Contest Forms.


I offer a full range of Canadian contest legal services for compliance with the Competition Act, Criminal Code and other relevant laws.  My services include: preparing contests to comply with relevant federal laws, drafting short and long contest rules and statutory disclosure, reviewing promotional contest marketing and advertising materials for Canadian advertising law compliance and winner releases.

To contact me about a potential legal matter: Contact

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    I am a competition and advertising lawyer based in Toronto who blogs on competition and advertising law and interesting legal and policy developments relating to business, white-collar crime, corruption and Internet and new media law.

    I offer business, association, government and individual clients efficient and strategic advice in relation to competition/antitrust, advertising, regulatory and new media law. I also offer compliance, education and policy services.

    My more than 15 years experience includes advising clients on hundreds of domestic and cross-border competition, advertising and marketing, promotional contest/sweepstakes, conspiracy/cartel, abuse of dominance, compliance, refusal to deal and pricing and distribution matters.

    For more information about my services, see here.