Social Media Sweepstakes and Contests: Legal Perspectives


With the explosion in social media activity by users of the internet, its value as a marketing tool has also been recognized. At this point, any business which doesn't have a presence in social media is at risk of being left behind. One strategy that lends itself nicely to the interactive nature of social media is the running of contests and sweepstakes promotions. But they should never be entered into without ensuring that all your legal bases are covered.

Contests, such as those which ask participants to upload photographs, from which the winner will be selected by votes from the community, are fairly common. This sort of thing is legally classified as a contest, as distinguished from a sweepstakes, which requires no other action from entrants than completion of a form. The official rules for each type are, therefore, somewhat different in the regulations guiding them and the language used.

A contest and sweepstakes lawyer is a resource that you need whenever you are planning to run a promotion of this kind, whether it's through social media, on your own website, or through partnerships with bloggers. The complexity of drafting official rules which are fully compliant with current regulations, federal and state, is too much for you to realistically consider doing it yourself.

The liability you could face for rules that aren't compliant is significant. Don't be fooled into thinking that no one will notice. It's just not worth the risk. Having a lawyer who is experienced with online games of chance and contests, you won't have to worry.

Many people access the internet using mobile computing. In fact, within three years, it's projected that more people will do so than using a laptop or desktop computer. This may create new legal issues which need to be addressed; for example, if a person is a resident of one state, but enters a sweepstakes via mobile in a different state with different relevant laws.

As a marketing strategy, contests and sweepstakes became commonly used in the middle of the Twentieth century. Back then, direct mail and radio advertising were used. As legal questions arose, they were addressed and formalized. The process is ongoing. For this reason, you should never consider templating the language of your rules on someone else's – at least not without a full review by a contest lawyer.

There are both federal and state laws which govern the allowable features, qualifications for entry, and disbursement of prizes for both sweepstakes and contests. Each country has its own laws, as well, which complicates things for international competitions. Social media sites have their own terms of service, which include language relating to the running of promotions. All of these different requirements must be understood and incorporated into your official rules.

Engaging a sweepstakes and contest lawyer gives you the peace of mind that all your promotional games are fully legal. They'll also work with you in the event that issues should arise with competitors. This is an area of your business in which you just can't take chances with liability.

Lior Leser, Esq. can help you build and run legally compliant online sweepstakes. Regardless of how you deploy the online promotion, an Internet Sweepstakes Lawyer can help you navigate through the state and federal legal requirements of establishing, registering, bonding, running and fulfilling internet and mobile Sweepstakes.

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Facebook Transparency for Ads – Is it Good News for Advertisers?

Facebook advertisingFacebook recently announced that they are making significant steps to bring more transparency to ads and business Facebook pages.  Facebook is now providing users with more information about businesses and organizations on Facebook and the ads they are running.

One very significant change is that a visitor can now see the ads any Page is running across Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and Facebook's partner network, even if those ads are not targeted to that visitor.    How does this affect your business and your advertising strategy?   Well, you can now see all ads that your competitor is running.  And, they can now see all ads that your business is running.

We love to help small businesses develop cost-effective advertising strategies on Facebook.  Call us is we can help your business!


Facebook Introduces New Tools to Make Fundraisers Even More Impactful

And waiving platform fees for all personal fundraisers

Friday, April 27, 2018

MENLO PARK – Today, Facebook announced new features and tools for Facebook Fundraisers that are aimed at helping fundraiser creators and donors make even greater impact. Every day, people start Facebook Fundraisers to support the causes that matter to them.

These new features include the following:

  • People can pledge to match donations to their nonprofit fundraiser, which is a first of its kind tool in online fundraising that's now available in the US and will soon expand internationally.
  • There are now four new categories for fundraisers for personal causes so people can raise funds for more social good causes across family, faith, travel, and volunteering.
  • In the coming weeks, Facebook is eliminating the platform fee on all fundraisers for personal causes, helping people maximize their support.

Matching Donations for Nonprofit Fundraisers 
People often pledge to match donations to their Facebook Fundraisers, and the company wanted to make that easier. For example, David Smith lost his sister in a car accident in 2013, and this year for his birthday, he started a fundraiserfor Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). He told family and friends that if he could raise $100, he would match their contribution. People rallied around the cause and raised $2,360 — more than 10x his original goal.

Facebook wants to help everyone meet and exceed their fundraising goals through matching donations. Now people who create fundraisers can pledge to match donations, directly within the fundraisers tool. Matches can be any amount that they choose, from $5 to $2,500, helping people build momentum for their cause.

Matching Donations for Nonprofit Fundraisers

New features for Impact for Personal Causes
People on Facebook have raised money for many personal causes, including loved ones who need critical surgery, teachers needing school supplies for their students, and families in need after losing everything in a fire. They’ve added more categories for fundraisers for personal causes to give people more options to raise critical funds for themselves, a friend, or something or someone not on Facebook.

Based on feedback from the community, they’ve added fundraiser categories for family (like adoption or new baby supplies), faith (like missions or religious community events), travel (like educational trips or travel for medical needs), and volunteering (like volunteer programs or supplies) causes.

There are already examples of people using these new categories, like Lauren Pyskoty who started a fundraiser to support her first mission trip and raised $1,328. These are in addition to existing categories for personal fundraisers: community projects/groups, sports/competitions, education, medical, pets/animals, personal emergency, crisis relief, and memorial/loss.

Asha Sharma, Head of Product for Social Good at Facebook added, “we're inspired by the many ways people have come together to support one another. In the coming weeks, we're eliminating the platform fee on all fundraisers for personal causes, so that people can maximize their fundraising support.”

To create a fundraiser for a nonprofit or a personal cause, visit or tap the Fundraisers bookmark on the Facebook app. You can choose the cause you want to support, share why it's important to you, and follow the steps to set up your goal. The company also waived all fees for nonprofit fundraisers last fall at the Social Good Forum in New York City, NY.

“We know people care a lot about the organizations and causes they support. We're grateful for their passion and for the feedback that helps us build better tools to help them reach their fundraising goals,” Sharma added.

How do the 2018 Facebook news feed changes affect your business?

As you probably have already heard, Facebook is making significant changes to how news is delivered to your news feed. What is this change and what does it mean for your business?

In a nutshell, people who “Like” your page will see less of your organic Facebook posts in their news feeds. Facebook feels people in general desire to be more “social”. Therefore, content from your “Friends” will be prioritized over posts from “Brands” or “Pages” you like.

While this move has some businesses panicking, we are not as concerned for our clients as we have always recommended that Social Media be a complement to an overall marketing strategy and not a replacement. This move, however, will significantly affect companies who rely primarily on Social Media as a primary marketing strategy.

If you have retained us to work with you on a regular basis, you can consider yourself in good shape and here is why:

  1. Your website is your company’s online storefront. If we are managing the ongoing search engine optimization (SEO) of your website, your Social Media posts are designed to give you short lived boosts for SEO. The 2018 changes in how Facebook delivers news to your news feed will not affect this.
  2. Many of our clients run Facebook Ads. We take a strategic approach when designing and managing your Facebook ads campaigns. The new changes will NOT affect how Facebook Ads are delivered.
  3. If you’ve followed our advice, you are not using Social Media as your primary marketing strategy. Therefore, having your organic Facebook posts delivered less often will have minimal – if any – adverse effect on your overall marketing strategy.

Many clients have asked if they should still post on their business Facebook page. The answer is, “YES”! Remember, this change will not affect what people see if they visit your page directly. And, your posts will still be delivered, just not as often.

The biggest advantage to using Facebook for your business is the SEO benefit and Facebook Ads, which offer an affordable and targeted option to get your message out to potential customers.

If you are not already working with us on ongoing SEO for your website or Facebook ads, please give us a call. Both are becoming more and more important, especially since this latest change with Facebook. Let’s set up a free telephone consultation to discuss how we can help you achieve your online goals in 2018!

Is Link Building For Your Website Worth The Effort?

In the past link building was used by online marketers to build tons of backlinks to their website to increase search engine rankings. And it worked. But, in 2012, the Google Penguin algorithm update stopped websites spamming their search results. In particular, those websites which were buying links or getting them through free link building sites designed to boost their Google rankings.

So does this mean that link building for your website is all but dead today? Far from it!

Don't Disregard Link Building For Your Website

Link building for your website has always been an important factor for it to rank well in the search engines. Links back to your website provide strong signals that your site is relevant and popular.

The focus for any website owner is now to create quality content and then build links to that from other relevant high-quality sites.

How To Do Link Building With Content

Generally, increasing the number of backlinks pointing to your website will improve your website's search ranking. To get more links, contact authoritative websites or blogs to see if you can provide a guest post or article. That post or article will contain a link back to your website.

It's much easier to build links to your site when you have high-quality content. Remember that without good content your online business has no value to your audience. It doesn't have to be a literary masterpiece, but it should be relevant and interesting.

Evergreen Content

Content can be an article, a blog post, a report, an eBook, an online course, a video or an audio. The best kind of content is that which is classed as ‘evergreen'. This means that the information presented doesn't go out of date, so in years to come it's still relevant. That means you'll still have content on your site that's worth linking to.

Social Media

It's true that Google still relies on ‘traditional links', that is, links from other authority sites. We're now seeing a shift towards Google and Bing taking more of an interest on what's happening on social media.

What social media links are great for is to reach your real live customers. This is a way to drive traffic back to your site without having to worry about what Google or Bing does. Once again, content is king. If you continually produce high-quality content, your followers on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Google+ will share these posts, comment on them and vote for them.

With over 150 million active monthly users, Google is paying more attention to Pinterest. It's become a major player in the social media universe. Pinterest can boost your search engine rankings and send you free, targeted traffic. Don't ignore this social media superbrand. Download your free Pinterest Marketing Checklist at:

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LinkedIn Personal Profile Tips

Optimizing your Social Media accounts is a good practice for both your personal brand and your business. Below are some tips on optimizing your personal LinkedIn profile. These tips are current as of 8/30/17 and are subject to change at any time. LinkedIn adds new features and changes processes on a regular basis, so it is important to review any new tutorials or information made available to you by LinkedIn.

  1. Profile: Complete your profile to achieve All-Star status:
    • Profile photo
    • Include industry and location
    • Add description to your current position. Try bulleted lists that incorporate relevant keywords for things like job duties.
    • Include at least two past positions
    • Include education details
    • List at least three skills
    • Obtain at least 50 connections
  2. Contact Information: Check all profile contact information to make sure it is accurate. All fields should be completed (website, phone, address, email, twitter, date of birth).
  3. Company Connection: Be sure that the jobs listed in your EXPERIENCE section connect to the correct company. It’s easy to connect to the wrong company when multiple companies have the same name.
  4. Groups: Join and participate in relevant groups to expand your network and improve the search optimization of your profile.
  5. Connections: Expand your network. Try searching your email contacts for possible connections. Click the MY NETWORK link and look for the PEOPLE YOU MAY KNOW section for most streamlined way to request connections.
  6. Review your account settings: ( to select the best settings for things like what information can be seen about you and how others may contact you.
  7. Give and collect endorsements: Giving skill endorsements is a great way to keep your name in front of contacts. Collecting endorsements validates your skills.
  8. Recommendations: Ask others to recommend you. The RECOMMENDATIONS section of your PROFILE includes a link for “Ask to be Recommended” which you can use to ask specific connections to write a brief recommendation.
  9. Public Profile: View your public profile the way others see it then adjust settings based on your preference of what you want others to see.
  10. Profile URL: Create a custom URL for your LinkedIn Public Profile:
  11. Profile Badge: Create a profile badge to use on your website to link directly to your personal profile
  12. Articles: You can use LinkedIn to post blog-like articles. Look for the “WRITE AN ARTICLE” button in the status update section.
  13. Updates: Post frequent status updates. Like and share updates of your connections.
  14. Samples of Work: You can upload videos and presentations to show samples of your work, services, or product information.
  15. Jobs: Search for employment (note: posting jobs is handled through a company page).

Most people are intimidated because they do not feel they have the time to commit to developing their personal LinkedIn profiles. The best way to approach this is to not do everything all at once. Rather, set aside a few minutes each day to work on optimizing your profile and making connections. Social Media profiles are always a work in progress. Good luck!

How do I create a successful social media campaign?

Put yourself in the shoes of your customers. What appeals to you? What compels you to act? Peer to peer impressions have more influence now than ever before. A friend recommending a restaurant, product, service, etc. can have more impact than a paid advertisement. Think about the types of posts, information, etc. that not only appeals to your customers, but they will also want to share.

The ALS Association’s “Ice Bucket Challenge” was one of the most successful social media campaigns to date. It incorporated entertaining videos of people challenging people they know to support a worthy cause. The challenge went viral and spread like wildfire. As a result, the ALS Association not only raised a ton of money for their cause, but they spread awareness of the disease and their mission throughout the United States and beyond.

Social media was meant to be “social.” Direct selling of your product and/or service through social media is not as effective as offering something of value to your customers. Consider these ideas when developing a social medial campaign for your business:

  1. Helpful tips people will want to share
    (i.e. a pest control service may want to post tips on reducing mosquitos around your home, etc.)
  2. Entertaining videos – people love to share humor so come up with a video or series of funny, short videos that demonstrate the value of your product.
  3. Contests
    (i.e. send us a 30 second video showing why you love our product; we will post and people will have an opportunity to select their top three favorites; winners will receive a prize, etc.)
  4. Live streams – Facebook Live is an example of a platform where you can transmit live video streams. Consider broadcasting “live” content that is entertaining and informative. This new feature of Facebook – introduced in April 2016 – is gaining in popularity. Learn more here:

You don’t have to be a million-dollar company to create catchy a social media campaign that reaches millions of people. It just takes one good idea to go viral.