Within our organization we have been trying to create and utilize your Contest feature. We did our research and proposed a contest that closely mirror some of the contests I have seen on this (Lithium) community and other communities. Once our Contest was created and finalized we submitted it to our legal department (as we are required to do) and they mentioned some very valid concerns.
They mentioned that this feature (Contests) in our forum could be in violation of FTC regulations. They mentioned that because our forum is used as a way for our customers to provide feedback about our products and services, that by doing a contest it can be construed as us potentially incentivizing users to provide favorable feedback or could lead to those type of actions, which would be in direct violation of FTC regulations.
What I am asking, is how do you all get around these type of regulations when clearly your forums and contests essentially are doing the same thing? What does your legal department say when you were developing Contests and how do you get around these type of FTC regulations?
Thanks in advance for your help.
My community is a support community in a industry not regulated as much as say finance or insurance but essentially I think it comes down to your motivation and how clear your terms and guidelines are.
I think ink anyone could argue that your giving something away for free to get good comments but providing your not doing silly things like "give us a positive review to enter the content" and make it clear your intention, selection process etc I would have thought you would be good but I appreciate that some industries are very very regulated.
That was a hurdle we had to overcome at one point as well, it’s all about intent and approach, we have specific guidelines for different types of contests, this might help even more, this is a link to our Boost Bring a Buddy sweepstakes we run every month, since we basically choose a winner at random, we have to make specific terms and call it a Sweepstakes. If we want to run a Contest, as in have people vote, we have another set of Terms & Conditions they must meet.
We occasionally give users phones just for participating but we do not call it a contest, we usually hand select for doing an un-boxing, but we don’t always do it publicly, and we don’t require them to post or review, we offer them the opportunity, and if it is bad (Note 7 or HTC Bolt) then we let them say it, as long as it is truth and not bashing.
We also created our Community guidelines to say we reserve the right to remove any post, and we don’t really need a reason why because we own it, it is not a publicly owned forum. However we do pride ourselves on transparency on the Community, so if your post is removed, there should be no question as to why, and if you get banned you have had more than enough warnings to change your behaviors.
Writing a positive review for a phone is no different than writing a positive statement about the company, we do not solicit we only encourage by recognizing positive behaviors.
Hope this helps!