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| 2 minutes read

Without Hashtags on Threads, How Can You Run a Legally Compliant Sweepstakes?

With the recent debut of another new social media platform, brands have a fresh place to run sweepstakes. Yet, there is currently no search functionality on Threads, as well as no hashtags. So how does one run a legally compliant sweepstakes?

As an initial matter, I'm not advocating for companies to run sweepstakes on Threads. The platform’s terms of service do not address sweepstakes directly, but they do state that the platform is licensed only for non-commercial purposes. Nonetheless, that has not stopped many brands from jumping on the platform and using it to promote their products. Given that Threads is trying to attract users to the platform, it seems rather unlikely that it would shut a brand down for conducting a sweepstakes. Also, I'm not entirely sure that when Threads says "non-commercial" use, it is intending to prohibit brands from being on the platform and running sweepstakes. Ultimately, your brand will have to make a call on this risk.

That being said, if you do decide to run a sweepstakes on Threads—despite the lack of clarity on its terms of service—the question is: How do you run a sweepstakes without hashtags? Let's first step back and consider why (and if) you need a hashtag for sweepstakes on a social media platform. Clearly, hashtags are used heavily on Twitter, which has the functionality to search for hashtags. But are they really needed?

Hashtags serve two purposes in sweepstakes. The first is to be able to track who entered your promotion. But this can be achieved without a hashtag by requiring the entrant to tag your channel or comment on your post, avoiding the need for a hashtag for identification/entry collection purposes.  If using the tagging or mention feature, of course, this assumes you allow “mentions” on your channel and that it works correctly.  For example when I tried to tag my 2nd account it didn’t show up, so test it first for your channel before relying on this method!).

The other reason people use a hashtag in conjunction with sweepstakes is for FTC disclosure. For example, the hashtag "#sweepstakes" is generally recognized as a disclosure that effectively communicate to readers that a post has been made for the chance to win a prize. However, the FTC has previously stated that there is no actual legal requirement that you need to use a hashtag to make this disclosure. In truth, it would be enough to merely make the disclosure in the language of the post. For example, using the language "Enter me in the sweepstakes" in the post would likely be an organic disclosure that would work for FTC disclosure purposes. Obviously, there are many other ways that this disclosure can be made in a post in an organic fashion without a hashtag.

Ultimately, I think there’s a method to conduct sweepstakes on Threads even without hashtags. But stay tuned, as I'm sure it's only a matter of time before Threads adds a hashtag functionality to its platform.

I hope this gives you some good ideas. Please feel free to contact me with any questions.

Let’s be careful out there!

(b) The Application is licensed to you on a limited, non-exclusive, non-transferrable, non-sublicensable basis, solely to be used in connection with Threads for your private, personal, non-commercial use, subject to all the terms and conditions of these Terms as they are applicable to Threads;


sweepstakes, ftc, threads, hashtag, sweepstake, advertising & media, advertising marketing & promotions