LONDON, Nov. 9, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Brands should carefully adhere to social networks' specific terms and conditions when running competitions and incentives pre-Christmas, according to integrated PR, search and social media agency Punch Communications. (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20121109/PH09169LOGO ) A large number of brands run competitions on social networks in November and December in order to increase engagement and ROI during the holiday period when consumer spending is amplified. However, those with no or little experience of managing such contests could easily find themselves breaking the rules. This could result in the competition being taken down by the social media site without warning, which is likely to create an embarrassing public-facing situation that will then need to be carefully dealt with using crisis PR tactics. Whilst unlikely, it is feasible a brand could be removed entirely from the platform for breaching terms. Social media agencies should be relied upon to know the differences between each social platform's competition terms and conditions and what activity is or isn't acceptable. For instance, in Facebook a brand must create a third-party application that complies with the Facebook Platform Policies and does not use any of its features or functionalities as a mechanic for entry. To avoid any reproof, brands should be confident the agency or in-house team that manages their social media outreach and campaign activity understands and follows the specific competition conditions maintained by each network. Pete Goold, managing director of Punch Communications, commented: "As each fan or follower is an existing or potential customer, one of the most popular ways to promote the latest gifts of the season on social networks is through competitions. Giving the fans a chance to win something for free can not only lead to increased product sales, but also to enhanced brand loyalty. "It is therefore natural for brands to run contests and giveaways in the run up to Christmas. However, before embarking on a competition in the social space the agency or in-house team must identify, fully grasp and follow the platform's terms and conditions. No brand wants a social media crisis on its hands, whatever the time of year, but especially not when consumers are choosing which products to buy as Christmas gifts."