When it comes to promoting a business, there are few things more exciting for potential clients than a glitzy, eye-catching competition featuring your finest goods or services. After all, everybody loves a freebie.

A well-run promotion is a great way to entice new customers to your business, as well as showing plenty of goodwill to your current clientele. And through social media pages, you can instantly draw in hundreds of potential customers with the promise of a top prize, building up your friends, followers and likes in the process.

Obviously, when it comes to engaging with clients, it’s important to make sure your promotion is run by the book – after all, you wouldn’t want any shenanigans from entrants to sully an honest attempt to take your business to a wider audience. It goes without saying that you also need to make sure the competition is totally transparent at your end too – a harsh lesson an Irish jeweller recently learned the hard way.

County Down jewellers Skillens held a generous competition offering its Facebook friends a sparkling tanzanite and diamond ring – visitors simply had to like and share a picture to be in with a chance of the star prize.

The lucky winner, Lynda Speers, was later pictured with her husband celebrating their good fortune at the store. But after some visitors to the site questioned the validity of her win, Lynda wrote back to defend her win, and dropped a clanger by accidentally posting through the company’s account, rather than her own, implying that perhaps her success had not been as lucky as it first appeared.

The gaffe caused uproar among other competition entrants, forcing Skillens to issue a statement insisting there was no murky goings on behind the scenes, stating that the mistake occurred after Lynda had been handed the login details to remove some of the negative comments.

The shambles no doubt caused great embarrassment and completely overshadowed the competition for the family run business, which has issued a statement on its Facebook page.

Facebook’s terms of running a competition feature just short of 400 words of terms and conditions detailing the use of the social network for promotions, including advice that anybody looking to run a competition should “consult with an expert”; words of wisdom Skillens probably should have taken on board considering they were in breach of several of the terms laid out in the guidelines.

There’s no reason to fear branching out into social media and making new and dynamic efforts to encourage greater interaction with clients – just make sure you speak to an expert first and make sure your forays online are made in a legitimate and professional manner.