Nowadays, just about every business has at least one social media account. Most have several. It makes perfect sense too: with billions of users, it’s too good of an opportunity to pass up.
Everyone wants to get traffic and leads through social media. The question is “How?”. Well, there are tons of methods but today we’ll focus on the coolest one yet: social media giveaways.
People follow businesses on social media for many reasons, but the biggest one is: free stuff. Awesome gifs are cool but what the audience really wants is awesome gifts!
Some of you may be thinking right now “But that’s just a waste of money!”. Well, skeptics, that’s completely false. It turns out that giving people free stuff is actually a good way of making money. Let’s talk about that for a minute.
We’re by no means good at science stuff, but we did our homework, and we came to some interesting conclusions. Three psychological factors come into play when a company (or anyone for that matter) organizes a social media giveaway.
The Reciprocity Principle
When somebody does us a favor, we feel obligated to pay the person back. It doesn’t matter if we asked for the service or not. It’s not even a conscious thing. We’re just wired that way.
The reciprocity principle is one of the basic laws of social psychology.
It doesn’t work just for interhuman interaction either. It works between people and businesses as well. And how do you repay a favor done by a business? You purchase some of their products or services, of course.
People Can’t Put a Price on Free Items
Let’s say that your local supermarket has a sale on your favorite brand of milk. You might think that it’s about to expire, that they just want to get rid of the milk. You’d assume that the lower price means lower quality.
How do people assess the quality of something that was offered for free, though?
It’s easy to put a price on a thing that already has one (i.e. the discount value). But when there is no price to judge by, the mind starts squirming for answers.
The most common answer people come to is: “hey, if it’s a prize in a contest, it must be valuable!” After all, who would offer worthless stuff?
People Want More Stuff, Not a Discount
Let’s say two bakeries sell the same cake for the same price. The first one starts offering you 40% more cake while the second one cuts the price by 40%. Where do you buy your cake?
If you picked the first one, you just lost the chance to get almost two times the cake for almost the same price. The second offer gave you a better cake/money ratio.
When faced with a decision, we don’t take the time to think it through mathematically.
We just base the decision on our primal instinct of “more is better.” The same principle applies to getting free (i.e. more) stuff.
Bonus Psychology: Word of Mouth Still Works
Who doesn’t talk about receiving free gifts? We even brag about receiving something for 10% off! Even though we’re in the digital age, don’t underestimate the power of “word of mouth” marketing.
A social media giveaway will get people talking about your company. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better way to generate buzz and get your name out there.
Ok, that’s enough psychology for one lesson. Let’s get back to the “here and now” and talk about how a giveaway can benefit YOU.
At the end of the day, you need progress and results. Why would you give free stuff?
well, giveaways can bring both of those. Here’s what you stand to gain:
Startups that want to increase their following will do a giveaway so that more people will find out about them. Big companies will do the same to make sure that their existing audience will never forget them. Any way you look at it, exposure is good for business.
Everyone loves free stuff, especially if it’s your products or services. You’re creating powerful incentive for people to pay attention to you.
One problem with social media today is that people follow too many brands. That sounds fine at first, but it becomes hard to keep up with them and react to what they post.
I, for example, don’t have the energy to respond to everything in my feed. It may be funny or informative, or whatever and I still react to them, but only in my mind. I don’t engage with the person/company that posted. I’m willing to bet that many of you feel the same.
Well, giveaways are different. When there’s free stuff to be won, people find the energy to respond. A giveaway can entice people to engage again with your brand.
After all, the point of being on social media is opening a dialogue and not a monologue.
Understanding the Audience
By asking a simple question for the giveaway, you can find out so many things about the people that follow your company on social media. It can be anything from their habits when it comes to your products to their favorite color.
The possibilities are endless here. It’s just a matter of figuring out what kind of information would be useful to you.
I’ve seen many creative giveaways out there, many of which were harnessing the power of user-generated content.
Here’s how this works: if you sell cereal. You can ask your followers to submit a picture with their breakfast for a chance to win a yearly supply of your products.
The guideline or the theme for the pictures can be to contain cereal. Just like that, you’ll have plenty of images for your upcoming posts (with the users’ approval, of course).
You can go even further and ask for videos or written content. Careful, though, there’s a catch. Those options complicate the giveaway and that’s bad. We’ll go into details about this shortly but for the moment: know that your giveaway should be as simple as possible.
Grow Your Email List
Your weekly or monthly newsletter may be fascinating, but it doesn’t matter if no one is reading it.
Email marketing is still, until this day, the most successful communication channel. To get the most out of it, you need a big email list.
By running a giveaway and asking the participants to enter by simply giving their name and email address, you’re growing your list. However, don’t use this opportunity to spam them. You’d severely hurt your brand.
Promote a New Product or Service
A giveaway is one of the best ways to promote a new product or service. All you have to do is offer the new product/service as a prize.
Considering it’s new and interesting to your audience, they will enter the giveaway hoping to be the first to try it out. It’s a double victory for you because you get all the normal benefits plus the buzz for your new product/service.
Since we’re talking about good reasons to start a social media giveaway, let’s talk a bit about the bad ones too.
Sometimes people do the right thing for the wrong reason. A giveaway is a right thing, but if you do organize it for the wrong reason, you don’t really gain anything.
Facebook generates daily over 4 billion likes. The most liked page is Facebook for every phone – with over 500 million likes. But there are almost 100 million fake accounts. So you should ask yourself how relevant a Like actually is.
There are some brand pages eager to gather Likes with the same passion a small boy is catching Pokemon. But the story is very different. A person that liked your page may never actually engage with your content.
Sad, but true.
Facebook has kept on squeezing the organic reach for brand pages. At the moment, if you’re reaching 3% of your audience, consider yourself lucky. What does this mean?
Let’s say your business’ page has just reached 10.000 likes. Good job! Great job! But even if your content is great and engaging, there is a chance that only 300 people would engage with it.
The moral of this example is that likes are not a good indicator of engagement. You can get tons of likes with a social media giveaway, but it might not help you in any meaningful way.
I’ll start by saying that asking the audience to follow you on social media as part of the giveaway isn’t inherently bad. The problem is when you measure the success of the event by counting them afterwards.
When you give away stuff, expect to gain new followers. Some of them will be there for the free stuff, some of them will actually be interested in your brand. When you force them to follow you, though, you can expect a lot more uninterested followers.
While uninterested followers don’t do anything bad, they rarely do you any good either. The reality of the situation is that very few will become clients.
If you don’t ask for follows, you’ll know that the people who still do it are truly interested in your company. Consider followers as a key performance indicator(KPI) only if you DON’T force people to follow you.
Now that we’ve got goals, out of the way, we can start thinking up ideas. To stimulate your imagination, we’ll take a quick look at a few awesome giveaways done by large enterprises.
As I said earlier, even huge corporations can’t stand aside. Giveaways work for companies of any sizes, just look at these three:
They ran a contest using Facebook’s geo-photo tagging function. Their objective – create buzz for their new store opening in Sweden. Their page uploaded photos of different items in Ikea showrooms around the world.
The first person to tag themselves on any of the items in the room was the winner of that item.
It’s fun and original, not to mention that they totally nailed the “promote a new product” point I was making earlier.
You may not know this company by name, but I’m confident you know its owner: Tony Hawk, the pro skater.
The Tony Hawk Twitter Hunt runs every year. It started in 2009. His team hides boxes of collectibles in different places around the world. Then they tweet pictures with the location – without giving obvious clues.
The first to find it wins it. Then they have to tweet a picture of themselves with the prize.
Each year they generate a lot of buzz and reinforce Tony Hawk as the face of skateboarding.
They ran a contest on Instagram in 2013 that had great results. It took place in 11 countries and seven different languages. With such a wide area covered, you can bet they got a lot of participants.
People were required to sign up to the contests’ app – called Lipstagram – with their Instagram accounts. Participants then had to upload a photo related to a weekly hashtag.
The prize was a safari trip to Kenya for two.
Their giveaway is really cool because of how much liberty it offered to the participants. Not to underestimate the awesome prize, though.
Now that you have a few examples, let’s get into the process of creating your very own, unique, giveaway.
Truth be told, a giveaway isn’t the easiest thing to pull off. A successful one is even harder. The benefits, though, make it worth it. Hopefully, with the help of our guide, though, it won’t be that difficult for you.
Set Objectives and Benchmarks
Like just about anything in business, planning is key. Before you get started with anything, set some crystal clear objectives. This way, ever aspect of the giveaway will be designed to help reach those goals.
Make it a SMART goal. SMART stands for:
A SMART objective sounds like this:
We want to gain 300 quality leads within 20 days of the giveaway start.
If you want your social media contests or giveaways to be successful, always set up objectives in the first place. What are you trying to achieve with this? What offers you the best ROI?
Analyze what’s your highest converting channel. If it’s email marketing, getting a larger email list sounds good. You’ll get engagement no matter what is your objective, so don’t worry about that.
Important: if you’re asking for people’s email address, make sure you make it clear. Give them the chance to unsubscribe even if you’re letting them know you won’t spam.
Alternatively, if you just want exposure, encourage shares. Make sure you advertise the giveaway beforehand and draw it out over a longer period of time.
These are just ideas, though. You know best what your company needs and you’ll also know the best way to achieve this. The vital part is that you know what you’re looking for during the whole process.
After setting your goals and KPIs, start monitoring them throughout the giveaway. Keep your eyes on the prize!
Choose the Platform Where the Social Media Giveaway Will Take Place
Even though you’ll promote the giveaway basically on all your channels, you still have to decide where to run it. You could pick Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. These are the most popular social media channels for giveaways.
The choice for the platform will be connected to the objectives you set in the first place.
Different channels have different strong points. For example, if your goal is to increase your Instagram followers. Then that is where you will run the giveaway. That applies to any social media website.
A few other options you may not know about are giveaway websites. That’s right, they’re a thing.
The advantage of giveaway sites is that you get a chance to attract new followers from new groups. They may not have even heard of your brand before, but now you have the chance to get them hooked on your products or services.
Here are some sites you might want to check out now and save for later:
While we’re at it, you should know that you can also submit your contest or giveaway on a few Giveaway Groups on social networks.
- Reddit: Sweepstakes/Giveaways/Contests
- Google+ Giveaways – Community – Google+
- Facebook: Giveaways & Sweepstakes
As you can see, you have plenty of options. The sky is the limit.
Well, actually, there are other limits: the website rules regarding contest and giveaways. If you don’t know them beforehand, you might end up wasting your time or even getting into trouble.
All social media platforms have specific rules for contests or giveaways. You can check them out right here:
Make sure what you plan on doing isn’t violating their terms.
While you can use as many channels as you want, pick a favorite and monitor it. Remember: you want to keep an eye on your KPIs.
Decide What Type of Social Media Giveaway You'll Organize
It is important you correlate the type of giveaway with your objective. Remember your goals and determine what style will serve them the best.
There are two main types you can do:
- A sweepstake. This is where the winners will be randomly selected with a tool like random.org. No one can interfere with the results. It’s just pure luck.
- A contest. The winner will be chosen based on criteria that were established beforehand. If you want to organize a contest, then you’ll have to figure out if you want to have a jury or if you’ll select the winner. Either way, the person or the group of individuals that get to make this call have to be experts in the particular industry.
You can, of course, create a variation of one of these types. That would be a good idea too because the more creative and unique the giveaway, the more memorable it will be.
Pick a Prize
Whatever you do, please don’t give away an iPad or an iPhone, unless you’re Apple. Assuming the social media team from Apple is not reading this, I will share with you some tips about choosing the prize(s) for the giveaway.
First of all, the prize has to be relatable to the profile of your company and your audience. Let’s say that you’re a skincare company. Depending on what is your objective, you can give away:
- The new products you’re launching
- A goodie bag that contains products worth $1,000
- A facial treatment at a luxury SPA
- Product supplies for an entire year
And the list can go on and on. If you have a bigger budget, you can, of course, have a more impressive prize, such as a trip to a dreamy destination.
You don’t have to put all your eggs in one basket, though. Another route would be to offer lots of smaller prizes. Still, have a big one that will get everyone’s attention.
As a rule of thumb, if you ask a lot from your audience( like shooting a 10 seconds video and tagging ten friends), you need to offer a killer prize, too. Otherwise, fewer people will participate.
If you don’t want to blow a lot of money, that’s fine. Just make sure people feel like the effort they put into participating is worth the prize.
The first and most important aspect of the prize is (and will always be) its relevancy. You want people to remember your brand, so the whole giveaway has to be something specific and unique to you.
Create a Set of Rules and an Entry Process
If you kept your goals in mind, you probably already have a few ideas about the entry process. To grow your contact list, for example, you’ll ask people to give their email address.
When creating the entry process, remember this crucial rule: keep it simple. Your visitors will be deterred by contests that have too many steps.
Don’t ask people to give out their email, then fill a form, then give out their credit card information and then do a backflip. An email address or a share on social media should be enough. If you’re dead-set on asking for more, you’ll need to offer better prizes as well.
From the audience’s point of view, it’s simple: the prize has to be worth the trouble of participating.
Another thing you’ll have to do is explain every little step of the process in detail. Ambiguity can lead to confusion and confusion can lead to problems.
Besides the entry process, you also have to present a set of rules by which the social media giveaway will abide. Generally speaking, the rules put in place by the website you’ll use are enough for a nice and orderly giveaway. If you’re holding a contest, though, you’ll need your own extra rules regarding the winner selection process.
So, the keywords here are these: simplicity and clarity.
Come Up with a Schedule
Before you set up a specific date for your contest, take your time to get everything ready. Make the messages, posters, videos and so forth. The prizes should be prepared as well.
Decide for how long the event will last. Decide when you’ll start advertising and taking in participants. Take into consideration the date you’ll be announcing the winner.
Follow-up is also important – conclusions and key elements that your audience would like to read about. Have everything planned out.
It can be a bit tricky to come up with a schedule. A truly successful giveaway must have just the right length.
If it’s too fast, not enough people will find out about it and you won’t get the desired effect. If it’s too long, though, people will start to lose interest and you’ll end up with the same problem.
I’d say three to four weeks is the sweet spot. In that timeframe, you should include advertising as well as the giveaway itself. We’ll talk about these topics as well so, by the end of the lesson, you’ll know how much time and effort each part will take.
Create Hype and Start Promoting
This is the most important step for your giveaway. You now what they say: if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it actually make a sound?
That’s how it is with social media giveaways. Don’t keep it a secret. After all, you want as many people as possible to participate in it, right?
The first step is to use all of your communication channels to get the word out. This means email lists, all of your social media channels, website (pop-ups, blog), plus others that would greatly depend on the type of business you’re running.
It can be anything from in-app notifications to messages on mobile phones. Make a list with every channel you use, so that you don’t forget anything. Then, the next step is to create content for all of them. Articles, posts, videos, infographics, images. The wider the variety, the better.
It’s not enough to post the message announcing the giveaway only once. Remind people about it every single day, but don’t be spammy about it. The objective is to make the audience want the prize.
Promoting the giveaway on your communication channels is not enough, however. Get some big names in the mix.
By big names, I’m talking about thought leaders and influencers in the industry. If people see someone they can count on promoting your giveaway, guess what? You’ll have a higher participation rate.
Use a service such as Followerwonk by SEOmoz to get in contact with thought leaders in your field. You can search for keywords on Twitter, and it will find bios based on them.
Pitch your giveaway to your influencer/thought leader list. Show them what they get in return (a guest post, more traffic, free sample of your product, etc.). The more big names you get, the more exposure you’ll get.
Use every trick in the book. Every participant is a potential client so give promotion all you’ve got.
Start the Social Media Giveaway
After you’re done promoting and people know what to expect, it’s time to go live with the contest. And then immediately resume the promotion.
Start contacting again all the people and brands you spoke with before the launch. Tell them your social media contests or giveaways are live. Ask them to promote it again to their audience and fans.
Shift your ads into fifth gear and talk about the giveaway non-stop. Message your email list and let them know the contest is on. Ask your friends to help you out with promoting it. It your last chance to reach more people.
Answer every question the audience asks. At this point, you have to do as much as possible to keep people’s attention. There’s no better way to do that than by talking WITH them, not TO them.
You might see a big wave of people right at the beginning of the giveaway and then less and less. It’s not a problem. That’s how they usually go but through promotion, you can get more people onboard.
Keep a close eye for anything that might go wrong. Engage with people that leave you comments or complain about something. Treat everything like feedback.
While ensuring that everything is going well, you should also check your KPIs carefully. Make a habit of tracking the results every other day or so. This way, you can make small adjustments to maximize results.
Don’t just check every KPI at the end of the giveaway and decide whether it was worth the effort or not. A successful event will have long-lasting effects that can’t be measured until later on.
If you ever plan on making another giveaway at some point (and you totally should), the findings you get now will be crucial. You’ll be able to make an even better contest next time based on the experience you gained with this one.
Prizes, Thank Yous and Mentions
When the right time has come, announce the winner. If you’ve organized a social media giveaway (like a sweepstake) try to record the result. If you’re using random.org, OBS is a great piece of software to record the process. Make the process as transparent as possible.
If it was a contest, the decision should be transparent as well. Message the winner and make him as happy as possible. You’d want him to become an ambassador for your brand.
If you have the resources, try to offer a small prize to every participant. Something like a 5$ gift card. If not, it’s ok, but you should definitely thank everyone that entered.
This is also a good time to publicly thank the influencers and other helpers who supported your giveaway. It sends a positive message and besides, everyone could use a “thank you!” from time to time.
The Final Analysis
After you’ve handed out the prize and generated buzz about it, measure everything again. Take your initial data and compare it with what you have now. You’ll probably have a few surprises, positive or not. That’s to be expected where scores of people are involved.
Draw conclusions and write a post about your social media contest outcome. Your audience will be happy to hear they were a part of something big. The winner will feel much better knowing he was the best out of 10.000 participants. The metrics that are relevant just for you don’t need to be public.
And there you have it: a complete guide to giveaways. Don’t leave just yet, though, I’ve got something extra for you.
Bonus Idea: Use a Landing Page
A giveaway can work wonders without leaving its home social media website. That being said, you can take it one step further: sending people to a landing page on your website and having the action take place there.
There are many qualities a landing page has that a simple social media contest just can’t compete with.
For starters, all the traffic from your contest is diverted to your website. You can also promote the page on all your social networks. There’s no need to create separate forms for each platform.
But you need to know what qualities make for a great page:
You need a viral element to make the landing page take off.
You’ll want a giant call to action button right in the middle of the page. The larger the space around it, the better. It diverts attention to the button.
Make the giveaway more “social.” If you offer a prize for someone AND their friend, they’re more likely to spread the word. Make sure to mention this on the page.
Speaking of which, try creating a little competition among your fans:
- Giveaways are all about their viral nature, so offer incremental rewards the more they share it with their friends.
- Or, ramp up the number of entries into the contest for the same reason above.
Create a sense of urgency about the giveaway. People will (figuratively) stumble over their feet to get a piece of the action. Especially if you know, your audience craves the particular product you’re offering.
Of course, there will also be contenders that are unfamiliar with your company. Make sure to include a brief description of what you do and what you’re offering on the page.
Make sure you comply with all state/country regulations before creating a giveaway! It’s helpful to hire a lawyer to do the legal work for you. Link your legal policies on the footer of your contest page.
The best part about the landing page is that you can track all sorts of information about it. On social media, the data you get is limited to the basics, but, on your website, you can go wild.
For example, you could create a pointer “heat map” and see what attracted the most attention. This can be crucial information for when you’re creating other landing pages.
Now that you know all this, you’re ready to organize a killer giveaway. It’s not the easiest thing in the world, but the biggest social media websites are full of them because they work.
Giveaways are a win-win situation: your audience has some fun, gets some prizes, and you gain popularity and information. Doesn’t that sound great?
Yeah, it really does. Well then, why are you still standing here? Get out there and start planning your very own giveaway! We’ll keep an eye out for you in our news feeds.
I still haven't found any use for my passion for video games, though 🙁
Latest posts by Alex Iftode
- The Ultimate Social Media Giveaway Guide: The Art of Giving - November 3, 2016
- 5 Branding Tools That Will Empower Busy Marketers - November 1, 2016
- Developing a Personal Brand: 8 Powerful Tools We Recommend - October 26, 2016