Social media giveaways are a proven way to increase your page likes, interaction, followers, and the size of your mailing list. But what steps should you follow to ensure your giveaway is an astounding success?
Running a giveaway on your website is one thing. Deciding to run a social media giveaway is another thing. Running a successful giveaway is something else entirely.
I’ll be taking you through, step-by-step, how to prepare for a social media giveaway, how to drum up some initial interest, and then how to launch the giveaway with a bang.
Step 1: Have a Crystal Clear Goal
Before doing anything else, you must have a clear end-goal in mind.
Having a specific goal in mind is vital for all forms of marketing, including social media marketing. Just what are you trying to achieve with this giveaway? Is it more Facebook likes, Twitter followers, Pinterest repins, mailing list subscriptions, website visits, referrals, comments on a status update? The options continue.
Whatever goal you settle on, this should be a SMART goal. That is, specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused, and time-bound. As an example:
We want to gain 500 new, relevant Facebook likes within 21 days of the contest starting.
Step 2: Set a Budget
Most social media posts offer very limited organic reach. If you run a giveaway on a Facebook page with 1000 likes, even having this seen by 100 fans will be a tall order. That is, unless you have a budget to “boost” this contest. The same is true for all major social platforms.
When setting a budget, you have to be realistic, and you also have to take into account the cost of the prize. If the barrier to enter your contest is high, your conversion rate will be pretty low. If you want 100 people to record and publish a video to Instagram you’ll need to offer something very enticing to a very large number of people. This invariably costs more. If your barrier to entry is low, conversion rates will be higher. This will require a smaller budget.
To help get an estimate of how much you will likely need to spend, you can start setting up your promoted post in your Ads account within the social platform you’re targeting. Most of these accounts can offer you an estimated reach based on the cash you’re willing to spend. Remember though, be realistic. As you run more contests, you’ll become better at estimating the budget needed to achieve your goals.
Step 3: Decide on a Prize
For your giveaway to be a success, you need to give away something that your target audience will actually value. So make it relevant to them, and make it relevant to your organization. Context is key here.
When choosing a prize, ask yourself these questions:
- Will the specific audience I need to target actually crave this prize?
- Can we offer something we already have? i.e. a membership deal, discount, own-brand products, or services.
- Is there something we can offer that is relevant to both the audience and the season?
- Can we afford it?
Step 4: Set a Schedule
Before picking a start date for the contest, give yourself enough time to get the prizes ready, and to iron out any other details.
You then need to decide on how long the giveaway will run for (bear in mind the date that you want to announce the winner). This will depend on a number of factors. If your only marketing will be boosting the post on your chosen platform, there’s not too much to consider. In these cases though, 2–4 weeks often works well. This gives you time to cross-promote the giveaway on other platforms, while giving people time to enter.
If you’re aiming for particularly lofty goals, and promoting the giveaway in many different ways, you’ll want to give yourself more time. For instance, if you’ve convinced a few industry leaders to promote your giveaway on their blogs and social profiles, you may find the giveaway running for upwards of two months.
Just don’t string your entrants and audience along for so long that they lose interest.
Step 5: Record Your Stats
In order to properly measure the success of your giveaway, you need to know where you currently stand.
Just before your giveaway, make a note of some important metrics such as the following. Installing Google Analytics (read our Google Analytics guide) on your site will help you to find some these numbers more easily. You can find social media specific figures within the insights area of the relevant platforms.
- Social media followers
- The amount of engagement you currently receive
- Unique visits to your site
- Number of inbound links
- The size of your mailing list (and its conversion rate)
And any other metrics that will help you to see what affect the giveaway had on your site and business.
Step 6: How Will You Run Your Giveaway?
There are two main ways to run a social media giveaway. You can either post the giveaway directly to the social profile, or you host the giveaway on a third party app.
The pros and cons of each of these options can be seen in this article on PostPlanner. But to paraphrase:
Running your contest directly on the social platform is quick, easy and cheap. It allows you to run simple contests, and have these be entered from any device. Unfortunately, getting hold of the winner can be hard, it’s difficult to gather solid leads (namely email addresses), you can’t demand people to like your page to enter, and displaying the full rules can be difficult.
Using third-party apps (such as Binkd, Shortstack, or Heyo) allows you to collect email addresses, ask people to like your page, reduces the risk of cheating, offers analytics, and makes it easy to contact the winner. The downsides are that you need to learn some new software, you’ll have to pay, you’ll need access to a mailing list program (such as Mailchimp), and the contest takes people away from your social page onto a separate webpage where they can enter.
Step 7: Prepare the Giveaway
Once you know how and where you will be managing your giveaway, you need to prepare all of the marketing materials. To make sure you get this right, get to know what each social platform requires of you. The last thing you want is for your giveaway to be rejected because it looks like you’re running an illegal lottery or haven’t disclosed the rules of your contest.
You can see the promotion rules for the main social platforms at these links:
Once you’re up to speed on the rules you need to follow, you’ll be able to prepare the materials for your giveaway. This includes the images, text, and links you’ll be using. If you’re doing the graphic design yourself, Canva (read our Canva guide) can make this very easy, but make sure you’re creating the correct size images by referring to this social media image cheatsheet. Also remember to not let text take up more than 20% of your images! For tracking links, sign up for a bit.ly account.
By the end of this stage, you should have any banner ads you’ll be posting on your site (or anyone else’s), and the images you’ll be using on social media, and on any blog posts to be published. You should also have variations of wordings for your promotion, including a decent number of tweets including relevant hashtags (make sure to include the URL to your promotion if needed). Also prepare the text for a few different Facebook status updates to let people know about the giveaway.
Depending on how else you’re promoting the giveaway, you may need to prepare the emails you’ll be sending out to your mailing list, and any other people in your industry. Don’t forget to prepare the message that’ll inform the winner of their good fortunes!
Having all of this ready now will make everything go that much more smoothly once the contest launches.
Step 8: Pre-Giveaway Schmoozing
Now you’re ready to start getting into the real work of promoting your giveaway. Even before it launches. This is to ensure that once the giveaway is live, you’re giving it the best chance of success possible.
To do this, start contacting people in your industry, and those who have access to your target audience. Try to think of anyone who has the leverage to help your giveaway to be seen by more of the right people. If you already have rapport with these individuals, all the better. The conversations you’re opening should be geared toward letting these individuals know about your giveaway, when it will be starting, explaining why the giveaway could be of interest to their audience, and asking them to help you promote it.
If you don’t receive a response, don’t push it. Most people will not help you out, but that’s normal. But the few that do, remember that you owe them.
This is also the stage that you should be sending out teasers to your own audience, be that your social media following, or your email list. Let your audience know that an exciting giveaway will be happening soon, to ensure they’re poised for entry the moment it’s live.
There more buzz around your social giveaway, the better. This makes platforms like Facebook see that something is popular, pushing them to make sure it’s seen by more people.
Step 9: Launch and Promote
The moment the giveaway launches is your opportunity to up its chance of success. Get back in touch with everyone you contacted during the last stage, and let them know “It’s live, it’s live!” But don’t rely on them to promote your giveaway.
Now’s the time to message your email list, mention your friends in posts, and pay to have the giveaway “boosted”. This last item on the list may be the most important.
All social platforms, especially Facebook, now have incredible targeting options. If your giveaway is aimed at 45–60 year old guys who love MMORPGs, you can target this precise demographic. Set your budget, and choose how long you want the promotion to run for.
If your giveaway is not reliant on people leaving a comment or sharing a specific post, or liking a specific post you may want to create a few different status updates, and try out some different targeting options to see which works best.
Step 10: Managing the Community
Your giveaway is not just something you set and forget. You need to keep a close eye on the analytics, reply to any questions your receive, and continue pushing for people to help you promote the contest.
But this is also a chance for you to engage with your community. If you’ve targeted the right audience, anyone who shows an interest should be a potential lead for you, so don’t squander that chance to connect.
If the audience is contributing user-generated content (such as selfies, suggestions, or videos), make a special effort to thank them, and to comment on those contributions. If possible, even promote that content. Show your community that you value their input. If a conversation starts around your giveaway, join in. Follow any relevant hashtags you may have started. In other words, be present.
Step 11: Finishing Up
As your giveaway comes to a close, it’s time to pick a winner, and if possible, to let the other entrants know they didn’t win. The message to inform the winner should have already been prepared. Whatever you do, keep this winner happy! If they could become an ambassador for your brand, that would be the perfect outcome.
If you’ve managed to collect a number of email addresses or social media followers, treat these with respect. Whatever you insist on publishing to that audience should be valuable to them. That means don’t always be promoting yourself and asking for things. It means putting yourself in their shoes and offering updates and emails only when you have something valuable to say.
Your Successful Giveaway
By following these 11 steps, you’ll put yourself in a much better position to run a truly successful social media giveaway. And by having as much prepared up-front as possible, you’re able to put more time into engaging with your community as the contest is running, while pushing for other people to help you promote it.
Over to you: If you’ve run social media giveaways before, what hacks did you use to help them become even more successful?
Image Credit: Work is Successful by napat uthaichai via Shutterstock, On Target by Vizzzual.com (Flickr), Present for Tony by Andy Mangold (Flickr), Google Analytics on Computer Screen by Blue Fountain Media (Flickr), Social Media Class by MKHMarketing (Flickr), Handshake man – woman by Flazingo Photos (Flickr), Shuttle Launch by Austin (Flickr), Gifted Hero by DJ Hancock (Flickr).