Guide to Running a Social Media Giveaway

September 24, 2021

Everyone likes being a winner, right? And of course, everyone loves free stuff. So running a giveaway on social media seems like a smart move.

Contests and giveaways can also be a great way to get more followers and engagement on your chosen social media platform.

But before launching social media giveaways and contests, there are some important points to know so you can set the right expectations and adjust your marketing goals accordingly. We've tried to make it as easy as possible by covering a few points so you can run your next giveaway the right way!

1. Requiring that people follow your account to be eligible to win shouldn't be a long-term tactic to gain followers.

The reality is, some people are only interested in receiving free gifts and aren’t likely to engage with you or follow you after the contest is over. That's why you'll sometimes notice a sudden increase in follows and then a sharp decrease.

According to a case study published on Social Media Examiner, 61 percent of giveaway participants unfollowed sponsors’ accounts within two weeks from the date of the giveaway result announcement.

Although it's disappointing, people who aren't interested in your brand will not stick around after you've announced the competition winner. You'll likely see a lot of unfollows in the days and weeks afterward – especially if you aren't serving up valuable content that they're personally interested in.

2. Asking people to comment and tag friends will definitely increase engagement – but it’s limited to that particular post.

What we know from research: Instagram accounts that host contests and giveaways are likely to see 70 percent more growth than those that do not.

It's important to realize, however, that social media giveaways are not guaranteed to be a long-term solution for upping your engagement rate. The increase occurs because people are more likely to engage with competition-related posts. And it makes sense – people love a great freebie or prize.

That said, yes, a post that does well can definitely make your posts more favorable for Instagram to show to more of your followers!

3. Competitions can attract spammers.

Fake profiles are rampant and a real issue. That’s why in addition to the right audience groups, social media contests and competitions can bring a flock of spammers, bots flooding your posts and inbox with comments.

Although popular social media networks like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter use advanced machine learning and algorithms to detect spammers, none of it is foolproof.

Be aware that if you attract fake accounts and spammers without realizing it, it might increase the unnecessary cost per acquisition.

As a smart marketer, consider what you would do if this happens and if you need to include it in the Terms and Conditions. We strongly suggest closely monitoring comments.

You can also use tools to scan your accounts regularly and weed out fake accounts.

4. Follow the rules and guidelines.

Before hosting a social media contest or another kind of online giveaway, make sure to follow the local laws and the rules laid out by the platform where you’re organizing it.

Jim Belosic, co-founder and CEO of ShortStack, discussed this topic at great length in an article he authored for Inc. “In the United States," Belosic said, "Internet sweepstakes and contests focus on federal laws against online gambling.”

Belosic went on to discuss rules for the various states. In Florida, for instance, prizes worth $5,000 or more must be bonded and registered seven days before sweepstakes begin.

Maryland and Nebraska, he said, "prohibit purchase requirements even if the contest winners are selected based on skill.”

To avoid complications arising from contests, seek legal advice and follow the guidelines outlined by social media platforms when you’re hosting giveaways.

5. Write clear instructions and captions.

In addition to discussing state and federal laws in his Inc. article, Belosic provided information about what to include in the description. He listed some examples of verbiage and other information that social media contest rules can include.

Two examples are, "No Purchase Necessary," and "Purchase does not enhance the chance of winning."

Captions must also clearly inform participants about judging criteria, publicity rights regarding the use of winners' information, description of the prize, starting and finishing dates, liability, odds of winning, and taxes to be paid.

We suggest you have a basic overview of how to enter and what entries will be considered valid. You can then mention where full Terms and Conditions can be found, such as in your link in bio.

In short, the clearer description you write, the higher your chances of finding the right audience and avoiding legal problems.

6. Choose prizes carefully and see if it’s profitable for your business.

Will you give away an iPhone for acquiring 100 followers on social media? You'll want to spend time thinking about that.

To avoid unreasonable costs for hosting contests, work out your return on investment (ROI). How you calculate ROI totally depends on your objectives, but you may want to consider a few things like the value of the free gift, marketing expenses – and, of course, your time.

We hope this information will guide you in minimizing expenses while ensuring maximum returns through social media contests and giveaways. Now, all you need to do is choose the right platform, create a post, decide if you want to use any branded hashtags, and get started!

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