Social Media and Giveaways: A Powerful Marketing Campaign

Who likes getting things for free? Let’s be real… everyone. We are a consumer-based society, and nothing piques our interest more than feeling like we are getting the special deal. That’s why so many companies have started doing social media giveaways.

Social media is well known as the digital marketing goldmine. The key to getting the most out of it is having strategies that require the least amount of investment for the greatest amount of return – usually in brand awareness or the bottom line. Brands have come to realize that one of the easiest ways to achieve this is through social media giveaways. When used correctly, brands can have an explosion of followers and interest in a short amount of time. Giveaways offer a win-win situation that leaves both the consumer and the brand walking away happy. Here is a little foray into how to structure a giveaway successfully and what kind of return you can expect to see.  

How to Structure Your Giveaway

You may think that structuring a giveaway is self-explanatory, but many brands have dug themselves into a hole because they did not effectively plan their giveaway campaigns.

Case and point: the red swimsuit campaign from a couple years ago. If you were like me, you remember your Instagram flooded with the picture of a girl in a red swimsuit. The brand Sunny Co. had offered the pictured red swimsuit (which retailed for $64.99) for free to everyone who re-posted the picture and tagged the company. While it sounded like a great way to get a ton of brand awareness, this plan backfired for obvious reasons. Way to many people re-posted, and the company had to backtrack on the promotion. They were way over their heads and the giveaway campaign was out of control. That is why it is important that your giveaway follow a structure that makes sense.

The Nuts and Bolts

The first thing to consider is the platform that you decide to use. For companies with products or strong visual presentations, he most popular platform for giveaways is Instagram. Facebook and Twitter are also great.

After selecting your platform, the next step is deciding which type of giveaway you would like to design; here are the 3 most effective options.

  1. Sharing a post. This usually involves the participant sharing the original post and tagging the company. This is similar to the Sunny co giveaway, except for the fact that they offered the giveaway to everyone who participated instead of making it a sweepstakes and choosing a few people from the pool of re-posters.
  2. Follow and like. Many giveaways will only require that people follow their page and like the giveaway post. This increases followers drastically and is easy for participants to complete.
  3. Tagging friends. Some contests will require that the participants leave a comment under the post and tag 1-3 friends. This is also not too difficult for people to do, and increases the number of eyes on the page.

Some brands will do a combination of all three of these techniques. They may ask people to share the post and follow their page, or follow, like, and tag a friend. All of these methods are effective, and it’s really a personal preference which method a company chooses. Brands may want to keep in mind that people might be less inclined to repost than to just like a post. They also are more likely to follow through with just one step instead of all three.


After you have decided on your setup, you need to choose a length of time to run the giveaway. You do not want it to be too long otherwise people will lose interest, and if it is too short, it may not have time to get the traction it needs to generate interest. Most brands will choose between 1 week, 2 weeks, or 1 month. High value prizes might keep people interested enough to wait for a full month, but if your prize value is lower, you may want to stay between 1-2 weeks. A shorter time period will allow you to prompt people act quickly before time runs out, and keep them engaged and interested in the contest. Yet, if you give them less than one week, your giveaway may never get off the ground. A time frame of 2 weeks should be the sweet spot for most prizes.

You also need to decide when to start your giveaway. When thinking about timing, try to plan ahead of your busy season. For example, if you are a real estate company, you may want to schedule a giveaway campaign right before spring. If you are a photographer, a few months before wedding season. Be smart about when you post so that you can maximize your ROI.

Here’s an effective example, by Whisky Exchange:

Whisky Exchange Giveaway

This brand used the follow and comment method for their giveaway. They also utilized timing by giving away promotional TV show items right before the new season starts.

Legal Traps

You need to make sure that your giveaway is legally compliant. If you have a legal team, you should run your giveaway post by them before posting. If you don’t have legal resources, you will want to be careful and do your own research. One important rule to consider is that if it is considered a lottery, you could get into trouble. A lottery involves prizes, chance, and consideration, and the contestant has to give up something of value in order to participate.

A sweepstakes, which is what you should be running, will not involve consideration, only a prize and chance. To make this distinction clear, you may want to put “No Purchase Necessary” at the end of your post. This is important because the last thing you want is for your giveaway to cause you legal problems.  

Important: This is not legal advice, please consult with a qualified attorney to avoid legal pitfalls.

What Do You Give?

Of course, there is no giveaway unless you have something of value to give. Finding the right product to give can be tricky, and there are a lot of factors that go into the decision. Important factors are, budget size, number of prizes given out, and target level of interest that your product will generate.

If you sell a product that is tangible, then you may want to include your own merchandise. Yet, depending on how valuable it is, you may adjust the amount of winners you will choose. If it is extremely valuable you may only choose one or two winners. One rule of thumb is that the size of participants tends to increase with the value of the giveaway. Conversely, if your product is relatively less valuable, you may decide to select 10-20 people.

Promotional Products

Now, what if you don’t have a tangible product you can give away? Maybe you’re a real estate company, a law firm, or a financial planning firm. Just because you don’t sell merchandise doesn’t mean you have to pass up on this fantastic marketing opportunity. One great option is buying promotional products like customizable tech devices. These items are highly appreciated by recipients.

There are a lot of great products like a custom USB, custom headphones, or personalized phone chargers. You can buy bulk USB drives and other products from companies like CustomUSB, and they will customize your product to showcase your brand.

Giving away tech products like these custom flash drives shows that your brand also has a lot of value, and is forward thinking and innovative. It also puts your brand in front of the consumer on a daily basis and keeps your product on their mind. Also, don’t forget that you don’t have to give away just one prize; you can give away an assortment of prizes. For instance, you can give a visa gift card with multiple promotional products, or you could give away your merchandise with some promotional products to amplify your brand awareness.

What Will it Get You?

Ultimately everything we do in marketing should serve a purpose, and that purpose should maximize ROI (return on investment) . Giveaways will offer a lot of benefits for your fans. They will generate traffic towards your social media, and your website. When used correctly, they can help you generate leads.

They get people interested in your product (even if they didn’t win). Executed correctly, giveaway campaigns will increase brand awareness while encouraging reciprocity. It will save you time and money on other more expansive and less valuable social media strategies. Giveaways are appreciated, and they encourage brand loyalty. All of these benefits will ultimately lead to one thing; an increase in awareness, clients and sales.

Measuring Your Success

One effective way to evaluating giveaways campaign engagement is through the following equation:

Giveaway Engagement Equation

Percentage of participation measures the relevance and interest level of your campaign for your particular audience. You can track this percentage from giveaway to giveaway and find ways to make improvements.

Social media giveaways are one of the easiest ways to increase brand awareness, excite potential clients with cool merchandise and tech products, and to expand your social media reach through increased traffic and followers. Just remember not to let the competition get out of control, and to stay within the legal regulations of sweepstakes. If you set up your giveaway correctly, you will be blown away by the response that you receive.

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