How to Run a Successful Giveaway on Social Media

Social media can greatly increase your small business’s presence in the marketplace if you know how to rock it. One of the best ways to reach more consumers without paying for ads is by running a giveaway on your social channels.

There are three types of giveaways you can use on social media. The first is a sweepstake, in which winners are chosen by chance. For sweepstakes, this can range from small prizes, like some products, or large prizes, like a mini-vacation or spa package.

The second type of giveaway is a contest. Contests require users to submit criteria, and the winner is chosen on the merit of that criteria. This could be done through a voting selection of the best photo, video, DIY project, etc.

The last type of giveaway is a lottery in which people pay money to buy a chance to win. However, lotteries are highly regulated so it’s best to avoid these unless you can afford to consult with a legal counsel before doing so.

For a quick rundown of what to do and what to avoid during a giveaway, check out these 10 tips.

What to do

1. Limit the entries for your giveaway. This can be from age restrictions (the safest bet is 18 or older) to location restrictions (U.S.-only) to number of entries. If the winner is from another country, the shipping and handling fees can be pricey for your small business.

2. Create rules for your giveaway. This can mean following or liking certain pages, using a specific hashtag or tagging friends in comments. It can also mean creating rules that can make someone ineligible for prizes (for example, if your giveaway is one entry per person and you discover the winner used different accounts for multiple entries).

3. Pick the winner fairly. For sweepstakes, you can do this by using an algorithm to pick a winner at random. This can be done in an excel sheet or by picking a random number based on the comments or shares. You could also pick a select judge or judges to look at the entries and pick a winner for contests or pick a random contestant from a bowl for a sweepstake.

4. Provide an engaging experience. Your giveaway should cultivate discussion and engagement among users – both followers and non – and your small business’s brand persona.

5. Always include the official rules. Every giveaway must have a set of official rules, and while you’re not obligated to list them to your consumers, it’s highly recommended so you can avoid liability issues. Official rules should include:

  • How to enter.
  • Location and/or age restrictions.
  • If you have a sponsor or promoter, name them.
  • Launch date and end date of the giveaway.
  • A description of the prizes.
  • How the prize(s) will be rewarded.
  • How the winner(s) will be selected.
  • When and where you’ll announce the winner(s).

What to avoid

1. Don’t give away big ticket items like tablets, phones or devices. You want to give away a product or service that’s relevant to your small business and your brand. That way, people will become more familiar with your business and be more likely to shop there.

2. Don’t allow voting from the same IP address multiple times. This can avoid tricky situations in which people vote for their own entry over and over or get their friends and families to do so as well. Voting should only be done for contests and should be done fairly. You can also avoid this by having a set of judges vote on entries.

3. Don’t make them wait longer than the deadline. If you say you will announce the giveaway winner on a specific day, announce the winner on that day. That way, you won’t get a flock of comments or questions asking when the winner will be announced. You also avoid annoying your customer base by not sticking to your word.

4. Don’t be lenient in the entry rules. Your submission dates should be set in stone. If you select a winner who entered a day or two late, other contestants will likely figure this out and get upset.

5. Don’t wait forever for the winner(s). Be sure to let the winner(s) know that they have a limited time for a response, otherwise the prize is up for re-selection. Give them a day or two to respond, but don’t wait more than a week.

Social media is a great way to expand your consumer reach – whether it be through paid advertisements or through organic means. A giveaway can help boost this reach organically while also increasing your following or engagement (or both!). With these tips, you should be able to run a successful social media giveaway for your small business.

Constantina Kokenes is a Content Specialist at Kabbage, a small business loans provider. She holds a Master’s Degree in Journalism from Northwestern University. When not immersed in the small business world, Constantina loves cooking, baking, going on hikes, and playing with her cat and chinchilla.