Steel yourself because this is a very long blog post – but one I hope you’ll find useful. It’s about how to run a social media giveaway on Facebook and Instagram.

Personally, I’m a big fan of social media giveaways. Done properly and for the right reasons, they can be a very powerful and cost-effective marketing tool. The trick is in doing them properly.

There’s a right way and a wrong way. Unfortunately, a lot of business use the wrong way which puts you at risk of having your accounts disabled or permanently removed, and possibly even breaking laws in a few different countries.

While those outcomes aren’t common, it’s still a risk and one that I don’t advise my clients to take.

So, grab yourself a cuppa, make yourself comfortable and read on for my guide to running social media giveaways that stick to the rules AND get results.

Have a clear objective.

This is critical and should always – always – be your starting point. Social media giveaways are great for getting organic reach through engagement, awareness of a product or service and doing a bit of non-scientific market research.

What they’re not so good at doing is growing a fanbase or following because often any growth you get comes from people who want to win a prize rather than engage with your business or purchase from you. You may also find a lot of them unfollow you once the winner has been announced.

I’m not saying don’t run a giveaway with this objective in mind. I’m just saying go into it with your eyes open – and make sure you have some kick-ass content to follow up with to keep those new followers engaged.

Match your mechanic to your objective.

By far the most common social media giveaway is the good old ‘comment to win’. That’s because it’s easy for people to enter, every entry (or comment) will give you organic (free) reach and it’s easy for you to draw and contact your winner. And if you word your question well, it can provide some interesting insight into how your customers use your products or services.

If reaching lots of people is your objective, you may be tempted to ask people to share or tag. Please don’t – it’s against Facebooks rules. Instead you could ask people to “Tell us who you’d ……” as a way of getting them to enter. You’re not technically asking for a tag, but it’s likely that’s what a lot of people will do.

Asking people to like or follow you as a way of entering isn’t against Facebooks rules, but it does make it harder to pick and contact your winner.

On Facebook you can go to Settings > People and Other Pages to see a list of people who like your page, and the date that they liked it. It’s in chronological order, so new page likes will be at the top of the list. However, contacting them is tricky – you can message them but only as yourself (ie. the message in their inbox will come from your personal profile). If you don’t want to do this, you’ll need to create a new post or comment on the original giveaway post to announce your winner/s and rely on them contacting you. Depending on their settings, you can tag them in, but be mindful to respect their privacy.

On Instagram, go to your profile, tap the ‘Followers’ button and you’ll see a searchable list. If you follow your winner back, you will be able to DM them.

So to recap, here’s a list of what you can and can’t use as part of your social media giveaway:

Click here for the current Facebook policy.

Keep it short and sweet.

A week is like a year on social media, so I usually run a giveaway for no longer than 72 hours. You’ll get most of your results within the first 12-24 hours because after that your post will start to disappear from view – unless you’re using paid media to keep it visible. And if you are, after 72 hours you could be paying for frequency rather than reach. What’s more, people may get sick of seeing your post and block you – and we don’t want that.

Don’t post and run.

Take the time to hang around and engage with the people who enter by replying to their comments (even an emoji will do) or, at the very least, liking their comment. Often people will use this opportunity to ask questions, and if you’re not there to answer them you may have lost a new customer, or annoyed an existing one.

Keep your eyes on the prize.

For product-based businesses I’ve found frequent, low-value social media giveaways of your own product are the best way to go. It’s easy to build a few more posts around it to make it part of a wider conversation, it will appeal most to your ideal audience and you can use your entry mechanic to do some market research.

High value giveaways can also work, but there’s more chance you’ll capture people who are just in it to win it, so I recommend doing these less frequently.

As for collaborating with other businesses – proceed with caution. Having your products bundled in with a whole load of others on a giveaway post that asks people to like and follow a gazillion different accounts in order to enter isn’t always ideal. It’s likely the page hosting the giveaway is the one that will benefit the most. It all comes back to what *your* objective is. If a collab meets your objectives for your business, then go for it.

A different approach is often needed for service-based businesses. If you have a low value offer – such as free advice, a discount on a package deal or an add-on service – then that’s a good place to start. Even better if you can deliver the service remotely because this makes it relevant for more people. If not, then you’ll need to think outside the square – perhaps an incentive for contacting you to discuss your services, or going into a draw by downloading information or subscribing to an email database.

Stay on the right side of the law.

“Of course!” I hear you say. But breaking the actual law (as opposed to breaching Facebook rules) is much easier than you’d think. If I had $1 for every time I’d heard someone say ‘it’s only Instagram, so it doesn’t matter’, well let’s just say I wouldn’t be sitting here writing this blog post.

There are laws covering sweepstakes and competitions, and those laws DO apply to social media and they DO apply to your business. End. Of. Story. Different countries have different laws, so if your giveaway is running across different territories, you’ll need to ensure you comply with all the laws and regulations.

For example in some countries – Australia being one – you will need a permit if your winner will be drawn at random. To run without a permit you’ll need your giveaway to be a game of skill with the entries being judged to find a winner. So instead of the good old ‘Tell us xyz and we’ll put you in the draw to win’, you’ll need more of a ‘Tell us your top tip for xyz and we’ll pick our favourite to win’. You’ll then need to judge the entries and choose the best ‘tip’ as your winner.

Here’s a great resource for researching the sweepstake laws by country.

Terms, conditions and privacy policies.

By now all but the hardiest of you will have lost interest, ut having T&Cs for your social media giveaway and a privacy policy to cover any information you collect from your winner is kinda important. In fact, not having these things is against the law. And Facebook also requires you to include a statement that releases it from any liability.

If your T&Cs are short and sweet, you can pop them in your comments. If they’re a bit longer, you could create general T&Cs that govern all of your giveaways, pop them on your website and then create a shortlink to use and reuse.

Your T&Cs need to cover things like how the winner will be chosen, how and when you’ll contact them, what happens if you can’t contact them and a release from any liability regarding the prize. You can scout around to see what others are using, but I’d recommend investing in a legal expert to draw these up for your business. I can recommend Tamara from Calibrate Legal.

Winner, winner, chicken dinner.

There are lots of different ways or tools you can use to draw your winners. Whichever you use, I’d recommend keeping a record. A simple excel spreadsheet with the name of your promotion, the running dates, the winners name and evidence of the method you used to select the winner is all you should need. Just in case the auditors come knocking.

When it comes to selecting your winner – if your T&Cs say you’ll do this randomly, then that’s what you need to do. You can’t exclude someone because you don’t like the look of their profile, they’re not in your target audience, or you think they enter too many competitions.

I hear a lot of people say they don’t like ‘Compers’ to win their social media giveaways. But remember this. They’re people too. They live, they shop, they have friends and family. And they’re the ones most likely to post to your page thanking you for their prize.

While it’s great if it’s your ideal customer that wins your prize, don’t get too hung up on this. Once entries have closed, the job has been done and your objectives need to have been met. “But I could get a photo of the winner with the prize and post it” I hear you say. Please. No. For a start – no one cares. And secondly, that photo could take weeks to come through by which time, really, no one cares.

Treat your winner well.

Give them a taste of what it’s like to be a customer! Get the prize pack ready to go out before your giveaway starts so that you can get it on the way as soon as they provide their details. Let them know when the prize has been sent, and when they can expect it to arrive.

Always track and trace your prize packs, or ask for it to be sent somewhere it can be signed for because at some point you’ll come up against someone who tries to tell you their prize didn’t arrive and wants you to send them another one. Sending them the track and trace link, or having the package signed for, reduces the chances of this happening.

It’s not really that hard.

Wow, reading back on this it does make social media giveaways seem way more complicated than they actually are! There are a few things to think about and rules to follow, but once you get the hang of it and have your T&Cs set up and ready to go, it really isn’t too hard at all.

What are your thoughts on social media giveaways? Do you love them or loathe them? Have you found a formula that works for you? Tell us in the comments below!

Need help?

Give us a call! Our 90 minute long Coffee + Coach sessions are a great way to get your social media giveaway set up and ready to go!

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