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The Do’s and Don’ts of Social Media Giveaway Campaigns

The weather has been perfect the past few weeks in Seattle. And any time the sun is out, my mind immediately returns to the summer of 2014, when I was either at my retail job or at the beach with my coworkers. Now, I’m not the stereotypical girl from Hawaii who owns upwards of twenty different bathing suits. I got a two-piece as a gift in high school. Since then, I’ve acquired one more as a hand-me-down, and bought one more for my trip to the Amalfi Coast.

2017 Social Marketing Planning Guide

So, when I heard about the red swimsuit giveaway, I grabbed my phone and started searching for it. It didn’t take much effort because the giveaway took up a large portion of my feed—even if you’re the person who owns twenty different swimsuits, it can’t hurt to add another one to the collection for free. The initial Instagram post included a picture of a woman in a red bathing suit, and this offer in the caption:


A few hours later, Sunny Clothing Co. posted a follow-up to its announcement with additional rules and disclosures, and disabled comments on its two giveaway posts. Some people reported that, when they entered the giveaway code, they received an order summary noting they had been charged the full price for the “Pamela” suit, as well as the shipping and handling, which was $12.98. Social media complaints were greeted with no response, and social media went wild:

This is an extreme example, but the fiasco got me thinking: What goes into a giveaway campaign on social? What makes or breaks a giveaway campaign?

The purpose of a giveaway campaign is to give followers a free item (or a chance to win a free item) in exchange for them sharing, liking, following, and/or reposting a picture. It raises brand awareness, engagement, and follower numbers.

Here are the Do’s and Don’ts of social media giveaway campaigns, so you can avoid a major misfire like Sunny Co. Clothing.

Do: Always Start with a Goal

Create your CTA based on your desired outcome, and set a specific goal.

Step 1: Set your goal. For example, increased awareness and follower growth.

Step 2: Choose the KPIs so you can track whether you are meeting your goals or are on your way towards meeting these goals

Step 3: Choose your CTA accordingly

For example, if your goals are to increase awareness and followers, your KPIs might be reach, impressions, and (on certain social networks) engagement, and follower growth. Your CTA will be to ask people to follow and share the post. Keeping track of your progress throughout your campaign is an absolute must. 

Progress Tracker

Don’t: Just Focus on the Giveaway

Yes, your giveaway must be appealing enough that users will want to go through the steps of participating, but you have to be able to tie the outcomes of the campaign to your company goals.


Do: Design Your Giveaway Based on What Your Followers Are Saying

Use social listening to discover any sore spots, needs, or praises your followers have. Then pick/create a giveaway that solves these problems or needs. This ensures that your giveaway item will be a big hit with your followers.

For example, if Tide Pods wanted to host a giveaway, they could see that customers trust their product to clean a garment with damage. From there, they could decide whether or not to partner with a high-end designer for a giveaway.


Don’t: Assume Your Followers Will Participate Just Because They Have a Chance to Get Something for Free

People like free stuff, but if you’re also asking them to do something—like take up space on their Instagram feed and get “brand-y” in what’s most likely a more personal social network for their posting rhythms. Be sure the picture is something your followers will want to repost or interact with. 

Do: Use a Hashtag

Using a hashtag is a great tracking system. When Starbucks used the #UnicornFrappuccino hashtag and motivated followers to use it when posting pictures, they were (and still are) able to see how many times people talk about their product.

Unicorn Frappuccino

Use social analytics and listening to track the hashtags relevant to your brand and giveaway.

Don’t: Forget to Do Hashtag Research

Since you’ll be using the hashtag as a tracking system, you’ll want to be sure the hashtag doesn’t already exist and won’t get mixed up with other giveaways. For example, the hashtag #Giveaway has been used 14,859,939 times in the past 30 days alone. You can use social analytics and listening to make sure you’re covered here, too. 


Want a personalized demo of Simply Measured social analytics and listening so you can plan an effective giveaway campaign and cover all your bases? Click below!

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Laurie Anne Nilo

I'm the Social Media Manager here at Simply Measured. I love all things wellness, coffee, watercolor, and travel.

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