Do giveaways actually work?

First, let’s talk about the goals. If your goal is to generate brand awareness, increase social sharing and your network, the answer is resoundingly “YES!”

There are cons, of course. Sometimes, people will follow you on Facebook or Instagram in order to enter the giveaway and then they’ll unfollow. However, you can combat this with having stellar social content (but more on that another day).

If you’re thinking about hosting a giveaway, here are a few tips, tricks and things to watch for:

1. Facebook and Instagram have guidelines, which you should follow—especially if you’re running ads or “boosting” your post. Though the platforms are generally not too restrictive with small business advertisements, they will not run ads that encourage “inauthentic engagement with the ad.”

Inauthentic engagement is anything similar to: “Like this post to enter,” “Comment below to enter,” or “Tag a friend to enter.” There are times when Facebook and/or Instagram will let this slide, and many influencers bury these calls to action in lengthy captions that the bot will inevitably miss. But as a business, it’s best to use language like this instead:

“Know a friend who needs a massage? Share this giveaway with them!”

“Know someone who needs to relax? Mention them below!”

“Tell us: which service would you get if you won the gift card?”

2. Now this part gets a little tricky because of the first point. You need to be clear about expectations. Some people will be upset if they’re disqualified if the instructions weren’t crystal clear. Businesses will generally post a lengthier version of the ways to enter and rules somewhere other than the caption. Sometimes this can be on an Instagram Story Highlight or Facebook Note. It can also just be below your initial caption under the header “OFFICIAL RULES.”

3. You should also include this disclaimer, which is under Facebook Ad Guidelines: “This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. You understand that you are providing your information to the owner of this Facebook page and not to Facebook.”

Again, you might see giveaway posts without this disclaimer, but they are open to having their post or boosted posts removed by the platform, so this is best practice.

4. Partner with other businesses whenever you can. You can make a significantly larger impact if you have several accounts involved. Plan to all post it at the same time and tag each other in it.

If you’re giving away a free massage, perhaps you can partner with a local tea company, a holistic healing store, a yoga studio or a beloved restaurant. Not only is the prize bigger and better, which encourages more entries, but your name is now exposed to these businesses’ networks and clientele as well.

5. Tag people. Even if not your partners in the giveaway, you can tag as many people or other businesses as you like to try to get them to share it. If it’s relevant to them (perhaps a local paper or giveaway account), it doesn’t do any harm to tag them. You can also ask your loyal clients to share it initially with their platforms to jump-start engagement!

What are the most significant forms of engagement?

Anything that can help you reach more people for free later.

When people follow you, they are more likely to see future posts (however, it’s not guaranteed). Shares also increase your exposure a lot more than a like or a comment can.

So, to recap, the engagement hierarchy is: follow, share, comment and like. Don’t worry about getting a ton of likes on a giveaway post. Ask for the engagements that will create more exposure in the long run.