Social Media Sunday – My Blog Giveaway Tips
I thought I would use this week's Social Media Sunday to cover my thoughts and tips on giveaways. I have done giveaways for the past several years here on Misadventures with Andi and in a professional capacity as a social media manager for my employer.
The giveaways have had success and failures and by sharing my experiences I hope you can benefit from them. I am definitely not an expert so everything here is my personal opinion based on my observations. I am writing from the perspective of a blogger who is either working with or without a sponsor and not someone who is running a giveaway blog.
Some posts on this site contain affiliate links, meaning if you book or buy something through one of these links, I may earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you!). Opinions are always my own and I’ll never promote something I don’t use or believe in. Also as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Giveaways, when used correctly, are a useful vehicle for driving traffic to your blog. Blogs are social media which is a form of marketing and the essence of marketing is to communicate to your target market in a way that will fill a sales funnel. Social media is a bit different than traditional marketing because it is not a push channel, but rather one in which there is two way communication between a brand (in this case you) and someone else (a reader or visitor). Also you aren't [usually] selling anything except yourself!
By doing a giveaway you have an opportunity to bring fresh sets of eyes to your blog. Like most funnels, you need a large number of people to “enter” at the top. What comes out the bottom is a small subset of people who will stick around and continue to read your blog adding to the holistic growth of your readership. I hope that makes sense? Bottom line is that every time I do a giveaway I bring a bunch of new traffic to my blog, and I always get a subset of those new readers sticking around beyond the giveaway which is what you ultimately want.
Proceed with caution
Unless your goal is to turn your site into a giveaway blog you should limit the number of giveaways that you do. I average one a month. Sometimes I do two, sometimes I do none. December I do several. If you are like me you are blogging for a different reason and are just going to use a giveaway as a means to an end. One of the most important aspects to any giveaway that you do should be ensuring it fits with your brand. I am a travel and food blogger who is an avid reader and movie-goer and francophile. I also feel it is important to support small women-owned businesses. My giveaways relate to what my blog is about. You aren't going to see me giveaway a year's supply of diapers, that just wouldn't make sense.
I rarely do sponsored giveaways. I prefer to do them on my own. However, I do sometimes work with a sponsor. When doing so, make sure that the giveaway is equitable. What you are bringing to the table is exposure for someone's brand and you will be doing most of the work, make sure your agreement is balanced and fair.
Steps to planning and running your giveaway
The first thing to do is to set a goal or objectives. Are you trying to increase comments? Do you want to grow your Facebook fan-base or Twitter followers? Are you trying to build an email or newsletter list? Knowing what you want to achieve will guide you in the next portion of planning, the mechanics.
But before jumping into that, we need to discuss rules. To cover yourself from grief and protect yourself from any misunderstandings, I strongly suggest that you create a set of rules to be listed somewhere on your blog (you can find mine here). In addition, on your post you should detail the start and end times for the giveaway and who is eligible. For example, most of the time my giveaways are open to anyone in the world, but you may (or your sponsor might) want to limit to the U.S. for customs and shipping purposes.
When thinking about how to run your giveaway you should clearly define what type of giveaway you want to do (comment, photo submission, tweet, etc); the prize or reward (description, delivery, etc); the entry method (single or multi); the timeframe (start and finish); the selection of your winner(s) and how you are going to do winner notification (or in some instances working with a sponsor, who is going to do it).
One of the main things to consider is your entry method. If your goal is to increase comments then you can simply ask people to comment on your giveaway post (you can also ask them to comment on additional posts as well) during a certain period of time. Each comment is considered an entry and you can use a simple (and free) tool, like Random.org to select a winner. If you have 90 comments, simply enter “1” as your minimum, “90” as your maximum, and “Generate.”
In my example, Random.org selected 15. I would count back from the oldest comment until I found the 15th commenter and that would be the winner. Some sponsors may ask you to register your winner selection. This can be done via Random.org as well, but you will need to pay a small fee.
If you are doing a giveaway in which you want people to submit a photo or you want them to post about your giveaway somewhere else, a good tool to use is Linky Tools. There is both a free and paid version that you can use to create code that you can add to your post so that people can add their submissions.
Now, if you are going to ask readers to perform multiple tasks to garner entries for your giveaway, I highly recommend that you use Rafflecopter. It will save you lots of time and energy in validating entries and selecting a winner. It keeps track of everything for you, it is easy to set up and use and best of all it's free! You can use this to ask people to like your Facebook page, follow you on Twitter, etc. I also use it to help promote others by asking people to follow them on Facebook and Twitter. Or to ask people to follow sponsors on Facebook and Twitter. What I don't do is make it mandatory, I make it optional.
It is a personal decision but something you need to consider. You have to think about it in terms of “what's in it” for the reader in terms of effort versus reward. If you are asking someone to do 25 mandatory things for a $25 Amazon gift card you might have a screw loose. Now I have participated in a few group giveaways for larger prizes such as iPads that did have more effort involved, but the price tag of the prize is pretty high. A general rule of thumb should be simplicity, you do not want a high barrier for entry.
Once you have run your giveaway and have selected your winner, you should notify them via email. You can also announce the winner on your blog if you like (I don't always do this), but you also need to contact them offline. Sometimes you will simply pass your winner's name to your sponsor who will handle this process. I personally don't like this as it is more personable for you to contact the winner, after all, they entered the giveaway on your blog!
An important word on data collection, unless you asked people to specifically opt-in to receive promotional emails from you or your sponsor, you cannot give your sponsor the email addresses of your entrants. Nor may you use them to contact them for any reason (unless an entry was to sign up for a newsletter, etc). You will be breaking federal laws if you do this.
Why on your blog?
Before jumping into the promotional piece, I wanted to mention why I recommend that you run giveaways on your blog. Your blog should be the hub of all your activities. The purpose of your Facebook Page is to build a community around your blog; Twitter is a vehicle for driving traffic to your blog as well. All roads lead to your blog. It is a representation of you and your unique opinion of the world, owned by you.
If you choose to do a giveaway on Facebook or Twitter (or these days even Pinterest) you need to comply with the platform's rules and they can be tricky. For Facebook, you must use a Facebook app to prevent getting banned. It gets more complicated if you are doing something beyond the U.S. as the rules governing sweepstakes in different countries varies and it's complicated. And although Twitter and Pinterest are less strict, they have guidelines as well.
Promoting your giveaways
Okay, now the fun part – driving traffic and promotion! You should use your social media presence on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc. to promote your giveaway. It sometimes takes a while to get the word out and momentum going, so I would recommend that your giveaway should last no less than 7 days, but 10 days to 2 weeks is optimal. Longer than two weeks and people are frankly over it, have moved on, and are tired of hearing about it!
Beyond your own community, there are sites and communities out there whose sole purpose is to promote giveaways. There are daily, weekly and monthly Linky's on many blogs where you can list your giveaway for free. There are also forums that only require registration and then you can post for free. And there are paid services that will do all the heavy lifting for you and will list your giveaway on the sites I just mentioned.
I have never sold anything personally on this blog (I once had a product when I was doing social media consulting, but not here) and I thought long and hard about this, but I put a lot of time and effort into curating, organizing, validating and structuring my list of resources where I can promote my giveaway that I decided to offer it to you and charge a little amount of money to recoup the time.
If you have the time to invest in hunting these sites down it is a great way to get your giveaway out there and it is even more fun when you gain new readers who stick around to be part of your community!
I hope this post helps shed some light on giveaways. Like I said in the beginning, I am no expert, this information is just based on my own experiences, but I hope you found it beneficial!
How about you? Have any additional tips or learnings that you would like to add?
This is an excellent post Andi – so useful. I wish I had had this a few years ago when I had my first giveaway – I had no clue!!!
@Mardi, I am so glad you found it helpful!
I haven’t gotten to the ‘giveaway’ place yet, but when I do , this will be my main, probably only, resource. Wonderful, thorough and thoughtful. Thank you.
@Walker, thank you! It is a pleasure to here that I will help friends!
These are SUCH great tips!!!
Great post Andi! The trick, of course, is to ensure that readers who participate in giveaways stick around for the rest of your posts. It’s not easy but in general, a few stick!
@Lindsey, completely agree.
As a giveaway novice, I appreciated these tips. Thanks for a very helpful post!
I wish I’d read this all BEFORE my most recent giveaway–what a headache, logging all those entries!!!
Great tips. I suppose a SITS day is almost like a giveaway– a bunch of new traffic and hopefully a few new followers!
@Laura, so true! Thanks for coming by to check me out!
Just bookmarked this article as it is SO helpful! Thank you for laying it out SO clearly and helpfully! Happy SITS day! 🙂
@TheDoseOfReality, I am glad you found it beneficial, it was a lot of trial and error!
Just popped in from SITS. Great tips! I have used Rafflecopter for the two giveaways I have done; it is a great tool. This was very helpful post, especially knowing about contacting those who entered since I just completed a giveaway.
@Bev, so glad you found it helpful!
Thank you! These are wonderful tips!
@JDaniel4’sMom, thanks so much!
This is amazing! SO great and so detailed!! Thank you, I have bookmarked for future giveaways. Hope you enjoy your SITS day!
@Nelle, glad it helped!
What wonderful tips! I had a giveaway before and I’m going to do one later in the month, as well as next month. I think I’ll utilize some of these tips and then compare the success of the giveaways against each other.
@Sara, hope the tips help you when you do yours!
What a great post. I’ve done one giveaway on my blog and hope to do more. I will be sure to look back to this post when I start my next one. Happy SITS day!
@Aspgriswold, so glad you found it useful and a good resource!
Great tips here. I’ve done a couple giveaways on my blog, but I’m not a big fan of them, particularly when you have to jumpt through hoops to enter! I think you are right that it has to fit your blog.
Happy SITS Day!
@Jennifer, thanks, I think you always have to frame everything with what makes sense for you. I think we met at BBC in San Diego?
Thank you for the great information on the giveaways. What a great resource! Thank you for sharing your experiences!
@Raquel, I am so glad you found it useful!
I think it’s great that you are using your own experiences to help others figure things out. Great tips.
@MissRobin, thanks, I think it is important to share knowledge!
I love giveaways, but now I mostly sponsor giveaways, hosting one a few times a year. I don’t want to become a giveaway blog and the work around giveaways is too much for me. This year I learned that my average reader doesn’t “get” Rafflecopter, which is a bummer so I try and keep it simple or I sometimes use the WP plugin And the Winner Is to randomly select winners. I hope to host at least one giveaway in December. I love your suggestion of doing it once a month. That’s something that is doable for me.
Thanks so much! (visiting from SITS Girls)
@Kimberly, thanks for stopping by. I don’t mind giveaway blogs, they definitely serve a purpose, but as you said, I think balance is important.
I also do some giveaways. Average about 1 a month, I suppose. I make sure it applies to my content. Since I do product reviews, that’s a pretty broad catagory. Happy SITS day!
Great tips! I do giveaways and have only blogged for a little over a year. I really like to do them because my readers seem to like them..but I am definately with you..too many and it gets monotinous for reader and blogger..thanks for the great post! You have lots of great content on your site!
Hopped over from SITS!
@ShariLynne, thanks for stopping by! I think it is important to used them smartly, they absolutely do serve a purpose, it is just how we choose to harness them.
I will be back to reread this post. Very informative, clear, and concise for each section. I am a very new blogger and do have a product to sell, my novels. Giveaways have intrigued me but I will need to put that off as I finish other blogging and publishing goals. Enjoy your SITS Day.
@Sheila, I think your approach seems sound, better to focus on a few things and do them well than to peanut butter yourself thin by trying everything!
This was very helpful. We use Woobox for our Facebook and Twitter contests…it is super easy! Visiting from SITS and following you now!
@Corinna, thanks for stopping by – I haven’t heard of Woobox, I’ll definitely have to check that out – thanks for the tip!
Fantastic tips! Thank you.
Happy SITS day!
@Kerrie, so glad you found it useful!
Thanks for the great give away tips! I really appriciate them! I am over from Sits, bythe way! I love your blog!
@Kim, thanks! I hope you find them helpful!
Great info thank you so much….
I’m not able to read this whole post right now because I have to leave work but I’m emailing the link to myself to finish later. Great tips so far. I’ve been wanting to have a giveaway for awhile.
@Venassa, I hope the post when you get to finish it will help you with your first giveaway!
Great tips, I want to do giveaways and some ads. Happy SITS Day!
@Whitney, hope my tips helped and that you will have much success with your own giveaways!
Great tips!! Thanks for sharing!!
@Rebecca, hope they help!
I think i want to start doing giveaways too! and I think I’ll begin with maybe a design board.
Take a look at them on my blog and let me know if this is something that I should do.
@KG, that is a great idea, I haven’t done a Pinterest or visual giveaway yet, but I want to, can’t wait to check out what you end up doing!
Great post! Very concise and applicable. And the link to Wendi Aarons blog giveaway post pretty much made me pee my pants.
@Maggie, you should definitely read Wendi as often as possible, she can make you forget any bad day you may be having!
I totally forgot about Rafflecopter! Thanks! They contacted me a while back for beta testing, and I don’t think I ever followed through. Thanks for the awesome tips! Your blog is great!
@Rachel, it is a great tool and does all the heavy lifting for your giveaways!
I found it very beneficial. Thanks for highlight all the many applications and sites used to enhance a blog. I’d love to get into giveaways and paid sponsors. I really have to concentrate in this area; your blog and knowledge has inspired me!
@Tinsel&Tine, I hope they help!
Thanks for sharing this. I actually just hosted my first giveaway today ! happy sits day!
@Alex, awesome, hope it is successful!
these are great tips! I always enter giveaways but I had never really thought about hosting one. I am bookmarking this for future use! 🙂
@Mo, so glad you found them useful!
Very informative! Great tips!!
I have been following blogs for a year now, and your tips are so accurate. I enter giveaways, it’s fun, but I like the emails with information and the FB posts bloggers share. I can easily click a link and read the article. I also like how the blog shares information related to the blog theme.
@Jennifer, glad you liked the post. I haven’t gone the email path, but thinking about doing it soon.
A ton of useful information–Thank You!! I have done only two giveaways, but I would like to do more. I appreciate all the links and hints you provided.
@Debbi, I am glad you found them useful, good luck with your future giveaways.
Great tips! Our blog is fairly new and we have thought about doing giveaways. Hopefully we will get there in the next few months. This post was extremely useful for me, someone who has NO IDEA where to start with these things. Thanks!
@Lauren, I am glad you found it useful and I will be heading over to visit you to check out your blog!
Great post. I definitely agree on being very clear about the rules of the giveaway. Having it posted on the blog prevents a lot of headaches later. I also agree about giveaways lasting 1-2 weeks. I’ve been to blogs who run giveaways for a month. After tweeting about them for a few days, I lose interest or forget about them
@Belinda, yah I often promote them for a day or two and forget myself! I sometimes run them longer because it does take a while to get the word out, but as I am a daily blogger, there is so much more going on with the blog that I hope people don’t mind!
Thanks for the tips, giveaways and contests are so great for getting fans and followers, but you’re right too many can be a turnoff. I agree that the best place to host a contest is on your blog. The only problem is that people on Facebook don’t seem to want to leave the site. Apps haven’t worked that well either (this is not a particularly tech-savvy group). I’m wondering how to best do multiple giveaways in a day or week, such as one per hour, without annoying people but still letting people know about it and have it be easy to enter to win. Should I group the prizes in packages or create a blog post for each prize? Every year I run one of these and I feel like I’m working out the kinks!
@Janet, wow really great question. That sounds like a definite feature enhancement for Rafflecopter so that you can set up one giveaway with multiple starts/stops and prizes. Every December (although not sure if I am doing it this December) I day a multi-day giveaway on top of my regular daily posts and I just let my readers know proactively what I am going to be up to. People who have been readers for years know I do this and can either tune out and come back after Christmas, ignore the second posts or participate. I think as long as you set expectations that is probably the best you can do.
One more thing, a client wants to find bloggers who use Rafflecopter to do a sponsored post. I wish there was a way for me to find a list of blogs that use it. One thing I liked is that the client can give bloggers an embed code so they don’t have to do anything but post it and the terms for entry are there without any additional work. I haven’t tried it yet, but I think that’s a huge selling point.
My biggest takeaway is to keep it simple to enter. Sometimes Rafflecopter posts ask for too much compared to the prize, maybe because it’s easy to ask/track compared to doing it manually. Beware of entry creep!
@Janet, I couldn’t agree more, I hate giveaways that ask you to do 50 things for $25!
My blog is about 6 weeks old. I am already planning on doing a one year blog anniversary give away. Just to celebrate! This is a great road map and I’ve bookmarked it. There are some details and logistics to consider and I am relieved that it all seems doable. Thanks much!
@WinterSundays, that’s a great time to do a giveaway!
I am new to blogging and giveaways, but I think it’s a great way to increase traffic to a website. I will consider doing it in the future (I am a small business owner just starting out). Thanks for the info!
@Judi, is great for all sizes of blogs!
I dont really do giveaways on my blog but I have done one in the summer and only had 30 entries even though I broadcasted it on both my Twitter accounts and my FB page. I have something else I got to do a giveaway, hope I can get more people to enter this next time around. I appreciate the tips!
@Stacie, use some of the broadcast services, it definitely helps to have help.
This was very helpful to me in my planning stages! Happy belated SITS day, clearly, I’m behind a little:)
@Joi, hi there, no worries, I’ll take the belated wishes 😉 Glad you found the post beneficial!
Great tips! I find giveaways are a great way to increase social media presence.