Social media giveaways are a great way to boost engagement with your target audience — as well as to learn more about what motivates your customers or potential clients to connect with your brand.
Small businesses seeking to mix up their marketing can use giveaways to reach a range of business goals, from sales and engagement to brand awareness.
Giveaways, however, can fail if they aren’t properly structured.
Simply handing out free stuff or items to your customers won’t help your business grow.
In fact, running a giveaway poorly can actually cost your company money.
Avoid the risk of a poorly-run giveaway with these social media ideas and strategies designed to increase engagement for your small business.
In this blog post, we’ll outline:
- the ins and outs of social media giveaways,
- give examples of ways to structure your next giveaway, and
- demonstrate how the right giveaway can lead to measurable business outcomes.
Social Media Giveaways
First, what is a social media giveaway?
When we talk about a social media giveaway, we’re describing a promotional tactic in which a brand or influencer asks their social media followers to perform certain actions to participate in a contest and potentially win a free prize.
Actions could include things like:
- Following a specific social media account (or multiple accounts)
- Sharing a social media post with their followers
- Commenting on a social media post
- Tagging friends in a post
- Signing up for an email list
- Liking a photo or post from your account
Planning a Social Media Giveaway
Social media giveaways can provide amazing results for your business, but they also take some planning to capture their full benefits.
So, let’s back up a minute: before you determine what you want your followers to do, as well as what your ideal business outcome is.
Determining a specific, defined business goal will allow you to determine whether your promotion is successful once it ends. Goals could include:
- Increase your website traffic
- Grow your email marketing list
- Add social media followers on a specific channel
- Find brand ambassadors on social media platforms
- Increase brand recognition
Make sure your goal is measurable, timely, and specific.
Then, set the rules of your giveaway to help achieve the outcome.
The prize you’re offering needs to match the relative effort you want your followers to make on your behalf.
Social Network Rules
Also, be aware of the constraints of holding your giveaway on different social media networks.
Each social media platform has different rules for running online contests. Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook all publish clear guidelines; read those carefully before you get too far into planning.
If you don’t follow the rules, the platform will likely delete your campaign — and you could also risk being banned or having future posts penalized by the algorithm.
Types of Social Media Giveaways by Platform
With this background, here are a few giveaway promotion ideas to inspire your next contest post on social media. Though simple, these giveaway promotional ideas are very effective.
1. Twitter: Tweet to Enter/Win
According to a combined study from Twitter and Research Now, 93% of people who follow small businesses on Twitter plan to purchase from those businesses.
Twitter is a great place to grow brand awareness and increase audience engagement.
A popular format for a Twitter giveaway is the tweet to enter/win format.
Ask participants to retweet your post to be entered for a chance to win the prize. It’s an extremely easy giveaway idea and a way for users to spread your social media posts and build brand awareness.
Some brands use a variation on “retweet to enter” by asking users to like, retweet, and follow. These three actions lead to more meaningful metrics for your brand.
Alternatively, you can allow participants to enter to win by tweeting a specific hashtag.
Twitter estimates that businesses that use hashtags get a 50% increase in engagement compared to businesses that don’t use hashtags.
Make sure you use a unique hashtag that’s easy to remember.
You can use the ViralSweep Hashtags App to run this giveaway with ease.
2. Instagram: Photo Contest
An Instagram giveaway is a highly effective way to increase engagement, mainly because it can take many forms.
Instagram contests are versatile and one can come up with great giveaway ideas, but one of the most effective options is a photo contest.
Ask users to post their most creative photos with products from your business that they love. Or, ask users to share their photos with a specific product — great if you’re trying to drum up interest during a new product launch or practice cross-selling.
These type of contest ideas for giveaways leads to a lot of user-generated content (UGC): content that’s created and posted by unpaid contributors, fans, and followers.
Reposting user-generated content puts your customers at the center of your marketing. It’s also a great way to connect with your customers through authentic storytelling and build a stronger bond. Plus, it enables you to capitalize on word-of-mouth marketing.
You can use ViralSweep’s Contest App to help run an Instagram UGC contest.
3. Instagram: Like, Comment, Follow
In this Instagram giveaway contest, similar to the Twitter example, your brand asks participants to like, comment, and follow a post to enter to win.
Make the rules clear. For example, specify that someone must like the first three posts on your page, comment on your favorite product, or follow these accounts to be entered to win.
Here’s an example of this type of giveaway from a beauty brand and its partners.
4. YouTube: Video Contest
YouTube has some detailed rules that you need to know before you set up your video contest; make sure you read those for the latest guidelines.
With those guardrails in mind, YouTube is a channel that can inspire a lot of creativity from your followers.
There are a few ways to engage your audience with a YouTube giveaway.
- Host a live giveaway. Film yourself drawing a random winner from your list of subscribers. Announce how people can enter days in advance, whether it’s by following your channel, commenting on a video, or something else. Then, share the winners in a live drawing.
- Collaborate with another brand. Create a video with another brand on YouTube to share how viewers can enter to win the sweepstakes. However, you have to ensure that the ways to enter the contest generates genuine engagement.
- Ask for user-generated content. Ask your audience to reply to your video with a video of their own. Get them to use an official contest hashtag so you can track submissions. After you’ve chosen a winner, you can continue to post submitted videos to your YouTube channel.
- Video voting. One of the best ways to engage your audience is to get them involved in ways that allow them to affect the outcome. Give them the power to decide who wins by determining the winner through votes.
Like Instagram, you can also ask participants to film a video with a specific product, creating testimonials that you can then use to boost sales.
Here’s an example of a YouTube giveaway video showcasing the winners of an editing challenge:
5. Facebook Promotions: Story Contests and NewsFeed
Now, as you know, Facebook Stories are Facebook’s version of Snapchat: short, user-generated photos and videos that can be viewed and disappear after 24 hours.
As such, when hosting a giveaway on Facebook, it’s best to use one of the other features on this platform that could lead to more meaningful, long-term engagement.
So you should engage users on Facebook by asking them to take a certain action: commenting on a post or even producing a video.
Just note that Facebook has banned brands from requesting certain actions from their followers.
You are not allowed to require users to:
- Share a post on their timeline
- Tag their friends
- Share a post on a friend’s timeline to enter the giveaway
Now Because Facebook is so popular, it can be challenging to make your competition stand out from other posts on a user’s timeline.
Try some of these best giveaway items and ideas to gain attention.
- Add a countdown timer to your giveaway. Make your sweepstakes a multi-day event to make winning seem more likely and increase audience attention. For instance, Kettle Brand chips offered giveaways over four days, asking people to comment with their favorite flavor. Each day, a winner was randomly chosen with a grand prize on the fourth day.
- Host a quiz or ask a trivia question. People love to feel smart. Ask good giveaway questions and choose a winner of your giveaway from the right answers in the comments. You can do this with skill-testing questions, too – just ask someone to demonstrate their talent using one of your products to enter to win. For instance, hardware stores can challenge your followers to demonstrate their wood-working expertise for a chance to win a new drill.
- Photo contests. Like Instagram, Facebook is great for sharing photos. Ask your followers to vote on their favorite UGC and to produce their own to be entered to win a prize (like a gift card).
Facebook is also an amazing online platform to gather great social proof. You can do so by asking for testimonials and product reviews from your customers.
This type of content can help boost your SEO ratings.
Be careful not to look like you’re bribing people to write good reviews, however, as that can damage your brand reputation.
Social media isn’t the only outlet for hosting a raffle or giveaway.
In fact, using your website to host sweepstakes is a good way to increase your website traffic, promote your products or services, and increase conversions.
When should you run a giveaway on your website vs on social media?
The answer has to do with your business goal.
Using social media to run your sweepstakes helps you build an online presence, as well as generate follows, likes, and shares.
But, those metrics don’t always translate to sales.
If you’re seeking to boost your revenue, it’s a great idea to host your giveaway on your website to capture the most benefit from your event.
Likewise, website-based giveaways allow you to set goals like building your email list, growing your loyalty program, and other business benefits outside of social media marketing.
There are plenty of giveaway apps and plugins you can integrate into your website that offer the bonus of hosting a contest and promoting it through your social media.
It’s the best of both worlds, making the entire administrative effort of setting up and tracking the giveaway easy.
Website Giveaway Ideas
Here are some examples of sweepstakes you can host through your website to help you build a loyal follower base and increase revenue.
1. Online Quizzes
Ask website visitors to participate in an online quiz for a chance to win. It’s a fun way to increase engagement and gain new insights into your target audience.
Quizzes are typically designed as personality tests, scored knowledge tests, or multiple choice assessments.
These different formats net different results for your brand.
A personality test, for instance, can help you develop richer customer profiles by asking in-depth questions.
Scored knowledge tests help you understand how much a participant understands about your products and industry.
And a multiple-choice test can help inform your product development and customer service.
Likewise, small businesses can increase their exposure by reading the “most answered” or “most viewed” results.
Check results to see who took your quiz and when, their scores, performance, and more.
2. Brand Trivia
Brand trivia is an excellent opportunity to provide your target audience with additional knowledge about your goods and services.
Host this giveaway on your website or social media channels to test followers and customers on how well they know your company.
Bonus points for anyone who can attest to some of your legacy products, founder’s story, or past partnerships with other brands.
Reward the correct answers with prizes and discounts.
3. Name the Product
Give one lucky winner the chance to name a new product.
This gives your local business a way to understand how well your target market recognizes your store and your brand.
There are two ways to structure this contest: you could either ask users to submit photos, videos, or other content and let the winner choose the name.
Or, you could ask users to submit their names, ask their social network to vote for their idea, and give away a prize to the person whose suggestion is the most popular.
Make sure when you host this contest, you set clear naming parameters and guidelines. Let the saga of Boaty McBoatface be a cautionary tale.
4. Treasure Hunt
A treasure hunt can bring website visitors deeper into your website. Challenge participants to find answers to trivia questions on your product pages, blog, or social media networks.
The National Federation of Independent Business hosted a giveaway that combined trivia and treasure hunting. Participants could visit the website or the organization’s Facebook page to read the Daily Trivia Question for that day.
Answers to the trivia question could be found in content and articles on their website. Then, users were asked to email their answers to a specific email address to be entered to win a random draw for gift cards.
This setup is a good way to make sure website visitors are really digesting your content. It also captures email addresses for future marketing efforts.
5. Themed Giveaways
This approach gives local businesses a natural reason to reach out to potential customers, using prizes to engage people and build brand awareness.
There are dozens of opportunities for themed giveaways throughout the year. For instance, JewelScent, a candle and jewelry company, used St. Patrick’s Day as an opportunity for a themed giveaway around “luck of the Irish”.
People were asked to join the company’s email for a chance to win — four winners had the chance to win any JewelScent candle of their choice. JewelScent promoted the giveaway on their website. It was also sent out to their email list and posted on their Facebook page.
In total, the entire promotion had 27,555 entries; 3,085 people clicked through to JewelScent’s website for an 11% click-through rate.
[Read more about the case study here: The Growth Series – Finding the Pot O’ Gold]
Themed giveaways are a fun, easy way for a small business to create a marketing opportunity. Choose a theme that pairs well with a holiday, a product, or a brand event, such as the ten-year anniversary of your business.
Reward creativity appropriately with meaningful incentives; JewelScent gave all participants a surprise 15% off their next purchase to acknowledge their entry.
6. Slogan Contest
Slogan contest giveaway ideas challenge participants to create your company’s next great ad campaign or tagline.
An example of this giveaway is the slogan contest for the 2021 UN Biodiversity Conference, COP15. The UN asked for the public to come up with slogans of no more than 15 words that encapsulated the theme, “Ecological Civilization: Building a Shared Future for All Life on Earth”.
Winners were given Award of Excellence certificates as well as having their slogans featured in marketing for the event.
Slogan contests are a great marketing tool for new businesses.
They can help you understand what your target audience is looking for, how they understand your value proposition, and what makes your business unique.
Slogan contests are a great way to identify potential customers from those who take the time to write submissions.
7. Create Your Own Logo Contest
Like a slogan contest, logo contests challenge your target audience to design a logo: the visual representation of your brand.
Logos are symbols that provide visual shortcuts to your brand’s values, products, and services. The best logos generate intense loyalty and instant recognition, like the Nike Swoosh or Air Jordan Jumpman.
Logo contests online can attract dozens, if not hundreds, of entries. You could ask participants to vote on their favorite logo and present a few options from qualified designers.
Or, you could ask entries to design their own logo and pick a winner yourself.
Logo contests tend to involve a lot of work on behalf of your target audience, since they need to tap into their creative design skillset.
As a result, make sure your prizes match the level of effort. And, like name-the-product giveaways, make sure you set clear parameters to ensure the image representing your entire brand identity isn’t doing your company a disservice.
Final Thoughts on Small Business Giveaway Ideas
There are tons of business giveaway ideas and ways to promote your brand on social media, on your website, and via email.
Make sure the method you choose, your incentives, and your promotions meet your business goals and platform rules. Great sweepstakes ideas are the most likely ways to help your small business stand out in today’s crowded media landscape.
Local businesses seeking to engage customers should give participants clear directions, deadlines, and motivation to make it as easy as possible for everyone to enter, share, and win your giveaway.
To learn more about sweepstakes ideas and how to host one, check out our advanced guide to sweepstakes.