Over on my Facebook page, I asked what you wanted to see on I Can Build A Blog this week, and Justina said: “How to run a successful giveaway. I find depending on how I run a giveaway some ways get hundreds of new likes and some generate almost no interest.”
Giveaways can be an easy way to gain short term traffic in a short amount of time. The key words there, in case you missed them, are “short term”. Giveaways tend to generate interest to a large number of people, but you do need to keep in mind that a lot of people will just stop by for the free goods and then be on their way. That is not to say that you won’t gain some new followers or readers, but you should always keep this in mind beforehand because it can help you tweak your giveaway to try to appeal to a larger audience who may just end up sticking around. Holding a contest can be a great way to attract people to your site who may not have known about you before, and that is always welcome!
What is the purpose?
Before you begin your giveaway, think about the purpose of it. What is the goal of the giveaway? What kind of outcome are you expecting? Maybe you want more Facebook followers, or more email subscribers. Thinking about this from the start will help with the entire planning process.
Think about your prize
Obviously the prize is the most important part! It is going to be what attracts visitors to your site and encourages them to enter. First and foremost though, make sure your prize reflects your blog and your readership. What can you give away that will interest your readers and won’t stray from your blog’s content? If you were to give away a power tool on a cooking blog, it just wouldn’t make sense and would confuse your readers. Think about products that you personally love and think that your readers would also love!
Once you’ve got a basic idea in mind, you’ve got to obtain that prize. You can do this in various ways. If you’ve got the PR pull, emailing companies about a possible partnered giveaway is always an option. Show them past posts or reviews you’ve created of their products, or similar products. Show them the benefit of working with you. I realize this method cannot always work if you’re just starting out and don’t have the readership yet, so another option might be to team up with smaller shops (Etsy sellers might surprise you and want to work with you if they like your blog!), or you could always purchase your prize with your own cash. Think of it as an advertising expense and decide if it would be worth it to you in exchange for the boost in traffic. A good giveaway usually has a prize with a retail value of $100 or more.
Setting up the post
The post is going to be what draws people in and encourages them to take action and enter your giveaway. Keep it simple, and keep it genuine. A great way to get a person’s interest is to review the product and then give one away. You’re showing them what the product is or does so they can decide if they like it (or LOVE it!) and want one for their very own. This also gives your post more substance and increases it’s share-ability because it becomes more than just a contest… it becomes a review which can stay active after the giveaway is finished and continue to be shared on social media sites.
Take great photos of the item. If you don’t have photos available (i.e. if a shop is providing you with a prize and will be sending it out for you) make sure to have them send you some pictures that fit nicely inside your content area. It’s not necessary to fill up your post with a dozen photos, so pick two or three of the best and keep it simple! Tons of photos tend to bore your readers if they aren’t necessary.
Collecting entries and call-to-actions
Remembering your initial goal of the giveaway, come up with a few required entry types. This is where you can ask your readers to perform an action to be entered into the contest. Giveaway widgets can help make this entire process easier, such as Rafflecopter or PromoSimple. With these widgets, you fill in all of the requested information, choose your entry types, and grab a widget code to paste into your post. They make picking a winner easy if you are doing a random draw.
If your goal was to increase Facebook followers, be sure to include a requirement that the entrant must “Like” your Facebook page to be entered. If you wanted email subscribers, have them sign up for your newsletter instead. Any social network site you want them to follow should be required, but do remember once again to keep it simple! If you are looking for more Facebook followers, don’t include a bunch of other requirements such as following you on Twitter and Pinterest. The more options you give the visitor, the more flustered they are going to feel which may defer them from taking any action at all. For example, I’m sure you’ve seen those massive giveaways with numerous “giveaway hosts” that require you to Like, Tweet, Share, Pin, and take them out for breakfast the next morning. The list of “things to do” goes on and on and takes a lot of time for a visitor to complete. Not to mention the fact that they have just been required to follow a whole bunch of social profiles of bloggers or shops they’ve never heard of before that are completely irrelevant to the prize or original blog they were reading (more on how this can actually hurt them below).
So you can see why it is important to stick with your initial goal, and keep it simple, for the sake of everyone.
Besides your call-to-actions, you’ll want to collect other information from the visitor, such as their email address and location (if your giveaway is restricted to certain countries this is important!). You will also need to list any rules, state when the giveaway will end, and share how you will contact a winner.
Promoting your giveaway
Once you’ve published your giveaway, you can’t just expect people to find it, so you’ll need to promote it! Start with your own social networks. Make an announcement that will draw in visitors. It has to appeal to them! Why should they visit your giveaway? Create a nice vertical image announcing your contest and Pin it on Pinterest. When you can, using hashtags like #giveaway or #win can prove effective. Schedule a couple social media posts for the future so that you can continue to get the word out at specific times. For example, maybe you schedule one for the afternoon, and one for the evening when people get off work.
If you were working with a shop or a company, be sure to send them the link and ask if they would mind sharing it on their social sites as well… it could mean an instant boost of traffic!
Think about your blog a few days from now. Your giveaway post probably won’t still be front and center on your site, so be sure to create a sidebar graphic linking to the original post and place it somewhere visible.
What you should not do: Don’t go around leaving comments on other people’s blog posts announcing your contest. It is spammy and won’t gain you any blogger cred. Instead, there are a bunch of giveaway sites you post your giveaway link to. Just search Google for “giveaway linkups” and you will see what I mean. Just remember: do not spam!
Choosing a winner
After your contest period ends, you can use your installed widget to pick your winner, or do things the manual way. If your giveaway wasn’t a random draw, now is the time you’ll need to go through the entries and choose a deserving contestant. Figure out how you will send the product, or if the company/shop you collaborated with will send it. All that is left to do after that is to let the winner know they’ve won!
I couldn’t end this post without mentioning some of the downsides of holding a giveaway. As I said at the beginning of this post, there are some people who will enter your giveaway just for the free stuff and have no intention of sticking around in the future. Nobody can be forced to stay a fan of a Facebook page unfortunately, so you may notice a drop in your new followers after your contest has ended. “Unliking” a Facebook Page can also have an affect on your Edgerank (what Facebook uses to decide how many people you reach) and is what they call “Negative Feedback”. That’s just the reality of it though, so you need to decide if those risks are worth it to you.
I hope this guide helped answer your contest questions, and I would love to know what has worked for you!