Top view close-up of young woman hands packing perfume from cosmetology gift box.
There are many reasons to host a giveaway on social media. It’s important to know the social media channel's giveaway rules and your ultimate goals behind hosting one. — Getty Images/YakobchukOlena

Social media giveaways can serve many purposes. You can use a giveaway to boost engagement, increase your email list, add more followers and gain visibility for your brand through cross-promotion. When designing a social media giveaway, it’s important to know your goal and create incentives that will help you be successful. Otherwise, you’re just handing out free stuff.

Here are some best practices to keep in mind when hosting a giveaway on social media.

Set your goal from the beginning

There are many reasons why you might host a giveaway on social media. Your ultimate goal will help determine the format of the giveaway and the social media channel you’re going to use. Here are some examples:

  • Increase follower count.
  • Grow your email list.
  • Improve brand awareness.
  • Increase engagement.
  • Promote a new product.
  • Recruit brand ambassadors.

Giveaways can often satisfy more than one of these goals, but pick your primary purpose and build your campaign toward that outcome. Your goal will help you determine the prize, the mechanics of the campaign, and even the social media channel on which you host the giveaway.

[Read more: How to Grow Sales Through Customer Engagement]

Most of the rules for hosting a giveaway are relatively straightforward, but if you don’t follow the rules, it’s likely that the platform will delete your campaign.

Choose your channel wisely

With your goal in mind, decide which social media channel — or channels — you will use to host your giveaway. The channel you decide to use will also be determined by the format of your giveaway, where you have the most active audience, and each platform’s giveaway terms and conditions.

“If you want to increase your following, request entrants to follow your page or profile to enter. This is especially popular on Instagram,” wrote SproutSocial. “If you want to generate more leads and increase your email list, you can request that people sign up or enter their email before entering. These can be done on a landing page and linked from any platform, or you can create a Facebook tab specifically for your contest.”

Follow the platform rules

Keep in mind that Twitter, Instagram and Facebook all have different rules for running contests. Read those carefully before you get too far into planning. Most of the rules for hosting a giveaway are relatively straightforward, but if you don’t follow the rules, it’s likely that the platform will delete your campaign. You could also risk being banned or having future posts penalized by the algorithm.

Partner with other brands

Team up with a like-minded brand to cross-promote your giveaway and raise the stakes. For example, Klean Kanteen, a water bottle brand, worked with Biolite headlamps, Public bikes, and Forsake footwear to create a bike kit giveaway worth $1500. The brands benefitted from promoting the giveaway to each other’s followers, increasing their reach and engaging with new customers in the process.

Look for other merchants whose products and services complement yours. A bookstore might partner with a cafe, or an event photographer might partner with a caterer. Think about which brands might have similar audiences and put together an incentive that showcases the best of both brands.

Match the reward to the effort

The goal of your giveaway is to incentivize your audience to do something: share your story, join your email list, follow your account. The prize you’re offering needs to match the relative effort you want your followers to make on your behalf. Offering a free coffee if someone posts, comments, shares and likes your page is probably asking too much. Offering a chance to win a month of free coffee, however, might be more enticing.

Likewise, you’ll want to make sure that your giveaway is exciting and meets your customers’ needs. For example, if you are hoping to generate buzz around a product launch, the giveaway should probably be the product you are launching. The prize of your giveaway should be relevant to your brand. Otherwise, you risk attracting entrants who are not going to be customers.

[Read more: How to Drive Traffic to Your E-Commerce Store]

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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