Social Media Marketing: Online Giveaways

  • Date: 09 September 2019
  • reading time: 7 Minutes
  • Blogger: Francisca Zimmermann

Are you struggling to grow your social media accounts? This is normal. Almost every business is active on social media nowadays, and standing out is incredibly hard. With ‘just nice content’ you will most probably not grow as fast as you would like to since there is just too much ‘nice content’ out there. And on top of that, the social media algorithms only show your content to +/- 3% of your friends organically.

Can you imagine how hard it is to really get noticed? 


A great way to grab the attention of your target audience with something that helps both you and them is an online giveaway or contest. People love the competition and almost everyone gets excited over ‘free stuff’. 

But how do you run a competition that is actually successful? How do you make sure you don’t have to give away a product or prize without an ROI that makes it worth it? 

In this blog, we will give you a few great contest ideas to add to your marketing strategy. We will explain how to involve your audience, how to prepare your campaign, and what kind of outcome to expect. 

What to expect: Long term results 

Before we get into the details of contest hosting, we want to make one thing clear. A giveaway is a fantastic way to grow social media presence and increase brand awareness. However, most contests won’t result in direct sales. 

This makes it seem like an insecure tactic for some, but think about it. With a strategic giveaway, you can make your brand seen by thousands, or maybe even millions of people. All these people will associate your brand with something positive and fun: A game, a challenge, or even a prize. Most probably, these people won’t buy straight away. However, your brand will be in their mind, and once they are ready to buy, they might choose you to buy from.

How to start

To optimize your results it is advisable to incorporate your contest idea into a well thought out digital marketing funnel. You can, for instance, use a giveaway to collect email addresses, receive feedback, or collect data.

marketing strategy

As you probably know, everything in marketing is planning. Before starting with your contest, go through at least the following steps: 

Determine your goals.

Do you want to gain social media followers? Do you want to increase engagement on one - or all social media channels? Do you want people to sign up for something? A newsletter? Do you want them to complete a survey? Or do you want participants to purchase your product or service directly? 

Your goals will most likely depend on - and fit into - your existing funnel. As you can read in our recent blog, the traditional funnel is designed to guide your target audience from seeing your brand for the first time, towards being a loyal customer. A social media contest, or social media in general, fits perfectly at the early stages of the funnel. Social media has the potential to reach almost everyone in the entire world, which means endless opportunities for growing brand awareness. 

Usually, a contest will, therefore, fit at the beginning of the funnel. However, if you think your contest fits in a later stage, that is absolutely possible. Think of a contest for loyal customers, a contest for email sign-ups, or even a contest among those who buy your product. 

Define your starting point. 

To be able to measure the impact of your campaign, make sure you save a summary of your social media and website analytics before starting. Without knowing your starting point, your actions are like a shot in the dark.

Determine your budget. 

You might spend money on the product or service you are giving away, and possibly on advertising or collaboration charges too. 

The prize you are giving away is essential. Place yourself in the shoes of your target audience and think of something that would make them participate. It could even help to speak to them and simply ask. This could be a great way to create ‘pre-contest-excitement’ and gain some traction already.

Write a strategy. 

There are so many contests going around online, that the chances that your contest ‘simply will go viral’ are very small. We suggest, therefore, to promote your campaign through either:

Online advertising:

Think of promoted Facebook post or story, a boosted Instagram post or Twitter ads. 

A collaboration: 

Find a business similar to yours, combine funds to offer a great prize and encourage participants to both support (follow, for instance) your - and your partner’s brand. 

Influencer marketing:

 Ask an influencer to promote your content for you. This will give you access to his or her following and will grow your reach significantly.

Be clear. 

Write a very clear description of your contest and ask a few outsiders to test read. To prevent confusion, all the details in your contest introduction need to be more than apparent. Starting date, end date, timezone, number of entries, who can participate, who picks the winner and how, and what do your participants need to do to enter? A great idea is to create a contest hashtag. This way, you can search on this hashtag to find and judge entries, and others will possibly see your hashtag and get interested in participating too.

Ready to go: Contest ideas 

Are you ready to go and looking for inspiration? We have collected a few of our favorite contest ideas. Creativity is the key to standing out, and the below ideas are an excellent way to do so. 

Ask for business advice. The best idea wins!

People love to feel heard. A really nice way to engage followers and make them feel connected to your brand is by asking them their opinion. Think of a fun question to ask, which is related to your business. This can be anything: 'What should we name this product?' or 'Which product should we develop next?' or even 'Which color should we paint our office wall?' Your question could be absolutely anything, but of course, it's the most fun for your followers if you can show them the result. 

The person with the best suggestion wins!

This type of contest is a win-win. Followers can win something and will most probably follow you, waiting to see the result of the question you ask. You, as a business, will gain followers and engagement and even get business advice from those who matter the most, your target audience.

Quiz contests

Quizzes are fun, and usually, receive a lot of shares. Especially with fun results, people want to show their friends how the quiz turned out for them. A simple quiz can be designed on Typeform and can have a large variety of topics. Think of ‘what type of shopper are you?’ ‘what type of traveler are you?’ or ‘What kind of friend are you?’ The topic doesn’t really matter, but of course something related to your business would make the most sense.

star wars

Asking participants to share their results is unfortunately not allowed by Facebook, but you could ask participants to message you their result and follow your page to enter the contest.

Fill in the blank/caption this

While a quiz would most probably result in a lot of shares, it does require some time and effort from both you and your participants. A much quicker activity that people usually really like, is a ‘caption this’ or ‘fill in the blank’ game. The fact that people can be creative here and ‘compete’ with each other usually makes for lots of engagement.

All you have to do is post a funny photo and ask participants to come up with a caption. The best caption wins! 

facebook comments

Do you prefer the ‘fill in the blank game’? Then you simply share a sentence with a gap. The best or funniest completion of the sentence wins.

‘I love to travel because it makes me ………………’ 

‘After getting paid each month, I …………….’

Favorite product

Our last idea is, just like the first one, helpful for both participant and business. Ask your participants to share which of your products or services they like best. Possibly with motivation, photo, video, or any other way they would like to represent the product. Again, the best entry wins. 

Need help? 

Do you need help growing your social media accounts and brand awareness through a fun giveaway? We love being creative with contests. Feel free to contact us for a FREE strategy call, so we can discuss how we can help you further. 

Are you interested in learning more about social media marketing? Then our Social Media Gids Community may be a great place for you. Here you can learn all about social media marketing, join the conversation with other community members, check out our FREE e-books and our Social Marketing Class

Want to post a comment? Join the conversation in our community.

  • Blogger: Francisca Zimmermann
  • E-mail: [email protected]
  • Social media manager & content creator at Social Media Gids
  • Francisca Zimmermann is a social media expert with a background in research and a love for learning new things. She travels the world looking for beautiful places and interesting cultures, while she dives into the world of her clients to be able to write about them and their interests as a real 'insider'.
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