Although Holiday Sweepstakes Season has already begun, it’s not too late to create seasonal giveaways.
Optimally, you should be planning all your marketing activities, including giveaways, on an annual basis, but there should also always be space for spontaneity and impulsive creativity.
Nothing is more fun than getting into the holiday spirit by giving gifts (aka prizes) to your followers, fans and customers. There is no shortage of choices or options for spreading joy.
Here are my five steps broken down into ten sections for you to create your promotional marketing plan and launch your giveaway today.
ONE: Set a Goal
Ask yourself; WHY are you hosting a giveaway. Once you know the why, you can then figure out the what.
Do you want to increase Facebook likes? Then host a series of Facebook giveaways. Do you want to increase newsletter subscribers? Then host a Rafflecopter sweepstakes on your blog making subscribing a mandatory option. Do you want more Instagram followers? Then host an Instagram contest on your feed and in your stories.
You get the idea.
The why also gives you a yardstick. Something to measure your results against. Something you can review and report upon. When you have measurable results you then know if your actions should be repeated, or changed.
Did you get the results you were seeing? If not, what can you do in the future to change that?
T. Harv Eker says, “Ready. Fire. Aim. You should prepare goals, do it and then make the adjustments afterward. Don’t wait until you feel 100% prepared because you may not ever be ready to act on it so just do it!”
The beauty of the Internet is it is faced paced and ever-changing. This isn’t the past when you would print 10,000 brochures and then find a spelling error. If something doesn’t work the way you hoped it would then change it. Try again. Instantly.
It even happens to the experts. Sometimes things I believe should work based on solid marketing principles fall flat. Then I do something on a whim and it garners tremendous traction.
TWO: Pick a Prize
Once you have the why the what becomes clear.
What you are giving away is key. Do not give something away because it is popular. Select prizes that align with your brand. You can either give away your own products and services, or something that compliments them.
For example, if you are a hair salon owner, you can giveaway services (cuts and colorings), products (shampoo, conditioner and styling products) or items that are complementary (brushes, flat irons, hats, etc.). If you are a restaurant owner, you can giveaway services (gift certificates for meals), products (your house dressing) or items that are complementary (DVDs about chefs and restaurants, cookbooks, etc.).
If you really want to giveaway the hottest items, then dovetail them into your brand.
For example, if you are an author, then giveaway a Kindle. If you run a home security company, you can give away a Google Home.
Also take into account who your giveaway will be open to, aka eligibility.
If you are giving away shampoo and conditioner, do you really want to be mailing bottles across the county? They will be costly to send and could break in transit. If you are giving away gift certificates to your independent restaurant you do not want your giveaway to be open nationally as most entrants will not be able to utilize your prize.
Gift cards are a popular prize as they are easy to mail or email and anyone can use them. One size fits all. Again, just be sure it aligns with your brand.
I took an unscientific poll of my followers and I discovered the Americans overwhelmingly wanted to win Amazon gift cards, and the Canadians overwhelmingly wanted to win Tim Hortons gift cards. Can you say Double Double?!
How much should a prize be worth?
There are a variety of factors that will determine prize value. The top two are your:
You do not have to have a big budget to be successful. This is where creativity can trump dollars.
On my own social channels, I have given items away that are worth $2 (pre-loved copies or vintage sweepstakes books I find at thrift stores) and ones that are worth $250 (one-on-one sweepstakes masterclasses). Sometimes the most inexpensive prizes garner the most social media traction.
THREE: Create the Mechanics
The social channel you select will determine what entry options you are allowed to use. You must read the Promotional Policies of the said channel before you decide what an entrant must do to be in to win.
Here are the main points from the three most popular channels:
- have official rules.
- outline contest terms and eligibility.
- release Facebook of all liability.
You cannot ask people to tag friends or share the contest post. You will see many timeline contest violating those policies and if Facebook chooses they could penalize your page. If you chose to break those policies, you do so at your own risk.
As Facebook owns Instagram, their policies are similar. You must:
- have official rules.
- outline contest terms and eligibility.
- release Instagram of all liability.
Twitter has the least stringent rules regarding promotions. It’s more a list of tips then guidelines:
- Discourage cheating.
- Get mentioned so you can track entries.
- Follow the law.
The most popular giveaway styles on each channel are:
- LIKE & COMMENT on Facebook.
- FOLLOW & RETWEET on Twitter.
- LOVE & COMMENT on Instagram.
If you are having trouble deciding what verbiage to use, scan the feeds of your competitor and look at their giveaways and what type of success they are achieving. You won’t be able to see all their analytics, but you can see the number of likes, comments, and shares on each post.
The other side of the entries coming in is drawing the winner.
How are you conducting the drawing?
Are you copying all the entries, pasting them into Excel, editing the file and using Random.org? Have you subscribed to a service such as Woobox to manage the contest?
If your promotion is small, copying and pasting may be fine, but what if you get hundreds or thousands of entries? Can your staff handle running a contest across multiple platforms?
This is a decision that must be made in advance because once a contest has been launched you can’t go back and change your mind.
FOUR: Write the Rules
I cannot stress this point enough. It is my #1 tip when teaching contestors; ALWAYS READ THE RULES and it’s my #1 tip when consulting with clients; LOCK IN YOUR RULES.
The rules are a legal and binding contract between the entrant and the sponsor that are court actionable and should always be written in favor of the sponsor.
The rules are easier to write once the prizes have been chosen and the mechanics have been created.
The rules also don’t have to live on the giveaway post. You will see many Instagram posts state: ‘Click the link in our bio.’ That link will take you to official rules that are living on the sponsor’s website.
FIVE: Get the Word Out
The most common email I get is agencies asking me to viral market their client’s contest for them. When I send back my fee schedule I usually get a reply there is no budget for that.
Marketing contests are no different than any other marketing activity. People don’t just ‘show up’. You have to do some work to get the promotion in front of your followers.
If you can’t afford to hire an expert to viral market your giveaway for you, then I recommend you cross-post your promotion, use a variety of additional hashtags and reach out to me as I offer everyone one free plain post on three of my channels.
What do I mean by cross-post?
If you plan to host a Facebook giveaway, then share the link in your newsletter, blog about it, share it on Twitter and Instagram along with any other social channel you favor, such as a hosting Facebook Live or talking about it in your Instagram Stories.
Besides using a unique hashtag for your giveaway, another way to attract new potential followers and customers to your pages is to use holiday hashtags.
Chose one version of each hashtag such as:
Also use variations of words:
Then you can add-in event hashtags:
I have never seen Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or other holiday giveaways, but it doesn’t mean they don’t exist
Then combine the above with a hashtag unique to you such as:
Be sure to test the hashtags as you create the mechanics of the contest to ensure they are already not in use. It could make drawing a winner more difficult, especially on Twitter.
A Second Set of Eyes
One last tip. Before you launch your giveaway, have a colleague or peer review the promotion. Sometimes it’s hard to see the forest for the trees. Having another set of eyes read all your copy will catch errors or confusing entry instructions. Although errors can be quickly remedied, it’s best to have none.
What are you going to give away?