Social Media Giveaways: Everything You Need To Know

Cori Sears

Are you looking to boost your brand’s social media presence? Are you dissatisfied with the amount of engagement you’re getting on social media?

Running a giveaway on social media is a great way to build engagement and grow your audience.

While running an online giveaway may seem simple, there are a lot of ways to do it, a lot of things to keep in mind, and a lot of rules you should abide by.

Keep reading for Intrigue’s expert tips on running a successful social media giveaway.

Giveaway Definitions: Contests vs. Sweepstakes

There are two types of giveaways:


Awards prizes based on skill or merit. Prizes are therefore earned, not rewarded. Consideration (payment) may be required since the element of chance is eliminated.


Awards prizes based on chance. Prizes are awarded at no charge to the participants (i.e. ‘no purchase necessary’). This is an important distinction between a sweepstakes and a lottery.

The type of giveaway that you choose to run will depend on the goal that you hope to achieve, as well as your target audience.

For example, are you hoping to reach as many people as possible and gather email addresses? Then a sweepstakes may be the best option for you as they tend to be easier to enter and you are likely to receive more entries.

Alternatively, if you are looking for more intense brand engagement and your brand easily aligns with something that is skill or merit based, then a contest may be the better choice for you. For example, Nikon often runs photo contests on social media.

Why Run A Social Media Giveaway?

Enter to Win Sign

We’ll let you in on a little secret — people love free stuff.

Social media giveaways are not a new concept, but as social media algorithms become increasingly difficult for businesses to navigate, it’s a strategy that can help your brand to penetrate the online noise and get in front of more potential customers.

At Intrigue, we run a lot of social media giveaways for our clients. Running a giveaway helps to:

  • Build your brand awareness online
  • Give back to your customers
  • Get people engaged with your brand

Running a social media giveaway can be a relatively inexpensive way to build meaningful relationships with your target audience.

If done right, it can enhance your brand image and create positive associations of your brand in the mind of your consumers.

However, if done incorrectly, your brand image can suffer and you can end up wasting valuable time, resources, and money.

It’s best to get the experts onboard to help you navigate the process to follow the rules and compliances, and build your engagement.

Social Media Giveaway Best Practices

business man writing best practice concept

At Intrigue, the most common reasons for wanting to run a social media giveaway that we see from our clients includes:

  1. Wanting a greater following on social media (i.e. ‘likes’ or ‘followers’).
  2. Wanting to grow email lists for email marketing purposes.

These are legitimate goals for a social media giveaway. However, there is a right way to go about achieving them. Here are the biggest do’s and don’ts for social media giveaways:

DON’T make it mandatory for entrants to subscribe to your marketing materials (email newsletters) in order to enter.

While you may receive more subscriptions, this tactic can seem gimmicky and annoying, and you can expect to see high email unsubscribe rates following the contest.

DO provide entrants the option to subscribe to your marketing materials if they are interested.

Be sure to disclose that subscribing will not enhance their chances of winning. You may be surprised that when given this option, we’ve found that ~90% of entrants will consent to receiving your marketing material.

On that note, make sure that you are being compliant with all Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) when collecting personal information during a contest or sweepstakes. If you are collecting email addresses you must obtain the consent of entrants before contacting them after the giveaway is complete.

DON’T include hidden rules for entry, fail to provide entrants with your giveaway rules, or dupe entrants out of the promised prize.

Doing any of these things would be one of the fastest ways to de-legitimize your giveaway, and your brand. Nothing makes people angrier than being offered free stuff and then having it taken away from them.

DO be transparent with the giveaway rules and conditions, and with how you intend to use people’s personal information once the giveaway is over.

Always provide a link to your privacy policy (which should already cover how your brand will handle people’s personal information) and ensure that your giveaway’s full rules and conditions are easily accessible to entrants. This information should include how the winner will be determined after the giveaway is complete. To be extra cautious, and to cover yourself under the GDPR, best practice would be to disclose and obtain consent for the use of cookies for the purpose of remarketing to entrants.

It’s also important to specify that the giveaway is not sponsored, endorsed, administered by, or associated with the social platform.

DON’T run giveaways without a purpose.

While people love free stuff, running random giveaways will only work for so long before people question whether or not your giveaway is legitimate.

DO tie your giveaways to something that is valuable to your target audience.

Does your brand have an anniversary coming up? Is there a public event that aligns with your brand? Is there a significant holiday coming up that you could incorporate into your giveaway?

DON’T make it mandatory for people to ‘like’ or ‘follow’ your page in order to enter.

This tactic is often perceived as spammy and unprofessional, and this can transfer over to your brand. While it may be tempting to grow your page’s following, it’s best to let it happen organically. You want people following your page who are actually interested in your brand and your business, and not just in it for the free stuff.

DO specify that the winner will be announced via your social media platforms.

This is a sneaky way to keep people interested in your page and your updates. In addition, announcing the winner (and even including a photo when appropriate) will help to legitimize your contest or sweepstakes.

DON’T use personal timelines and friend connections to administer promotions.

“Tag your friends in this post to enter” or “share on your timeline to enter” or “share on your friend’s timeline for additional entries” is NOT permitted by Facebook and Instagram.

Yes, we know – EVERYONE does it, but it is strictly against Facebook’s promotions policies. Not only that, but consumers (and their friends!) find it annoying, and you are more likely to get entries without using these tactics.

DO encourage entrants to engage directly with you to enter the giveaway.

There are many different ways that you can ask users to enter your giveaway without asking them to tag their friends.

For example, you can ask them a question and get them to answer it in the comments (it’s still possible that their friends will see your post this way because users are able to see their friend’s activity on their newsfeed). You can ask them to like the post to enter, or you can ask them to fill out a giveaway form to be entered.

DON’T drag out the giveaway.

Plain and simple, people will get bored and forget about it.

DO keep the giveaway short and sweet to stay top of mind.

If you’re running the giveaway organically (without paid ads), we’d recommend that you keep it to a week or less. If you are using paid ads to promote your giveaway, then you can probably run it for up to a month because your ads will continuously display to new people.

DON’T leave entrants hanging after the giveaway is completed.

People have expressed interest in your brand by entering the giveaway — don’t miss a valuable opportunity and cut off contact with them!

DO turn entrants into customers!

Whether it’s focusing your social media strategy (to appeal to all your new followers), ramping up your email strategy, or following up the contest with prize-related discounts in an email campaign, the delicate period after your giveaway is over is the time to turn your giveaway entrants into valuable customers!

Social Media Giveaway Logistics

White smart phone on a wooden table emitting holographic image of social media related icons. Blurred city background.

In order to run an effective giveaway on social media, you should ask yourself the following:

  • What type of giveaway do I want to run: a contest or sweepstakes?
  • What is the goal of the giveaway? (Getting email subscribers, generating brand awareness, increasing sales, etc.)
  • Do I want people to fill out a form to enter, or engage with me on social media to enter, or both?
  • What social media platforms do I want to run the giveaway on?

Promote Your Giveaway Across Platforms with Landing Pages or Hashtag Campaigns

Responsive landing page development

If you’re looking to run the giveaway on more than one social media platform, an easy way to accomplish this is by developing landing pages. Landing pages will allow you to use the same link on various platforms to drive users to your page and get entries.

Here’s a preview of a landing page giveaway that we created for our client The Tire Discounter Group (not pictured are the full giveaway rules, which were located at the bottom of the page):

Landing Page Built By Intrigue

Alternatively, you can also promote your giveaway across platforms with a hashtag campaign. By using the same hashtag across platforms, you will create consistency in the way that users are able to enter the contest. However, this option will be considerably more work and you will likely need a social media management platform to help you sort through entries on multiple platforms . This is another great reason to get an expert to do this work for you.

Reach More People with Paid Ads

Flat concept for pay per click advertising, sponsored listing, paid search marketing vector banner with icons isolated on blue background

A little bit can go a LONG way when you’re promoting a giveaway!

If your brand doesn’t already have a huge following on social media, then you may need to put some budget behind your giveaway in order to get more eyes on it.

Even if you do have a sizeable following, the point of giveaways is usually to attract new potential customers, meaning that they probably aren’t already following you.

Since you can’t ask people to tag their friends to enter the giveaway, the next option is to run paid ads to help promote the giveaway.

Giveaways are not expensive to promote on social media. If your ads are set up properly and you’ve targeted your audience correctly, then you should see your email list grow.

If this sound like a lot to handle, that’s probably because it is a lot for most business owners to take on themselves. Don’t worry, Intrigue’s experienced conversion specialists and content marketing specialists can set up and run your next social media giveaway for you. Just give us a shout!

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