How to Run a Social Media Giveaway for Your Small Business

A mobile device with the sign-in page of Instagram

Finding new, efficient methods to promote your small business can be a great way to create buzz, awareness, and excitement over the products or services you sell. A social media giveaway is a popular strategy that can help you achieve your goals.

Whether you want to strengthen current customer relationships, acquire new customers, or a bit of both, a successful social media giveaway can act as a tool to get your small business on your target audience’s mobile and desktop screens. But how can you bring your social media giveaway to the level of success that will stop scrolling thumbs? Keep reading for tips to turn to as you plan yours out.

Pick Your Prize (And Your Budget)

Arguably, one of the most important parts of a social media giveaway is, as you might have guessed, what you’re giving away. The prize will take center stage and be what you form your promotional content and copy around; it should be relevant to your small business and one that people can get excited over. What would your target audience appreciate?

As a small business owner, it is understandable if you cannot give away something grand and expensive, especially if you have limited financial resources. Therefore, before you pick a prize, pick a budget. How much can you allocate toward your giveaway? Do you want to organize one large giveaway that you can spend a little bit more on, or would you like to arrange one every couple of months, each on a smaller scale?

The prize could be one of your products from a new line you’re promoting, an appealing discount on one of your services, exclusive products others can’t purchase, and so on. This will be subjective to your business, so determine the item(s) or service(s) that are well-received by your audience and go from there.

For example, if you run a small tattoo shop, maybe your giveaway is a free small flash tattoo; your followers, who likely have or want to get tattoos, can get excited over it, and it may be the push someone needs to go and get one if they were hesitant before. You never know—the giveaway recipient could promote their new art on their social platforms or become a lifelong customer, making the cost of offering that tattoo seem minimal compared to the future business you receive.

Choose Your Goal

Creating the ground rules for your social media giveaway is just as important as the prize. How are social media users going to participate? Before you can answer that, it’s often helpful to plan out what your goals are for running this giveaway in the first place.

Do you want to boost your follower count? This is a tangible goal, as you can track the results, which could help determine after the fact if the giveaway benefited your small business. As you form your giveaway rules, you could include a line of copy such as “follow us and tag three friends in the comments” or “tag a friend in the comments and ensure both of you are following,” which would require the user to follow steps that directly align with your goal. Note: platforms like Instagram allow you run promotions that require a user to share or tag, Facebook does not. Be sure to follow each platform’s Terms and Conditions.

However, you may have goals that are more challenging to track but still incredibly valuable, such as boosting brand awareness and recognition. In that case, add specific language to your giveaway rules to help you reach those goals. For example, if you use Instagram as your platform of choice, you could include “like and share this post on your Story to enter,” which could assist with brand awareness because your post may appear in front of non-followers. This is not to say doing this will automatically urge others to follow you, but it does mean your content extends beyond your followers, which can be helpful if someone is looking for a product or service you offer now or in the future.

You may have multiple goals at once, but try to focus on one or two, as it can help ensure you’re not asking too much of your giveaway participants; you do not want participants to jump through hoops and take too much time out of their day to enter.

Select the Social Media Platform

Your small business is likely on some of the main social media platforms (i.e., Instagram, Meta, X), so should you post your giveaway to all of them? The short answer is no.

While it can be helpful to cross-promote your giveaway across platforms, the actual giveaway itself should be limited to one platform. How do you choose the platform? Go where your followers are most engaged and where you can reach the greatest number of people in your target audience.

For example, if you have a lot of followers on Instagram, but your small business offers certain services to business professionals, you could choose Instagram and/or LinkedIn to hold your giveaway and mention that you will select a winner on the culmination of entries from both platforms.

Before you finalize your selection, be sure to review any giveaway guidelines on the applicable platform so all rules are followed. Here are direct links to giveaway/contest guidelines on popular social platforms:

Create Your Plan of Action

Giveaway rules: Once you know the platform you want to use to hold the giveaway, you can better create the rules you want participants to follow, as you can have a framework around the language to use. For instance, if you select Instagram, you can use terms like “share this post to your Story” in your set of rules. You wouldn’t want to include that on X, for example, as it wouldn’t apply.

With your goal of the giveaway established, create a short list of clear rules that participants can’t misunderstand. Ideally, you don’t want to include too many steps. Make it easy, simple, and something users will want to comply with.

Do you want users to follow, tag, and share? Do you want them to post a picture and use a certain hashtag? When you select the objective of your giveaway, you can form rules around it. For example, if you’re a wellness-based small business, your giveaway rules could ask participants to share a photo of themselves showing their favourite way to meditate or a healthy meal and ask them to tag a hashtag that uses your business’s name. The idea is to keep it fun and applicable to your small business, and that can (ideally) allow others to check out your account or the hashtag used.

Timeline: Create a sense of urgency in your giveaway to help generate excitement and exclusivity. When people are on a timeline, they can feel more inclined to take part. If your giveaway is a month-long, people may feel like they have time, so they wait to take part, and the next thing they know, the giveaway is over before they’ve entered. Don’t let that happen with yours! A week or two can be ideal if you have a smaller reach and need time to promote, while a couple of days may be great if you have a larger following and can reach more people at once. Be sure to include the deadline of your giveaway in all posts.

Share, and Then Share Some More

The last thing you want to do is put all this work into your giveaway only for not enough people to see or engage with it. Hoping your posts go viral may be a bit unrealistic, but with a proper strategy, you can generate some buzz. However, be careful not to overdo the content, as you do not want to come across as spam. Schedule your posts so you can visualize how many times you post about it. If you plan to share across platforms that the giveaway is on Instagram, for example, be sure to provide a link to your account or the exact post that includes all the details.

Hashtags can be extremely helpful (if the platform you select uses them). This will help get your content out there to potential non-followers or those seeking out specific content. Currently, 47.5 million posts on Instagram use the hashtag #giveaway, so maybe don’t use just that one hashtag and hope people searching it can find your content. That is not to say you shouldn’t use it, as it can be helpful to indicate that it is indeed a giveaway but use other hashtags you would find associated with your industry. For example, if you’re a fitness business, try #FitnessGiveaway in your post to help narrow down your audience who may be interested in your prize.

If you’re planning on running the giveaway for a week or two, it may be beneficial to post flyers around your store (if applicable) or in your community to promote. This form of marketing can help spread awareness about your business and including a call to action (entering the giveaway) can be the incentive needed to follow you on social media—a win-win.

Do you already share reoccurring content with existing followers, such as a newsletter, or have a mailing list? Mention your giveaway in there, too! The more of your target audience that sees your giveaway, the better.

Announce the Winner(s)

Adding the “final chapter” to your giveaway can help close things off and prove to the participants that it was a legitimate giveaway (there are many illegitimate ones out there). It can also lead to greater exposure, as the winner may want to share on their own social media that they won and/or share your post that shows they are the winner.

You should indicate in your rules how you will select the winner. It could be a random draw using an online generator or you may have something specific you’re looking for. Letting participants know how a winner is chosen can add transparency to your giveaway.

You should mention that you will be reaching out to the winner in a DM and tag them in the post. You may also want to add whether you are holding another giveaway in the not-too-distant future and thank everyone who participated in this one.

Keep Up with Engaging Content Afterwards

When your giveaway is all said and done, you may have several new followers who were introduced to your business through the promotion. Now is your chance to create organic content that introduces these followers to your business and the products/services you offer. Make it engaging and interesting, push your branded elements to help increase recognition, and lean into the trends applicable to the platform if they align with your business. While you may see some followers drop off after your giveaway, as they may have only been interested in winning, you can be left with a group of new ones that want to keep up with your business and what you have to offer, so nurture those new relationships with your content.

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