If you use any social media platform, chances are you have stumbled upon giveaways. You know, those online competitions asking you to like or follow a social media channel in exchange for a chance to enter a prize draw and win anything from a discount voucher, to branded merchandise or even a mobile phone – amongst other items.

For social media users, it is simply a matter of entering; however, there is a fine line between a prize that catches your attention and one which you ignore, and instead, move on to the next post.

But what about brands giving things away in an attempt to increase awareness, engagement, and their own follower base?

In my experience, having worked with brands and content creators who are regularly trying to get closer to customers and fans, I have often seen mixed results. These approaches rapidly bring in the numbers – and who does not like to check social media insights and notice a reasonable spike in the number of new followers, comments, or newsletters subscriptions? However, along with this, the initial excitement soon fades away. Often your next report will show that your newly acquired audience isn’t that loyal to your content – and have almost instantly unfollowed your account or unsubscribed from your newsletter.

Searching for answers, earlier this month I set out to investigate: are online giveaways adding valuable results to those offering them in 2020?

Value of the prize counts

“Towards the end of last November, we partnered with PureWow on an Instagram giveaway. It lasted five days and we gained over 330 new followers in that time frame. The winner won a 1.5-carat engagement ring valued at $4,000. I attribute our success to the high-value prize and utilizing the PureWow Weddings’ following (1.4M) to bolster awareness.”

Haley Anhut – Content Marketing Manager at Clean Origin

It can increase web traffic

“We held a free giveaway of a one-year subscription to popular streaming services on Twitter. As a result, we had 150+ users take part and 50K+ Tweet impressions, 100+ new followers, and generated 5 new leads. However, when you run an online giveaway, there is always a chance that you may get followed by low-quality or short-term followers.”

Josefin Björklund – CEO & Entrepreneur at Topp Casino Bonus

Participants often don’t care about your brand

“I’ve given away physical products (blender, coffee maker, coffee pods), and each time it has resulted in a large increase in social media followers and newsletter subscribers. I think there will always be interest in giveaways for physical products like this, but in my experience, the people who are attracted to giveaways are not the ideal demographic for your brand or business. The new followers and subscribers get on your list for the wrong reason – freebies. They are not there because they love your brand or because they want to engage with your brand. As a result, you cannot really sell to them and they offer little-to-no value.”

Shawna Newman – Business Consultant & Digital Marketer at Skipblast

Useful content is better than giving things away

“Giveaways are relatively superficial, and you’ll see those new followers drop off over time if you don’t keep giving stuff away. We used to run more giveaways with Twitter but the landscape has changed and Twitter is now a ‘conversation’ platform. The odd giveaway can give a boost, but you’ll keep more valuable followers with super useful content”.

Alice Gerwat – Content Editor & Social Media Manager for Magic Freebies

Research what your audience wants to win

“Giveaways are definitely still working in 2020. This is especially true at the moment, as most people are spending a lot of time inside and looking for fun things to engage with and ways to keep hopeful. I run Instagram giveaways quite often for the businesses I own and manage and always have brilliant results.

I believe the key to a successful giveaway is promoting it as far and as wide as possible and to give away something valuable within your niche. It also requires you to take time to do some research and find out what’s currently hot in your field.”

Darcy Ogdon-Nolan – Owner The Bircher Bar

You can get mixed results

“Giveaways still work, albeit with mixed results, in the crypto space where companies can amass large followings on Twitter. Offering credit for margin trading in exchanges for likes and follows, for example, will work in the short term to boost engagement and follower counts, however, much of this will be from burner accounts and bots.”

Alice Bedward – Digital Marketing Specialist at Flyparks

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Hi! I'm Andrea, a communications major at Colorado State University.

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