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How to Run a Successful Social Media Giveaway

Updated: Nov 23, 2020

Social media giveaways are happening daily primarily on Instagram and Facebook. While we've seen and even done almost every kind of giveaway or contest here's what we've seen work, what doesn't, and the crucial steps you must follow to run a successful social media giveaway.

STEP 1 - Know Your Goal

The first step to running a successful social media contest is to establish a goal. Do you want to increase your Instagram followers, boost engagement, brand awareness, or capture emails? Whatever your goal may be will then determine the next steps.

Increase Instagram Followers

If your goal is to increase Instagram followers, a giveaway is a great way to do that! The best way to do this is to team up with brands that compliment your product or service and have a similar audience to you - this makes it a win-win for both of you! For example, with the brand Rowdy Bars, we found that a majority of their audience drink coffee on a daily basis and enjoy doing outdoor activities such a mountain biking, hiking, and skiing, therefore partnering with DRINK COFFEE DO STUFF for a giveaway was a great way to showcase both products to audiences that we knew would be interested.

A caption for this type of giveaway should read something like this:


We're excited to announce we've partnered with our friends [insert name] and [insert name] for the ultimate Galentine's gift!

Winner will receive [insert prize] from [insert your brand name], [insert 2nd prize] from [insert 2nd brand name], and [insert 3rd prize] from [insert 3rd brand name].

To enter:

1. Like this post

2. Follow [insert your IG], [insert 2nd brand IG], and [insert 3rd brand IG]

3. Tag 3 friends in the comments below

Giveaway closes [enter specific date and time] and a winner will be contacted shortly after via DM. Good luck!"

This is a very basic template. It's important to incorporate your brand's flare to the giveaway messaging.

Boost Engagement

If your goal is to boost engagement on your social media pages, thus boosting your social presence and increasing your chances of being discovered on social media, your giveaway will look similar to the example I gave above under "Increase Instagram Followers" with just a few small changes.

For example, a post will look more like this if your goal is to boost engagement:


We're giving away [insert item(s)] to 5 lucky followers!

All you have to do to enter is:

1. Like this post

2. Tell us your Valentine's Day plans

3. Tag 3 friends in the comments below

Giveaway closes [enter specific date and time] and the winners will be contacted shortly after via DM. Good luck!"

The biggest difference in this caption is encouraging people to comment a little bit more than simply tagging 3 friends. Instagram and Facebook's algorithm knows how to bypass giveaways because oftentimes people or only tagging friends in the comments. Encourage people to comment more by requiring that they answer a question. The goal is that the commenter will respond using more than 3 words.

Another important step to this giveaway is to comment back and engage with your followers. Make this kind of giveaway fun and interactive! If it's done right, your followers will be following along the threads and interacting with each other as well.

Email Captures

Coordinating a giveaway with the goal to capture more email signups is a more complex giveaway process, however, if you follow these tips you can be sure it's worth it!

For starters, it's important to create a specific landing page on your website for your giveaway that you can link to from social media and track entries. When creating this landing page make sure that the layout is simple and easy to navigate. Don't overwhelm visitors with too many questions or questions that are difficult to answer. If the questionnaire takes up too much time chances are people will bounce before finishing, unless you're giving away something REALLY big like a tropical vacation then you can make the questions a little more challenging.

Because you're adding an extra step in the giveaway process that requires followers to navigate away from social media, make the prize worth the extra effort. This type of giveaway should be just a bit more special than the social media giveaways you do to boost engagement or increase followers.

An example social media post for this giveaway or contest will read something like this:


We're giving away [insert some big item(s)] to 5 lucky people!

All you have to do to enter is click this link (or link in bio if this is on IG) and follow the directions on our entry page:

[insert specific tracking link to landing page]

Giveaway closes [enter specific date and time] and the winners will be contacted shortly after via email. Good luck!"

Throughout this type of giveaway, it's best to stay in contact with your entrants by sending follow-up emails. An automated email sent to their inbox after they enter saying something along the lines of "thanks for entering our giveaway" goes a long way. In the email also remind them of the giveaway details and encourage entrants to share to their social networks or forward to a friend. If this is a contest or giveaway that's going on for longer than a week then continue to stay engaged with your entrants by counting down the days until the winner will be selected and plugging other valuable brand-related information.

STEP 2 - Choosing a Winner or Winners

Choosing the winner may seem like a simple task, but there's definitely a right and wrong way to do this. People who find themselves invested in your contest or giveaway will be sure to call you out if you don't announce the winner at the exact time you said you were going to or if they felt the way you chose the winner was fishy in any way. It's important to be honest and truthful about how you select a winner. But for the sake of your time and considering you may run into a hiccup during the process, be vague about when and how you will choose the winner. For example, rather than saying "winner will be contacted at X time on X date" say something along the lines of "giveaway closes on X date at X time and a winner will be contacted shortly after". This gives you time to properly weed out anyone who didn't follow directions and contact the winner. There have been times that a winner doesn't see the message because they may have a private account or simply don't check their DM's or emails frequently, when that occurs you must give them a deadline to "claim their prize" and if they don't reach that deadline choose another winner.

How to Choose a Winner

Selecting a winner via social media can be a daunting task especially when you have hundreds, even thousands of entries. The easiest way we've found is to copy all the entries or comments into a spreadsheet and then use a random number generator (simply Google "random number generator"). Scroll to the name next to that number and then go back and check to make sure they followed your directions, such as tagging 3 friends, liking the required pages, liking the post, etc.

If you're looking for something even easier, check out, easypromos Instagram giveaway or try Woobox's "Pick a Winner" Tool.

When it comes to selecting a winner via email, it is much easier. All you'll need to do is export your email entries into Excel (if they aren't already numbered) and follow the same steps as above using a random number generator.

Step 3 - Contacting the Winner

This is the fun part. You've followed all the steps above and now it's come time to reach out to your winner, YAY!

Contacting a Winner via Direct Message

When reaching out to winners via DM, as I mentioned above, give them a timeline to reply. A timeline of 24 - 48 hours is a good amount of time to give them to respond. If they don't reply by the date you've given, repeat Step 2.

Here is an example of what a message should look like when contacting a winner via Instagram DM:

"Congratulations, [insert name if it's on their profile]! You're the winner of our giveaway which prizes include [list our prizes]. Please respond to this message with your name, email, and mailing address before [insert time] on [insert date] to claim your prize. Thank you again for participating in our giveaway!"

Facebook is a little tricky because typically you can't contact individuals directly from business accounts. In this case, respond to their comment and ensure they are tagged in the comment.

A comment to a winner on Facebook should read something like this:

"Congratulations, [tag the winner]! You're the winner of our giveaway which prizes include [list our prizes]. Please send us a private message with your name, email, and mailing address before [insert time]on [insert date]to claim your prize. Thank you again for participating in our giveaway!"

PRO TIP: Do not announce the giveaway winner live or on your Instagram story. When you make a big winner announcement you'll find that your new followers (the ones that didn't win) drop off immediately.

Contacting a Winner via Email

When it comes to contacting a winner via email, similar messaging as above can apply, however, because email inboxes for most people fill up pretty quickly, give the winner roughly 3-7 days to respond. In addition to the messaging, spice up your email with some celebratory visuals and be sure to have a subject line that stands out, such as "Congratulations! You've won the [insert giveaway name] giveaway or contest!". Make sure you include "you've won" or "you're our winner" in the subject line so the email stands out in their sea of promotional emails. You always want to make sure this email looks professional and is branded appropriately. If anything looks fishy, a winner may assume it's a scam.

After you've contacted a winner and the giveaway is complete, do not send a blanketed email saying thank you again for entering and informing them that you chose a winner. Your new email subscribers will opt-out immediately. Instead, send an email informing them that the giveaway is closed and include a special discount or offer to keep them hanging on and looking forward to your emails.

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