Are Contests/Giveaways Really Worth the Effort?


There are always varied opinions regarding the concept of giveaways on social media. You might have come across various well-reputed brand giving away their product or discounts on different occasions.

The giveaways include gift cards, parts of computer, cosmetics, fragrances, clothes, accessories and equipment. Not a single day goes by when I don’t see someone posting that they are giving away 100 iPhones. A picture of roughly stacked phones is attached to the post made by a shady and not so official looking page.

I mean anyone can see that it’s a scam yet they fall prey to it and share or comment. A statement is usually attached as well that the company has overstocked these iPhones and want to give them away. Who overstocks Iphones and why? one might ask this question.

There are many other ambiguous posts I usually come across, like an expensive brand giving away a whole trolley of cosmetics (Which is by the way a dream for everyone who loves makeup).

There are many questions that comes to mind like if I run a contest on Facebook, is it going to be a success? What giveaways big businesses are using? will I be able to come to my user’s standards?

If you consider SEO and marketing techniques it is clear that some techniques work and some don’t. yet you see tons of people using these proven failed techniques to get more followers or build their brand. It is evident that it takes a bit of time to familiarize people with relatively modern strategies. This time hasn’t come yet, big brands are using contests to get more followers and new entrepreneurs are following their footsteps.  It is not necessary that what captains of your industry are doing is the right move.

I believe that Facebook contests are quite effective, the usage and their end might not be the same as it was in the past but yes they do help a lot.

In the past Gating was used, in fact it was default. In order to view the posts made by a page you have to like and follow them. Now there is one giveaway each month and in order to win that prize you have to like and follow that page which is quite small price to pay for a chance to win a fabulous product.

Let me Explain Like Gating with an Example

On Facebook there are tons of brand with absolutely nonexistent engagement which is usually the result of people just liking the page for the sake of winning a contest and if they don’t win, the page keeps on reminding them that they didn’t win. Facebook didn’t approve of it and removed the Like Gating entirely, yet many people use plugins for websites that supports like gating a.k.a Social Lockers. Using Social Lockers are not the norm anymore though.

Although you cannot like gate a page these days you can still create an incentive by using contests as a bait to increase your likes. One rule might be liking the page at first. It doesn’t guarantee to increase the likes of your page by millions but it will be plenty.

There are many businesses that increased their business by offering their top products as Facebook contest giveaways. Their sales went up sky high after the contest as the quality of products was really up to the mark. So basically if your product is of good quality and affordable people will buy. A little bit of promotion really helps. You can launch trial packs of your products as Smashbox has launched which helps customers to decide whether this product suits them or not. Mind that their trial packs don’t come cheap as well but there are several products in that pack and customers can easily pick and choose.

It is always wise to learn from the successful campaigns and observe their strategies. I will state some of the most successful contests on Facebook and you can see what they did to make their venture a success.


Briggs & Stratton Mower Mouth – Now they were looking for a way to promote their new quiet technology, what they came up was really brilliant. They didn’t ask the users to like or share their page they asked the users to submit videos of themselves making noises of a lawnmower. It gave a chance to the users to become a beatboxer and creative. This was a lot of fun. You might wonder what the reward for winner was, it was a new mower and $5000 in cash Woah! No wonder they got 3.3 million videos submitted, more than 23,000 clicks on their page and 45% increase in Facebook Following. Although they didn’t require the participants to like their page in order to enter the contest.

SportsCenter—SC is not a small name neither a brand. They have more than 7 million fans on Facebook. Well I guess they didn’t launch the contest to get more likes, it was more of a quality based contest. The produced several commercials and asked their users to rate them from 1 to 10. This took an existing turn and got all the users engaging and commenting on their page, although a Facebook app was used for all this. The prize wasn’t a big one as well, they gave off 20,000 users gift cards to Burger King. Their contests scraped off more that 1 million votes and a huge increase in following. This is the feedback they used to gauge the production quality of their commercials and gave them inspiration to what t produce in the future.

The Peanuts Movie Peanutize Me! – you must have come across this contest while going through Facebook last year. Ludomade collaborated with 20th Century Fox and made an app which allowed the followers to create their personal peanuts character. There are more than 860 assets in the app which helped creating videos for the users. The users submitted those videos. The app is solely responsible to create 17 million visits on the website, 6.9 million characters created, 2.7 million shares on Facebook and a 4-day trend on Social Media. As a result, the movie ended up making $44 million on its opening night.

As a matter of fact, they are large brands who are not short of money and who can giveaway prizes in large volumes and are already followed my millions of people on Facebook.

What chance do the small business owners have? Will their venture be any success? Do they have to work even harder to get a couple of thousand followers?

Rather than making it sound impossible to run a contest let me state some advice for you to follow, now they are not hard and fast rules. See what suits you and stick to it.

  1. If you are planning to run a contest on a huge extent, make sure you have big enough audience. If you are planning to giveaway a $ 100 prize like a bag of cosmetics, see if you have big enough audience. There is no use if your giveaway an expensive item and get nothing in return. This might result in you trying to cover up your losses.
  2. First decide what type of contest you want to run. There are many people who are coming up with new ideas of contests every day. Several already exist but let me discuss the main 4 types of contests you might want to run.
  • Sweepstakes Contests, the users can enter this contest with little or no requirement for entry. For example, through Gleam. Usually a randomizer app is used to pick the winner.
  • Essay Contest, where the users are asked to submit an essay or a photo caption. You can post a bunch of pictures and ask your users to write a short story based on the photos.
  • Photo Contest, users are asked to submit a photo they took themselves according to a theme you set. You can choose from a wide variety like pets, landscapes, portrait or a selfie with your product for example if you are running a makeup business or clothing business you can ask your users to post their picture wearing your products.
  • Video Contest, you can ask your users to create a video like the lawnmower video I mentioned above. They are relatively hard to enter and hard to compete and some users might be a bit shy to post their videos. These types of contests are much fruitful in the future though. You might think about increasing the prizes if you have a large number of followers like give away 50 $20 gift cards instead of a couple of $500 gift cards. This will help cover up a larger number of users.
  1. Go through the rules and regulation set up by Facebook regarding running a contest. They have quite specified terms of services for Facebook contests. Make sure you are not violating any of them, you can easily find them in the Promotions section of their general terms of service.
  2. There is no use of running a contest if you don’t have an aim. Decide what do you want to achieve from this contest. Are you looking for more Facebook Followers? Do you want to increase your sales? This will help to determine what kind of prize you want to give away as well. Do you want more traffic on your website? Then ask people to visit your website and post a screen shot of their visit.
  3. A contest should meet specific requirements. You cannot answer in a vague manner as it will never do you any good. You should set your goal in a manner which is relatively attainable like I want 10,000 more followers. Which is reasonable and attainable. If you are running a small brand than 500 should be your target. It is unrealistic to expect a million likes overnight. You prize should be special not something anyone can pick up from a one-pound store. Giving away tacky prizes will result is reduction of followers and decline in reputation of your brand. Also the product shouldn’t be damaged. It should be your top of the line perfect quality product if you want your users to trust you.
  4. Picking up a relevant prize for your contest is also a major factor in the success of your contest. If you are giving away an IPhone 7, it doesn’t matter who is interested in the products because let’s face it everyone wants a free phone. There will be thousands of participants in this contest but very little will prove beneficial to your business in the future. So pick a prize that will promote your product as well. Like a make-up box you handcrafted, a couple of tasteful cushions that your winner will cherish and enjoy. Relate to your audience and the type of your contest, if you are running an easy contest where the number of participants is higher you can include $20 gift cards for 20 winners. Now pick higher value items for contests that are harder and require more effort to compete in. keep it simple and easy to understand. The contest is for general public and it is always advisable to keep it understandable for everyone.
  5. Now before posting the contest make sure you have gone through all these points and have a clear HQ photo of the prize along with clearly written rules and regulations. Make sure you write what is acceptable and unacceptable while making an entry. You have to promote your contest and you can use paid advertising to that for you as well. Keep track of how much you have spent and what it is gained for you in terms of business and followers. this will give you an idea of what to do and what not to do in future and what’s beneficial for your future in the long run.

It is not too difficult to come up with a contest though, coming up with a plan that helps you both financially and in growth of your business is the real trick. Hopefully these points will be helpful in conducting a successful contest on Facebook or any other Social media platform.


About the Author 

Olivia Pearce is a Social Media Writer who has majored in Textile Designing. Also Holds Bachelor’s degree in Education and English Language Certification. Finds it impossible to discuss herself in third person but is doing so as per the demands of this bio. She is a home-maker and teaches Textile Designing to degree classes at the same time. Being nocturnal has taught her to manage her work in the night and her home at day time.