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How to Do a Giveaway on Social Media (Here’s Your Playbook)

By The Leadpages Team  |  Published Feb 27, 2020  |  Updated Oct 06, 2023
Leadpages Team
By The Leadpages Team
Woman working

Have you thought about doing a giveaway on social media as a way to reach new audiences? If you're not sure where to start, this article is loaded with the information you need to get the project underway!

Social media giveaways are amazing strategies for growing your followers because:

  • You don’t need a huge budget to run a successful giveaway.
  • You don't need a large following (just a 'buzz-worthy' carrot to give away).
  • It’s (relatively) easy to get your giveaway or contest off the ground.

In this article, you’ll learn how to run your first giveaway in eight simple steps:

1. Set your goals
2. Define your target audience
3. Choose the right platform
4. Brainstorm social media ideas

5. Choose an awesome prize
6. Set up your giveaway
7. Launch and promote your giveaway
8. Follow up and measure results

But before we get underway, let’s cover a few basics.

Contest and giveaway — what’s the difference?

Contests and giveaways aren’t the same, though sometimes they're used interchangeably. If you plan to run a giveaway, understanding the nuances of each will help you create a successful promotion plan that’s directly suited to your goal outcomes.

What is a contest?

Think of a contest as a game of skill. Contests are typically a type of competition in which all entrants take a specific action and try their best to win. In contests, winners are selected based on their performance. The higher a participant’s merit, the more likely they will win the game. Essentially, contests don't rely on luck to determine a winner.

There are many different ways to hold a contest. For example, a contest could require entrants to submit a photo of themselves with a product. A contest could also have entrants answer a question, make a guess, or complete any other action or task that can be evaluated on performance for a chance to win a prize.

Case in point:

Instagram post
Source: @RedRiverCooprative

Source: @RedRiverCooprative

If your business is looking to drive engagement or encourage user-generated content (UGC), running an online contest can be a great option.

What is a giveaway?

Giveaways are a bit different from contests. According to dictionary.com, a giveaway is defined as:

An act or instance of giving something away; something that is given away, especially as a gift or premium.

When you host a giveaway, you want to offer your existing and prospect customers a free gift without expecting anything in return. The winner of a giveaway is chosen from a pool of entries at random, and is not based on performance. Essentially, giveaways are a game of luck rather than a game of skill.

Woman crossing her fingers

A typical giveaway can ask participants to share a post on social media, refer friends, visit a specific website, or watch a promotional video.

Case in point:

Instagram post
Source: @teamhappyplanet

Source: @teamhappyplanet

If you want to improve brand awareness or grow your customer base, hosting a giveaway is a great option.

For reference, below is a comparison table the highlights the key factors associated with contests and giveaways.

Contest vs Giveaway chart

In this article, we’ll focus primarily on giveaways and explain how to run them successfully. However, many of the topics we cover will also be applicable to running online contests because several of the techniques are quite similar.

Why should you do a giveaway?

If you're looking to build your email lists with high-quality leads, increase your social media following, or expand your overall brand presence, running a giveaway is a great marketing strategy.

By running a giveaway, your business will:

  • Entice the audience to join. People love free things! Whether they're pencils, T-shirts, can koozies, or baseball caps, people get excited when they're given something without having to pay a monetary price.
  • Get attention and build strong relationships with customers. A free offering helps to trigger an emotional connection between you and your target audience.
  • Make it easy to tease an upcoming product or feature release. Customers and followers will be happy to share the news about your latest and greatest upcoming products or services.
  • Become more popular through social channels. Because social channels have beengrowing exponentially, giveaways aren’t only effective on Facebook and Instagram, but also on emerging social networks such as TikTok.

And there's more.

In a recent study, Facebook showed that users are changing the way they interact with advertising. Users are no longer consuming ads passively, but instead they're looking to interact with branded posts.

Now that you've learned the basic benefits about running a giveaway, let's dive into a step-by-step analysis on how to host your first big giveaway.

How to do a giveaway on social media

Running an Instagram or a Facebook giveaway might sound like a daunting task. However, when broken down into eight easy steps, running a giveaway becomes easy like Sunday morning.

Step 1: Set your goals

Man drawing on a white board

Generally, most people run a giveaway for one of the following reasons:

  1. Engagement. They want to start a conversation with their current audience and nurture the relationship.
  2. Lead generation. They're looking to attract and convert new customers and acquire more qualified prospects through social media.

Take a look at this example from Target Junkie:

Revlon Instagram Post

The image Target Junkie uses for the post showcases all of the products that a person can win by participating in the giveaway.

From the post's description, it’s easy to understand the goal: increase the size of the audience. To accomplish this goal, Target Junkie breaks it down into three elements:

  • Ask followers to tag friends they think will be interested.
  • Get more likes on their giveaway post.
  • Encourage followers to tag more than one person.

By setting very specific goals, Target Junkie is more likely to meet its overall goal. Your business can utilize this same technique by creating a clear and measurable goal. Then, be sure to allocate budget and resources to ensure the goal is met. You may also need to define specific metrics to evaluate your campaign.

There's no point in giving something away for free if your business won't gain a competitive edge. Goals help to validate your efforts.

Step 2: Define your target audience

People sitting

Rather than give away any old prize, target a specific group of people who may later become your next customers.

Remember: Your contest or giveaway should be designed to attract your ideal audience, not just any and every entrant.

To find your target customers, think about what they value and enjoy. What will entice your audience to enter the giveaway? What kinds of actions will they be willing to take? The more you research the market, the more you'll understand the people who are ready to connect with your brand.

Step 3: Choose the right platform

Social Media Platforms

Theoretically, you can run a contest or giveaway on any platform. Facebook and Instagram giveaways are popular choices, and platforms such as Twitter, Tik Tok, and LinkedIn are also great options.

However, it’s more practical and effective to build engagement and get UGC if you select a platform where your potential customers already spend most of their time.

Whenever you implement a new strategy, be sure to test it in different ways. Testing will help you to see which platform generates the largest responses to your social media giveaways.

When you test platforms, pay attention to their rules. Each platform has specific guidelines for giveaways that you must comply with to remain in good standing with the company. Furthermore, different states, provinces, and countries have different contest legal requirements which you'll have to know and take into consideration. So, read, research, and play by the rules.

How to do a giveaway on Facebook

Because Facebook has a reputation for being one of the most popular social media platforms in the world, running a giveaway on the platform is relatively easy and inexpensive. Aside from contest rules that change on a regular basis, steps to running a Facebook giveaway include:

  • Choosing a prize
  • Deciding on a giveaway theme
  • Building a giveaway page
  • Promoting/sharing the giveaway
  • Following up on the results

How to do a giveaway on Instagram

Running a giveaway on Instagram is another sure-fire way to expand the reach of your business and build brand awareness. Steps to follow when putting your Instagram giveaway together include:

  • Defining the goal of the contest
  • Selecting the prize
  • Determining how users will enter/participate
  • Defining the rules
  • Selecting a campaign hashtag
  • Launching/promoting the contest
  • Evaluating the results

If you run into time constraints or design issues when putting your giveaway together, an Instagram giveaway template can always be utilized. A quick online search reveals many pre-built templates that are professionally designed and customizable. To have your giveaway up and running in a jiffy, be sure to research Instagram giveaway template examples.

Step 4: Brainstorm social media giveaway ideas

The next step in your giveaway playbook is to think about the type of giveaway or contest that will best serve your goals. The type of giveaway you choose will determine how entrants can join, so think carefully.

Below are five popular social media giveaway ideas.


The idea behind a tag-to-win giveaway is that you ask people to tag a friend to enter your giveaway. Once that person tags a friend, they become eligible to win the prize.

The tagged persons will then receive a notification from your business and will (hopefully) become a follower. They might even tag additional friends to spread the news about the giveaway, which would lead to even more participants.

A tag-to-win giveaway is a great way to improve your social account's organic reach. Plus, if you're looking to double the reach, you could even ask people to tag two or more friends.

Case in point:

Ice Cream Giveaway

To join the like-to-win or comment-to-win giveaway, entrants will need to like your content or leave a comment on it. You can ask people to follow your account as well, like in this example:

Habbo Giveaway

The tag-to-win strategy is a classic giveaway example that is a tried and true way to increase engagement. On a side note, be mindful about asking people to do too much at once (click this, tag that, etc.) as this can lead to discouragement and fatigue.

Photo/selfie contest

If you plan to launch an Instagram giveaway, holding a photo contest or a selfie contest is always a win. It can also act as a promotional campaign that works particularly well with products, and it’s also an excellent form of UGC.

For example, you could ask people to post a picture of themselves while they’re using your product, or with the product somewhere in the background. Or, you could ask people to take any type of photo they wish and then submit that photo using a relevant hashtag that you create.

Check out this great photo contest example:

Dog Photo contest

Caption contest

Instead of asking people to share their photos, upload a photo first and then ask people to write a caption.

Dog laying on floor-Caption contest

You can either pick the best caption on your own, or tell others to vote on (like) the best caption. In the latter, the caption with the most likes will be the winner.

Challenge contest

Who doesn't love a good competition? Another social media giveaway idea is to create a contest that challenges people to compete for a valuable prize.

For example, ask your followers to answer a question or to tell a story.

12 Example Kahlsdesigns 1024x656

In the giveaway example above, entrants have to write or provide a creative answer. The question is simple, but it's difficult enough to get people involved, which helps to boost long-term engagement.

Step 5: Choose an awesome prize

Let’s say you plan to run an Instagram giveaway and you want to dazzle the world by offering one of the following spectacular prizes:

  • An iPhone 12
  • $200 in Amazon vouchers
  • A new book by Nicholas Sparks

These are great (and valuable) gifts, right? Who wouldn’t want them?

But beneath the surface of these good intentions and fabulous prizes, there lies a problem: generic prizes often don’t generate the results you're after.

By giving away generic prizes, you run the risk of gaining the attention of people who are not your target audience. Random Joe-Shmoes simply enter the giveaway or contest because they love to win, not because they’re interested in your brand. These people are also likely to unsubscribe from your list once the campaign is over.

To solve this problem, be sure to offer a prize that is something your target audience loves—something that is closely related to your product and your brand.

To choose the best prize for your giveaway, consider these strategies:

  • Buy a product, and then give it away. Noah Kogan once generated 6,411 contestants from a Seth Godin book giveaway that cost him under $100.
  • Reach out to partners, like the way @shustudy did in this example:
Zebra Pen Giveaway
Source: @shustudy

Source: @shustudy

  • Offer your product. This strategy works well if you’re an ecommerce business owner. Think about your best-selling product or a new product that generates excitement among your customers.

Remember: to run a successful giveaway campaign, be sure to keep your target audience and your goals at the forefront of your efforts.

Step 6: Set up your giveaway

People looking at their phones

Once your prize is in the bag, you need to set up the giveaway. This step relies heavily on strategy.

How to write a giveaway caption

When it comes to writing a giveaway caption, think about generating content that describes the product. Then, write the caption in a way that sells your prize to the audience.

A giveaway caption should include the following information:

  • A rundown of the rules.
  • Eligibility pertaining to the giveaway or contest.
  • More details about the prizes.
  • A breakdown of exactly what a person will win.
  • Criteria to select the winner.
  • A timeframe that details when the winner will be announced.

When writing a caption, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Be consistent: Match your giveaway to your regular posting aesthetic.
  • Include the prize in the image: Show your audience a picture of the prize. You can post a teaser image in your stories (for Instagram giveaways or Facebook giveaways) and tell followers to search for the full post on your account profile.
  • Don’t write too much: Be short and concise. You don't want your audience to doze off.
  • Include hashtags: #giveawaycontest, #giveaways, #photogiveaway, #photocontest. Hashtags are especially useful if you run an Instagram giveaway.

When should your giveaway start?

When planning the ideal time to launch the giveaway, be sure that your audience will be online, listening, and ready to join.

Normally, more people browse social media at the beginning of the week and on the weekends. Plan to run your giveaway within this timeframe.

You can also choose a specific time each month, such as the first and last day of the month, to run your giveaway or contest. Don’t forget to plan for the holidays—people are always on the hunt for free stocking stuffers and gifts!

How long should you run a giveaway?

Woman holding calendar

The length of time your giveaway lasts depends on the prize you’re giving away, your goal, and sometimes, your budget. There are no solid rules in terms of a giveaway's length or the length of the campaign that precedes it.

However, in general, longer timeframes can lead to procrastination, resulting in fewer entries and a loss of excitement. Whereas a shorter timeframe can result in lower quality and fewer entries as participants have less time to prepare.

One or two weeks is typically the right length of time for a contest. It’s long enough to allow for solid content creation, but short enough to keep the audience’s attention. In the case of a giveaway, however, in which no content is being created and less is required from the individual participants, a shorter timeframe is often advantageous.

How do you pick a winner for a giveaway?

Fingers pointing down

The way you choose a winner depends on the type of giveaway you host. For example, if you’re running a follow-to-win giveaway, the winner will be selected at random.

After the winner is selected, you can announce the person publicly by creating an attractive video or writing a compelling announcement to gain as much attention as possible. Announcing the winner in a fun and unique way can create a lot of buzz for your brand and gain the loyalty of even more customers.

When to announce the winner

Aim to announce the winner and contact them within 24 hours. If you wait too long to make the announcement, you risk losing the audience's interest.

Step 7: Launch and promote your giveaway

If you're looking to promote your giveaway without running a paid advertisement, check out these cost-effective strategies:

1. Send to your email list

Your existing email list is a good starting point to promote your giveaway because:

  • It allows you to share value with your current subscribers and gives them a chance to win awesome prizes.
  • Once your current subscribers enter the giveaway, they may invite their friends and others to enter.

Your current followers are likely to be interested in your giveaway, so make them feel appreciated by giving them a heads up before the show gets underway.

2. Add an alert bar or pop-up to your website

Alert Bar Giveaway

Maximize the value of every website visit by setting up an alert bar or pop-up to inform visitors about the giveaway.

An alert bar is located at the top or bottom of your page. You can set it to show up at all times or set it to appear at chosen intervals.

To create a smart bar, use Leadpages Alert Bars. You can customize the text, color, and CTA of the smart bar to make it consistent with your brand.

Alternatively, you can show a pop-up to announce your giveaway. The pop-up will be triggered in the middle or the bottom-left corner of the site when visitors arrive. However, be careful when using this technique because an ill-timed pop-up can be off-putting to site visitors.

3. Create a landing page to promote your giveaway

Landing Page

Creating a dedicated landing page for your giveaway is a smart strategy that is sure to capture your target audience's email address. A landing page allows you to:

  • Include additional information that isn't mentioned in the Facebook or Instagram giveaway post.
  • Design your giveaway in a way that surprises your followers. Delight you audience with fun colors, unique font styles, images of the prize, etc.
  • Encourage mobile and desktop fans to join the giveaway without any barriers from social media.

If you’re in need of inspiration for your landing page, check out our amazing templates for giveaways. This collection is filled to the brim with ideas.

Rsz Contest Templates

Get your giveaway going with the perfect landing page template!

Forget the time and expense of hiring a web designer—our landing page creator is the only partner you need.

  • Code-free drag-and-drop customizations
  • Mobile-responsive, high-converting templates
  • Features & functionality to fit any need

4. Collaborate with influencers

Another cost-effective strategy to launch and promote your giveaway is to reach out to influencers who already have a large following and a strong influence within your niche. These influencers can be bloggers, vloggers, writers, singers, etc.

The idea behind this strategy is that you take advantage of the number of followers that your influencer has. By asking the influencer to share your giveaway campaign, you can reach a lot of potential customers who are interested in your product.

Keep in mind that, depending on the influencer, this could be expensive. Look for someone with a large and engaged following, but who isn't necessarily Kylie Jenner famous.

5. Share your giveaway on social media

Think about promoting your giveaway or contest elsewhere. For example:

  • On Facebook: You can update a status about your giveaway, and include it on the cover photo or in Facebook Stories.
  • On Twitter: You can tweet a message, use hashtags, and update your profile’s header photo. Be sure your giveaway will be displayed clearly.
  • On Pinterest: You can pin the image of your giveaway or include the link to your giveaway landing page into your Pinterest profile.
  • On Instagram: Include the link to your giveaway landing page in your bio, update your Stories, or share a post.

Step 8: Follow up and measure results

Data Results

After you launch your giveaway, the party isn't over. The final step in the giveaway playbook is to follow up on the performance and measure the results. Remember those goals you determined back in step 1? Now is the time to reference them to measure your giveaway's success.

Social media giveaways aren’t only a way to improve brand awareness or announce new products, they also provide a wealth of information about your followers. Use this information to improve your ROI (return of investment) and inform your next campaign.

Be sure to also:

  • Read the comments left by your followers to see what they think about your product and your brand. You might also get some valuable insights into their attitudes, tastes, interests, and more.
  • Utilize the results of the giveaway to discover ideal posting times, seek out super-fans, and compare engagement among social networks.
  • Make note of the peak participation by date. Find out which day your giveaway received the most interest.
  • Make not of the peak participation by time. Identify the hours that your followers and participants were most active. Refer to this information when looking to schedule future posts to ensure you get the most engagement from your followers.

Are you ready to launch your first giveaway or contest?

When used properly, social media giveaways can help you gain followers, get valuable customer feedback, and increase sales revenue. They're generally a win-win marketing tactic that doesn't take much in terms of money or resources to get off the ground. And best of all, people love contests.

Now it's your turn: in the comments section below, let us know which tactic you'll start with!

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Leadpages Team
By The Leadpages Team
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