Giveaways and freebies have long been a marketing tactic of many businesses. “Buy one, get one free,” “Enter our Drawing for…” and even something as basic as the local 7-11 offering a free slurpee just to get people in the door. This strategy has been applied to the new media world, where deals have drawn traffic but where giveaways and freebies are really what’s made a marketing campaign go viral, even in niche circles.

People like free. Whatever it may be, people will flock to free even if they don’t need it. It’s human nature, and a huge part of marketing genius is being able to tap into what’s already natural to your audience. Now of course you shouldn’t be giving just anything away. In addition to boosting sales or web traffic, your giveaway needs to do two things: attract attention and get you social traction.

Your giveaway should create a buzz. It should make people want to act, which leads to social traction. People should be excited about your contest. You can design your contest around your audience by giving them something that they’d like within their interest range, or you can go really big and attract a viral audience by giving away something anyone would want, like a much sought after tech gadget, or take a cue from Magic Beans’ “31 Days of Giveaways,” which boosted their email subscriber list by over 100K and created major social media buzz with over 28K connections, postings and shares/tweets. The giveaway costs them about $12K in goods, but it was well worth the price for the return; you couldn’t buy that kind of return with $12,000.

How to Plan a Successful Social Media Giveaway
Set the Goal: Ask yourself what’s the point of your contest. What do you want in return? More email subscribers, Facebook followers/subscribers, Twitter followers, retweets, page comments on your site or increased traffic?Determine the Giveaway: What are you going to give away? A service, a product that will interest your readers or something that will appeal to non-readers? If you’re a local business, you can also team up with other local businesses that might be interested in sponsoring a giveaway.

Call for Entries: How will you reach out to your audience? Are you going to use social tools, newsletter campaigns, create a call for submissions through a video? Remember that the simpler the contest, the better the results. Make it easy for people to enter. One of the more popular submission methods used now is to ask people to create something like a photo, a drawing or a video.

Do It Right with Contest Management Software
If you want to really turn the marketing cog in your giveaways, you should consider freebies and contests as part of your marketing culture. This includes regulating contests beyond a DIY strategy. Wizehive is a great tool that lets you set up contests in minutes, incorporating it into your website or Facebook page. It includes options for video, photo, essay and more creative contests with unlimited entries, file uploads, branded public voting, social widgets and the ability to view and download leads.Watch out for one catch. Wizehive says it’s free, but it’s only “free to build.” After that you pay a little under $300, not including a $3/day fee once your contest launches. If the price point fits your budget, there’s also the option of a flexible contest plan (at a rate of +$1,295) that gives you a lot more customization, payment processing options, multi-page entry forms, discount codes, fraud protection, judging portals and more.

There’s also Artistic Hub, a photo contest software best for creative outlets. Dynaportal is another contest software ideally suited for web portals/communities. There’s also Make Contest, which is a software that lets you create an entire site to run design contests on. Why would anyone care about an entire site for design contests? Because it’s a killer way to create authority. Any contest holder for a series of contests is automatically (and subconsciously) seen as an authority in the field. But you don’t need an entire website to set yourself as an authority. Even the right type of contest on a quarterly basis can reach the same objective.


作者 Shireen Qudosi

Shireen Qudosi is Benchmark Email's Online Marketing Specialist and Small Business Advocate. An Orange County based writer, Shireen specializes in online marketing and public relations. She has written for over 75 publications and has launched nine successful new media campaigns to date. Her work has been featured in the New York Times, Denver Post, the Oklahoman and Green Air Radio, among others.