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Every day there is another company offering a TV, iPad or plain ol’ cash on Facebook and Twitter.
For likes, follows, email addresses and other information, people are entered to win in what amounts to a high-tech raffle, where your dollar is actually a page view and the tickets are stored on a server.
And it’s easy to see why people flock to enter these contests. The lure of something you can’t buy yourself for something as simple as a click or a few keystrokes is hard to ignore.
What’s a little more difficult to measure is what a giveaway does for a company. How many Facebook fans is a laptop worth? Was a giveaway a good idea for that business? And how do you structure a giveaway to have the most impact?
A Solid Foundation
Before putting a gift card up for grabs on Facebook, doing some prep work and research is a must, says Sarah Nielson, director of digital marketing at Love Communications.
Too many companies get into trouble right from the start because they don’t set specific goals, says Drew Conrad, internet marketing specialist at ZAGG Inc.
“First off, you need to look at what are your main goals to get out of [the giveaway],” Conrad says. “Then build the giveaway accordingly and decide how you’ll convert those people into customers.”
Depending on whether the goal is to get more Twitter followers, make people aware of a company blog, build an email list or all three, the giveaway should be tailored accordingly, he says. Without defining a goal, the giveaway isn’t run as well and there will be no way to measure how successful it was.
Selecting the right prize also plays a big role in success. “I’ve seen a lot of car dealers run unsuccessful promotions on Facebook because they give away iPods or other items that don’t tie back to their business,” Nielson says.
It’s best to find a prize that has relevancy to the company, Conrad says. While it doesn’t have to be exactly what the company is selling, tying it back to the brand makes the giveaway stronger.
Giveaways are often a good low-cost tool for small businesses on a tight budget. “TV, outdoor billboards, radio and print are often too expensive for small companies,” says Nielson. But how do you know if your investment will pay off?
Conrad says that’s where the goal setting comes in. Once a goal is set, you can assign a value to those results—like each new email gained is worth $5—and figure out how much you can spend on prizes to reach the goal.
By offering a three-night trip to Stein Eriksen Lodge, the company was taking on little risk while getting all the benefits of more public exposure, says Sarah Myers, the lodge’s public relations and marketing manager. Doing a prize like that is a good way for a company to be promotional without spending a lot of money on marketing, she says.
Following Facebook’s rules for giveaways is also important, Nielson says. Too many companies don’t know or follow Facebook’s rules, which do not allow common giveaway techniques, such as the winner being picked from people who “like” a certain post on a company page.
Most of all, Nielson says people need to realize that to run an effective giveaway, hours of development, promotion and monitoring are involved. “You can’t just throw up a contest and let it run without monitoring it. You need to promote the contest with messaging.” Running Facebook ads also helps promote giveaways on a small budget, she says.
The real marketing work often begins once the giveaway is over.
“Companies should also realize there’s a strong possibility people will unlike their page as soon as the contest is over. You have that short amount of time a contest runs to convince users that you are worthwhile and offer something of value to them even after the promotion is over,” Nielson says.
When Stein Eriksen offered its trip giveaway last year, Myers says the company paid attention to what postings got the best interaction on Facebook and tailored its postings to keep the new fans it gained.
Looking at the analytics Facebook provides, along with any other information collected during the giveaway, is a good way to judge how effective the giveaway was, Conrad says. ZAGG’s giveaways have varied from hourly to daily to weekly with a range of prizes.
Depending on the goal of each specific giveaway, different intervals or prizes can work better. “Just experiment,” he recom-mends. Play around and track the results.
“We found out we get more bang for our buck by doing the daily stuff right now, and it’s something we’re going to keep doing until it stops being profitable for us,” he says.
The bottom line is it’s not as easy as it looks to have an effective giveaway. A lot of prep work goes into making it successful and all the work will be less meaningful without intelligent analysis of the results.