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Guide to creating giveaway and contest campaigns

Whether your company is established or brand-new, it can be difficult to get your brand in front of new faces. When you don’t yet have brand credibility, it can feel like you are throwing money and campaigns into a black hole. 

So, how to we grab the attention of new potential customers, or re-engage current customers? A contest or giveaway can be a quick way to drum up that new engagement and involvement from your audience. 

However, contests and giveaways can be easy to screw up. Low engagement and can make all that time and energy (not to mention whatever the prize was) seem like a waste of time. If you don’t follow the specific rules of social media contests, that campaign won’t be shown to anyone at all.

How do you create a contest or giveaway that engages and delights viewers?



Facebook has very specific rules for promoting contests on Facebook and Instagram – if you don’t follow the rules, they won’t promote your contest. Some of these rules are about noting that Facebook is released from any liability, as well as including entrant limitations in the copy.

Not only are these rules necessary for your content to show on social, but they are also good legal guidelines to reference as you shape the parameters of your contest or giveaway. It is easy to get painted into a corner if strict regulations are not set. For example, if you are offering a getaway and your winner does not fit realistic age or residency parameters, that can muddy up a great campaign.

Check out the entire list of facebook contest rules here!

Sunny Co Clothing ran a swimsuit giveaway that nearly put them out of business

Sunny Co Clothing Swimsuit Giveaway


Let’s take a look at the viral contest failure of Sunny Co. Swimwear. A poorly-planned giveaway resulted in several thousand angry customers and a very overwhelmed small company. This bad publicity could have been avoided had the company set specific goals and guidelines for the giveaway.

If you plan a contest without setting goals, how can you know if your contest or giveaway was a success? Setting specific trackable goals before planning out your campaign can help guide you in the right direction for a productive contest.

  • Are you hoping to grow your email list? You would choose a lead capture campaign with a contest landing page.
  • Are you hoping to build engagement with your new company? You may choose a social media contest where the information is spread through likes, shares or photos.
  • Are you trying to increase referrals? Run a ‘refer a friend to win’ CTA that offers an incentive for both the referrer and the referred.


The prize can make or break your contest or giveaway. Offer something too luxurious, and this campaign can end up in the red. Offer something too small, and nobody will take the time to enter. Finding the sweet spot will be key to high engagement that, most importantly, leads to potential new customers.

You need to make sure the prize is worthwhile for your audience to opt-in. As mentioned, if you offer an unimpressive prize, what’s the point in opting in? Now, this doesn’t mean you can’t run small-scale contests. It just means your Audience’s Call To Action has to be in line with the size of the prize. Would an entrant fill out a 20 min application just for a few free products? Probably not. But would they tag and share an Instagram story for that same prize? The chances are much better.

It is important to connect your prize to your product. When a company offers a prize that is completely unrelated to what they sell, the disconnect is noticeable. It’s almost like saying “we don’t think our product is good enough to be a prize.” Even if you sell a ‘boring product’, there are ways to get creative and create something cool without straying too far from your offerings.


A great way to track and see value from this type of campaign is to offer a consolation discount. Choose one (or a few) major prizes, but then offer a discount code to anyone who enters. This will boost the chances of gaining new customers even if they didn’t win and can increase the ROI of the campaign.

When including a consolation discount, offer the discount with a short expiration date. This adds a sense of urgency and doesn’t allow discounts to linger.  Adding a quick expiration date will also let you gauge the productivity of the contest campaign.

If you are more interested in having more product purchases than gaining leads, a gated contest or giveaway is a low-risk option. A ‘Purchase to enter’ contest may not see as high engagement, but it could be enough incentive to get potential customers in the consideration phase to finally commit.

Lush Cosmetics Social Media contest and giveaway 
Lush Cosmetics ran a social contest to boost product images shared by the audience.


Make sure the instructions are clear in each post. Not only is this in line with Facebook’s guidelines, but it also minimizes the sticky situations you can run into with contests. This means including:

  • Entrant age parameters
  • Entrant location parameters
  • Steps you need to take to enter
  • specific contest hashtag
  • Specific expiration date
  • Any disqualifications
  • Any other parameters relevant to your specific contest

Setting a specific time range promotes that time urgency throughout the campaign. It also gives you an excuse to post about the contest in a more concentrated way towards the end of the campaign with valuable info.

Include a specific hashtag to make your life easier down the road. For the ‘like + share’ contests, using not only a branded hashtag but a campaign-specific hashtag will make housing all entrant shares much more manageable.

Short Stack's holiday giveaway landing page is clean and simple to opt in.
Short Stack’s holiday giveaway landing page is clean and simple to opt-in.


Landing page contests are great for growing email lists for future outreach. Creating a landing page means your audience has to offer their personal information (name, email, anything else your company would find useful) to become an entrant.

Make the CTA as easy as possible. If you include a contest entrance that takes more than a minute or two, the contest will feel scammy. A simple CTA also means you can include an incentive like “Enter to win a free in less than one minute!” Your audience will know right off the bat that it isn’t an ordeal to sign up, and will be more likely to enter.

To promote, Create lead capture on-site, link to the landing page from social. In this campaign, you may not want to use an email promotion strategy because the goal is to get new emails, not engage existing ones. If you focus on initial engagement strategies, you maximize lead generation.

Platforms to create contest landing pages: 

Ready to create a beautiful giveaway or contest campaign? If you need more guidance, reach out to our team!

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