In my observations of the blogging community, there seems to be one democratic, equal-opportunity element that any blogger can get involved in: giveaways. (Speaking of democratic, why not refresh your memory on IFB's new blogging politics). For brands, a giveaway is an easy (and inexpensive) way to get their name and product in front of a new audience (and eventually into their hands as well). For bloggers, the rewards are numerous. And don't forget, everyone loves free stuff. Let's discuss, shall we?
The Three Big Wins Of Giveaways for Bloggers:
- Build your relationship with a brand
- Increase traffic & comments on your site
- Grow your social media following
So, how do you accomplish each of these goals? Well, they all fuse together pretty naturally through the execution of the giveaway, the promotion and the follow-up once you have selected a winner (or winners, as the case may be). With the right mix of enthusiasm, clarity and discretion, giveaways become a fantastic way to promote the brands you love, engage and excite your readers and drive more traffic to all your online channels.
1. Use your skills of ‘Romancing The Brand‘ to start a relationship and propose a giveaway with a brand that YOU want to work with: Lead off with a polite and enthusiastic email, tell the brand why you want to work with them specifically, and propose exactly how you would execute it. Make sure you actually like the product they would like to supply (or are comfortable with the amount, if it's a gift card) so you remain genuine and true to your tastes!
2. Use a blog post to announce the giveaway: This might sound like a major “Duh!” to some of you, but truly you don't have to announce a giveaway with a post (you could exclusively use social media). I think using a post is helpful though because you can incorporate lots of images and don't run the risk of running out of characters to explain the rules! Don't forget to announce a cut-off date for entries, and to update the post when it's closed.
3. Track entries by asking participants to leave a comment: Through observation and experience, it seems the easiest way to track giveaway entries (and get in touch with the winner) is through leaving a comment on the post that announces the giveaway.
4. Allow entries through Twitter / Facebook; use the brand's handle: To really boost your visibility and promote your giveaway, you should absolutely promote it on social media. Ask your entrants to tweet something specific, and make sure it includes the handle (or hyper-linked page on Facebook) of the brand you're working with (as well as your own!). This way the brand will be encouraged to “retweet” entries, and broaden your exposure even further. Additionally, once you select your winner, you can announce it via social media – and your winner can share it as well.
5. Work with the brand to create a #hashtag to track entries: When you give your readers and followers instructions on how and what to tweet to enter your giveaway, using a hashtag makes it very easy to then find all your social media entries once you've closed the giveaway. (Just enter it in the search box!) Discuss with the brand what hashtag they might want to use – depending on if they're promoting the product with other bloggers, they might already have one in mind.
6. Figure out first if you're going to have the brand mail out the winnings or you're going to ship them: This is a detail to figure out right off the bat – and it depends on how you want your giveaway to go. If the brand sends the product (or gift certificate, etc) to you, you can photograph it or model it for your readers. That also means that you're responsible for contacting the winner for their mailing address and paying the shipping charges to deliver their prize. It can be easier to have the brand take care of delivering the product, especially if it's something sized like jeans or shoes.
7. Where can people enter from? Think about shipping: Another small but important detail! Be sure to state clearly where you will except entries from. If you're not going to be shipping the item, ask the brand where they are willing to ship to.
8. Register your giveaway with a site like Free Gretchen: As we stated in our ‘50 Online Tools To Better Your Blog‘ post, sites like Free Gretchen can really boost the traffic and entry numbers for your giveaway. Someone may find your blog this way and become a loyal reader!
9. Keep an eye on your content, don't over-saturate with giveaways: According to companies like Rue La La, it can be unattractive to see a blog with too many giveaways, which could indicate that you don't discriminate or take care in choosing to work only with brands you identify with. Try and strike a balance so that each giveaway is exciting for you and your followers!
10. Be sure to distinguish if you're hosting a giveaway or a contest: Lastly, you must decide if you're hosting a contest or a giveaway. Both have a winner, but a contest implies that you'll choose that winner based on the qualities of their entry. The term ‘giveaway' implies that you will select your winner at random. And how do you do that? Count up all your entries (both comments and through social media), and assign each one a number. Then use Random.org to select a winning number – tada!
Have you ever run a giveaway on your blog? Do you find that it helped your traffic and following?