7 Ways to Use Giveaway Campaigns to Engage Your Fans

Giveaway campaigns have had a place in the world of marketing for as long as I can remember.

People will do almost anything in exchange for the chance to win a prize, right?–as long as it’s a prize they really want. Promotional campaigns have taken advantage of this in many different ways, across generations and across industries. It’s a tried and true method to gain buzz and engagement.

In the book world, specifically, authors and marketers have often used giveaways. I’ve seen it done super well–and super poorly. Done well, giveaway campaigns have the capability to build big online buzz, engage fans deeply, and attract lots of new website traffic.

The core of a giveaway campaign is that you incentivize people to take a certain action, in exchange for a chance to win something. The key words here are chance to win. They don’t automatically win a gift card just for tweeting your hashtag, for example. But by tweeting the hashtag, they do become included in a pool of people from whom you’ll choose a lucky winner.

The tricky thing about giveaway campaigns–that many authors don’t understand–is that you can’t incentivize people to buy your book with a giveaway campaign. It’s illegal to do a “Buy, and be entered to win” strategy. (You can promise to give away extra freebies to someone who buys, but you can’t only promise the chance to win.) With this in mind, then, we are forced to get extra creative with giveaways. If we can’t explicitly use an awesome prize to get people to buy, what do we want to use that awesome prize for? To get them to engage, promote, and share.

Below are 7 ways to use giveaways campaigns to engage your fans.

1- Be clear about the requirements, the details, and the value.

Anytime you’re asking your audience to do something, clarity wins. Humans are drawn to what they quickly understand, and the average internet user has no time for confusion. When you are putting together guidelines for a giveaway campaign, include clean, concise copy on your book landing page. Explicitly state what the person has to do to enter, by when they must take the action, what the prize is, how and when they’ll be notified about the winner, etc. Anticipate participant questions and answer them before they have a chance to ask. Additionally, state the value of the prize. Remind people why they want whatever you’re giving away. And, perhaps, use graphics to do so more than words.

The average internet user has no time for confusion. Clarity is key. Click To Tweet

2- Know your audience and give away what they want.

I’ve overseen very successful giveaway campaigns for many, many authors, and we’ve given away such different items over the years. A washer & dryer set, an iPod, a trip to Hawaii, tickets to a conference, one-on-one video call with the author, a spa day, housecleaning for a year, an iTunes gift card, etc. The list goes on and on. How did we decide what the giveaway item would be for each campaign? Target audience. (It always comes down to target audience!) Think about your main book buyer. What is it that he/she is dying for? Wants more than anything? Would see immense value in? Give away that thing.

3- Incentivize people to show up at an online event.

One great way that giveaway campaigns can be used is to incentivize people to show up at an online event. Putting together online webinars, webcasts, summits, and the like is an awesome way to sell books. You get folks to show up at the digital event, teach awesome content, and then make a sell for the book at the end. But, how do you motivate people to actually show up at the day and time of the live event? Answer: let their presence be counted as entrance into the giveaway pool. Announce far and wide that just by showing up, someone will be entered to win a day with you or an iPad, etc. If the prize is right, your attendance numbers will be far higher than they’d otherwise be.

4- Motivate people to share on social in order to grow your platform.

Another way to leverage giveaways for your brand is to create a campaign that intentionally grows your social media. Motivate people to share on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram by entering them in a pool to win a prize if they do so. This could mean they have to post with a certain hashtag–which has the possibility to create quite a firestorm around one hashtag. Or, it could mean they bring you new viewers on Instagram. I’ve seen lots of authors recently say, “If you tag three new friends on this post, you’ll be entered to win a free book.” It’s effective, specifically when the prize fits and the messaging is clear.

5- Build product awareness through a pre-launch campaign.

Giveaway campaigns are a strong way to build buzz pre-launch. Before you release your book, it’s important to get the internet buzzing about it, especially if you’re doing a pre-order push. Incentivize your audience to take a specific action that enhances the online profile of the book deep and wide. This could mean rewarding them for posting pictures of the book cover, tweeting with a certain book hashtag, participating in a Facebook contest of some sort, commenting on a community page of your book website, etc. The goal: wallpaper the internet with your book’s title and cover prior to launch.

6- Keep momentum going through a post-launch initiative.

Just as it’s critical to build online book buzz prior to release, it’s also important to keep that buzz going after release. Too many authors let their book marketing slow down significantly in the months after launch week, but truthfully, the majority of books stay afloat only if they have continuous marketing behind them. I always suggest that authors do a “one a month” initiative, where they focus on one unique marketing strategy each month for the 9-12 months after release. A great option for one of these monthly foci is a giveaway campaign. Enter folks in a pool to win something big, in exchange for their help promoting in a specific way.

7- Get the buzz going through influencers and a launch team.

No matter your timeline or goals for the giveaway campaign, it will only be as effective as it is widespread. Be sure to advertise the giveaway opportunity on your landing page, blog, and social media–but it’s equally important to spread the word about it to other influencers’ platforms too. Get your endorsers and big-name friends on board, as well as your launch team if you have one, and provide them the exact messaging to post to help spread the word. Giveaways are a really fun event for people to share about because it means someone wins giant value.

The key here is strategy–knowing your people and knowing your goals. I always begin putting together a giveaway campaign by asking myself (or my client) a few key questions: Who is my target audience? What do they really really want? What action do I want them to take? If you nail down these three, you’re armed with the answers you need to come up with the prize, the requirements, and the avenues for messaging.