Giveaways: You’re Doing Them Wrong

Date Tue, December 8 2015

I don’t mean to single out anyone with this post, but it has to be done. I’m sorry. I’ve blogged, before, about how a blogger’s giveaway could accidentally be breaking a law and how your review may not actually be as useful as you think it is. Now, it’s time to talk about something else giveaway hosts are doing wrong.

But first, let me talk about something I like.

Some time ago, Facebook made it clear that you cannot require a “Like” as part of a giveaway. You risk having your page frozen or deleted if you do that. Yikes!

That’s why all giveaways hosted on Facebook via third-party apps suggest that you like the page, but you can skip it. I love this feature because sometimes I don’t want to follow a page. I just want the chance to win. And I know that’s something readers want, too. Sometimes I do want to follow the page. I like the company or content posted. So I do that, too. But these desires aren’t always mutually inclusive.

This isn’t just handy, however. It’s required by Facebook.

Got it? Okay!

So you can imagine my surprise when, a few weeks, ago, I came across this giveaway hosted on a Facebook page. Specifically, the page was a retailer of adult toys, and they were giving away a vibrator. A pretty cool prize, right?

The tab allowed me to skip, and I was presented with a Rafflecopter form. We know all about Rafflecopter.

But the first and mandatory entry was this confusing mess.


I was floored by the things it does wrong.

  • It asks for anything other than a free entry, which may break the law.
  • It asks for a Facebook follow, which is definitely against their ToS.
  • It requires a like, share and comment, which is definitely against Facebook’s rules.
  • It doesn’t specify what those “ideas” are.
  • It has a form for you to submit something, but it doesn’t say what.

So a potentially illegal, rule-breaking and confusing mandatory requirement that’s literally impossible to complete? No wonder a giveaway for an awesome prize had so few entries after being open for so long.

Now, I  understand that forms like these are something intended to be viewed from a specific page. My giveaways are intended to be viewed on a blog post, so if I encourage blog comments, I mean on that post. If I share the widget directly to Facebook, you lose that context. But because the mandatory entry is free, you can always enter on Facebook for sure. And I try to make it easy enough to gain other entries even if you can’t gain all of them.

What the host of this giveaway failed to realize is that entrants balance effort with the prize. They do more for better prizes typically. A prize like this will a free entry could have gotten hundreds or thousands of entries from that alone! With these confusing and frustrating requirements, however, it got nearly none.

And giveaways and similar promotions really just exist to get exposure and traffic. This is why it only makes sense to allow your entrants to invite their friends and followers via social media.

Although I can’t know for certain how many people entered this giveaway, I can guess. If everyone performed all of the three points, 23 people could enter. If a bunch of people performed just the mandatory entry — or tried, at least — then you could have more than 50 entrants. And assuming they all liked the page, even though they were previously able to bypass it, means the Facebook page got a few likes.

But that’s a drop in the bucket compared to what the giveaway could have achieved. At the end of the day, this person or company is hurting themselves more than anyone else. The price of that prize ($159!) and shipping, the time and effort used to create and promote really just seem so wasted to me as a blogger. As a potential entrant, however, it’s frustrating and confusing. It makes me think less of giveaways as a whole. And that’s a disservice bloggers don’t really need.

So, please. Whether you’re a blogger, a larger company, handling PR, a mom-and-pop or someone who runs an Etsy store, these mistakes are costly and so easy to avoid. Whatever you do, don’t run your giveaway like this.

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