Done the right way social media giveaways can be a win/win situation for all parties involved. You garner more exposure and the lucky winner receives a free prize. One of the best perks of this advertising method is that the upfront costs is usually fairly low. The flip side: your time investment is high; which is why you want to work as effectively as you can. Here a a few tips for making sure that you get the most out of your giveaways:

Target the right participants - The last thing that you want to do is gain people in your following that are only joining for free stuff and then will leave afterwards. The best way to do this is to reach out to people who are already a part of your audience and have them spread the word to others outside of your network. If you do not have much of a following yet, you want to make sure you really have an understanding of who would be likely to be interested. Once you have narrowed that down you can reach more people who are likely to stick around after the contest ends.

Make the rules are simple and easy to understand -  The rules for entry should be clear and concise.  People are lazy so make the requirement for entry something that only takes 2 minutes to complete, 5 minutes at the very most. Also consider that when you post to social media you do not want a graphic that is cluttered with text (it looks tacky and people are less likely to read it).

The prize should be attractive - The more valuable the prize is, the more people are going to want to participate. If you were the customer would you be interested in the prize you are offering?

Set an appropriate length of time - You don't want the giveaway to be too short otherwise you will not be giving people enough time to join. You also don't want to drag it out too long. Making it important that you give the contest the appropriate amount of time. Usually anywhere from 2- 3 weeks is a good place to start. 

Get real physical contact information - All too often giveaway contests are used as a method to get more Facebook likes or Twitter followers, but there is a problem with this. Sure a nice hefty size following looks good for your online rep, but it does not provide you with a direct way of reaching the customer. When you are ready to promote or share something with your audience on social media it is guaranteed that most of your following will not see your message. However, if you have their email address or their phone number you are likely to reach your audience in minutes. Make sure you require contestants to signup to an email or a text message list for better reach, especially if more leads is your goal. Facebook has banned "like-gating" or doing giveaway contests for more likes anyways.

Use the contest for more engagement and insight - For additional entry into your giveaway (bonus points!) you can have contestants post photos or videos to your company's hashtag. You can say something like, "Post a picture or video of yourself and tell us why you love X product". This will increase engagement with your brand and also serves as a way to understand your audience better.

Get participants to promote the contest for you - Of course you are going to be doing your part in sharing the word about the contest, but participants can get a lot of this work done for you as well. This is another option for a bonus entry. For example, "Spread the word about our giveaway! Share this message and say @XYZcompany is giving away a free Bluetooth speaker. Use #company for extra bonus points. This counts as an extra entry into our contest, the more entries you have the more opportunity there is to win! ". 

Time to put your plan into action

Whether your goal is to get more sales, leads, or just general brand awareness, social media giveaways are definitely the way to go. Use these tips and make sure you strategically plan out your actions in order to maximize your efforts.