Before we get into the nitty gritty of how to run it, you need to think about why you're running it. What do you want to gain from your competition? This might sound like a stupid question, but it will have a big impact on how you go about organising your giveaway.
There is a huge community of compers - people whose hobby is entering competitions - and providing you promote your giveaway properly, they'll come. But, if you're running a giveaway to reward your regular readers, you might want to go about things differently to ensure it stays within that target audience. By tailoring your strategy to what you want from the giveaway will give you a much better chance of acheiving it.
Putting principle into practice -
One of my goals for this year was to increase my Klout score. To do this you need to get a lot of social media interaction, something which I have very little time to accomplish. Another thing I wanted to do this year was grow my Twitter following. I soon realised that a giveaway would let me hit two birds with one stone.
For the last three months or so I have run a weekly DVD giveaway on Twitter, requiring entrants to follow my account and retweet my pinned competition tweet. My following has more than doubled from c. 4,000 to c. 8,600, and my Klout score stays steady at 66 / 67 without me having to do anything.
It doesn't cost much either. The DVDs are free - usually some of my own competition wins, typically retailing for well under £10 - and cost around £1.20 to post. You couldn't even buy fake followers that cheaply, and you get all the added Twitter interaction into the bargain. Last week I gave away The Wizard of Oz on DVD; the competition had almost 800 entries, in addition to generating over a hundred replies or direct tweets.
Comparing Giveaway Widgets -
As the above example shows, if you're looking to increase followers / engagement on a specific social media platform, it's often worthwhile to host your giveaway on it. There are online tools which will help you pick a winner (e.g. Tweetdraw, Woobox and Tint) and when you're specifically looking for numbers, the easier it is to enter your competition, the better.
If, on the other hand, your primary objective is blog traffic, a giveaway widget is an excellent way forward. You set up the giveaway on the provider's website, input the entry options you desire, copy and paste the HTML code into your post and, when it's all over, you can pick your winner at the touch of a button. Here is the lowdown on the most common widgets:
Gleam - This is my personal favourite, simply because it's faster. Once you're logged as a user your details will be remembered from giveaway to giveaway, allowing you to enter with a single click - a boon if you're trying to attract compers. As the host it does have some limitations to be aware of; you can't ask people to follow you on Facebook or Instagram via it, in accordance with their terms of service, and you need a paid account to access all entrants' details. I've no interest in doing that, but it is a deal breaker for a lot of bloggers, especially those looking to build their mailing lists. For a step bu step guide on how to use Gleam, check out SuperLucky Di's guide.
Rafflecopter - Similar to Gleam, but a little slower to enter. I find people are more likely to set up custom entry options with Rafflecopter too, requiring follows on networks there is no default button for. Like Gleam, you can input mandatory entries - usually blog comments - which must be completed to reveal other entry options. As a host, try to include your blog comment question in the body of the post as well as in the widget; people will click the 'done' button out of habit and be unable to check back. Also, it may be useful to remind people to leave comments over eight words (spam limit) and not to put a false website link into the url box of your comment system, both of which are common complaints from bloggers running competitions.
PromoSimple - The free version is quite limited, but it does still allow default Instagram and Facebook follow options which can be handy now that the others will only let you 'view' these profiles.
Giveaway Tools - The number of default options is lower than that of competitors, but it's easy to set up and use, and good for collecting newsletter subscribers.
Terms and Conditions -
I've used the terms 'competition' and 'giveaway' interchangably in this post but, strictly speaking, they are different things legally. A 'competition' or 'contest' implies that winners will be chosen on merit - for submitting the best photograph, or writing the funniest caption, for example. A 'prize draw' implies that the winner will be chosen at random. Make sure you use the correct term in your T&Cs.
Other things you should include are when the giveaway ends, what the prize is - along with whether or not there is a cash alternative - and how you're going to inform the winner. Make it clear if there are any entry restrictions, and any other relevant details. Here is an example of the kind of thing I'd write:
"This prize draw ends 14th December 2016 and entry is restricted to UK residents only. Prize is one 'x', no cash alternative is offered. Winner will be contacted by email within one week of the closing date, and given 28 days to respond with their postal address. If there is no response, another winner will be chosen. Prize is to be fulfilled by Company Z."
This is what will make or break your giveaway because while you might be lucky and someone visiting your blog will add it to a comping website, chances are you won't be. Of course, if you want to keep your giveaway small and private, that's a good thing - you might even want to email such websites and ask that they not add links from your site, to avoid an influx of compers. If you're actively seeking entrants however, here are some failsafe ways of getting them:
The PrizeFinder - One of the biggest UK comping websites, it's totally free to add your giveaway to and has consistently been my main source of traffic when hosting giveaways.
Competition Database - My personal favourite comping site. Again, it's free to add your giveaway - though you will need to register with the site - and is a good source of traffic.
Competition Linkies - These are blog based link ups for giveaways. The main ones are SuperLucky Di, U Me and the Kids, Life in a Breakdown, and Tots 100.
Don't forget to promote your competition across your social media channels and, finally, no promotion list would be complete without mentioning the competition forums of Money Saving Expert. It can generate a lot of traffic, but note that you can't add your own giveaways to the site - you have to wait for some kind soul to do it for you.
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