Let’s face it. Everyone loves the word “free”, and for marketers, we know the word itself can drive huge amounts of traffic and engagement around a brand within a very short amount of time. Running contests, giveaways, and promotions all still serve as very effective ways in achieving links, more traffic, and social engagement. However, once a giveaway or contest ends, many brands tend to only walk away with the link, leaving no significant footprint or brand awareness.

While links still play a very important role in any marketing strategy, brands should also be caring about how their social traffic is performing. It’s no question that social media is where the majority of consumers are getting their information and updates about their favorite brands today. And for this reason, social media has become an essential part of any marketing strategy.

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Sponsoring giveaways and contests is often very effective for start-ups in particular, not only as a starting link building strategy, but for brand awareness as well. And although it may be a reality for some brands to constantly have these kind of freebie events running, in order to have a genuinely successful online presence, a brand needs to have more than a link building state of mind. Once a giveaway ends, the last thing you want to happen is for your social traffic to flatline. So, it will be up to you to keep it alive.

So, how can your brand keep the audience engaged? If your goal is to increase the amount of social traffic to your site, you’ll need to force yourself to look beyond the link, but it’s going to take more than a free sample or a pair of movie tickets to really hold the attention of your fans and followers.

Spread the Word

For example, say you’re holding a giveaway for a $50 gift card for a 2-week period. During that time, you’ll want to do your best to reach as many entries as you can. Depending on which platform you use (I personally use Rafflecopter), you can easily add widgets to your social profiles. I highly recommend doing this step, as this will allow anyone who views these profiles to enter the giveaway.

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Image Source: memegenerator.net

Making custom images can go a long way in the effectiveness of your giveaways as well. If you’re not lucky enough to have your own graphic designer, Canva.com offers some great templates for free that you can use to make your giveaways really pop. You may also want to create a few additional images that you can share via social to draw even more attention to the giveaway.

When it comes to actually promoting the giveaway through social media, Hootsuite and Buffer will be your best friends (In my experience, Buffer can be a little unreliable at times, so I tend to prefer Hootsuite in many cases.). Using the images you’ve created, post a few times to your social networks each week. Adding hashtags with keywords like “giveaway”, “contest”, and “free” are bound to get additional entries as well!

Aim Higher than the Link

While you’re in the process of getting in touch with the winner, consider what else you can get out of this giveaway in return. If not a link, then perhaps a testimonial, personal interview, or before-and-after evaluation? At this point, the ball is in your court, and having the winner’s personal contact information is like gold.

If your goal is to get a testimonial or have the winner participate further, be sure to include those details within your terms and conditions of the giveaway. While the majority of people will be more than happy to answer any additional questions (after all, they’re getting something free!), it will be best to save yourself any potential hassle.

Promote the Winner

Everybody loves recognition, especially those who win! Kindly ask the winner of your giveaway for a clear headshot, and make sure to ask their permission to share. Chances are that the winner will be more than happy to send you a selfie in the hopes of being recognized! They’ll also likely share it with their friends and family, further expanding your reach and increasing your social traffic.

Hosting giveaways and contests as a way to promote your brand is an excellent way to build awareness, links, and encourage social engagement within your audience. As we start prioritizing our content marketing strategies more towards social media than anything else, it’s vital to have a solid plan in place to drive that social traffic.