• Jane Coloccia

Contest Giveaways To Get More Social Media Followers Isn't Always The Best Strategy


Giving Away A Freebie To Grow Your Audience Doesn't Translate Into Paying Customers

There are a lot of digital marketing companies out there telling clients if they want to grow their social followers significantly and quickly, they need to do lots of giveaways. Sure, it might sound like a plausible idea if someone is telling you this over the phone or across the conference room table and you desperately want to grow your audience, but let's take a moment and think about it.


I took over social media management for a client who did just that prior to my coming on board — offered lots of freebies and contests to win a free trip. This client was a tour operator and they did contests to drive more followers fast. I can understand the mentality because the guy in charge came from the media side where "eyeballs on screens" was the mantra versus the travel industry philosophy of "heads in beds" or "butts in seats".


Sure, they grew their social media following incredibly fast, but here's what happened. Once we started to make postings about this company's trips — which were incredibly affordable (think $1,299 for a week in Paris including hotel, airfare, and some sightseeing), we started to get comments on the posts from all the fans they acquired from the trip giveaways saying "oh I could never afford a trip like that in a million years!" Or "this is my bucket list trip some day if I win the lottery!" or "That's a crazy price to go on vacation!"


These are not the type of social media fans you want. Not only are they making negative posts on your page, setting up a mindset for other fans that your trips are too expensive, but they are also very clearly NOT your target audience and will never pay your prices. If someone cannot afford your product or has no interest in paying full price, you honestly don't want them to be fans of your page.


The reality is that when you do giveaways to grow followers or fans on a page, the type of people you get are not going to be your target audience. These are the people who are trolling social media for the contests, the freebies, the deep discounts. They didn't organically happen upon your page, get referred by a friend with similar tastes, like your product, or have any intent to buy it and probably never will. The same is often true for companies which participate in Groupon and Living Social deals.


Nearly every business I have ever known who has done a deep discount through Groupon or Living Social never converts that client into a full paying loyal customer.

People who shop on these sites are not loyal — they are looking for the next great deal. This is incredibly true of Millennials who will plan their evening's Happy Hour activities based on which bar or lounge in the area is offering the best deal for apps and cocktails on Yelp, Groupon, or Living Social. While they might like this venue better than that one, they are going for the best deal and will not return unless you have another great deal. That dreaded "d" word (DISCOUNT!) is ultimately going to haunt you forever.


Sure it might sound exciting when that digital marketer or social media agency is telling you how you can increase your followers by 100,000% or more by doing a giveaway. But you need to check your enthusiasm at the door and think about the type of fan you are going to attract. Social media works really well when your organic followers are people who are real fans of your product or who could be future customers. When someone is after a freebie, they might think your product is really cool, but they're probably not going to pay for it — particularly if you are dealing in the luxury market. And don't even get me started on bots and click farms — I'll save that for another article.

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