Please, no more “RT and Follow” or “Like and Share” Promotions

It’s extremely easy to put together a giveaway, particularly in the age of social media.  The all conquering “RT and follow” (Twitter) or “like and share” (Facebook) giveaway or sweepstake mechanics take 2 seconds to set up, provide a pico-second of shallow engagement, and often near-zero residual value.  The pay-off is typically commensurate with the effort taken to set it up.

Sure, it’s easy to do, quick, and readily repeatable, but here are some serious drawbacks to running an “RT and follow” or “like and share” promo:

  • These mechanics are rarely demonstrated to be drawn fairly;
  • Adequate terms and conditions are rarely attached;
  • Because of the above, these mechanics are less trusted, and can draw complaints (ASA adjudications in the UK for example sometimes cover unfairly drawn social media giveaways), and this can lead to PR blow-back;
  • You’re targeting one objective (boosting fans or followers) on a single social network;
  • Entries are entirely targeted and unfiltered, so the value of the entries for the purposes of re-marketing is low;
  • And these mechanics tend to be repeated, with diminishing returns each time.


Shouldn’t competitions and giveaways be fun?

In creating a custom contest, sweepstake or game for your promotional campaign, you can actually make things fun.  Because promotional campaigns are often considered as a “path of least resistance”, because of the nature of incentivisation (and the ease with which a superficial campaign can be set up on social media), the idea that “fun” has any intrinsic value is often rarely acknowledged.

But if we look at fun as a measure of engagement, then it definitely has value.  Users will be more likely to actually appreciate the brand or product in front of them, and communicate that when telling their friends (which they’re much more likely to do).  They’ll also return to play even if the odds of winning are slim.  Consider the example of free casino games on sites or mobile apps, where the user does not stake or win any real money.  Surely if the cash payoff of gambling was removed, then these games would see no users.  On the contrary, the fun factor goes so far as to induce players to pay via in app purchase for upgrades.

We’ve talked before about how important technical entry is – by building a demonstrably recorded entry that a user can see and manipulate, they are far more willing to enter multiple times, share, and invite, because they trust that their efforts are being recorded properly and can be drawn fairly.  So how does one make a promotion fun?

Build it!

Where the Twitter or Facebook number-boosting giveaways are instant, they are not infrastructural.  Building your own promotional mechanic on your own website allows you to control completely and consistently your primary and secondary entries (example here), be creative, and retain the infrastructure of your promotion after it has finished.  You can adapt it, theme it, or simply repeat it depending on its popularity.  Some brands have custom instant win games that are permanently open as lead generation mechanisms.  Here are some considerations:

  • Consider the devices users will enter your competitions on.  Building your app/game in flash will disadvantage iOS mobile or tablet users who will not be able to load it;
  • Consider device responsiveness.  You will want a consistent experience on desktop, mobile, and tablet.  Technologies like html 5 and Javascript may be most useful;
  • Do you want a contest/competition (i.e. a skill-based entry) or a giveaway/sweepstake (prizedraw)?  Instant-win or prizedraws typically work best with custom built promo apps/games as the functionality allows the entrant to know in real time whether he or she has won, and what he or she can do to enter again if not;
  • Skill-based competitions are possible also, but will require a level of interactivity – for example, entrants uploading media like an Instagram picture, and manipulating it, or integrating it using your app or game;
  • And creatively built promotional mechanics do not have to be limited to your website, if you are targeting specific platforms, host them natively – wanting to just target Facebook?  Run your promo as a Facebook app.  A particular mobile user?  Have it as a downloadable app.

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