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Tips for Running Blog Giveaways: From a Sweeper's Perspective

Saturday, March 17, 2012

I'm not a blogging "maven" nor am I a social media expert. But I am an active sweeper meaning that I enter A LOT of giveaways. I think that gives me a teensy bit of credibility on the topic of organizing a giveaway. I hope this article is received with the love and sincerity that it was written.

blog giveaway

I've seen many changes in the social media giveaway landscape since I started entering them more than three years ago. Most recently, giveaway hops and widgets like Rafflecopter have exponentially increased the reach of blog-hosted contests. More bloggers are hosting giveaways because it's easier to attract entrants and easier to host. This is a good thing. The bad thing is that giveaway posts are getting a little, um, sloppy.

I find myself frustrated lately at the lack of simple organization and the proliferation of errors in the giveaways I try to enter. I could overlook it if these were isolated incidents, but it seems to be an epidemic! So, I decided to speak up, to offer some friendly advice, and hope that bloggers read this and make some changes before we all suffer:

  1. The Devil is in the Details. The 4 Ws (Who, What, When, hoW) are a good place to start. Please make sure you cover these little details in the body of your post. Who is the sponsor/who can enter? What is the prize? When does the giveaway end? How does one enter? Also, provide some information about the prize. I cannot tell you how many times I've seen a giveaway for a prize from a name I've never heard of and there is no description, not even a link to a spotlight post. Sometimes I Google it, but most times I skip it. Oh, and a picture would be nice.

  2. Be Kind to Your Audience. Pop-ups are annoying. I hate scavenging for the close button on a pop-up ad or trying to minimize those social media button toolbars that are blocking the entry form. Sometimes I don't try. I just leave the blog. The same goes for the type and number of entries. I know as bloggers you want to get as many new fans/followers/subscribers, but you cannot force someone to become a loyal reader. Please stop with the mandatory email subscription! In addition, if you ask entrants to leave a blog post comment, please turn off your captcha/word verification. On that same note, if you moderate comments you need to check your spam folder to make sure entries aren't being disqualified because your filter is eating up the comments. It shaves precious seconds when you are trying to complete as many giveaways in a hop not to have to jump through hoops to make sure your comment went through. Speaking of which, be considerate of your fellow bloggers in the hop. Don't be an entry hog. It's really unfair to have 20 or 30 different entries for one giveaway. Other giveaways want some love too. I run giveaways, and I just reassessed my entries and decided that asking people to vote for my blog on a directory is not productive (I'm never going to be #1, so who am I kidding?!). I also all removed bonus entries that were not related to running the giveaway or improving my blog's influence.

  3. Check Your Work. Remember when you took a math test in elementary school and when you went to turn it in your teacher asked if you checked your work? That is a life lesson that applies here. Broken links, Facebook error messages, tweet posts that aren't set up correctly are all examples of bloggers not checking their work before posting a giveaway. Please test your links and the entries on your form to make sure they work! If you are using Rafflecopter, learn how to use it. Did you know that you can create hyperlinks in an entry using HTML? It saves sweepers a lot of time! For example, if I want an entrant to visit the sponsor site, I would select "Choose Your Own Task," changing the title to "Visit Sponsor Site." Then using brackets for the anchor text and parentheses for the URL, I would provide the link to the sponsor page: [Visit Sponsor Page](www.examplesite.com). The brackets and parentheses must be next to each other, no spaces. Ta da! No more need for me to to cut and paste or Google a page.

  4. Give Sponsor Love. This should go without saying, but I've seen the lack of sponsor love on enough giveaways to see it as a growing issue. I've actually had sponsors require that their company/product get top billing, so they are noticing too. At a minimum, there should be a backlink to your sponsor's website in your post. Then there should be entries to follow their social media pages. These entries should come first and not be buried under an avalanche of entries directed at your blog. After someone has followed you on Facebook, Twitter, BlogFrog, and StumbleUpon, given you Klout, written you an Alexa review, etc...they might be too fatigued to pay any attention to the sponsor, and that would be a crying shame.  After all, they are putting up the prize and probably provided you with product too. If you are unsure what the sponsor wants, just ask.
Okay, so that's it. I'll get off my soapbox now. Please share, Stumble, tweet, pin, etc...if you found this article useful! Speaking of StumbleUpon, please don't ask entrants to Stumble your giveaway. People hate to stumble upon an expired giveaway.


Busy Mom on the Go said...

I love this post. I happen to have a Birthday Bash event with sponsors and giveaways right now. I'm still looking for bloggers to help me with it through March 30th here:

I have been looking for honest feedback and this post was very helpful because you're writing from both perspectives. Thank you very much. You'll be able to see your list put to good use during the Birthday Bash Event starting April 16th!!!

Busy Mom on the Go said...

I stumbled this too!

Brenda Penton said...

Love this post. I am an avid sweeper from Canada and find it a pain to find out if giveaways are open to Canada or Worldwide. Most will usually say, but some don't give any details at all.

Anonymous said...

I enter alot of giveaways, too. I've gotten very tired of filling out 25 email subscriptions to enter. Seriously? If I love your blog, I love your blog. Email or not, I'll be there as long as you keep it real.
Please don't make me like 50 twitter accounts, it's very, very monotonous and annoying.Do you really think people sit and read twitter all day? No, they hang out on Facebook where they can interact with others. Yes, I have skipped larger giveaways because of these very things. Thanks for this post!

Karren Haller said...

I enter quit a few of the giveaways if they dont reguire a lot of time, I am totally with boho hippie mom, I will pass up those giveaways that have a page of twitter ids, FB, G+ to follow. I know we charge for and create large giveaways by charging for those wanting to participate in these giveaways, but gees who has time to spend at each giveaway filling out all these things and then as part of that giveaway make you enter another giveaway to be eligible to win the first one.

I am about ready to go back to just sponsoring my own giveaway with a plain linky, with a drawing by using random.org and asking the visitor to follow, tweet, and share. The whole reason we have these giveaways is to build our followers, gain Alexa stats because of visits and page ranks. I love your post and it got me on a soap box, sorry but thats my opinion.

Hope you can stop by and just follow maybe a comment.......Oh! My Heartsie
Happy St. Patrick's Day♣

VickieB said...

Thanks for the post.

I would also add to check spam folders regularly.

Personally I have been having an extremely hard time leaving comments on blogs that do not use Blogger comments. My comments are going to spam on blogs I have left comments on for years. Most Rafflecopter forms don't leave an area to enter that information, or in my case leave an actual link to the comment. I have a better chance of my comment showing up using my Blogger/Google acct.

My preference, like many others is to use my Google/Blogger name for comments and sign into
FB for Rafflecopter. VickieB for one, full name for the other.

A really good example of comments being eaten is my roommate was entering a giveaway on a blog and she could see that comments were moderated and her posts showed up later. I entered a different giveaway on the same blog and never even got the comments are moderate message, mine went straight to spam. Comments never showed up. I've used this email address for nine or so years now, changing addresses is really not an option.

I would assume their are MANY others experiencing the same problem

Unknown said...

Great tips and reminders.

Thanks for this post.

LOVE MELISSA:) said...

THanks for the post! I do quite a few giveaways on my blog and the most important thing is to get recognition to the sponsor- I am secondary.

Shelley Zurek -- Still Blonde after all these YEARS said...

I absolutely agree. Anyone who posts giveaways should have to read this post once a month to remind them of these important details.

XOXO, Michelle said...

good pointers... I always try to make mine easy and upbeat!

Krissy said...

I don't enter giveways because I don't have a facebook and I am not following anyone on twitter just to win. Its just not for me I suppose.

Dixieland Deals said...

Love these tips! I,too, both enter and host giveaways, and nothing irritates me more than to have to fill in my twitter name 32 times in one contest, or fill out the name I used to follow the blog, again, how many times? I don't mind the facebook likes thing tho, that's pretty simple if it's entered into the rafflecopter right. Sometimes it takes 30 minutes just to enter ONE of the rafflecopters in a hop and by that time you don't want to mess with any of the others! Great post!

Kristin said...

Wow...these issues must be a huge problem...believe it or not, I wrote a post last week ("11 Tips for Running a Better Giveaway") and I had almost all the same suggestions! These issues make it hard when you're trying to enter giveaways, does it not? Argh!

Lee-Ann said...

This is great. I think the worst for me is when you are entering a giveaway and they want you to visit the sponsor but don't give a link to them, how is that even possible? LOL

Diane said...

I stumbled this post! I hate when all the entries in rafflecopter say choose your own entry , or when the tweet this box is either tweeting about a different giveaway or says " write something here".

Journeys of The Zoo said...

Thank you so much for posting this. I now have enough subscriptions and good linkies that if people don't post eligibility I won't enter their contest (I used to email them).

It's also really annoying when they post eligibility in the Rafflecopter form so that I have to load it (it's a bandwidth hog and I don't have unlimited access) only to find out that I can't enter (I'm Canadian).

Just found your site, I'll stick around (smile)

swak50 at hotmail dot com

Kathleen said...

Great post! I disagree a bit on the voting thing. I hate being asked to vote for a photo in a company contest,especially if I have to link my facebook account to the app or something.

However I do add voting in top sites to my giveaways. Although I'll never be #1, I do get visits from picket fence and the others and the higher up in the rankings I am, the more visitors I get.

I highly agree with the point about testing your links!

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