“Win a fat quarter bundle!”
“Enter the giveaway to get a free copy of this book!”
“Share this post on Facebook and tweet it for two extra chances to win a free pattern!”
I read these posts every single day. Like hawkers at a market stall, these bloggers are shouting “free” at me as I walk past, hoping I’ll stop for a minute and take a look at their wares.
Have you ever held a successful giveaway on your blog? If you have that post most likely garnered more traffic, and more comments than any other post you’ve ever written. Maybe that day you got 100 new Facebook likes, too. Pretty great, right?
A giveaway involves three parties: the company promoting the product, the blog hosting the giveaway, and the public entering the giveaway. The assumption is that giveaways will benefit all three at a very low cost. The company gets the word out about their product essentially for free. The blogger gets to build her blog readership or Facebook likes or Instagram follows for free. And the public gets a chance to win something. Hooray for everyone!
I think you know that I’m about to say boo.
I’d like to argue that giveaways actually don’t benefit any of these parties. Giveaways are an ineffective way for companies to market a product. In fact I think giveaways inhibit sales. Giveaways aren’t truly building your readership and aren’t benefiting your readers, either.
First, let’s look at giveaways as a marketing tool for a company. Craft blogs very commonly give away copies of newly released craft books so I’ll take one of those as an example.
As a craft blogger you post a review of
the new title and offer a copy to give away to one lucky reader. Your regular
readers and loyal customers trust you and what you recommend. They say to
themselves, “Wow, that book looks beautiful! And if she likes it, and she’s a
total expert, than I know it’s worth getting. I’ll enter!” They fill out the
form and then they wait. While they’re waiting, they aren’t buying. Then the
winner is announced and everyone moves on. They move on because of a
psychological feeling that they’ve already taken action when it comes to that
book. They entered the giveaway. All done! Although offering a giveaway may
generate hype about a new book or product, I would argue in fact giveaways
don’t promote sales at all.
Now let’s look at how giveaways effect your blog. A blog is a public journal. All bloggers check their stats and want their numbers to go up. Guess what? Doing a giveaway will make those numbers go up. I guarantee it. But the surge is not only temporary, it’s meaningless. Why? Because of sites like Giveaway Scoop and the people who use it.
Giveaway Scoop is a site that aggregates blog giveaways. Their About page describes it well:
Everyday across the web, brands sponsor thousands of new giveaways in conjunction with blogs and web sites. The problem though, is that tracking these giveaways down has been seriously time consuming. It’s time for that to change! Giveaway Scoop is “the” place to easily discover the web’s hidden treasure chest of giveaways!... After all, the more giveaways you enter, the better your chances of winning. And free stuff is always fun!
Users scroll through thousands of giveaways, clicking and entering one and all. No need to read the text of the blog post to find out what’s required, Giveaway Scoop tells you that before you click over.
I have nothing against Giveaway Scoop. It’s clever, really. But before you celebrate the 233 blog comments your recent giveaway generated, consider how each of those comments happened. Someone read the word “free” somewhere, clicked and filled out a form. These are the happenstance entries. You aren’t building your readership and your customer base with a giveaway. You aren’t building anything.
Finally, let’s look at how a giveaway might possibly benefit your readers. Some readers may appreciate your generosity and that truly is a small benefit of a giveaway, although I think it’s far more generous to share some of your knowledge for free than to give one person a free book. Frankly, that’s about it. I’m struggling to find a way that your readers benefit at all.
The word giveaway means “free.” Free attracts attention. On the internet, attention comes in the way of likes, follows, comments, and clicks and all of those are nice to have. To build a solid readership for your blog and a customer base for your business, though, you need to share real ideas and valuable information and present them in a way that supports great products.
True relationships aren’t built on randomly clicking for free stuff.