Social media promotion is simple and inexpensive, making it among the most popular and effective ways to market your brand. Obviously the freebies are great, but the buzz created by people talking about, liking, retweeting or regramming your posts will pay for the free products you send contest winners many times over.

Successful Twitter Giveaways

Twitter is the way nearly 300 million people are choosing to communicate, which makes it the perfect place to engage with new people, bring in customers and promote brand awareness. A good example is what Rocket Dog Shoes did for Valentine’s Day 2014; they asked users to follow and retweet them for a chance to win a new pair of shoes—dark red, silk flats to coincide with signature Valentine’s colors. Result: the shoe company reached not only their 44,000 followers but also gained more than 4,000 new followers.

Successful Instagram Giveaways

Instagram is perfect for marketing your brand with visuals and motivates users to post their own photos with specific hashtags that promote you. Since hashtags are searchable, create your own—that way, users who search that hashtag will see their fellow user-generated images of your brand or product.

Timing is everything! Don’t forget that creating a social media giveaway that is relevant to current events and happenings is how you maximize your campaign reach. A good Instagram giveaway example (also from Valentine’s 2014) was developed by the Illamasqua make up brand and prompted users to post themselves wearing red lipstick and hashtag #ImTheOne for a chance to win a free lipstick. Result: the number of lipsticks they gave away gained a far larger number of followers and images advertising their products.

Reward Your Fans

Giveaways are also good for showing appreciation. Online gift and flower retailer FTD ran a giveaway for Mother’s Day in 2011, randomly giving Mother’s Day bouquets to Facebook fans. They gave away 50 free bouquets a day. Recipients gave the beautiful arrangements to their mothers who in turn learned about FTD, and could keep it in mind for future flower orders. It also got Facebook users sharing the information to others and expanded their reach on social media. It is a genius way to give people the chance to win while they give you free marketing.

Create Giveaway Partnerships

Building partnerships with other brands allows you to access wider audiences and find new fans. If you work in the hospitality industry, partnering with a gift company like FTD is the perfect tie-in: add a beautiful bouquet of red roses to room reservations for couples; give guests their choice of a wine, chocolate or fruit basket when they book for an additional day; offer a dinner deal or spa day with off-season reservations. These are easy additions that go hand-in-hand and promote both companies for maximum reach.

Things to remember before you start:

1. Create compelling offers

The items in your giveaway should be something people want. The language that you use should make it seem like a limited or special product. If people believe it is a great deal/opportunity, they are more likely to participate and spread the word.

2. Create a sense of urgency

Use countdowns that force users to act quickly. Get them entering the contest right away!

3. Simplify the entry process

Designing an original image makes it easier to stay within your 140-character limit on Twitter and gives people straightforward instructions on how to enter a contest. The less complicated it is, the more entries you’ll get. Include a clear call-to-action.

4. Stay relevant and on trend

Integrate popular hashtags and mention current events to stay relevant with trending topics for maximum reach.

Social media marketing is the way of the future. Getting involved and using existing fans to spread the word is a great way to create buzz. Talk to your creative team and come up with social media giveaway ideas to help your business grow. Remember: the products you give away will be far outweighed by your investment in products and word-of-mouth.