The Power of Free Stuff: Social Media Incentives

Giving something away may seem like a counterintuitive marketing strategy, but consumers everywhere are drawn to free stuff. Companies are finding that offering incentives through social media is an effective way to develop a loyal following of customers. Harnessing the viral power of social networks like Facebook and Twitter allow customers to interact with your brand, resulting in free publicity for your marketing initiative and a wider reach for future promotions.

Starting a social media campaign

Starting a social media campaign is reliant on offering a product or service people want, letting them know you’re giving it away and requiring them to do something to get it. At the very least, people often have to “like” your page on Facebook or follow you on Twitter to enter a contest or receive a coupon or discount. Companies who encourage their fans to share a Facebook post or retweet a message widen the circle to include the consumer’s friends, family and followers. The viral power of social media is what really drives your campaign and expands your reach by using the connections people have with each other.

When creating your contest, consider having people take a photo or make a video featuring your product in order to enter. After the submission period is over, post the entries to your social media networks, including your company website and/or blog, Facebook page, Twitter feed, LinkedIn profile and other social sites relevant to your industry. Invite people to vote on their favorites to choose the winner. The people who enter are likely to promote the contest for you because they’ll want their friends to vote for their entries so they win.

Crest Arabia

If your company manufactures a product that isn’t instantly considered interesting, such as toothpaste, it can be a challenge to develop a contest idea that will actually generate interest on social media sites. Consider, however, Crest Arabia’s “Spread the Smile” contest on Facebook. Contest entrants entered for a chance to win a trip to New York City, a home entertainment system or an iPad. Winners were selected based on jokes, pictures or videos they posted that made site visitors smile. Around the time of the contest (April 16th – April 20th), Crest Arabia’s Facebook page reached a staggering 3,829 new likes (per week) and 1,663 “People Talking About This.” Following the completion of the contest (April 20th – Present), the “Likes” took a dive; however, the number of people “Talking About” Crest remained about the same.

Family Leisure

Family Leisure recently launched a patio furniture giveaway via social media. Entrants can enter to win a patio set through the company’s Facebook page, Twitter account, website or even by texting. Extra entries are awarded to people who refer their friends and family to Facebook. Given these facts, it’s not at all surprising that the number of people “Talking About” Family Leisure skyrocketed around the time of the contest. On average, 60 people (per day) were talking about Family Leisure around the dates of May 2nd – May 8th.


Online clothing retailer ModCloth ran a contest via Pinterest in January that had users enter by creating a pinboard with specific elements that spoke to the company’s spring wedding campaign. The interest generated by each company’s contest is a testament to the power of social media and its ability to reach a wide range of people interested in a giveaway. ModCloth’s contest blog post garnered a whopping 253 “Likes,” 86 Tweets, 152 Comments and 600+ entries counted around the end of the contest.


Incentives promoted through social media channels aren’t just about getting a short-term boost to your network traffic. Rather, they are about developing a loyal following of individuals who keep interacting with your brand long after your contest is over. A fun contest or great giveaway can generate loyal customers for years to come. Companies that effectively use social media will find its power to be an effective platform for marketing and advertising, both in the short and long term.

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