Social media is a brilliant marketing tool for many businesses, and is an especially great place for pet-related businesses to reach new audiences. People love seeing pictures and videos of animals online – whether cute, funny, or heartwarming – and this can create great levels of engagement for a business.
What is a giveaway and how can it help a pet business?
Although animal content – such as funny cat videos – is loved by many and can bring in a wide audience, business marketing isn’t about gaining a following – it’s about creating and retaining customers. If you’re a physical, location-specific business, you’ll be looking to find locals online. If you’re an online business like an online store, however, you’ll be looking for anyone who might be interested in your products.
In short, a giveaway is a type of social media competition, through which you’ll usually offer a prize to a lucky follower. People enter by whichever rules you choose to set – typically following the page and leaving a comment – and a random winner is chosen. A giveaway differs from other types of competitions because the winner isn’t chosen based on merit or the quality of their entrance. In a competition, people usually have to enter a submission of some kind, of which the giveaway host will choose their favourite/the best – for example, a caption contest.
A giveaway or competition (we’ll just use ‘giveaway’ to refer to both from now on unless specifically discussing competitions) can help you specifically target people who might convert into customers for your business. By offering a service or product you offer as a prize, you can get people interested in your business and familiarise them with what you do. You also gain every contestant as a follower, meaning they’ll be engaged with your business into the future and could become a paying customer. If it’s part of your rules for contestants to share the giveaway or tag a friend in the comments, you’re also reaching each contestant’s friends, creating a snowball effect of new followers interested in your services.
Here are five steps to creating a pet business giveaway:
1. Decide on the prize
You probably won’t be giving away a pet to someone on social media – there must be many legal and ethical issues with this! However, there are many options for a pet business prize offering. Depending on what your organisation sells/does, you could give away gift cards, services, or products. This could include anything a pet owner may want or need, be it dog washes, beds/leads, brushes, cages, veterinary services, etc.
While deciding what you’ll offer as the prize, first consider your budget. What will the prize be worth, and will the new followers be worth it? Giving away something worth thousands is, of course, more likely to attract more attention than something worth $20. But it isn’t about giving away the best prize – it’s about doing what’s right for your business.
If you need to ship the prize to the winner, you must also include potential shipping costs in your budget. And if you plan to run ads or promotions (which we’ll discuss below), you’ll need a budget for that spend. In any case, it’s best to start smaller and see how you go; you can always offer bigger giveaways later, when you’re sure of the return on investment.
The most important aspect of the prize is that it must be something people will want, and will want enough to take the time to enter. This is why gift cards to large stores like Amazon tend to work so well – they’re general and anyone can use them. But in your case, you don’t want a general audience. Instead, you’re looking specifically for people who might become customers. So find a balance between something of good value, that will be wanted by potential clients, and something that is specific to your business.
A great option is to partner with another relevant business for the giveaway, which creates a more exciting prize (with two budgets) and doubles your audience. Your partner business’s followers will be prompted to follow you to participate, and yours will be prompted to follow them – meaning you’ll both reach new potential customers. For example, a vet could partner with a pet supply store to offer a package of dog leads and vaccinations.
2. Determine the rules
Will it be a competition or a giveaway, and how will you decide on the winner? Many social media giveaways only ask participants to follow the page, like the post and leave a comment (usually tagging a friend who may also like to enter). But a competition means people are competing for the prize – i.e. a pet picture competition, where the best image wins. User-generated content is always great! Another competition option is a caption contest, for example posting a humorous image of an animal and having people comment a funny caption.
Within the rules, also choose your timeline. The giveaway will start as soon as the post has been shared, but when does it end? When will you stop counting entries? When will you choose the winner, and when will you announce the winner? A long-weekend giveaway can be a great option. A giveaway that’s too short won’t gain enough traction, and one that’s too long will eventually lose interest. Three to six days is optimal. You also want contestants to know that you’ll be picking a winner promptly, and when they can expect the winner to be announced.
Make sure to add any necessary disclaimers or terms and conditions to your rules. Add a line noting that the platform you’re using is not affiliated with the giveaway (most platforms require this). Another helpful rule to add is that people cannot enter more than once. Unless you want them to comment and share as many times as possible, this is a great way to reduce spam and worm out potential cheaters.
Although today we’re talking about social media giveaways, you could alternatively host the giveaway on your website. You’ll still share the giveaway on social media, but people will visit your website and fill out a form to enter. This way you can get each entrant’s email address and information, which is a fantastic resource for your business. The disadvantage here, however, is that you won’t be gaining engagement on social media that will help you grow. Again – it’s about what your goal for the giveaway is.
3. Pick your platform
There’s no reason you can’t host a giveaway across platforms, but it’s certainly simpler to just use one. It’s important here to decide on the reason behind your giveaway. Are you hosting it to get more leads for your business? Make connections with potential customers? Show loyalty by giving back to customers? Or only increase followers/engagement on your social media?
Having answers to these questions should give you more direction regarding why you’re hosting a giveaway, and therefore where to host it. If the purpose is to increase awareness of your business, for example, you may want to host the giveaway across as many platforms as possible to broaden your reach. But if you want to focus on growing only one platform and keep the giveaway simplified, pick the platform you expect to get the most growth and conversions from. Of course, Instagram is a popular place to post animal photos and gain a following – but are those followers going to be people who will convert into customers for your business?
Often it can seem like having a large following is the goal of social media, but for businesses, a smaller group of loyal followers who become customers is much better than a large group of people who aren’t interested in your products or services. Again, it’s about going back to those earlier questions and deciding how you can best reach your goals.
4. Make the post
Write the caption:
Now that you have the basics of your giveaway ready, it’s time to write the caption. This includes an explanation of the prize and the rules, copy that entices people to participate, and all your legal and copyright notes. If you’re using hashtags, they’re also likely to go in the caption space.
Be cautious of character-count limitations: you need to fit everything in, so don’t get cut off halfway because the platform doesn’t allow you to write more (i.e. Twitter may not be the best place for a giveaway unless you’re clever with using replies/creating a thread).
Below is a sample of how you might write the rules in your caption:
How to enter:
- Like this post
- Follow our page
- Comment your pet’s name and tag an animal-loving friend
- Share to your story for a bonus entry
- You may enter only once (excluding the extra entry for a story share)
- Winner will be announced on Friday 21st September
- You must be over 18 or have parent/guardian permission to enter
- Instagram is not affiliated with this giveaway
Choose an image:
We know social media is all about the visual, and a great image will help to draw people into your competition. Social media users LOVE animal photos and videos – especially cats and dogs – so it’s no surprise that as a pet business you’re already in a great place for building an audience.
For giveaways, it’s often best to use a mix of image and graphic. The image draws people in (a picture of an animal) and the text or other elements overlayed tell people it’s a giveaway. People will look at your picture before they look at your caption – if they look at it at all. Seeing ‘GIVEAWAY’ printed across an image immediately alerts them that there’s something to be won, and encourages them to read more. You can use Canva or PowerPoint to create an image like this easily.
5. Consider promoting the giveaway
Giveaways – depending on how badly people want the prize – usually run themselves and don’t require much promotion. They reach people by shares and tags, which are usually part of the rules. This has a snowball effect as more people tag friends to enter, who tag more friends to enter, and so on. But for an extra boost, you might choose paid promotions or PR as well.
Using the paid ads option on whichever platform you choose, you can boost the post to a certain audience. It’s important here to pick the right audience, with the right interests and location – but we won’t go into detail on that here. Pick your budget and the timeline for the ad (usually the timeline of the giveaway) and boost the post with the goal to reach more people.
You could also consider PR promotions, such as asking local newspapers or influencers, or even other businesses, to share your giveaway. Such promotions usually won’t cost you (unless you’re using ad space on another person’s platform), but can be a great help in widening your giveaway’s audience. Just make sure you have a great pitch and reason for whoever you’re asking to share your giveaway – why help you? Are you helping the community in some way? Doing something differently to other organisations? Have a particularly exciting prize?
6. Choose and announce a winner
If you’re hosting a competition, choosing a winner is a matter of picking the best – or your favourite – entrance. If you’re hosting a giveaway, however, the winner is usually chosen at random. You can choose them however you like, such as closing your eyes and scrolling through the entrances, but there are also apps and websites that will randomly choose for you.
You can announce the winner in a variety of ways, but I recommend building some excitement by posting a countdown first, or reminding people when the winner will be announced. When using a randomised giveaway winner website, you can even record yourself picking the winner, or do it on a live video. This helps to keep the interest up.
But you can keep it simple and announce the winner on a post or story post. You can wait for the winner to contact you after seeing the announcement, but it’s usually easier to message them directly and let them know in case they miss your post. If they still don’t get back to you, you can just pick another winner or runner-up for the prize.
Organise how you’ll get the prize to the winner. If it’s a physical prize, can they pick it up from your organisation’s location, or will you need to ship it to them?
7. Retain your new audience members
Make sure you keep posting engaging content to retain the interest of your new followers. Connect and engage with these people regularly. The idea is to do what you can to make sure that now these people are in your pool of followers, you don’t lose them. You can now focus on posting content such as cute animal photos to keep them interested, with the occasional advertisement to remind them of your product or services.
Georgie and Cindy from Large Hope SEO foster cats and kittens on the Sunshine Coast in Australia. If you’re local, get in touch to discuss adopting from the rescues. See cats and kittens available for adoption or donate