Do Viral Giveaways Actually Help You Get More Followers?

When we talk about running viral giveaways, one of the most common questions is…

“Do giveaways actually work?”

For many people, giveaways are a new and different marketing tactic.

Everyone knows about SEO, online advertising, and social media.

Those marketing channels are familiar… while giveaways are a hidden marketing gem most people don’t know about. 💎

Here are just a few examples of how giveaways can lead to insane results for you:

  • 30% of AppSumo’s revenue for years came from giveaways. This is how AppSumo bootstrapped their business to an 8-figure company. Giveaways were the best ROI in all of the early AppSumo marketing strategies.
  • When you’re launching a new product, giveaways can help you get new customers: Ryan Holiday ran a giveaway last month and got 6,144 subs in two weeks.
  • Over past few years, giveaways have helped grow Noah Kagan’s personal email list by 52,919 email subscribers.

kingsumo blog giveawayswork results

Giveaways are one of the BEST ways to grow your business and brand for nothing.

And in this post, I’m going to share three misconceptions about giveaways.

You’ll learn how giveaways can really grow your customer base, email subscribers, followers, and more — backed by data to prove it’s true. 🤓

Let’s get it on…

Run FREE giveaways with KingSumo

Misconception #1: Giveaways result in bad subscribers

Picking the right prize

Any marketing channel can lead to bad subscribers or customers if you set up the wrong targeting.

Just like targeting your Facebook Ads or Google SEO keyword strategy correctly, targeting is important with giveaways too.

To make an uber-successful giveaway, choose a narrow product your IDEAL customer wants.

For example:

  • Noah Kagan’s audience is interested in travel and entrepreneurship, so he created an Ultimate Traveler giveaway that generated 23,127 entries.

    kingsumo blogpost viralgiveaways biztraveler
  • Ryan Holiday ran a book giveaway for 10 copies of his signed book. This generated 6,145 entries — that’s 6,145 people Ryan can also sell to in the future…

    kingsumo blog giveawaypost ryan
  • A California surf company is running a giveaway for a new surfboard and accessories. All entrants in this giveaway are super targeted for their niche audience.

    kingsumo blogpost viralgiveaway d33

Focus your giveaway on your niche or target market — like Facebook ads, when your targeting is too broad, you get bad results.

For example, if you give away an Amazon gift card or iPad, that may be too broad.

But when you focus specifically on what your audience might WANT or NEED, you can build a list of perfect subscribers for your business and drive incredible ROI from giveaways.

Keeping a healthy mailing list

Some people think giveaways “destroy” email lists.

Not true.

When you use proper email list cleaning techniques, your reputation won’t be damaged at all.

The team at AppSumo has grown an 8-figure business from giveaways. And so has Sumo.

Here are 3 strategies to keep your list clean:

  1. ONLY add confirmed entries. Many giveaway tools will tell you if a user is a confirmed entry or not. To confirm an entry, the entrant needs to click the confirmation link in the giveaway confirmation email. In many giveaway backends, you can easily delete anyone who isn’t confirmed — and only add the people who are confirmed.For example, here’s the people we would keep vs. delete from a recent KingSumo giveaway…

    kingsumo blogpost viralgiveaway pruning
  2. Enable double opt-in. With every email service provider (like MailChimp), you can enable double opt-in. Similar to a giveaway confirmation email, the double opt-in email from your email service provider is an extra measure to make sure people want your emails.If you set up double opt-in and they don’t click to confirm their email address with your email service provider, they’re not added to your list
  3. Clean inactives. To make sure your email list is super clean and your deliverability never suffers, we recommend removing anyone who hasn’t opened or clicked an email in six months. After six months, old inactive emails can become spam traps. Keep your list clean!

Misconception #2: You need a huge audience to have a successful giveaway

It can be easy to see some of the big names using KingSumo and think, “it’s easy for Noah or Ryan Holiday because they have a big audience.”

It helps… but you can still run an ultra-successful giveaway with a small audience.

For example, a small notebook manufacturer you probably never heard of called imStone ran a giveaway that got 3,370 entrants (aka new email subscribers)!

kingsumo blogpost viralgiveaways imstone

If you want to run a giveaway but don’t have a big audience, here are 3 FREE things you can do to get entries right now:

  1. Start by using KingSumo. KingSumo is our free giveaway tool that enables you to create and promote your giveaway. Once you have your prizes in place, KingSumo will help you get your giveaway up and running in minutes.

    kingsumo about creategiveaway
  2. Share your giveaway across social media platforms. Your own followers are low-hanging fruit for your giveaways. Share your giveaway with your existing audiences on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.Once you’ve shared it with your own audiences, try looking for some additional places to promote your giveaway. For example, Sam Jeffries shared his giveaway in a few Facebook Groups focused on his core audience.

    kingsumo blogpost viralgiveaways books

    It’s also worth scanning Reddit and submitting your giveaway on a subreddit like /r/giveaways (or another subreddit that has a lot of your audience)
  3. Collaborate with people you admire to give away a package prize — and cross-promote. If you’re running a giveaway with no existing audience, ask other people to give you their products for free if you promise to link them in the giveaway and mention them on social

Many times, this is all they need to help promote your giveaway to their audience!

A recent KingSumo was able to launch a successful giveaway using this tip… and got in front of thousands of new people because of it.

Here’s the email he sent to potential partners

kingsumo blogpost viralgiveaways julien

To find partners for your giveaway, follow the below steps:

Step 1: Identify potential partners

First, brainstorm businesses that share the same audience as you.

If you’re stuck for ideas, head over to a tool like Moz and search for key terms and phrases related to your business (Moz gives you a few free searches per day).

The results will help you identify potential partners who are talking about your niche.

For example, say you were running a giveaway aimed at developers and engineers. You could search for “cool computer gifts’ and Moz would show you the pages ranking highest for those keywords.

kingsumo blogpost viralgiveaways computergifts

Step 2: Find contact details

Once you have a list of relevant products and companies that you could partner, it’s time to find their email addresses so you can get in touch.

You can Google around or use a tool like Hunter to save time.

All you need to do is enter the company name and Hunter will show you the email addresses of people at that company (you can even search for specific people).

Step 3: Reach out

Now that you have the contact details of everyone on your list of potential partners, it’s time to drop them a message.

Here’s a neat template you can use (this exact template helped Sam Jefferies land partners for his giveaway):


I LOVED your book. Read it a few times, my favorite part was where you shared advice on negotiating a raise.

Quick question…

I’m running a giveaway for my readers. Gonna promote to 1,000+ on my social and email channels.

Would be excited to give away your book + link to your site.



If you have some budget to invest in giveaways, you can boost your entrants even more by using these three additional paid smart strategies:

  1. Use retargeting ads to people who have already entered your giveaway and encourage them to invite their friends to the giveaway for more chances to win
  2. Keep in regular contact with entrants throughout the duration of your giveaway and remind them when the giveaway ends and how to enhance their chances of winning
  3. Promote the giveaway on your website using a Smart Bar to spread awareness of the giveaway and encourage entries.

3. You need a BIG prize

When some people think about “giveaways” they think BIG.

Like NBA halftime show giveaway BIG…

“Win a new car”

“Win $10,000”

“Win a 5-star, luxury Caribbean holiday all expenses paid”

These prizes might sound great… but they’re often unnecessary.

For example, Noah Kagan recently generated 6,411 email subscribers by giving away a Seth Godin books collection that cost about $80.

kingsumo blogposts viralgiveaways sethgodin

When you break the numbers down, this campaign cost just $0.01 per lead! 💰🚀

In other words, it was WAY less expensive than other marketing methods.

Aim to provide prizes that appeal ONLY to your specific niche.

For example, a book company ran a “Walking Dead Super Fan” giveaway and generated 2,236 entrants.

kingsumo blogpost viralgiveaways walkingdead

The more your prize appeals to your audience, the more likely your giveaway will spread virally and through word of mouth, too.

Instead of focusing on a BIG prize, think about how you can offer prizes that will:

  1. Solve problems for your target audience
  2. Help your target audience to learn
  3. Encourage your target audience to take the next steps towards their goals
Run a giveaway FREE using KingSumo

Bottom-line: Giveaways work to get you more email subscribers and customers.

You can…

  1. Get quality subscribers and customers by picking the right prize and keeping a healthy mailing list
  2. Launch to a small list of people and still get tons of potential customers. Share your giveaway across social media and collaborate with people you admire
  3. Use a small niche prize to generate TONS of leads for minimal cost — that’s how Noah Kagan generated leads for $0.01! 💰

Get more advice on how to run an amazing giveaway: “How to Make a Giveaway for Free in Under 5 Minutes.”

How to Create a Social Media Contest [Step-By-Step Guide]

Are you looking for an effective, quick, inexpensive way to grow your business?

A social media contest or giveaway could be the perfect solution for you. Here’s why a giveaway can help:

  • Grow your social media following. Get more Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter followers… automatically!
  • Increase your email list. More email list subscribers means more potential customers for your product
  • Drive more revenue. Get more eyeballs on your products, websites, or services!

And much more…

Don’t just take our word for it, though. Recently, we generated 6,144 emails subscribers with one simple giveaway:

Social media contest results

Often, the hesitation for social media influencers and business owners is simple…

“How do I actually run a social media contest or giveaway?”

We’re here to help.

In this post, you’ll learn 4 steps to run a successful social media contest or giveaway.

Plus, we’ll share social media contest examples, creative social media contests, and more to get you going.

Let’s get started…

4 Steps to a Successful Social Media Contest

1. Set an objective

How will you judge the success of your social media contest? It could be…

  • New social media followers
  • New product sales
  • More email subscribers

There are a ton of reasons you might want to run a giveaway contest. Start by defining the “success” metric so you can stay focused.

If you don’t know what you’re contest objective is, how will you know if it’s been successful?

When it comes to think about the real, tangible value success will bring to your company.

2. Choose a prize that rocks

Psst. Want to know a secret?

…social media contests and giveaways often fail because their prizes suck:

  • They’re too generic (“win an iPad!”)
  • They don’t excite the audience (“get this FREE lame little pin!”)
  • No one cares enough to enter (“here’s this tiny thing you don’t care about!”)

Want your social media contest to smash your targets?

Find a prize (or prizes) that your niche is super excited about.

For example, here are some social media contest statistics that show just how powerful giveaway contests can be…

We were able to get 6,411 entries from a book giveaway that cost about $60!

Imagine if you had 6,411 engaged social followers on your Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook. That’s worth $60!

Why did this work? Simple:

  1. Our audience is interested in business and marketing
  2. Seth Godin’s books are incredibly well resected in this niche
  3. Entrants know these books (the prize) will help them toward their goals

What does YOUR audience like?

Here are some prize ideas to get you started:

  • Product from your business or niche
  • Consulting call (you can share your tips on something you’re good at)
  • Books that your followers would like

Sometimes, you can even get products for free!

To REALLY make your giveaway successful, partners can help by providing prizes and promoting your giveaway.

If you promise to tag them or mention them in your promotion, sometimes they’ll reciprocate by emailing their list and sharing with their audience across social media.

To get started, come up with a list of 10-15 potential partners and drop them an email about getting involved.

Here’s an example from Julien Marion who used giveaways to grow an email list:

Social media contest giveaway script

Often, the most successful social media contests have prizes that appeal to the lifestyle and passions of your audience.

Once you have your prize (or prizes) in the bag, it’s time to get this show on the road…

3. Set up your contest

“How do I actually set up a social media contest?”

You might think this is the hardest step. But, it’s actually really easy…

There’s a free social media contest platform called KingSumo to help you set up your giveaway in minutes.

Social media contest tool KingSumo

When creating together your giveaway:

  1. Give it a short, snappy title headline
  2. Create some high-quality images/visuals to showcase the prize(s)
  3. Write a solid description to help people understand why they want to win

Here’s a great contest landing page example:

Social media contest tool example

Pro tip: Keep your giveaway contest length short — don’t keep your entrants waiting to know if they’ve won.

This is SUPER important and overlooked by many giveaways.

There’s no magic contest length, but I’d say you want to be aiming for anything between 1-2 weeks to give you time to promote your contest and get enough entries in.

You could even experiment with “flash” giveaways lasting just a day or two.

Anything longer, and people lose interest or forget.

4. Promote your contest

Now you’re ready to go. Your contest is all set up, but how will you get entries?

Here are a few ways to promote your contest:

  1. Offer bonus entries for social shares: This is an awesome way to boost entrants and it’s even baked right into KingSumo, making it super easy to reward people who share your contest with more chances to win.This is also how you grow your social media following! Give bonus entries if people follow you on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter

    Social media contest entries
  2. Message your lists: If you already have an email list, a Slack community, or even a bunch of subscribers on Facebook Messenger, send a message out about your contest. Here’s an example message promoting a contest:

    social media contest prizes
  3. Promote on social media: Your followers on social media are highly likely to be interested in your giveaway, so sharing it to your social channels is a no-brainer.But if you want to reach new audiences, try sharing in Facebook Groups, using new hashtags on Twitter and Instagram. or even finding relevant subreddits to post. Top tip: always make your posts relevant to each audience, just like Sam Jeffries:

    social media contest launch

Pro tip: Check each social network for any guidelines on how you can promote giveaways on their channels. For example, “share to win” contests are no longer allowed by Facebook.

Ready to launch an awesome social media contest?

So there we have it, how to launch a social media contest in just 4 simple steps:

  1. Set an objective
  2. Choose prize(s)
  3. Set up your contest
  4. Promote your contest

And before we leave, here’s one more bonus tip…

BONUS: Ensure everyone’s a winner

Once your social media contest or giveaway is over, announce the winners as soon as possible.

To make even the non-winners happy, the trick is to provide all entrants with something that makes them feel special. This could be:

  • Free download (content upgrade, eBook, or more)
  • Discount code
  • The chance to be entered into the next giveaway for free

For example, in one of our recent giveaways, everyone who entered received a bunch of discount codes just for entering — this way, no one leaves empty handed.

And it drove a TON of sales!

social media contest success

Ready to launch your own social media contest giveaway?

Take the steps outline in this giveaway, and use the free social media contest platform KingSumo to get started!