iDumb: Why You Should Stop Giving Away iPads on Twitter and Facebook

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The following conversation is happening in at least 25 offices right now:

Executive: “We need more fans and followers!”

Social Media Person: “Ok, let’s run a contest.”

Executive: “What should we give away?”

Social Media Person: “How about an iPad?”

Executive: “Awesome! Let’s do it!”

Please stop.

Why iPads Are a Bad Giveaway Item

The only good thing about them is everybody wants one for free.

The bad thing about them is everybody wants one.

Is your ideal prospect everyone?

Probably not.

Your Fan Base Is Useless If They’re Not Your Prospects

Let’s go back to Marketing 101.

Do you want to market to everyone? No. You really don’t. You can’t do that in a cost effective way.

Unless you sell air or water or Coca Cola or crappy pop music, most people do not want or need what you offer.

You want targeted prospects. Your fans and followers should be people who are likely to buy what you offer at some point.

You do not want just anyone to be your fan.

Yes, Fan Pages with less than say 1,000 fans are not impressive. Yes you may be insecure about that. Ok fine run an iContest to get above that embarassingly low number. But don’t expect sales from this.

What people who’ve run contests tell me is that they lose a lot of fans after the contest is over.

Take a look at this. Of those who unliked Facebook Pages, 26% did so because they only liked to get a one time offer in the first place.

How Targeted Fans Make You Money

The reason I’m so sure about this is that I’ve seen many clients and students who have free, untargeted fans and very low conversion rates. And I’ve seen people who spent money on Facebook ads getting targeted fans who have made profits (with ROI’s from the ad spend of 300% to 6500%), sometimes even with fan bases of fewer than 500 people.

Year after year, marketers have told us that the “house” email list is the highest ROI marketing channel. And people who buy third party lists often get dismal results. Why? Because the house email list is people who are so interested in what you offer, they’ve volunteered to let you email them.

Fans and followers are “owned” media just like an email list. So make sure the fans you “own” are quality prospects.

How To Choose a Better Prize

Why not give away one of whatever you sell?

Or create something that helps people get the first step along the way toward whatever your service helps them achieve?

Good incentives have the following traits:

  • Relatively cheap for you to give away or create
  • Further qualifies people as prospects for what you offer
  • Arouses interest, curiosity, fear – really, any emotion helps

Photo attributions:

Brian Carter
Brian is author of The Like Economy: How Businesses Make Money With Facebook and Facebook Marketing: Leveraging Facebook's Features For Your Marketing Campaigns, How to Get More Fans on Facebook, and LinkedIn For Business: How Advertisers, Marketers and Salespeople get Leads, Sales and Profits from LinkedInBrian has 12 years experience as a freelance consultant and digital marketing agency director. His hands-on business experience, cutting edge insights, background in improv and stand up comedy culminate in a keynote speaker, and social media trainer who leaves every audience not only entertained, but armed with powerful strategies and tactics.
Brian Carter
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  • Kristi Hines

    Hey, don’t encourage people not to give out iPads – I’m still in the market to enter every contest out there until I win one. ūüôā

    Seriously though, some businesses might do better if they give away access to their product or service for a limited time, like three months free premium membership to a tool. That way, the person who wins it gets hooked on it, writes great reviews about it, and eventually will start to pay for it because after that free membership, they will be hooked!

    • Zippy Cart

      Kristi – I like that idea – giving away the product or service free for a short period of time. If someone is your fan they are already primed to use it anyway. Like you said: once someone has been using the service, they’re likely to keep using it, either because they are hooked, see the value, or just forget to cancel. Either way, it’s money in your pocket and a user out there (hopefully) championing the brand. I’m a fan of contests with multiple winners/tiers of winners, and that feature ways to reward increased activity (eg on a site or Facebook page, or by recommending something) to increase a user’s chances of winning the contest. Let the most dedicated fans earn something with their love and dedication!

      • Anonymous

        Teh idea is fine.  It’s like a those timeshare deals but instead of a cheap vacation you get a possibility of an ipad.  0n line dating Whats not to like about that?

    • Amazon Coupons

      This idea is also so old and many people are earning from this method and this is work when you launch some attractive thing or product.So it works but with good strategy.

  • Alyasha

    I personally think ipads are old news…they should really start giving away new cars so I can enter and win one…Free new car why not? But will I be interested in their product after I pick up my new vehicle from them? No Thank you…Now as Kristi mentioned , if they offer me free software trial and I like it I wouldn’t mind paying for it after trial expired.That will gain them new customer.I agree 100%.

  • Priit Kallas

    Great article, Brian! I have advised our clients to use prizes that are closely related to their products and services. This can be a big discount hoping for repeat business. Or free product that has value only to prospective customers. We had a contest for laser eye surgery and the prize was… laser eye surgery, doh. The value of this prize is thousands of dollars but you will not click like to win if you have 20/20 vision. Thanks for mentioning my post.

  • Moosa Hemani

    on a first hand my thought are more like Kristi Hines as i didn’t win any one on the internet!! ūüôā although there are much competitions going on in the market that offer FREE Ipads (my bad luck may be)

    But, to be honest i really love the idea and thought you come up with… i mean suppose you have a competition and your target audience are 5 till 9 girls then it is probably fool to to gift them base ball bat or a cricket bat… its always nice to offer them Barbie or anything pink… (Just a thought)

    same goes here Ipad is common and by this you might not get your targeted followers that you are looking for instead of this offer a gift that fits your niche so that targeted people can participate…

    Once again a thumbs up to an Awesome thought!!

  • Yousef

    In UK such competitions can be against ASA Guidelines which could mean huge slap on the wrist.

  • Info

    Makes sense… these giveaways are a real feeding frenzy and if done right can create fans for life! Or at least for a while. Great insights. Thx!

  • Deal Jones

    Social media sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, allow you to connect with other people with a greater presence and in less time than doing it in person.

  • Marilyn

    This article may make sense to the contest sponsor, but as a consumer, I really want to win an iPad. It is that simple. I will spend my time on sites that offer them as prizes.

    • Brian Carter

      Yes but will that make you more likely to buy from them? Of the companies whose contests you’ve entered- if you had never bought from them before, have you bought from them now?

  • Meri Kuusi-Shields

    Not sure if this article is against handing out iPads or against all social media related drawings in general. Discount coupons and drawings are used all the time in Facebook by large companies, so clearly there is connection between trying to get people like your company by offering incentives. In a marketing budget handing out an iPad is not that much money so the question is how to get ideal targeted fans/likes. Facebook ads are a good way since they allow setting the targeted segment quite precisely according to region, age, education and even a company. If a drawing seals the Like from a potential customer or target audience, then there probably is no harm if the drawing is otherwise elegant.

  • freelance writing

    Great post! Thanks a lot.