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[Case Study] Facebook Hates Giveaways + Where you Should Advertise it Instead

As a former coupon blogger, I am well aware that Facebook has a long list of naughty words. Words that cause the algorithm to trigger a “DO NOT SHOW” flag. Status updates or links that included words like “coupon”, “sale” and “discount” always seemed to compromise my audience reach. I have always wondered however, how Facebook felt about giveaways, after all, they practically encourage you to run these types of promotions on your business page.

The Backstory…

I ran a 12 Days of Christmas promotion for a company called Gsalr.com. We increased our daily status updates from 3x day to 5 per day to promote the contest 2x a day….what I found was absolutely shocking…and validated my longstanding theory that….FACEBOOK ABSOLUTELY HATES GIVEAWAYS.

You can see from the Buffer screenshots below that our reach absolutely tanked each time the ‘giveaway’ or ‘promotion’ was mentioned or linked to. For reference the Gsalr.com Facebook page had just over 11, 000 fans at the beginning of this promotion. According to reports, an average Facebook reach is somewhere around 4.11% which is clearly proven with our non-giveaway updates. However, any time we mentioned the giveaway, promo or even linked to the contest page, our reach absolutely TANKED. Below you can clearly see the average reach for non-giveaway status updates on the page was 644, whereas the average for giveaway posts was only 49!

wednesday-giveaway

Because Gsalr is part of a larger online yard sale network, I tested out linking to the giveaway from another page in their network. Part of me wondered if Facebook just hates it when you link to your own content or if it was giveaways in general. So to test out that theory, I linked to the giveaway from another one of the company’s pages that has has over 14k fans…and the outcome was the same! Any mention or link to the promo absolutely tanked. As you’ll see..the results were the same. The reach of any giveaway related post was 1/10 of the other posts.

ysngiveaway

The screenshots listed above only shows the content for one day, so I wanted to take it a step further and see how the giveaway statuses performed overall during the first week of the contest, as you can see from the spreadsheet below, the status updates relating to the giveaways had the least amount of reach compared to all of the other status updates.

gsalr-stats

Most of the giveaway status updates reached fewer than 100 people, on a page with over 11,000 fans! You will notice the purple highlighting above which shows a $100 Boosted Post we ran, which had great reach and great engagement. I wondered if because I was running a boosted post on the Gsalr Facebook page that it was somehow throwing off the other similar giveaway updates. BUT, that was quickly refuted when I also looked at the stats from another one of their pages, that did NOT have a boosted post about the contest and the results were the same.

12_Days_of_Giveaways_Promotion_-_Google_Sheets

As you can see the bottom half of the status updates with the least reach were almost entirely made up of giveaway links and promos. Whomp Whomp!

Don’t put your all of your eggs in one basket…

The good news is that Facebook was not our only means of advertising, we also employed a virtual assistant to post the giveaway in forums, blogs and linkups. We had some great success with that. Below you will see the analytics of which site brought the most traffic:

contest

The top 3rd party traffic drivers to the giveaway were (excluding the Gsalr site & Facebook):

  1. Online-Sweepstakes.com
  2. ContestGirl.com
  3. Sweepsadvantage.com
  4. Sweepstakesplus.com
  5. Anyluckyday.com

So if you are looking to promote your giveaway, I would definitely start with 5 sites listed above!

Let me recap what I learned by running this promotion on Facebook:

  • Any mention or link to the contest post resulted in a limited reach
  • We did get a good amount of reach and engagement with a $100 boosted post
  • Linking to the giveaway from another FB page resulted in the same low reach
  • Running a boosted post, does not compromise any similar posts on the page

Have you had this same experience? I would love to hear from others! Leave me a comment in the comments section and let me know if you had a similar or different outcome with running a promotion on Facebook.

facebookgiveaway

Chrystie is a mom of 3 kids and wife to one. She's sold 4 blogs in the last 10 years and now helps other women start their blogging empire. Her love for really bad reality TV is only trumped by her love for margaritas without salt. Her other addictions include spray painting everything gold and embarrassing her kids at the bus stop. #thatmom

This article has 18 comments

  1. candy

    I haven’t tried any give a ways yet. This research is very impressive. You put a ton of time and energy into this. Thanks.

  2. Jennileigh

    Great information! Thanks for sharing. I have often wondered why posts are so limited from Fan pages. I haven’t even every had very much success with booting posts to get interaction or results.

  3. Sara

    This explains why I miserably failed the one time I tried to run a Giveaway — Facebook was my main place to advertise! This is really good to know, thank you for sharing your experience :)

    • Chrystie

      LOL! Don’t take it personally…Facebook hates everyone’s giveaways equally :)

  4. Christine

    This is great information that will help me. Thank you so much I did not know about this and I was very interested in reading when I came across your post.

  5. Heather with wellfitandfed.com

    This is very interesting. I have many questions but first of all did you do those spreadsheets yourself or are they from one of your plug ins or programs? They are amazing. This is great information to share. I have always wondered. Now if you could figure out if Instagram has some feelings around these things as well that would be lovely!

    • Chrystie

      Hi Heather! I exported the spreadsheets from Buffer. Buffer has a very nifty feature which compiles all the data and then you can quickly export it into a spreadsheet! Hope that helps :)

  6. Kristin

    I like how you say don’t put all of your eggs in one basket! I’ve seen a lot of giveaways done on ONLY one type of social media and people get frustrated when they fail, doing an all around giveaway works much better!

    • Chrystie

      Yes..it’s always best to spread your efforts. You reach different crowds of people that way too! :)

  7. Jenny

    Wow, that is just crazy!
    FB has been the worst form of social media for me to engage on lately.
    I hate the new algorithms.

    xoxo, Jenny

  8. Becky @ Disney in your Day

    Ugh, facebook. But good to know. Thanks for doing so much research into this!

  9. Shann Eva

    Thank you for the other website suggestions. Facebook drives me crazy. I think I’m finally getting the hang of it, then they change it up again.

  10. Leah

    Interesting! Thanks for all your research! This is great to know!

  11. Denay DeGuzman

    I love that you got straight down to researching this AND sharing your findings. It’s interesting that FB doesn’t like giveaways! But lately even when boosting regular posts the results are often lackluster.

  12. Elizabeth Edgar

    Wow, this is very interesting. It is good to know since I plan to do giveaways with my blog one day. Thank you for the info!

  13. Chrisy @ Homemade Hooplah

    Love all the stats you put together! I knew Facebook was burying my giveaways, but never really drilled down to the numbers of it. Very insightful.
    Also, thanks for the links to the other promote services! I typically use giveawaypromote.com and have reasonable success with them for a $10 boost (maybe 1000 hits?) but more places to promote is always better in my book 😀

    • Chrystie

      Hi Chrisy! I haven’t heard of GiveAwayPromote.com..I’ll have to check it out! Thank you for teaching me something new :)

  14. Raye Social

    I despise facebook for promotion but I love how you organize your post likes/comments. I need to start doing that as well! Also thanks for the awesome list for giveaway promo as I will be starting my V-day giveaway promo soon.

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