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November 4, 2020 - By Hawke Media

Marketing Mythbusters: Instagram Giveaways

We love the Red Hot Chili Peppers as much as anyone, but when it comes to Instagram, we firmly believe brands should not give it away, give it away, give it away now.

It may seem like you can’t go a day without scrolling by a brand offering awesome product packages to their fans, or influencers partnering with brands for sponsored giveaways. And while giveaways can be a great way to capture new eyeballs by encouraging followers to tag friends, there are some serious downsides.

Here are three reasons why Instagram giveaways can be ineffective.

1- They Don’t Increase Long-term Engagement

When it comes to giveaways, followers are more focused on the “free stuff” aspect than in learning more about the brand. Think of a giveaway as your fifteen minutes of fame – a shortlived burst of excitement that doesn’t ultimately strengthen relationships or encourage longterm purchasing behavior.

Here at Hawke, we offer long-term content solutions geared toward increasing brand awareness and establishing credibility with your audience.

2 – They Don’t Encourage Purchasing Behavior

The Content Marketing Institute argues that your follower base is divided by content subscribers and customers, meaning not everyone that follows your content has the intent of purchasing. Giveaways are a good way to get attention, but aren’t effective for increasing conversions (which is why you rarely see a “link in bio” caption or a swipe up option on giveaway posts).

It comes down to basic psychology. Followers who see something being given away for free aren’t likely to go ahead and spend money on that item (or others, for that matter). If anything, you’re conditioning your followers to expect giveaways and discounts.

Take a look at this marketing funnel which explains the step-by-step process of what it takes to get someone to push the purchase button. You will notice that awareness is way at the top of the funnel – far from conversion.

3 – Giveaway Content Is Often Overlooked (or Not Seen at All)

The Instagram algorithm is not your friend when it comes to giveaways. Only 7% of your followers are actually seeing your Instagram content, and due to the limited time window for entries of a giveaway, some followers might not see it until it’s too late to enter.

This is where partnering with influencers comes in. Working with influencers who share similar demographics with your audience can help widen your content reach and ultimately select a winner of your giveaway. Should you decide to engage in an influencer partnership, make sure you are following specific FTC Guidelines regarding contests and sweepstakes.

But, while partnering with influencers will get your giveaway more reach, it comes with a price.

Check out these helpful tips for how to optimize your posts and outsmart the algorithm.


While Instagram giveaways may seem like an effective marketing tool, it is more likely you will not see a return on investment. Rather than passing out your product like Halloween candy, focus on planting the seeds to truly grow brand awareness by forming real relationships with your audience, educating them and building trust to encourage conversion.