This article is one of many follow-ups to our most popular article, The Honest Way To Succeed On Twitch And Social Media – if you love it, please leave comments. We are considering doing video, eBooks, and other content to help everyday folks really figure out social media.. Give us the creative nudge we need and share this forward… Or leave some thoughtful comments to keep the discussion going (to may have mentioned this already)!
Giveaways are something everyone has dabbled with on Twitch. They’re a fairly common practice yet few really know what they are doing. This is not a jab at Twitch streamers, bloggers, or anyone doing business and creating online. Social media is something you just never fully master, even if you have formal education and extensive experience.
A debate I’ve had with many Twitch streamers, including our pals Link & Lily over at Linkwall, is this:
Are giveaways even worth it?
That’s a loaded question because, if giveaways didn’t produce results, people would never do them. So the real issues here revolve around whether giveaways are right for your brand and how you should go about doing them.
My Fun (And Not So Fun) Experience With Giveaways
Once upon a time, I was a partner and part owner over at Social Prize, a company that was poised to take the social media world by storm. Me and Spathizilla turned the platform into something worth talking about. On the surface, it was a giveaway platform like Rafflecopter, Woobox, Offerpop, and whatever else you can think of, but we were building it to be more than that.
Sadly, our vision would take time to bring to life and we came into the business after the company had pissed money away. It’s no fun building up a company when it’s recovering from serious debt and really piss-poor missteps.. But that’s another story for another time.
Being a part of Social Prize and involved with countless giveaways as a publisher, consumer, and product manager made me realize that giveaways really do work.. But most people on social media, Twitch in particular, are doing them wrong because they don’t have that background. There are legal risks, hidden costs, subtle strategies, and much more to consider beyond the simple tactics and tech of merely executing them.
Let’s explore some of the nuances of giveaways together…
Legal Poop About Giveaways, Sweepstakes, And Contests
First and foremost, it is very important to differentiate contests from giveaways because they are NOT the same thing. People often use the terms “giveaway” and “contest” interchangeably but, the bigger your brand, the more dangerous this faux pas becomes. Here’s why:
- Giveaways [and sweepstakes] are supposed to be 100% random or luck-driven. Any performance piece or “purchase” could put you in the dangerous territory of illegal gambling. At the very least, labeling a contest as a “giveaway” would be a failure at managing expectations.
- Contests are performance-driven so the time required to succeed in them is far greater than what you’d see in giveaways. It’s also more easily understood that it’s not a “set it and forget it” proposition for publishers and participants alike; that is, people know there is a need to put in continued effort. Conversely, the notion of daily entries on giveaways often eludes people.
In addition to the aforementioned distinctions, there are legal risks with giveaways, contests, or any sort of social media or marketing promotion. Twitch continues to update their Terms Of Service but this is what they have to say about promotions (i.e. self-promotion and sales/marketing) in general as of March 26, 2015. You are not allowed to…
make unsolicited offers, advertisements, proposals, or send junk mail or spam to other Users of the Twitch Service, including, without limitation, unsolicited advertising, promotional materials, or other solicitation material, bulk mailing of commercial advertising, chain mail, informational announcements, charity requests, petitions for signatures, or any of the foregoing related to promotional giveaways (such as raffles and contests), and other similar activities;
Yet people do giveaways on Twitch all the time. As with any legal jargon, you have to read between the lines. Twitch has been known to say things like “we are in the progress of updating our terms of service” and “we have discretionary power [to do whatever the hell we want]” so be wary of this. There are always rules and laws on the books that don’t get enforced until you ruffle someone’s feathers.
The key to any sort of marketing is making sure you represent your brand properly, manage expectations effectively, and avoid misrepresenting your offerings. In other words, don’t bait and switch people or you may find yourself in the midst of a legal battle. With regards to Twitch, you want to make sure the brunt of your activity is gaming-related (non-gaming content can get you suspended like we did on GeekyAntics TV) and serves their best interests first and foremost; namely, you want to keep their users happy and on their platform.
No Purchase Required. Make sure your giveaway has an easy entry method and an alternative for those that may not be able to get in via conventional means. The bigger the prize, the more important this is. While people are paying with their time and money, make sure they are not actually spending money to earn an entry. There are also rules that vary by state and country regarding the prize value, tax liability, and the like but that information can be found online or via an attorney for little or no money if you’re smart about it.