THE TRUH ABOUT GIVEAWAYS - Strategy & Expectations

(Please keep in mind a majority of THB influencers are located in America so the examples given are related to American statistics. You can apply this knowledge towards any demographic for reference)

Giveaways are an incredible way to grow your brand fast, without abusing it. They are endlessly controversial and for good reason. If it took me 3 years to gain 100k and a serial giveaway participant gained 100k in only a few months I’d probably be pretty pissed about it. Additionally, brands have started to look for signs of serial giveaway participants but only because there is so much abuse in the industry.


What do I mean by abuse?

Host abuse is plain and simple. Random people coming out of the woodworks because they heard influencers pay for giveaways and then prey on industry fears by promising loads of followers, only to host a completely fake giveaway and purchase followers. I’ll be sure to elaborate on how to choose the right giveaway host another time.

However, most of the abuse comes from influencers themselves. We are in an industry where paychecks depend on how many followers someone has. So yeah, the faster you grow, the more money you’re going to make, theoretically speaking. However, quality giveaways are expensive because quality sponsors are expensive. There is a real math behind what needs to be paid to enter. Not a lot of influencers know that and are simply shopping for the lowest price, highest gain.

A huge push on follower growth is turning our community into follower-hungry-beasts that are continuously feeling let down because expectations aren’t being met. We are seeing it happen a lot at THB because influencers are trying to operate a business solely built on a giveaway audience. Giveaways are meant to work as a marketing strategy, not a business strategy.


First thing, quality sponsors are expensive to hire.

You can calculate by adding the average rate per million followers of the sponsor, engagement of the sponsor and prize. The low end cost per million followers is $10,000 and that’s with low engagement. Find an influencer with excellent engagement and a niche audience and you’re looking at $15,000 - $20,000 PER MILLION followers. Now, give that sponsor a niche audience in the USA and the rate will get even higher. Good for them, they are KILLING IT!

However, one of the biggest downsides to USA sponsors is that the gains aren’t as high for the high cost. It’s not because their engagement is off or their audience is fake etc. It has a lot to do with the socioeconomic factors of their audience and how desirable the prize is. For example, a common giveaway prize is an iPhone. About 80% of the US owns a smart phone but outside of the US there are billions of people that can’t even afford food, let alone the new iPhone. So, when an international celebrity hosts a giveaway, not only is their rate typically cheaper but their followers are dying to get their hands on what most of us consider a common luxury. Some international giveaways are about half the cost of USA giveaways and the gains are 2 - 3x as high.


Financially, international giveaways are better bang for your buck but if you live in the USA this can completely kill your audience demographics if you’re not careful. Brands care a lot about your demographic but that doesn’t always mean your a shoe-in for every campaign, even with perfect stats. Factors like your content quality, voice and overall aesthetic play a huge part in campaign selection. Having a quality audience is just one of the factors.

I agree that it’s certainly beneficial to garner a solid USA / Female audience, but don’t be blinded by that or else you can really box yourself in and miss out on the bigger picture. There are some countries, per your specific brand, that can be beneficial to you.

Step outside yourself and everything you’ve read online for a second. Especially if you are a fashion influencer, gaining new audiences in different countries IS NOT BAD. Put yourself in a brands shoes, if they are looking to make sales, maybe do a simple search on their site and see where they ship to. You’ll notice a lot of fashion brands ship world wide or ship to North America! FYI Canada and Mexico are in North America and have huge fashion scenes. Not to mention, most of the big USA fashion influencers are asked to attend international Fashion Weeks each year! The best international audience for Fashion is France, Sweden, Canada, Australia, United Kingdom, Italy and Mexico.

Is your content meant to generate sales or are you an inspirational account? Many luxury accounts are not meant to be shopped by their followers. I mean, who wouldn’t love to go to Chanel and Celine weekly? It’s just not in the budget for everyone. Take into consideration that the average person can’t afford to buy luxury goods and, if your business model is going to depend on sales to survive, it’s time to strategize the best marketing method for your business to grow. If you have an inspirational account, broadening your audience is not a bad idea to gain popularity - many companies pay for brand awareness with luxury accounts.

On the flip side, if your content is SUPER SUPER niche, expanding to an international audience isn’t right for you at all. It honestly depends from person to person. For example, if you only create beauty content and you live in the USA it would behoove you to focus on only USA because there are specific import / export laws that restrict certain cosmetics from being shipped internationally - it’s a whole FDA thing. Otherwise, think of how your brand can benefit from expanding. Brand growth isn’t linear for anyone!


So now that we’ve dissected the price and audience aspect, abuse from influencers begins when they just go ham on international giveaways that don’t make sense for their brand. Expanding your audience is good. Recklessly growing an audience is not good. There are thousands of programs on the internet that can show follower demographics on any account. So, trust me when I tell you that just because you don’t post an actual photo on your feed doesn’t mean no one knows about it. Giant spikes and lulls are classic giveaway behavior and easily detectable. A safe growth range is 3k - 4k growth because it will show a steady incline in growth which is what marketers like to see. You can definitely join higher yielding giveaways if your account is naturally growing quickly, it all depends on your natural growth pattern.

Also, take into consideration your natural growth pattern when deciding. As I said, international giveaways are not bad, if done in moderation and with strategy. Take a moment to see how many followers you gain on an average day. If you have 10,000 followers and you grow on average 45 follows per day, that means it took you 7.5 months, give or take, to get there. If you join an international giveaway that promises to deliver 8k followers way outside of your desired audience, you need to consider a few factors. First, that’s almost 50% of your audience, which will really mess things up for you. Second, to regulate your audience to primarily fit your home country demo it will take you about 5 - 6 months based on your normal growth pattern. Or you need to be prepared to invest in a few giveaways with sponsors in your home country to even out the stats. High gains can be a big risk if don’t have a plan. If you choose an international giveaway, make sure the country is right for your brand! Otherwise, it’s a waste of money.


If you’ve made it this far, you need to be honest with yourself. You’re spoiled. 5 years ago, these girls we know now as mega influencers busted their asses off to get where giveaways take you today. Realistically, you’re paying to cut the line so you can never think for a second that gaining followers this easy isn’t going to be the same amount of work to keep up!

Social media has done an amazing job at letting us forget about HUMANITY, in all aspects of the word, and giveaways are no exception. Anyone that claims giveaway results can be guaranteed, is either flat out lying or buying fake followers - both scenarios are BAD BAD BAD. There is no possible way any person, unless they have some super-human-psychic-future-telling-powers, can guarantee another human being is going to follow you. Think about it.

Predict, yes! Predictions are made either from previous giveaway results or they are based on the sponsor’s usual engagement. However, even content from day to day can fluctuate in engagement without any specific cause. It's important to understand that there can be no guarantees when it comes to authentic actions of real human beings. It is within ever person’s right on Instagram to follow / unfollow and choose to engage with someone. No one can be forced to follow so no guarantee can be made. I suppose then it would be social media slavery???

Giveaways are fundamentally backwards from normal, authentic interaction.

NORMAL - Person sees content —-> Makes a decision to follow —-> Follows Account

GIVEAWAY - Person follows Account —-> Sees content —-> Makes decision to continue following

The job of a giveaway is NOT a quick fix. You’re not going to have success overnight from forcing people to follow you. It’s also borderline insanity to expect every person to love your content. We are all very different, with different views on the world, different tastes etc. However, it is a very quick way to get eyes on your content, that’s it.

It’s basically an ad on steroids, but way more successful. Do you know how ads work? Sometimes they don’t work at all. That happens everyday, with every type of marketing technique, it’s trial and error. Imagine google ads or a local billboard company guaranteed people would love and buy a product if they bought ads? They would be out of business!

I hate to say it but the best way to describe giveaways are to relate them to gambling. They are incredibly addictive, the idea of winning big is what everyone pays for. You’re putting money down based on the odds (the following and engagement of the sponsor) and hoping to win big (get followers to stick).

All you can ever expect from a giveaway is to get people to see your account easier and faster than usual. THAT’S IT! I’m not downplaying the service it all, it is by far the best way to quickly achieve your goals faster than other techniques but if you think you can sit back and gain success from just entering you’ve got it all wrong. The most important part of a giveaway is strategically introducing yourself to a new audience that didn’t choose you and getting them to stick around. Strategize about the type of content you push during a giveaway, it’s time to SELL YOURSELF and get your monies worth!