23 Best Giveaway Ideas For Small Businesses

Looking for business giveaway ideas? I’ve got you covered.

Running giveaways can be a great way to generate leads/sales, drive website traffic, boost brand awareness, or grow your email list/social media followers. 

In this post, you’ll uncover 23 of the best giveaway ideas for small businesses (with real-world examples).

Note: You’ll need a social media contest app to set up and manage your giveaway. I’d recommend using SweepWidget as it supports tons of entry requirements and can be used to create most of the giveaways in this list. They also have a free plan 👍

#1 – Photo submission contest

Photo contests are a great way to generate UGC and get people talking about your small business.

The idea is that users have to upload a photo to your site or share it on their socials with your contest hashtag in order to enter the giveaway.

A good way to set it up is to ask users to submit photos of themselves using or enjoying one of your products.

That way, you can reuse the photos users submit as valuable social proof elsewhere in your marketing campaigns.

For example, back in 2015, Starbucks launched its #redcupcontest photo contest to kick off the holiday season:

Photo submission contest Starbucks

They challenged their followers to share their most ‘beautiful and creative red cup moment’, and promised that five lucky winners would receive the uber-exclusive Sterling Silver Starbucks Card.

The result: Thousands of users shared photos of themselves enjoying Starbucks’ seasonal red cup drinks, kicking off a new social trend and generating a huge buzz around Starbucks’ winter selection.

#2 – Video submission contests

Aside from photos, you could also ask your audience to submit videos in order to enter your giveaway.

That’s exactly what Indian food delivery company Zomato did with their #zomatoloot campaign:

Video submission contests Zomato

Zomato realized that their customers were dissatisfied with their YouTube ads, so in a stroke of genius, they decided to turn those complaints into a marketing opportunity.

They offered their Instagram followers the chance to make a YouTube ad for them (under 1 minute long) and promised that they’d actually run the winning ad on TV and YouTube. Plus, the winning submission would also win 25 lakhs, about $30k USD.

But here’s the best part: they asked all entrants to submit their videos by posting them to their feed using the contest hashtag. 

And that meant thousands of people shared creative 1-minute Zomato ads all over Instagram—a huge win for the company.

#3 – Refer-a-friend giveaway

In refer-a-friend giveaways, users are required to tag one or more of their friends in order to enter. 

This gives them a lot of viral potential. 

Your entrants do all the promotional work for you by sharing the contest far and wide, so refer-a-friend giveaways tend to have a greater reach and more engagements than other types of giveaways.

Here’s an example from The Skinny Food Co, which frequently runs refer-a-friend giveaways on its Facebook page:

Refer a friend giveaway The Skinny Food Co

They added multiple entry requirements so that users have to like the post, follow the page, and tag their friends to be in with a chance to win. They also set up bonus entries for users who share the post to their stories. 

#4 – Submit-an-idea giveaway

Submit-an-idea giveaways can be a great way to get your target audience excited about your brand and collect valuable feedback at the same time.

The idea here is to ask users to submit a specific suggestion for your business and reward the winning suggestion with a prize.

For example, you might ask users to submit their suggestions for a new product, brand name, or slogan.

Potato chips brand Lay’s offers a great example of this. Who could forget their iconic ‘Do Us a Flavor’ campaign, which first launched back in 2012:

Submit an idea giveaway Lay_s

As part of the giveaway competition, Lay’s offered users the chance to submit new chip flavor ideas to their Facebook page for the chance to win $1 million (or 1% of the chip flavor’s sales).

Not only did this drive a ton of traffic to their Facebook page, but all the buzz also gave them a serious boost to their brand exposure and loyalty. And best of all, it gave them useful insights into what their customers want from their products as thousands of people offered up their suggestions.

#5 – Caption contest

Caption contests are a really fun social media giveaway idea and a great way for local businesses to get people engaged in their products or service.

In a caption contest, you post a photo to your brand socials and challenge your audience to write a caption to go alongside it as part of the giveaway entry requirements.

The photo can be whatever you want (i.e. your office, your team, your product, etc.) but ideally, it should be something creative or funny to elicit the best captions.

Here’s an example of an Instagram caption competition from online squash coaching business @squashskills:

Caption contest Squash skills

#6 – Voting contest

Voting contests are a unique type of giveaway in which users get to vote for the winner, rather than selecting winners randomly/manually.

For example, if you were running a photo submission contest, you could have users upload their photos to your site and then display each entrant’s submission in an interactive gallery, with the option for visitors to vote for their favorite. And at the end of the giveaway, the submission with the most votes gets the prize.

The New Yorker runs a weekly voting contest in which entrants are invited to submit their captions for a cartoon, and users can vote between three finalists to select the winner:

Voting contest New Yorker

There’s no physical prize on offer, but winners get the honor of having their caption and name printed in the magazine.

#7 – Leaderboard competition

Setting up a leaderboard can be a great way to gamify your online giveaways and incentivize more people to join in.

The way it works is you set your contest up so that entrants can achieve a certain number of points for specific actions.

For example, they might receive 3 entries/points for liking your Facebook page, and earn an additional entry/point every time they refer a friend. The more points/entries they earn, the higher chance they’ll have of being randomly selected as the winner.

Then, you display the entrants with the most points on a public leaderboard so that everyone can see where they stand. 

And the good news is it’s super easy to create a leaderboard competition with SweepWidget. 

Under the Leaderboard & Instant Rewards tab, just tick the Add a leaderboard box. 

Leaderboard competition Add a leaderboard

Then, fill out your leaderboard header and description, and select how many people you want to display and what details you want to include.

#8 – Hashtag competitions

Hashtag competitions are giveaways in which you ask people to post something on social media channels using a specific (usually branded) hashtag. 

Anyone who does so is entered into the giveaway, and winners are drawn randomly.

You can run hashtag competitions on pretty much any social network, but they’re especially popular on Instagram. 

To set up a hashtag competition on SweepWidget, you’ll need to use the Create Your Own Entry option and add the hashtag instructions under ‘What must the user do to enter?‘:

Hashtag competitions What must the user do to enter

You can then verify that they’ve done this by requiring them to enter a link to the Instagram post they shared that features the hashtag.

#9 – Instant win giveaway

Instant win giveaways are a special type of giveaway in which all entrants are guaranteed a reward once they reach certain milestones or complete specific actions.

For example, you could set your giveaway up so that everyone who enters has a chance of being randomly selected to win the ‘grand prize’, but also give them the option of earning additional entries every time they refer a friend.

Then, you could offer instant-win prizes to be unlocked automatically when each user reaches a certain number of additional entries. 

At 5 entries, they might receive a 10% discount coupon for your store. And at 10 entries, you might award them entry into another special draw. You get the idea.

There’s a template you can use to set up instant win giveaways on SweepWidget:

Instant win giveaway SweepWidget

Or you can just start from scratch and click Leaderboard & Instant Rewards > Add locked prizes, tiered rewards, or instant coupons to set it up manually.

#10 – Spin the Wheel giveaway

Spin the Wheel giveaways are a specific type of instant win giveaway that’s a bit more interactive.

They take the form of a widget that you add to your website. Users can click the widget to spin the wheel and win whatever prize it lands on:

Spin the Wheel giveaway Widget

Because everyone who spins, wins, brands who run these types of giveaways typically offer prizes like coupons and discount codes, rather than physical products. 

Aside from being a fun way to engage your viewers and drum up interest in your brand, offering people coupons via a spin-the-wheel giveaway also helps you to drive sales, as those discounts give users an incentive to shop with your brand.

#11 – Secret code giveaway

Secret code giveaways are another unique type of giveaway that’s super fun.

Users have to enter a special, ‘secret’ code in order to enter for a chance to win, which makes the giveaway feel more exclusive and exciting.

To set it up, just choose Secret Code under entry requirements on sweepWidget, then fill out the details. You can choose what you want the secret code to be and give users hints in the instructions.

Secret code giveaway Secret Code

You can get as creative as you want here if you want and ‘hide’ your secret codes for your audience to find in all sorts of places. For example, some Twitch streamers hide secret giveaway codes in their Minecraft servers. 

Or you can just post your secret codes randomly to your social profiles, like Surf Giveaways:

Secret code giveaway Surf Giveaways

This gives your audience a reason to make sure they’ve followed all your socials so they never miss a code.

#11 – Story giveaway

Story giveaways involve asking your audience to tell a story in order to be entered into the draw. 

Humans love telling and reading stories, so these types of giveaways tend to drum up lots of engagement.

Small business @diapereez did this in their Instagram contest:

Story giveaway Diapereez

They asked their audience to follow their Instagram, like the post, and share their cloth diaper success stories in order to enter for a chance to win two of their products.

The great thing about this is that they could, in theory, repurpose those success stories in their marketing campaigns to highlight how well their products work.

#12 – Quiz giveaway

Another way to make your giveaways more interactive is to make them part of a quiz.

Host a fun, interactive quiz on your website (make sure it’s relevant to your audience/niche) and then add your giveaway on the last page. 

You could even set it up so that users have to get a certain number of answers right (e.g. 7/10) in order to enter. This makes it seem more exclusive, which incentivizes people to join in.

Unfortunately, you can’t create quizzes in SweepWidget. But you can in other social media contest apps like Woorise.

Quiz giveaway Woorise

#13 – Influencer-led giveaway

Occasionally, even giveaways with amazing prizes fall flat.

And the reason for that is usually that they don’t reach enough people to begin with, so they never have a chance to go viral.

That’s why it’s important to give your giveaway a promotional push at the start, and one of the best ways to do that is by partnering with influencers in your niche.

Here’s an example from @Loungefly, who partnered with influencer and actor @rosaliechang to promote their giveaway of a Turning Red-themed backpack:

Influencer led giveaway Rosaliechang to promote their giveaway

Thanks to the celebrity endorsement, the post racked up over 14k likes and helped the giveaway to take off and go viral.

#14 – Buy-to-win giveaways

Another great business giveaway idea—especially if your goal is to drive sales—is to offer entries only to customers who buy one of your products.

Big brands do this all the time, but it can work equally well for small businesses.

For example, one of the most successful examples of this giveaway strategy is Mcdonald’s Monopoly—a yearly event in which everyone who purchases select menu items at McDonald’s gets a Monopoly sticker.

Buy to win giveaways Mcdonalds Monopoly

Customers can then collect these stickers to win big prizes. Plus, customers can also win instant prizes from every sticker, and get codes that they can scan in the app for additional chances to win prizes.

#15 – Spot the difference giveaway

This is another fun way to gamify your giveaway.

The idea is to show two almost-identical photos (ideally of your products) side by side in a social media post, with one subtle difference between the left photo and the right photo. Here’s an example from SCS Dairy:

Spot the difference giveaway SCS Dairy

To enter the giveaway, users have to correctly say what the difference between the photos is.

If you want to set this up on SweepWidget, you’d need to select Create Your Own Entry, then add the question and required correct answer.

#16 – Online poll giveaway

Another idea for making your giveaways more interactive is to include a poll.

Ask your audience a question on social media and let them vote between different options in order to enter for a chance to win the prize.

Not only does this help to encourage engagements so your giveaway has a better chance of going viral and getting more entrants, but it also allows you to collect useful feedback from your target customers.

You can also use polls to drum up hype following your giveaway launch to get more entries. This is what @epicgift_giveaway did in this Instagram Stories post:

Online poll giveaway Epicgift giveaway

#17 – News-led giveaway

News-led giveaways are a great way to get more eyes on your campaign.

The idea is to find a trending news story and theme your giveaway around that news story in order to reach more people and boost engagement

For example, during the height of the pandemic in 2020, when all anyone seemed to be talking about was coronavirus, @pharmagel launched a giveaway that they marketed as a ‘quarantine care package’:

News led giveaway Pharmagel

By relating the giveaway to quarantine, they tapped into an ongoing news story and no doubt managed to boost the reach of their campaign.

#18 – Holiday event giveaway

Every month there seems to be some sort of holiday to celebrate: Christmas, New Year, Easter, Valentine’s Day, International Women’s Day, Pride Month… the list goes on and on.

You could increase the reach of your giveaways by theming them around one of these holidays. That way, you can tap into all the additional users searching for holiday-related hashtags on social media.

For example, @jb_cookie_cutters ran a 4th of July-themed giveaway on their Instagram page to celebrate independence day:

Holiday event giveaway JB cookie cutters

The giveaway was a huge success and racked up hundreds of entries and engagements

#19 – Product launch giveaway

Planning to launch a new product? Drum up some hype ahead of launch day by running a giveaway campaign.

Here’s an example from Instagram page @inthestyle:

Product launch giveaway Inthestyle

Ahead of the launch of a new clothing line, they ran a giveaway campaign in which followers could win their favorite pieces from the new collection.

#20 – Nominate-a-friend giveaway

Teach your audience that it pays to be kind by running a nominate-a-friend giveaway.

In this type of giveaway, users can nominate their friends to enter them for a chance to win. The genius behind it is that it taps into the human propensity for kindness to boost engagement.

Here’s an example of this one in action:

Nominate a friend giveaway one in action

@littlemustardclub gives away a club membership every month. But the catch is you don’t enter the giveaway yourself, you enter your friends by tagging them and leaving a comment explaining why they’d like to join.

#21 – Download-an-app giveaway

Another idea is to use a giveaway to get more people to download and sign up for your app.

Just sign into your SweepWidget dashboard and go to Starter Templates > Download An App:

Download an app giveaway Download An App

Then, you’ll need to fill out the details with the start and end date, rules, description, prizes, etc., and link the giveaway to the download page on Google Play or the App Store.

#22 – TikTok dance challenge giveaway 

TikTok is huge right now. 

If you can create a giveaway that goes viral on TikTok, you can get thousands of engagements and millions of views overnight.

And one of the easiest ways to get your giveaway to go TikTok viral is to set it up as a dance challenge.

This is what Chipotle did when they launched the #GuacDance campaign. They promised to give away free guac to anyone who could show them their guac dance, and the results were insane:

TikTok dance challenge giveaway Chipotle

It was TikTok’s highest-performing branded challenge in the US and got over 250k video submissions, and an eye-watering 430 million video views in under a week. Over 800,000 guacamole sides were handed out to challenge participants.

#23 – 24-hour giveaway

Most giveaways run for weeks or months, but 24-hour giveaways can be really effective too.

Because they only run for a short time, users who see the giveaway are more likely to enter straight away, rather than coming back to it later. As a result, they can deliver a much better entry rate and engagement rate compared to longer giveaways.

Here’s an example from artist @janglim21, who ran a giveaway for one of his limited special edition prints for 24 hours only:

24 hour giveaway Janglim21

The post racked up over 2,000 likes and tons of comments, so it was a huge success.

It’s easy to set up 24-hour giveaways on SweepWidget. All you have to do is set the Start date and End date to 24 hours apart under the Basic Info tab.

Final thoughts

That concludes our roundup of the best business giveaway ideas. Give a bunch of them a try and see how things go.

Some giveaways you’ll be able to run without any software. But other types would benefit from using a platform like SweepWidget to do the heavy lifting for you.

For example, if you want to embed a giveaway on your website and add various entry methods like “follow us on Instagram” or “join our email list” – you’ll need a giveaway app to help you.

There are a bunch of good options on the market. My favorite is SweepWidget. It’s easy to use, affordable, and has plenty of entry methods & integrations.

Check out my in-depth SweepWidget review for a full rundown of what it can do (and alternatives).

If one of the goals of your giveaways is to grow your email list, you might also want to check out my guide on how to grow your email list 3x faster using strategic content.

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