How a Business That Had Been on Facebook 2 Years Grew Their Facebook Fans by 200% in 3 Weeks

Learn how Great Lakes used a Facebook giveaway to gain 206,000 entries and grow their Facebook fans by 200%.

By Dana Kilroy ・5 min read
Customer Stories
Social Media

Giveaways are a time-tested method for increasing engagement among a brand’s social media followers. However, hosting a successful giveaway requires a variety of strategies and tactics, which is why some promotions don’t quite live up to their potential.

A successful giveaway can provide valuable insight into your online audience, jump-start conversations with your fans and build loyalty among your followers.

In this case study, we’ll show you how Great Lakes used a Facebook giveaway that resulted in 206,000 entries and helped them grow their Facebook fans by 200 percent in just three weeks. The growth was all organic.

Here’s what you’ll learn:

• How Great Lakes set clear tactics and strategies to reach their goals.

• The research that led Great Lakes to run a targeted giveaway.

• The importance of a relevant prize.

• How Great Lakes continues to communicate with their entrants after their promotion. We’ve laid out the steps taken by Great Lakes that brought the company a flood of entries and 40,000 new fans.Let’s get started.

Step #1: Pick a Goal

Setting defined goals is one key to running a successful Campaign.

Decide: What are the top one or two things (three at the most) you want to achieve?

Here are some common goals we see among ShortStack users:

• Increase brand awareness.

• Promote a new product or service.

• Boost user engagement.

• Gather user feedback.

• Gather user content (photos, video, etc.).

• Develop brand advocates.

• Convert followers into leads.

• Convert followers into sales.

• Grow a social media presence.

Great Lakes’ primary goal with their giveaway was to help their customers learn more about student loan borrowing.

Their secondary goal was to inform users that they could get customer support via Great Lakes’ Facebook Page.

Great Lakes’ giveaway provided them with a portal for educating their customers and answering common questions they receive. Offering a valuable prize was a key component of Great Lakes’ campaign.

“Our goals were to drive more traffic to our website, become more visible to our borrowers, educate them and remind them that they should sign up for a Great Lakes account to help manage their loans,” said Renola Swoboda, a social media specialist at Great Lakes.

The takeaway: Clearly outlining goals will keep you on track through the planning and execution of your campaign.

Step #2: Do Thorough Research

Once you have goals in mind, the next step is to determine the best way to reach them. While giveaways are easy to enter and engaging, they aren’t the only way to attract a wide audience.

When Great Lakes began exploring the options they could use to reach their goals, they went straight to their Facebook Fans and asked them what they’d like to see.

When Great Lakes consulted their followers about whether they’d participate in a giveaway, Great Lakes quickly learned that their idea would be well received.

It’s always a good idea to survey fans and gauge their interest. You could ask:

• Which of these things do you care about most? (List goals)

• Would you be more inclined to enter a Facebook/Twitter/Instagram giveaway?

• Which of these prizes is the most appealing to you?

The takeaway: Surveying your fans will let you know how much effort they’re willing to make in order to enter your giveaway.

Step #3: Pick a Relevant Prize

Offering a prize that has nothing to do with the business is one of the biggest missteps we see with giveaways.A giveaway should always be run with a long term goal in mind. Whether the goal is to collect data for future marketing, to build brand ambassadors or to crowdsource for information you want from your customers.

This means you want the people who are willing to engage with your brand once the giveaway has ended. Great Lakes offered $6,000 cash to put towards a student loan.

The prize immediately positioned Great Lakes as a loan servicer that cared about helping their borrowers pay off their loans, resulting in an outpour of positive posts on their Facebook Page.

The value of prize, offered to a targeted audience, loan holders, resulted in more than 206,000 entries into the Great Lakes’ giveaway.

In addition, fans were more willing to share the promotion with their friends who were also dealing with paying for their student loans.

Using ShortStack’s refer-a-friend feature, 2,697 people referred their friends to the 6K Student Loan Giveaway. Great Lake’s Facebook posts reached more than 150,000 people and more than 20 colleges posted about the promotion on their Facebook Page or websites.

The takeaway: A relevant prize will attract a relevant audience.

Step #4: Keep It Simple

Have you ever started to enter a promotion and, after you’ve provided your name, email address, physical address, height, age, interests and spouse’s names, discovered you still have 10 entry fields to fill out in order qualify?

And then said “Ahhhh, forget it!” Great Lakes was smart. They kept the barriers to entry low, but included an optional quiz that entrants could choose to take before providing their first and last name and their email address.

At the top of their quiz was a statement: “Don’t worry. You don’t need the right answers to enter our sweepstakes, we just want to help you build your student loan knowledge.” “We didn’t want to use the sweepstakes as a way to get people’s information; we merely wanted to help them,” explained Swoboda. “When people are more open to receiving information, they’re more likely to read the information we’re sending them.”

Great Lake’s fun and optional quiz was a direct, non-invasive way to start the conversation about student loans on their Facebook Page.

Once fans took the quiz and saw their results, they could easily ask Great Lakes any other questions that came to mind.

It didn’t take long for fans to begin coming to the Great Lakes Facebook Page to get answers to their loan questions. If you remember, this was one of Great Lakes main goals!

The takeaway: The more entry fields you force on your users, the bigger the abandonment rate you will have.

Step #5. Keep the Conversation Going

What happens after your promotion is as important, if not more important, than what happens before and during.

Since your social media presence is ongoing, you should always be thinking of ways to continue engaging with your audience. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to keep the conversation going.

• What’s our goal beyond this giveaway?

• What data can we collect in order to continue chatting with our fans?

• What marketing tactic do we want to use to continue the conversation, i.e., another giveaway, email newsletter, follow-up resources, etc.?

Once their promotion was posted, Great Lakes played an active role in continuing engagement on their Facebook Page and their Twitter account.Since borrowers constantly have questions about their student loans, Great Lakes wanted to make sure they were available to answer as many questions, as quickly as possible on their Facebook Page.Hundreds of fans Liked, Commented and Shared the sweepstakes and were exposed to the additional resources and tips that Great Lakes was posting on their Timeline.

Compared to September 2013, the percentage of fans that had a direct conversation with Great Lakes on Facebook tripled. “During the month of the promotion, we were able to reach out to more than 600 borrowers through social media to communicate with them on some level as a result of our sweepstakes,” said Swoboda. “Before our giveaway, a lot of people didn’t realize that we were on social media and that they could reach out and ask questions or get the type of assistance they’re getting,” she said.

The takeaway: Start with the long-term goal in mind.

The Results: 206,000 entries, 40,825 organic Likes, 626,000 Campaign visits + 3X more than usual Facebook engagement

Prior to this giveaway Great Lakes was pushing valuable content to their Facebook followers but was receiving very little interaction in return.

They had never run a promotion or giveaway of any kind and they were using this giveaway to test the waters.

“This sweepstakes has taken our social media communication to the next level,” said Swoboda. “It exposed us to a whole new audience of borrowers that may not have known we were here to help them. In the end, that helps everybody, which is what we wanted to do,” she said.

By picking a relevant prize, asking their fans what they wanted to see, offering an interactive element, and allowing anyone to enter without forcing a Facebook Like, Great Lakes’ results were entirely organic.

About the author

By Dana Kilroy ・5 min read

Dana Sullivan Kilroy is a communications professional with more than 20 years of experience delivering compelling content. Her work has appeared in national, award-winning publications and sites, including: The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Fast Company, Inc.

Get marketing tips straight to your inbox

Thank you!
Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
We’ll email you 1-3 times per week—and never share your info.