Why I Won’t Help You With Your “Win an iPad” Contest

Three Winning Stars

I recently wrote an article about Twitter contests at live events where I equated an iPad giveaway to having an Elvis impersonator at your booth.  I’ll leave it to you to figure out why having The King at your conference booth might not be a wise investment. But let me delve more into the reasons why giving away an iPad will most likely detract your business from reaching its social marketing goals.

It Invites The Wrong Crowd 

Did you know that there is noteworthy community of people who enter sweepstakes as a full-time hobby? These prize-winning fiends are called “sweepers” and are way serious. They even have email accounts set up for the sole purpose of entering contests. iPads are a MAJOR score for sweepers — so if you’re doing a good job promoting your contest, they’ll find you, fill out your entry forms, and heavily skew the target market you hoped to attract.

Think about the goal of your contest for a second. Then check out this episode of “Wife Swap” that features a sweeping family. Do you want your iPad to go to them?

It Kills Word Of Mouth About Your Brand

While an iPad contest can certainly provide you with tons of new Facebook fans, these new fans might very well be sweepers or other people simply looking for a nice gift or back-to-school tablet. If they don’t have an interest in your brand, they most likely will “unlike” your page shortly after entering the contest. Worse, they’ll stay on as fans but will hide your status updates from their news feed. At a minimum, these will not be the folks you’d hope would join your Facebook community, regularly “like” your updates, and tell their friends about your page or products.

It Is Expensive

Contests should not be a loss leader for you. They should be geared to either drive sales or provide the potential of future sales. An iPad 2 currently runs for about $400. If you don’t think you can drive more than $400 of business as a result of your contest, think of a more affordable prize.

It Is Illegal

You wouldn’t think this is the case from the plethora of iPad contests around — but it’s true. According to counsel I have spoken with, in addition to the news announced in early 2011, iPads may not be used in third-party promotions. (Note: If anyone knows of a reversal of this rule, please let me know!)

So while an iPad might be an easy and coveted prize, it should take a back seat to a prize that speaks tons about your company and what you offer.  That’s the juicy stuff I like to brainstorm about with my clients. As a marketer, I want my clients and their randomly selected entrants to all come out winning from a sweepstakes.

If you found this post on social media contests helpful, please “Like” it on Facebook or share it with your followers on Twitter!

Photo credit: iStockphoto


One response to this post.

  1. […] do the companies want pinners to “win and run” as I explain in my article on sweepstakes junkies? Neither one is a very sound business practice. So do it right — require the follow — […]


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