Giveaways – Part 1 Interview With Justin Germino

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So I have been working on giveaways (not contest) as you will soon learn why on my sites/blogs. So what do you do when you don’t have all the answers on something? You ask questions! So lately I have been talking with Justin Germino who runs (go ahead and check it out). I have been studying his methods of mastering giveaways even more than I have done in the past. I hope you enjoy this interview on giveaways :)

Do you prefer PunchTab or RaffleCopter? Why?

RaffleCompter Vs PunchTabJustin: Punchtab right now, the reason is because Punchtab validates the entry as part of the action to do it. Rafflecopter anyone can click I Did This without actually doing the entry, which can cause thousands of false entries. Punchtab also offers more features for free, like Referral link (unlimited) which Rafflecopter requires a monthly fee for. I do however like the custom entry method of Rafflecopter and this can be valuable in select situations.

Garen: I do like Punchtab as I have had more success with it. I should also note that for giveaways they have changed the way you can promote Google +1 as the old method violated Google’s policy. (this is information I learned from Justin, so I shouldn’t get credit for it.)

Do you use JustRetweet or EasyRetweet to promote your contest?

Justin: I use both, I have found that EasyRetweet tends to get more shares, but both get a few extra retweets. That being said, investing funds in something like SponsoredTweets can get you more of a return than EasyRetweet or JustRetweet and you get to approve and hand pick who you want to share your giveaway. I have seen a lot of success promoting with SponsoredTweets from IZEA, if you want to try it out, use my link for referring you! is my link.

Garen: Wow, I have been testing out SponsoredTweets and have to say I am loving it. Was kind of confusing at first, but I think I am getting the hang of it. Also, make sure you check out this post Justin wrote on SponsoredTweets:

Now I know from our previous conversations on Facebook that gadgets are hot giveaways? Do you have any tips on how to get more people participating in our contest?

iPad 2Justin: Tablets are big time, I had almost as many entries in a $199 Google Nexus 7 giveaway as a Lenovo Laptop giveaway where the prize was $600, the entries were only 10k less, so the ROI was much better since the prize cost less. I also see good return on investment for PC accessories and other gadgets, gaming consoles…etc. The key to getting more entries is making sure more audience can use the prize.

Garen: This seemed fundamental, but I guess I over thought this one. I have a lot of connections with web hosting sponsors and was going at it the wrong way. Giving something that everyone can use is much better than something only a limited number of people can use. Believe me this interview made me change the whole way I approached giveaways!  Big hint go to Google trends and find out what’s hot!

What is the biggest mistake you see people making with contest or giveaways?

Vital MistakeJustin: Calling giveaways a contest, this is a legal issue. A contest cannot have a random winner and must have clear methods one can follow to WIN the prize. Giveaway and Sweepstake are interchangeable and indicate that there is a random winner, no manual steps or method that you could do to assure winning. Another is making sure the terms and conditions are clear, using proper terms of service and specifying who giveaway is eligible for is important. You shouldn’t make any giveaways have mandatory entries, this could be a violation of U.S. law and is subject to interpretation you don’t want to deal with, all entries must be optional no mandatory entry method, giveaways that make you follow or like a fanpage can be a conflict in Facebook terms of service as well and I have read about several giveaway bloggers having their entire fanpages with thousands of fans being shut down for violating FB terms of service.

Garen: Oh man, I should probably jump out of a window or off a cliff! I have been calling my giveaways contest for years! I had no clue that there were such legal matters that could get your Facebook page shut down. That would be a dark day for me if that happen! I will be switching this up for sure!

This is just part one of the interview with Justin. I will be posting the second part which will address some more vital information about running a giveaway. So far, your head should be spinning with ideas as mine always is!  In the meantime check out this post on giveawys by SEOmoz. What other questions do you have about giveaways. Keep in mind that the part two part of this post will cover actions for giveaways, paid scripts, finding sponsors or working with sponsors, and the vital tip for contest. Thanks so much for your time Justin, and all my readers!

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  • Justin Germino

    Thank you for showcasing my article, I too used to call my first giveaways contests and was making that big mistake until a giveaway company service corrected me that I was calling them wrong. This is another reason why I like using Punchtab or Rafflecopter they have an excellent default Terms of Service or Contest Rules and you can clone them and just tweak if you need to.

    • Garen Arnold

      Hey Justin,

      Right after this post I changed my Fanpage custom tab to giveaway vs contest, just to be on the safe side. I have heard of people putting a call to action on the cover photo on FB, which I believe violates their TOS.

  • Holly Jahangiri

    I’m a little confused on this “can’t make an entry method mandatory” bit – I thought that for giveaways/sweepstakes, you simply could not make anyone incur a cost, buy a product, or make a donation? (That would then turn it into a “lottery,” which has different rules under various federal and state gambling statutes.) That to be a “sweepstake” there had to be a way to enter (at least once) simply by providing contact information. You could require that they send that to you on a 3″x5″ index card (and pay postage to the postal service), but cannot give one method of entry a greater chance of winning than any other. It’s all very complicated, which is why contests are somewhat easier to run.

    Plus – not only are there legal issues and TOS issues, as you point out here, but contest/sweepstakes laws vary from state to state, and no doubt from country to country. For example:

    Contests are somewhat easier to run, I think, than sweepstakes. Of course, the winner CANNOT be chosen at random – there must be some sort of skill involved, and you must choose a winner based on it.

    There are law firms whose primary focus is on keeping you out of hot water when you run a sweepstake or contest, so you can imagine how complicated this CAN be, and what a nightmare if challenged.

    • Justin Germino

      This is why I would always use a service like Punchtab or Rafflecopter and rely on their default ToS where possible. It adds that element of a bigger company doing the research for compliance than you trying to tackle it yourself.

      For the mandatory entry method, this is a Facebook ToS violation specifically, not a legal one that I am aware of. This is why about 20 Facebook fanpages were terminated after doing this with a Rafflecopter giveaway.

      • Holly Jahangiri

        I was referring to this statement, Justin: “Finally, any giveaway where you make an entry method mandatory is a violation at least in U.S. law, all entries must be optional no mandatory entry method…”

        If that’s to be believed, then I don’t actually have to do anything to get something. Which doesn’t make much sense to me – I’m confused as to what you mean, here.

        This is from 2006, but probably still a pretty good outline of the legal issues and differences between contests, sweepstakes, giveaways, and illegal lotteries:

        I suspect if someone challenged your giveaway or contest, PunchTab or Rafflecopter would hang you out to dry in a heartbeat, but would expect you to indemnify them against all comers. What do you think?

        • Justin Germino

          Sorry I realize this is out of context, but it is true, as sweepstakes must have no purchase necessary you must also not disallow anybody. So there must be an entry method anyone can enter, since not everyone is online, this is why Punchtab allows for postcard mail in.

          You can have multiple methods, but if Facebook Like is the mandatory entry before allowing other options, this is actually a violation from what I have been told. Because no matter what anybody should be able to enter if they fall under the age/origin eligibility. Mandatory Facebook would exclude people who don’t use Facebook, same for Twitter…etc so anything that does exclusion is not open fair to all participants and is the violation.

          I did further research and other than a company telling me this, I can’t find any documentation or legal info exactly about mandatory entries in Sweepstakes, as you are right email entries can be mandatory in many sweepstakes. So maybe I should retract that statement @Garen, since I can’t confirm that legal statement can you change it to just say beware of risks when using Mandatory entries?

          • Holly Jahangiri

            Facebook has very specific rules and many people break them – even after being made aware of them.

            See Section E, particularly. But that is Facebook’s TOS; the worst thing Facebook’s likely to do is shut down your page, possibly your personal account, and ban you for life.


          • Justin Germino

            Imagine with all the effort it takes to build a fanpage and amass tens of thousands of followers to instantly lose those years investment by making a mistake in a giveaway. Not worth the risk!

          • Garen Arnold

            Sure I will make the changes right away :)

        • Justin Germino

          In the own article you sent me, this part:

          Requiring a store visit can also be problematic, depending on the state, and the type of visit. In Ohio, if the primary purpose of the store visit is to enter a sweepstakes, such a visit is considered consideration and sponsors must provide a method of entry that does not require a store visit.

          Would be the type of mandatory entry that is not allowed, I was being broad in my mention of don’t require mandatory entries.

          Also if there is a legal dispute, one about the terms of the contest and you are using the default template I think it would help ones case to deflect, as did the cases where Patent disputes went after the companies that used HP and Lexmark Scan to Email function, and the companies deflected to the actual manufacturers of the multi-function printers since they are just using the product/service of another company. Not saying it would work or always works, but gives more stand.

  • Donna Merrill

    Garen, thanks for having Justin explain how to run a contest.

    I kept away from this because it was another learning curve and plus, I’ve wondered about the legal aspects of it.

    There were so many times I was tempted to run one. Now I have a clear understanding of how it works and what and what not to do.

    Thanks Justin

    • Garen Arnold

      Hey Donna,

      Yeah contest are great. Been getting better and better at them. Learned a lot from Justin. Gonna giveaway a tablet next month on hosting review site.

  • Heru Prasetyono

    Running a giveaway can be one of some good options the bloggers can do to generate mass traffic and keep good relationship with customers or visitors. Very good posting. Thank you for sharing this conversation.