Giveaways have become a popular and effective way for brands to increase engagement with their customers, grow their online communities, and collect valuable data. Despite their potential to do all these things, there are a handful of mistakes that can sink a giveaway.

For the four years that ShortStack has been around, I've seen thousands of our platform's users build and host successful giveaways. As for the (small) share of unsuccessful giveaways I've seen, there are five common assumptions that are often to blame:

1. Assuming your followers will do anything to enter to win your giveaway

If you set up too many barriers to entry, you're unlikely to receive the number of entries and level of engagement you want for your giveaway. At my company, I hear far too often about instances where our platform's users and/or enterprise-level clients want to host a giveaway that requires their audience jump through a ridiculous number of hoops in order to enter.

A giveaway's entry method is critical to its success. Make it too complicated and you're effectively slashing the number of potential entrants you can expect to receive by half or more. It won't matter how amazing your prize is. One client my company helped build a campaign for recently was giving away an incredible trip to Europe. The brand was adamant about requiring their entrants first purchase a product from them--a product which cost several hundred dollars. Then, to enter to win their giveaway, the customer had to fill out a long form and upload a photo of their receipt and/or product itself. Despite their prize being amazing, it was too much work and required too much of an investment for most people. As a consequence, the company's giveaway suffered disappointing results.

2. Assuming your followers know how to enter your giveaway

Your followers are smart, but they're not mind readers. It's your job to make it crystal clear to users exactly what they need to do to enter to win your giveaway. It may seem like an obvious thing to say, but this part of a creating a giveaway is actually often overlooked.

There are far too many companies that host giveaways and fail to plainly state the steps users have to take to enter. Or they overwhelm their users with too much information on their campaign, making it frustrating for users to decipher what it is they need to do. The best advice I can give is to design your giveaway campaigns as if your followers are drunk--yep, I said drunk. Let me explain. A couple years ago Will Dayble of the digital agency Squareweave posted a video on Youtube titled "The User is Drunk." Will makes the case that if you design user interfaces assuming yours users are drunk (blurry vision, short attention span, etc.), then you'll be able to make better, more intuitive UIs. I'm certain this idea holds true with designing giveaway campaigns.

3. Assuming your giveaway is so good it'll promote itself

Even if the brand you're representing is Coca-Cola, you still have to put work into promoting your giveaway once it's been built (just take a look at how much effort huge brands make to promote giveaways and you'll see what I mean--they don't leave anything to chance). And I don't mean sending out a couple tweets. If you are serious about having a successful giveaway, you also have to be serious about your promotion game plan.

The least productive thing you can do is rely on your followers and fans to get the word out about your giveaway for you. Most users are reluctant to share a curated message on behalf of a brand. In fact, in one study done by Oli Gardner of Unbounce, Gardner discovered that people prefer to share their email address (good news!) than to publicly tweet about a brand's offering. The results of the study confirmed the hypothesis which stated that, "People are often reticent to tweet about something (usually when it's a personal account where the subject matter may be off-topic with what they usually tweet)."

4. Assuming you can think about the rules of your giveaway last

Rules are often the last thing a contest host thinks about, when they should be the first. Why? I've seen cases where a brand has fully built their giveaway campaign only to discover later that they have to tweak their design and/or giveaway concept to make it legal in their region. To prevent this scenario from happening, it's best to do your research before you start building a giveaway. Here's a good place to start.

5. Assuming your giveaway is over so your work is, too

What many brands fail to acknowledge is that the real value of hosting a giveaway isn't realized until the giveaway has ended. If your giveaway went as planned--i.e., you increased engagement and awareness of your brand and collected loads of data--your real work has just begun. It's time to use your newly collected data to foster relationships via email marketing efforts, make use of all that terrific feedback and/or user generated content you collected ... you get the idea. The point is: your giveaway is a means to an end--it is not the end.

Don't let these common misperceptions about giveaways stand between you and the success of your next giveaway. Simplify your giveaway's entry method, write clear instructions, take responsibility for promoting your effort, write your rules first, and don't stop your work after your giveaway is complete.

Readers, have you ever hosted a giveaway on behalf of your company? If so, what kind of results did you have? Let me know in the comment section below.