In the first quarter of this year, there have been more than 1,7 million tweets about giveaway (GA). Such a surprising number that proves in this world of capitalism, we still wish something for free. However, there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch, I believe when we get something for free, the commodity is not that thing, but us.

The keywords displayed on Drone Emprit Academy’s word cloud–a free source for social media data analysis hosted by Universitas Islam Indonesia, are not terms of specific topics. It indicates that GA is not only used by particular sectors.

In general, it is designed to persuade people to follow the aim purposed by senders and to spread information that is expected to be a common belief. GA is used for a wide range of purposes, from personal, industrial, to political. Gifts as positive reinforcements are varied in types and values. For example, a small amount of cash or relatively cheap stuff like makeup is commonly given by an individual to increase the account popularity, while corporations and organisations usually give their own products and a larger amount of money to chosen participants. For political GA, the pattern is slightly different. Mostly, the gifts are at low prices; however, the same GA is conducted by many Twitter accounts, which means there are many gift outlets.

Giveaway is a statistical persuasion instead of narrative persuasion. GAs that are conducted by organisations and corporations to promote their products usually use clear and bold messages to convince people. In contrast, the majority of GA rely on tweet engagement rather than narrations. List of most trending hashtags on Twitter stimulates statistical persuasion by encouraging users to tweet the purposed hashtags as many as possible to make it popular. The more popular the hashtag, the higher its chance to be checked by other users. Therefore, the main rules to participate in a GA are liking, retweeting, using mentioned hashtags, and some require to follow.

This new campaign technique often ignores the classic principle of persuasion: who says what to whom. According to Tormala & Briñol (2015), the first key dimension of persuasion is the source, which should have credibility, attractiveness, and numerical status among many others.1 Interestingly, some successful GAs are delivered by unverified and suspicious accounts. They show no personal interaction, patterned tweets, a small total of followers, and display stolen pictures as their avatar, which are indicators of bots. Indeed, source credibility effects on persuasion are more prominent when people are not very motivated or able to think carefully.

So, regarding source credibility neglect, do participants think carefully before joining a GA? Why do GAs without a clear narration and sent by bots work? The next essential factor of persuasion is the recipient. Recipient factors can be stable or situational (e.g., intelligence or current mood, respectively) and can vary along numerous dimensions.2 Intelligent people tend to criticise the information they exposed to. Thus, it is likely difficult to persuade them. The term intelligence does not necessarily mean given thinking capacity, but also the ability to evaluate information based on their learning on experiences. Besides intelligence, various individual characteristics play an important role in regulating it, such as self-esteem and personality.3

Another critical aspect of recipient dimension is the situation. Classic research shows that happiness has been shown to increase persuasion as a result of classical conditioning (i.e., people associating their current happiness with the message or attitude object).4 On the other hand, persuasion also works well under low thinking condition of the recipient as a simple cue.5 Low thinking conditions are related to the psychological resources of the recipient. For instance, a user who is instructed to finish five relatively hard tasks is likely to get persuaded easier than those who do not need to perform the tasks. Consistent with this perspective, GA mention by hours bar chart shows that the highest mention rates happen in the early time, from midnight to 5 am.

Some people may participate in GA for having fun only, or get interested in the rewards. Still, we should keep in mind that some users get screwed by irresponsible accounts. Furthermore, in a collective setting, there is a probability of a fraud motive to raise negative biases or misleading information to hide facts.

[1] Tormala, Z., & Briñol, P. (2015). Attitude Change and Persuasion. In M. Norton, D. Rucker, & C. Lamberton (Eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Consumer Psychology (Cambridge Handbooks in Psychology, pp. 29-64). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/CBO9781107706552.002.

[2] Ibid., 35.

[3] Ibid., 35.

[4] Ibid., 35.

[5] Ibid., 36.

Data acquired and visualised by Drone Emprit Academy