The scene was immediately intriguing. A mother lay on a bed surrounded by four identical looking babies. The dad holding the video camera made a face that only the babies could see, and all at once they erupted into synchronized laughter. These giggling gals didn’t know it at the time, but they were a part of one of the most lucrative video contests in North America. In 2006 the video, aptly called “The Quad Squad,” won $250,000 and the title of “Funniest Video of All-Time” in long-running, beloved family TV show, America’s Funniest Home Videos. Today, the concept of judging videos has become no less popular, but the process has moved online with the YouTube contest.
A video contest is a great way to catch your audience’s attention and inspire them to interact with your brand in a new and exciting way. To get you started, we created the following guide to running a successful YouTube contest—minus the sleepless nights that giggling quadruplets would bring.
Bonus: Download a free guide that reveals the exact steps one creator took to gain more than 23,000,000 views on YouTube with no budget and no expensive gear.
How to run a successful YouTube contest
Why a YouTube contest is a good idea for your brand
I used to be known for my contest-winning abilities. It seemed like every other week I was winning some challenge or another. It’s only when I realized that I was probably the only person entering to win a Nick Jonas CD or a Lays Chip brand picnic blanket (I regret nothing) that I understood that the number of contest participants matters.
YouTube has over 1 billion users, which could be the number one reason that running a YouTube video contest is a smart move for your business. With that many users, there’s a much greater chance of having high participation numbers. This number isn’t slowing down, either, with the number of people using YouTube every day up 40 percent year over year. Most interesting to a marketer, however, could be the fact that YouTube reaches more 18 to 34 year-olds than any cable TV network in the United States. This highly desired demographic is on YouTube, and engaging with the platform in a way that makes running a YouTube video contest a smart choice for your brand.
Along with prime user demographics, there are numerous ways that running a YouTube contest can be beneficial to your business. A YouTube video contest can help you:
- Reach a large audience. Due to the public nature of entries, you’re not only engaging with the video creators and participants, but those who watch the entries and join in on voting, as well as those who watch from the sidelines without actively engaging (but who are still being introduced to your brand and helping you build brand awareness).
- A great source of user-generated content. People trust people more than brands. By encouraging your audience to create their own content as contest entries you are effortlessly establishing brand loyalty and trust amongst consumers.
- Drive traffic to your site or social media channels. Encouraging users to like or follow your brand on other platforms to gain additional entries is a surefire way to help grow your other social media channels and drive traffic to other online assets, such as a blog or website.
Now that you know some reasons why you should run a YouTube video contest, we’re going to talk about how you can do this in the most effective way possible.
YouTube contest ideas
The idea of running a video contest might seem intimidating or like a lot of work at first, but there are many ways to make the process simple—and the payoffs big. Before you get going on any of the ideas below, make sure you kickoff the campaign with a call-to-action video explaining the rules of your contest and what you expect from entrants. Some ideas for the types of contests you can run include:
- Commenting contest: ask viewers to leave a comment as their entry
- Subscription-based contests: ask non-subscribers to enter by subscribing to your channel (news-focused YouTube channel Complex ran this type of contest to help reach their 1 million subscriber milestone)
- Advocate video contest: invite customers to upload a video of themselves using or talking about your product or service (such as this contest by UGODOG)
- Upload and vote video contest: have users submit their own videos and ask other users to vote on their favorite (Like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson did with his aspiring wrestlers YouTube contest)
Once you have chosen which type of YouTube contest you want to run, you can take the following steps to get your campaign going.
Bonus: Download a free guide that reveals the exact steps one creator took to gain more than 23,000,000 views on YouTube with no budget and no expensive gear.Get the free guide right now!
Tips and strategies for running a YouTube contest
Before you even start thinking about how you’re going to choose your YouTube video contest winner, you need to think about why you are running a contest in the first place. Possible goals you wish to achieve with your YouTube contest might include:
- Driving sales
- Retaining customers
- Obtaining consumer data
- Growing your audience
- Generating leads
A great way to streamline your goal making process is by using the S.M.A.R.T goal-setting framework. This system focuses on creating goals by making sure they are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. For your YouTube contest, this could mean making your primary goal “I want my YouTube video contest to help grow my overall social media audience by 15 percent one month after its completion.”
Follow the YouTube contest guidelines and policies
Nothing puts a damper on a fun contest like having it canceled because you neglected to read the fine print. In order to make sure that you’re running a legitimate YouTube contest, consult YouTube’s contest policies and guidelines.
Some key rules outlined include:
- You must have a set of “Official Rules” which:
- include links to the YouTube Community Guidelines and indicate entries which don’t comply will be disqualified.
- state all disclosures required by all applicable federal, state, and local laws, rules and regulations, including U.S. sanctions.
- are wholly compliant and consistent with the YouTube Terms of Service.
- Your contest must be conducted, and all prizes awarded as outlined in your Official Rules.
- You are responsible for your rules and all aspects of your contest administration.
- You must include a legally compliant privacy notice in your Official Rules which explains how you will use any personal data you collect for the contest and adhere to that use.
- You may not pay a third party or parties to manipulate metrics on the YouTube Service, including numbers of views, likes, dislikes, or subscribers such that those metrics fail to reflect genuine user engagement with the YouTube Service.
These rules are meant to not only protect YouTube, but you and your participants as well.
Pick a relevant prize
You wouldn’t enter a contest, much less go to the effort of creating a video for a YouTube contest if the incentive wasn’t something you cared about. What are the kinds of things your audience members care about? What content do they respond to the most? The answers to questions such as these can give you clues as to what sorts of prizing will get them excited.
Take advantage of social reach
If you are running a YouTube video contest that requires participants to upload a video themselves, encourage them to share this entry with their own social networks. They might need a little incentive, so consider adding this as an extra-entry component to your contest.
For example, give the participants two bonus entries if they share their video to their Facebook pages, and another two entries if they share a clip on Instagram. This ends up being a mutually beneficial arrangement, as the participants get more entries into the contest, while your brand gets increased exposure.
Use the right tools
Once your contest is underway, you’ll hopefully start seeing the entries pour in. The next challenge is to keep track of each entry and make sure things continue to run smoothly. This is where some tools can come in handy.
With YouTube’s integration within Hootsuite, you are able to efficiently streamline your YouTube contest strategy. Through Hootsuite’s YouTube integration, you can:
- Schedule and share videos (such as your call-to-action contest video or your winners announcement video)
- Work across teams to monitor comments and activity (especially handy for a comment to win contest),
- Schedule and share participant videos and entries (from custom search streams)
- Track your results (such as subscriber growth, engagement levels, and traffic sources with our YouTube Analytics app)
The YouTube Analytics App can help you with many aspects of your YouTube video contest. Our post How a Travel Company Drove 2k+ Contest Entries from YouTube on a Small Budget shows how tourism company Contiki used the YouTube Analytics App within Hootsuite to:
- Monitor for contest engagement by setting up streams for the contest hashtag, their videos, and their subscriptions
- Analyze video performance through tracking subscriptions, channel views, and total upload views
- Measure results such as engagement levels, trending content, and playbacks
Running a video contest manually from start to finish is a daunting task, but a smart tool such as Hootsuite Campaigns can make the process painless. Hootsuite Campaigns can help you run a video contest by:
- Letting fans easily upload their videos directly from their mobile device or desktop
- Prequalifying any video before it becomes publicly viewable
- Opening voting for the best video and share the winning videos across your own social networks
Add these tools to your social media toolbox to run the most successful YouTube video contest you can.
Measure your contest’s success
Your contest is only as good as the goals it helps you achieve, so it’s important to measure how successful (or not) it was. Use a tool such as the Hootsuite YouTube Analytics App mentioned above to track numerical results such as subscriber growth and engagement rates. Compare these to your original goals to measure the overall success of your contest.
In addition to analytics, it’s important to reflect on the overall success of your contest. Questions to consider at the end of your contest include:
- Did I choose the right type of contest?
- Did I give my contest enough time?
- Did I target the right audience?
- Did the giveaway provide enough incentive?
- Did I define a clear set of rules? Were they easy to follow?
- What was the biggest obstacle I faced in running the contest?
Thinking about these questions will help you not only see what worked and what didn’t with your YouTube video contest, but help you plan and strategize for future campaigns.
Manage your YouTube campaigns with Hootsuite.