How to Run a Successful YouTube Contest

How to Run a Successful YouTube Contest

How to Run a Successful YouTube Contest

You probably see new contests popping up on YouTube every day. How do you organise one as a brand or influencer? Influence4You reveals all!

Why bother running YouTube contests?

Before you find out how, we’ll explain why you should run contests on YouTube! Most brands or influencers who run contests on YouTube do so not just for the pleasure of treating their subscribers but for other strategic reasons:

  • Boost your visibility and gain new subscribers: YouTube contests are an excellent way to gain subscribers and grow your community on Google’s video platform. If your contest is successful, you’ll have a good chance to boost your views and the virality of your channel.
  • Thank your most loyal subscribers and re-engage inactive ones: you probably already have loyal subscribers on your YouTube channel that’ll be delighted to participate and try their luck in your contest. The same goes for inactive ones, i.e. those who’ve not interacted with you for a while. They may be motivated to participate by a nice prize to win!

So have we piqued your interest? Then let’s get started with the key steps for successful YouTube contests.

Decide on the prizes to be won

This is obviously an essential step! You need to choose the prize you’ll award the winner of your contest, even before determining the rules. The larger and more valuable the prize, the more subscribers and visibility you’ll gain. It also allows you to ask your current subscribers or potential subscribers to take more steps to participate. If you’re a brand, you can offer to win your latest addition, or a gift voucher to be spent on your e-shop or in store to create an event. You can also offer to win an invitation to an event. For tourism and hotel industry players, it can be a great idea to offer a stay at your destination or hotel nights, for example.

The good thing is, you can choose whatever prize you want. If this is your very first contest, perhaps go for a ‘small’ prize so that you can get a feel for it before you try something more elaborate.

Decide on the aims of your contest

Why are you running a YouTube contest? Would you like to gain lots of new subscribers? Do you want to focus on the engagement of your account? To say thank you to your most loyal subscribers? A combination of these? It’s important to know why from the outset as there are lots of types of contests, and your choice will largely depend on your objectives.

We’ll now look at the most popular YouTube contest types, but feel free to choose whatever works best for you. With contests you’ll ask your subscribers to take one or more steps to participate and have a chance to win! The clearer the rules are, the more likely your contest will succeed.

Like and tag friends

The most popular type of contest for both brands and influencers. Here you ask users to like the video announcing the contest and follow your account (if they are not yet following) and that of any partners to participate. Brands/influencers often also ask the user to tag one or more friends in the comments. Users find this type of contest very simple and easy. However, this type of contest does not always guarantee a lot of engagement.

Better comments?

If you want more interaction with your audience, you can include all the previous steps (like + follow + comment) and add a little extra. Instead of tagging a friend to participate, ask them to say what they like about your brand, what they like about your channel, or what product or service they like best. Ask them why they’d like to win the contest. These open-ended questions will further increase your engagement.

Creative contests

Here you ask people to do something creative to win the contest. This may be making a video on their favourite product or under a given theme. For this, we recommend that you create and share a hashtag. This type of contest allows you not just to generate engagement, but also content for your brand or channel!

As this type of contest is more time-consuming than a simple comment, we recommend you pick a prize of slightly higher than average value. Indeed, users aren’t likely to spend a lot of time creating content for a prize worth ten pounds!

For example, as part of an iPhone 12 unboxing video, Supercar Blondie offered her viewers the chance to win 3 iPhones just by tagging 3 friends in her Instagram comments. An effective strategy to boost the engagement of both her YouTube channel and Instagram account.

Contest rules

Have you decided on what you want to offer and what you want to achieve in terms of engagement and content from users? Here are some rules to follow for a successful contest and to comply with regulations.

Clearly state the conditions for participation

  • In your post you’ll need to include clear step-by-step instructions for participants.
  • The time frame of your contest: you need to specify a start and end date.
  • The date of the draw and the date the winners will be announced: to be transparent with your community, we recommend that you include the date of the draw or winner selection and the date the winner will be contacted and announced.
  • The geographical area covered by your contest: does the contest include the whole country? Or just a particular region? You need to make this clear in the rules for participation.
  • Age of participation: even if it seems obvious you should include it. Just a line that you must be of age to participate!

Legal notices

  • Since 2014, it is no longer necessary to file the rules and regulations of your contest officially. However, they must be freely available for consultation by users. You can post it as a comment, or make a dedicated page on your website with a link to consult the rules for participation. You can easily find rule templates on the Internet.

YouTube is not liable for your contest

  • Indeed, you must clearly state in the video description and contest rules that “YouTube is not a sponsor of your contest”. You can find YouTube’s contest policies and guidelines here.

Warn participants about the creation of fake accounts

Many scammers closely watch ongoing contests to deceive other users. The scam? They copy your account, your photos and your posts and contact participants telling them that they’ve won your contest. To receive their winnings, they just have to pay a part of the shipping costs, or so they think. Many users are aware of this now widespread scam, but not everyone. A statement that only your page will announce the winner can prevent this problem.

Choose how you’ll decide the winner

There are two ways of naming the winner(s) of a contest: voting or draw.

Voting by the public or by a jury: This is where you reward the video that the audience likes the most. You can decide this by the number of views for example, or via a jury of professionals.

The draw: This is the most common way of determining the winner. It is quick and easy to set up and can be done with a free app or web tool. However, if the prize has a high commercial value, we recommend that you go through a bailiff to avoid any potential disputes or claims from participants.

We recommend that you state your chosen selection method directly in your contest rules and regulations.

Promote your contest to maximise visibility

Use of hashtags

Using the right hashtags is essential to get the best visibility. Many users follow contest hashtags, to participate in lots of them.

Promote your contest

Do you have other social networks? Now’s the time to use them to promote your contest! Don’t hesitate to use your website as well. Sending out an email to your customer database might also be a good idea if you have one. Finally, if you have a point of sale, don’t hesitate to invite your customers to take part in your YouTube contest!

Wrapping up your contest

Announcing the winner

Has your contest finished? Announce the winner in a dedicated video. This’ll allow people to see when a winner has been decided! Indeed, there is often controversy around social media contests, as many users suspect influencers of organising fake contests without winners or with fake winners to avoid having to pay for a prize.

If you choose an app-based draw, feel free to share the video of the draw directly with your subscribers, to show you’ve done things legitimately. This’ll help you avoid potential problems and gain the trust of your subscribers, both old and new.


Your contest is over, it’s time to take stock! Did you reach your goals? Go to your account statistics to find out exactly how many likes, comments, shares, and new subscribers you gained! If you’ve followed all of our tips, you’re probably very happy with your contest and are keen to organise another one soon!

Retain your new subscribers 

If all went well, you have lots of new subscribers and you’re feeling great about it. Now you need to make them want to stay! That’s up to you! Create your best content, welcome them, ask them what they’d like to see more of and try to keep them.

If you’d like to create amazing campaigns and get help in creating contests for example, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Influence4You, a specialist in influencer marketing and connecting brands and influencers.

Ecrit par Jordan Plummeridge

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