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Step by Step Instant Win Contest Guide

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Hashtag contests are highly-engaging marketing campaigns that can be easily entered by your followers on Twitter and Instagram - all it takes is a post.

On Twitter, people enter your contest by posting using your selected hashtag, while on Instagram they enter by posting using your selected hashtag and @handle. You can limit entries to one per person, allow people to enter as many times as they’d like, or anything in between. Display the entries on a landing page for viewing, voting and sharing. Then, once your contest is over, pick a random winner from all the entries or use voting to determine a winner instead

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Before You Start

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There are a few questions that you’ll want to consider before getting started with your contest:

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What goals do you want to achieve with your contest?
Instant Win contests are a good choice for any promotion where you want to give away more than one prize; whether the prizes are the same, or you have a variety of items to give away. If you’re looking to gather leads or other general information about your audience, an Instant Win contest will help you collect that valuable data.

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What data do you expect to collect?
Since you’ll be collecting the information about your entrants via a form, you can customize your form to collect almost any data that you’d like.

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What entry requirements should you include?

You can ask for as little as a name and email address, or you can get a lot more in-depth and ask for other pieces of info like demographic information or birthdate. Our Form Widget help doc goes over all the different types of fields you can use when setting up your form.

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In this guide, we’ll walk you through running a hashtag contest from beginning to end.

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STEP 1

Build Your Landing Page in ShortStack

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The beauty of building an Instant Win campaign is that you have a lot of flexibility when it comes to the structure of your contest. Instant win can be the main highlight of your campaign or the instant win feature can be only part of the giveaway. You’re able to easily add a voting component, or you can have a grand prize drawing at the end of the contest where all the entries are eligible to win (in addition to anything they may have won instantly). The Campaign Builder has all the building blocks you need to build the exact campaign you want to run.

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Here’s how to quickly set up a landing page using ShortStack’s Instant Win Giveaway template: 

  1. Log into your ShortStack account.
  2. Click on the blue Campaign button at the top of the Dashboard to start a new campaign.
  3. The Template Gallery will open. In the search bar in the top right corner, type instant win.
  4. Hover over the single result and click the blue Use This Template button. You can also click here to get started with this template.
  5. Add a name and any tags for your campaign in the fields provided.
  6. Your campaign will now open in the Builder.

    Note: The template doesn’t automatically have the instant win feature enabled; we’ll tackle setting that up in the next step.
  7. You’ll see that this template is organized into two main containers: the Giveaway Container and the Giveaway Over Container. To start, you’ll want to edit the visibility of each of these to correspond to your contest dates. For each, click on the container in the Edit Widgets Panel on the left, then click the Edit icon (the pencil).
  8. In the widget settings pop up, click Visibility on the left.
  9. In the visibility section, you’ll change the dates during which your container will be visible. Set this for both containers.
  10. Click Save & Exit to close the pop up when you’re done editing.
  11. Within the Giveaway Container, you’ll see two other containers — one named Winner Container and one named Non-Winner Container. Each contains an Image Widget, Rich Text Widget, and Share Widget. These containers include the messages that display to your winners and non-winners. Use the Builder to swap out the images and customize the text.
  12. Further down, in the Giveaway Over container, update the message that displays when the giveaway is over.
  13. If you want to add fields to your form, you’ll need to access the Form Designer. Click on your new Form Widget, highlighting it, then click the Design Form icon in the top left corner.

  14. Make any needed changes to your form, then click Save & Exit. For more information on setting up your form, check out our Form Designer help doc.

  15. From there, you’ll use the Builder to change the text and design of your landing page. When you’re ready to publish, click Publish Campaign at the top.

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Note: If you need further assistance with the basics of setting up your campaign using the Campaign Builder, check out our Getting Started with ShortStack and How to Use the Style Panel videos on our YouTube channel.

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STEP 2

Add Instant Win to Your Form Widget

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Now we’ll enable the instant win feature in your Form Widget. This is the same process whether you’re using this template or any other, or if you’re building a campaign from scratch.

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Follow these steps to set up Instant Win in your Form widget:

  1. In the Builder, you’ll need to access the Form Designer. Click on your Form Widget, highlighting it, then click the Design Form icon in the top left corner.
  2. Once you have the Form Designer open, click on the Instant Win tab at the top.
  3. Then, on the right, you'll see the settings for instant win. Set the Enable Instant Win toggle to Yes to activate instant win on your form.
  4. Once you've clicked the checkbox to activate instant win, there are specific settings that you'll want to adjust for your contest:
    1. If you’re on the Agency Plan or higher, you can set the Use Unique Codes List for Prizes toggle to Yes which opens a prompt allowing you to upload a list of unique codes to automatically divvy out to each of your winners. These can be coupon codes, prize names, or just internal codes used for your own tracking purposes.
    2. Update the Total Prizes Awarded field — this is the total number of prizes that you'll be giving away during the course of the Instant Win contest. The system will disperse these prizes and spread out the winners so that the prizes aren't all given away right at the beginning or end of your contest.

      NOTE: Codes/prizes are randomly timestamped so that no one will know exactly when a prize is available. This makes prize distribution fair to everyone who enters the contest.

    3. Set the Start date and End date of the instant win portion of your contest; these dates should correspond with the visibility settings you established in Step 1 of this guide.

    4. Set the Time Zone for the contest using the dropdown. By default, the time zone will be set to the time zone established in your account settings. However, if you'd like to change the time zone (for example, if you're building a contest for a client in a different area), you'd change that using this dropdown.

    5. When you export your entries, each entrant who won will be marked with a special label — set that label using the Winning entry label field. By default, the platform sets that label to "winner," but you can customize it to any label you'd like. We highly recommend using a unique label, as it makes finding your winners extremely easy when the contest is over.

  5. Once you’ve got all the instant win settings tweaked to your liking, click the Save & Exit button at the bottom of the popup.
  6. If you’ve published previous to setting up instant win, you’ll want to click the Publish Changes button in the top right of the Builder to push your changes to the live campaign.

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STEP 3

Promote Your Contest

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There is no shortage of ways to promote your contest. Get creative and have fun with it! Here are a few examples of how you can get the word out:

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Instagram Stories
Show off a fun photo or video in Stories to highlight the hashtag or drive people to your landing page. Stories are super popular and they are a quick way for you to get more eyes on your content. You can even link to a post that contains your contest details and rules so people can get up to speed quickly.

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Your Website
Leverage your website traffic to drive visitors to your contest. You can even embed your contest in your website so that everything is in one place.

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Other Social Media Channels
Social media marketing to the rescue! Share the link to your landing page on your other social media channels. If someone follows you elsewhere, there’s a good chance they’ll follow you on Twitter or Instagram (and it’s very likely they’ll want to participate).

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STEP 4

End the Contest and Pick a Winner (Optional)

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If you have decided to up the ante in your contest and have all submitted entries eligible for a grand prize, or if you’ve added a Voting Widget to determine a grand prize winner by number of votes, you’ll have a little more work to do at the end of your contest. Here are the steps:

At the designated time that you’ve determined, make an announcement that the contest has ended. (This is an optional step, but it never hurts to be abundantly clear in your communication.) You’ll likely want to unpublish your landing page (if you’re using one) at this time. To do so:

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End your contest

  1. Log into your ShortStack account.
  2. Open your contest in the Builder.
  3. Click on the blue banner icon in the top right corner to open the Publication Panel.
  4. Click the trash can icon to the right of the publication name to unpublish the campaign.

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Select your winner(s)
If you’ve decided to pick a winner at random, you can use the Entry Picker to select a random entry from your list. Here’s how:

  1. Log into your ShortStack account.
  2. Click on Lists at the top of your Dashboard.
  3. Find your list (it should have the name you gave it when importing the entries), then click on the number of entries just to the right of the list name.
  4. This will open up the Entries Manager for your list. Click on the Choose Winner(s) button in the top-right to open the Advanced Entry Picker.
  5. Enter the number of entries you’d like to select in the field provided.
  6. Select a unique label and add that in the associated field, hitting Enter/Return after each tag. If you don’t supply your own, a default of “picked [current date]” will be added instead. This label will be used to easily find your winning entry, so be sure to note what you’ve selected.
  7. Click the blue Submit & Close button.

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You’ll receive a notification when the system is done selecting your winner.
To see your winner(s), simply type the label you selected for your winners into the Label field in the top-left of the Entries Manager.

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Note: For a handy video that walks through the winner selection process, check out: How to Choose a Winner at Random.

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STEP 5

Announce Your Winner

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If you’d like, you can publish a new tweet or Instagram post letting people know that a winner has been chosen and/or announce the winner in the original post.

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Then, reach out to your winner using a direct message on Twitter or Instagram or by email (if the winner came from a form) to get more information from them so you can distribute your prize.

Note: ShortStack makes it easy to send out a scheduled email to all the entrants in the contest you just ended. Check out the How to Set Up Automated Emails video on our YouTube channel for more information.

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 Pat yourself on the back. You’ve now run your very first Instant Win contest! In addition to engaging with your audience, you’ve collected tons of useful information about your followers, and hopefully had a bit of fun along the way. 

We hope this guide was helpful to you! Our blog post, Why Instant Win Giveaways Earn Big Results with Minimal Effort shows how effective Instant Win contests can be.

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Additional Resources

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