hootsuite campaigns contest graphic

How to Run an Amazingly Simple Contest with Hootsuite Campaigns

Social media contests work. If done right. Doing them right is actually quite simple these days. There are myriad apps out there to help you run a “campaign”, contest or sweepstakes quite efficiently. In the past I’ve used Shortstack extensively to run major contests over multiple days with lots of features and huge prizes. I’ve also used WooBox to draw a winner from a large number of comments and shares on a post. Recently I decided to check out the relatively new feature in Hootsuite (aff) called Hootsuite Campaigns to see just what it could do.

What is Hootsuite Campaigns?

Campaigns is a module found in the side bar menu of your Hootsuite dashboard, so it’s only something Hootsuite users will have access to. It is an app/program that will set up and manage a basic social media sweepstakes-style contest or sign-up form for FREE. To access advanced contests such as entering on Instagram or by retweeting on Twitter, you’ll need to upgrade to Campaigns Pro for an additional $35 USD per month on top of what you’re already paying to use Hootsuite.

How to Set Up a FREE Sweepstakes with Hootsuite Campaigns

The set up of the FREE sweepstakes module is quite simple. It’s definitely a lot easier to use than Shortstack, but you don’t have the benefit of all the advanced features Shortstack can offer (the Campaigns Pro version likely offers most of the same features). First you will choose which type of Campaign you want to run.

Hootsuite Campaigns options screenshot

Next you give your contest a name and choose a unique url for web hosting. This name will autopopulate on Facebook when people share it, so be careful what you use here as you want it to make sense as a headline inviting people to enter. Hootsuite Campaigns screenshot

At this point, you also get to choose how to host your contest: on Facebook alone, on the web alone, or both. I recommend both. This allows you the most flexibility on Facebook, putting your contest in a tab on your Page’s menu, but also allows people to enter from anywhere they can click on that unique url link. So, you can run the contest on Facebook, Twitter, email, Instagram, G+ and reddit if you want 🙂 All the entries will go into the same database.

To enable the contest as a tab on your Facebook Business Page, you must connect to Facebook using the button at the bottom, and choose on which Page the contest will be displayed.

Designing your Sweepstakes in Hootsuite Campaigns

Hootsuite Campaigns screenshot

Now you can add all the details that make your contest work: graphics, prize details, terms and conditions, dates, etc. There are a few standard background options (see above), or you can upload your own custom graphics. I recommend uploading a customized graphic if you can. Not only will it keep your branding consistent but when the contest is shared, and the cover photo is pulled in to Facebook, you can have the contest title included (because it’s part of the graphic, not a title added on top as above).

Hootsuite Campaigns screenshot

There are only a few options for data collection in this type of contest. Choose which ones are mandatory, keeping in mind, the less you ask them to input, the more entries you’re likely to receive. You can also choose to allow them to enter by logging in to Facebook as an option.

Hootsuite Campaigns screenshot

By clicking on the edit pencil on that “countdown box” on the right, you’ll open up the window that allows you to choose a start and end time for entries. You can also choose whether or not people can enter only once, or once per day, etc. If you allow people to enter more than once, they are more likely to come back and visit and share the contest again, which will help it grow organically.

Hootsuite Campaigns screenshot

Back out on the main editing page, you’ll find the social media sharing buttons just under the cover image on the right. You can edit those to all say the same thing, or you can edit some of them to be slightly different. I like to edit the Twitter one especially to have a hashtag and to tag the sponsoring account. That way I will know every time someone tweets about the contest as I will get a mention.

Hootsuite Campaigns screenshot

You will also want to double check the wording on two more pages for your contest: the thank you page and the terms and conditions. Remember to release all networks from any responsibility for the contest, to be safe (and because they require it). Also set out the details of the prize, who can enter if there are restrictions, etc. Depending on the size and nature of your prize you might want to seek legal assistance…but if you’re on the free contest platform you’re probably not too worried about that 😉 I get it.

Hootsuite Campaigns screenshot

Last thing to do before hitting Publish is to proofread all three Pages again. Check the Previews of how your contest will look on different platforms (preview buttons in the top left corner). You can also add your corporate logo to the cover graphic if it’s not built in to your custom upload (see logo box in top left corner).

Promoting Your Sweepstakes with Hootsuite Campaigns

Just because you’ve hit publish on this contest does not mean anyone will know it is there! You have to tell people where to find the entry form…and likely multiple times.

  1. hootsuite camapaigns promotional graphicIf you didn’t upload a custom cover image with the “Win an XYZ” headline, you will want to design promotional graphics to use in your own posts and tweets. Images will be more noticeable and more likely to be clicked than plain text updates. The one I designed is seen on the right. (1200 x 628 pixels)
  2. If you are using the contest on Facebook, you will want to design a smaller one for the cover image on the app tab on your Facebook Page. This can be added in your Page Settings, under apps. (111 x 74 pixels)
  3. You will need to post about the contest on all your networks. On Facebook you can link to the url for the Tab, or to the custom web url. I found linking to the custom web url resulted in a better look and I could upload my promo graphic to accompany the link. On all other networks you will use the custom we url which looks something like this: https://customname.hscampaigns.com/.
  4. Set up some scheduled posts to remind people to enter daily.
  5. Ask your followers to share the posts and to share directly from the contest app.

Choosing the Winner in Hootsuite Campaigns

When the contest is over and it’s time to choose the winner, simply find your campaign in your Hootsuite dashboard, look for the number of entries in the contest, and click on that number to download the .csv file of all entries. Then you can use your favorite method of random drawing to choose the winner.

What the FREE Hootsuite Campaigns Sweepstakes Doesn’t Do

  • Does not choose a random entry from Page Likes, Post Likes, Comments or Post Shares.
  • Does not automatically add your contest entry emails to your email list. If you want to do that afterwards, make sure that’s clear somewhere on the contest Page (terms and conditions). There isn’t an easy, obvious way to do this on the main page.
  • Does not automatically post on your Facebook Page or any other network.
  • Does not allow people to enter via a hashtag or photo entry.
  • Does not artificially inflate the engagement on your Facebook Page because the entry is by email, not by commenting, so be clear on what your goal for the contest is.

Is Hootsuite Campaigns Right for Your Contest?

This is a difficult question to answer because it obviously depends on what type of contest you want to host and what your goals for the contest are. If you want to increase engagement on your Page through comments on a post, likes and shares, the FREE Hootsuite Campaigns are probably not what you’re looking for. If, however, you want to collect email addresses to build your list, this could be a good option. If you’re already paying a monthly subscription for advanced features, you might want to give the Pro Campaigns a try.

Before you Contest, Know the Rules

Make sure you read the promotion guidelines for each network on which you want to promote your contest first. Facebook still (as of this writing) does NOT allow for contests that ask people to SHARE or Tag People. That’s right, so-called “Like and Share” contests are still Facebook illegal, so by asking your Fans to Share in order to enter, you are running the risk of having your Page and/or contest suspended.

For full Facebook Promotional Guidelines click here and read, specifically section III. E. 3.
Twitter guidelines for contests are here.
Instagram contest guidelines are here.

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