KickoffLabs Blog:

How to Pick a Random Contest Winner

By Hannah Denson

Aug 18th, 2022

Contests are a great way to drive engagement with your business and expand your online presence. Popular contests require entrants to be following your social media profiles or tag you in a post to their followers. You can use sweepstakes entries to directly gather contact information such as emails or phone numbers for future marketing campaigns or promotions.

Once your contest closes, you’ll need a way to choose a winner or winners from the entries you received. You have a lot of different options when it comes to running your competition and deciding who gets to take home the prize. KickoffLab’s Sweepstakes tool comes with premade templates and can automatically pick a winner for you when the time comes, either randomly or using weighted entries. Which method you choose depends on your goals for the competition and what you require for entry.

Different ways to pick

Running a contest can help get your businesses noticed and drive engagement and conversions. How you plan on choosing your winner determines the kind of engagement you get.

This is, in many ways, the simplest way for you to run a contest. Each person who subscribes to your mailing list, shares your social media post, or fills out a form gets one entry into the competition. Entrants may be disqualified if they try to use multiple email addresses or social media accounts to enter more than once. Once the contest is over, there are many programs you can use to randomly select a winner from the entrants. Some might consider this the “fairest” way to run a contest—the winner is completely determined by chance, and no one has an advantage over anyone else. However, they may drive less engagement with your company than some other methods, and it may be easier for a spambot to enter and win.

KickoffLab's random contest winner generator

A weighted contest allows entrants to gain more than one entry by engaging with your content in multiple ways. For example, you may require entrants to tag a minimum number of friends in a comment on your post but grant them additional entries for every person they tag above that requirement. With KickoffLab’s Sweepstakes tool, you can also reward entrants for liking your other
social media pages or inviting friends to join the contest. By encouraging your audience to share your page’s content multiple times across multiple channels, you can massively expand your online presence and awareness of your brand. The downside to a weighted contest is that you will either need a program
that can automatically track each entrant’s activity in the contest to ensure they get the right number of entries, or you will have to try and do it manually.

KickoffLab's weighted contest winner generator

Most Points Through Comments, Referrals, or Shares
If you really want to encourage engagement among your followers, you can have them compete for points by engaging with your content. Each time a user comments on, likes, or shares one of your posts or invites or refers friends to your page, you can award them points. Posting each competitor’s current standing on a leaderboard is a good way to encourage friendly rivalry and motivate users to engage more with your posts. You could devise a scoring system that grants more points for actions that do more to spread awareness of your brand, like sharing posts or inviting friends to like your page. Like with the weighted competition, you will need a way to accurately keep track of each entrant’s actions and points. Since you aren’t randomly selecting a winner, you have to prepare for the possibility that multiple competitors will get the same number of points and decide if you will have a method for breaking the tie or if you will offer multiple prizes.

Leaderboard example

Most Votes, Comments, or Likes
This method of determining a contest winner drives engagement from all your followers, not just those who choose to enter. First, entrants will need to submit something—either a comment on a post or a picture, design, or idea—for others to vote on. This drives engagement because entrants will likely share your profile and contest with all their friends and followers in an attempt to gain as many votes as possible. As a result, more people will see your page. Those already following your page will have a reason to like and comment on your post, driving up engagement and making your posts more visible.

A judged competition will also require your entrants to produce content, but instead of turning it over to your other followers to decide a winner, you will pick someone internally. This is probably the most subjective way of determining a winner, as only one or a few people will select the winner based on their personal preference. There are also fewer chances to drive engagement this way. Entrants don’t necessarily have a reason to share your profile with others unless they win. If you only have one winner,
there isn’t much chance for your digital audience to grow. Judged competitions may be helpful for select types of companies, especially if those entering will need to purchase products from the brand to create their submission. But for generally attracting new followers and boosting engagement, one of the other
contests is probably a better choice.

Daily Winners and Multiple Winners
One way you might choose to encourage engagement is to run a competition over a few weeks and have a daily winner for the entire duration of the contest. The daily prize will have to be smaller than what you could offer for a single winner, but it encourages daily engagement and, as winners post about their prize, increases the chances that new customers will discover and engage with your brand. Similarly, you can have multiple winners. For judged or voted contests, this could mean having second and third place winners who receive other smaller prizes while first place receives the grand prize. You can also offer one grand prize and multiple smaller prizes in a random or weighted drawing as well.


Guaranteed Winners 
A great way to encourage participation and engagement throughout your contest is to add milestone reward levels. This will allow you to have the option for anyone to win something and all you have to do to choose “winners” is set how many points each level reward is worth in order to award these prizes/tokens automatically.


Milestone rewards example


Tools to help you pick winners

If you’ve decided to run a random or weighted drawing, you need to select a winner. If you got thousands of entries, drawing a winner out of a hat is not going to be practical. Luckily, there are several tools that can help you out.

Random Number Generators
This method is relatively straightforward and free, but it does require you to do more work. First, you’d need to download a list of every single person who entered your competition. If the competition was weighted, you’d need to assign entrants who earned multiple entries multiple numbers—one for each entry they are entitled to. Once you’ve assigned every entry a unique number, you can program the generator to select one (or multiple, if you have multiple winners) numbers between a defined range. There are several free random number generators available on the internet, including one from Google.

Google Random Number Generator

Random List Pickers
A random list picker still requires a bit of manual work on your part, but less than a random number generator. You’ll still have to make a list of every entrant into your competition, and if the competition was weighted, you would have to make duplicates for those entrants equal to the number of entries they’ve earned. However, you won’t need to take the time to assign distinct values to every entry.

There are also multiple free tools on the internet that will select an entry at random from a list you proved, like the MiniWebTool. You can either enter your list manually or upload a document or spreadsheet, and the tool will select an entry got you.

MiniWebTool generator

If your information is already in an Excel sheet, you can randomize a list in Excel and use the top result as your winner.

YouTube’s “Random Comment Picker”
If you are a vlogger or your business has a significant following on YouTube, you may choose to run your competition on YouTube by having entrants comment on your video and then using the YouTube Comment Picker tool. You can filter out duplicate users or leave them in for a weighted competition. However, not many brands use YouTube as a primary marketing platform, so this tool has limited use.

YouTube random generator

KickoffLabs “Pick a Winner” Feature
Skip the third-party apps and manual data entry and run your competition all from one dashboard with KickoffLabs’ Pick a Winner application. We provide a variety of easy-to-use, customizable templates for forms and landing pages. If you want to run a weighted drawing, our platform has a built-in function for tracking contest actions like referring friends or liking your Facebook page and automatically grants
users additional entries for each action they complete. You can even run variations on a traditional sweepstakes, such as granting prizes to the contestants who complete the most contest actions in addition to the random drawing or giving away prizes at specific campaign milestones. When your contest closes, just let us know how many winners you want to select. With just a click of a button, we’ll have a winner picked for you. We don’t automatically send notifications to the winners, so
you can see and confirm the results first.

KickoffLabs random winner picker and lead cards

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