Sponsoring giveaways is an effective way to build buzz about products, grow your social media following, and encourage sign-ups to your newsletter. But once you come to the end of your giveaway's entry period, you are faced with an important question: how to randomly pick your contest winner(s).
A truly random winner selection process is vital to avoid accusations of favoritism or fraud. You should also keep documentation that shows that you picked your winner fairly. Here are five resources to help you randomly pick a contest winner fairly and easily.
1. Use Google's Random Number Generator to Pick Winners
Among the many interesting features offered by Google is a random number generator. Using it to pick your winners is easy and free of charge.
To start, assign each of your valid entries a number. One way to do this fairly is to assign a number based on the order in which the entries arrived. So your first entrant would be number one, the second would be number two, and so on.
Then, go to Google.com and search for "random number generator." This will bring up a box that asks you to enter the minimum and maximum numbers to use. The minimum should be the first number you assigned (probably "1") and the maximum should be the number of total valid entries your giveaway received. Once you have entered these numbers, press the blue "Generate" button.
If you prefer not to use Google, there are many free random number generators available; just do an internet search to find your favorite.
Whichever generator you use, it's a smart idea to take a screenshot of the result to document how you randomly picked the contest winner.
2. Use a Random Name Picker for Your Winner Selection Process
If you prefer to pick the contest winner's name directly rather than assigning a number to each entry, you can use a random name picker like the one offered by MiniWebTool.com.
To use MiniWebTool's random name picker, enter one name per line into the text field, then click on the button to "Pick a Random Name." One name will be drawn at random to be your winner. Again, you can take a screenshot to document the result.
Of course, typing each name into the text field is time-consuming, but if you're recording your entries in a spreadsheet, you can save time by copy-pasting the list into the web form.
3. Use Woobox's "Pick a Winner" Tool to Draw Contest Winners on Social Media
If you're running a contest on your Facebook page's timeline, you can use Woobox's free "Pick a Winner" Tool to randomly choose who'll walk away with a prize.
To use the tool, sign up for a free account with Woobox and connect it to your Facebook account. Then click the "Posts" tab to select the giveaway post.
Next, select whether comments alone or comments and reactions count as entries, then click the "Pick Winner" button. Take a screenshot of the result.
If you upgrade your Woobox account to a paid account, you can use the same tool to contact the winner. Or, if you want to avoid spending money, you can contact your winner directly.
Note that you can also use the Pick a Winner tool to randomly choose winners from YouTube or Instagram comments and hashtags.
4. Use YouTube's "Random Comment Picker" to Choose Winners
If you are building your YouTube following by offering giveaways to people who comment on your videos, the YouTube Comment Picker will make randomly picking your winners easy.
To use it, all you need to do is to put in the URL of your video and click the "search" button.
Once you've entered the URL, you'll click another button to choose the winner. A few seconds later, you'll have the winning commenter's name.
5. Use Easypromo's Instagram Sweepstakes App to Pick Winners from Comments and Hashtags
If you're running giveaways on Instagram, it can be difficult to keep track of different entry methods like leaving valid comments, sharing the giveaway with friends, and using hashtags to enter. An app like Easypromos' Instagram Sweepstakes App can help.
After it's chosen your winner, Instagram Sweepstakes will also generate a winner's list and a certificate of validity to show that the contest winner was truly chosen at random.
Your first giveaway made through the Instagram Sweepstakes app is free, giving you the chance to try out the service with no risk. You'll need to purchase a subscription for any additional giveaways after the first.
6 All-in-One Sweepstakes App
If you run your giveaways through a sweepstakes app, there's a good chance that it comes with a winner selection tool out of the box. Gleam and Rafflecopter, for example, both accept entrants and pick winners at the end of the giveaway.
If you use an Amazon Giveaway, it will also select the winner for you automatically, based on the criteria you set.
The advantage of these services is that not only is winner selection easy, but also, there's no question of bias or favoritism in the winner selection.
Want to Know More?
If you're interested in learning more about random numbers, check out these weird and wacky methods that random number generators use to be as unpredictable as possible.
If you'd like to run a raffle rather than a giveaway, check out these tips for running a legal raffle in the United States or Canada.
If you'd like some more help running your giveaway, check out this article on what sweepstakes administrators are and why companies use them. Good luck!