A Guide to Running Video Contests: Preparation, Execution, and Follow-up

Discover the power of video contests in engaging with your audience, collecting user-generated content, and attracting qualified leads.

By Will Blunt ・5 min read
Campaign & Contest Ideas
ShortStack Tips & Tricks
Social Media

Video marketing is all the rage at the moment…In fact, 85% of consumers want to see more video content from brands.Whether it’s innovative new live video platforms or trending social networks like TikTok, video is the star of the moment.What was once a form of content that required a significant financial investment, heavy equipment, lots of time, and a room full of staff and actors, has evolved into something anyone can create in real-time using a phone.The evolution of video content from high-end production projects to user-generated content on the run is forcing brands to adapt and find new ways to engage with their customers using video.Video contests are an intriguing way to engage with your audience, reward them for their time, and leverage the power of this type of content.

Why video contests?

The cool thing about video contests is that they come with all the benefits of a typical contest but also tap into the growing trend of user-generated video.It’s important to note that video contests require much more work for participants to enter. It’s not as easy as leaving a comment on an Instagram post or submitting an email address. There actually needs to be some thought and effort put into the submission.While this perceived barrier to entry is a deterrent for some brands because it reduces the number of entrants, others see it as an opportunity. For starters, fewer brands are running video contests. This means there is untapped potential in the video contest market.As well, the sheer fact that a contest is harder to enter means that you won’t get any tire kickers. Anyone that goes to the effort of creating a video to win the prize you have selected is self-qualifying themselves.If you’re running a contest with the goal of getting as many entries as possible, then video contests probably aren’t the best choice. However, if you’re looking to attract qualified leads, collect user-generated content, and tap into a trending form of marketing, then it might be the perfect fit.

What type of video contests are there?

There are three main types of video contests you can run:

  • Direct upload video contests. This is where participants enter by uploading a video directly to your contest landing page.
  • Link share video contests. This is where a user uploads a video to a third-party platform, such as YouTube or Vimeo, and they enter by sharing the link to the video.
Video form

The ShortStack Link Share Video Contest TemplateView and Create Your Own

  • Hashtag video contests. These are the simplest form of video contest where users upload a video to their own social profile and use a unique campaign hashtag to enter the contest.

Which type of video contest is best? Well, that depends on your goals.Obviously, hashtag contests are the easiest to enter so you are likely to get more entries. However, they are hosted on a social media site that you don’t own and can result in low lead flow. These are best if your goal is related to increased social media engagement.With link share video contests, the content is still hosted with a third-party, making it hard to repurpose and use in the future. If you’d prefer not to manage and host video uploads, then this format could work well for lead generation.Direct upload video contests combine qualified lead generation with the collection of user-generated content. So, while you’ll get fewer entries with this form of video contest than you would with a hashtag contest, the quality of the leads will be better.

How do you run a video contest?

Video contests require a lot of work before, during, and after the campaign if you want to get the desired results. In saying that, they are well worth your time. I’ve broken down the process for running a video contest into three stages; Preparation, Execution, and Follow up.


When preparing your video contest the first thing you need to do is identify the goal of the campaign and choose a relevant structure based on your goal. For example, if your goal is to increase Instagram engagement, then a hashtag contest may be most appropriate. Or, if you want to attract high-quality leads and collect user-generated content, then perhaps a video upload contest is best.Once you know the goal and structure of the contest, the next big points on your checklist are picking a prize, determining how winners will be selected, and creating a landing page (if required). You’ll also want to choose a unique campaign hashtag to track the social media engagement and encourage sharing of the contest - this is important even if you don’t plan on running a video hashtag contest.In your preparation for the campaign, the contest landing page is perhaps the most critical component. You need to ensure it is easy for people to enter, includes social proof in the form of other video entries for the contest, and has built-in sharing incentives to increase the campaign’s reach.To make things easy, ShortStack has a video upload contest template you can use to create the landing page which has been tested and optimized to save you time.

The ShortStack Video Upload Contest Template


Once your contest structure, landing page, and prize are all ready to go, executing a successful campaign comes down to two things; promotion and engagement.To get maximum exposure for your video contest, it’s critical to promote it across multiple channels. Start with your email database, social media audience, and customer list. Then look to scale things up with Facebook ads, influencers, and strategic partnerships.Button Poetry runs a yearly video contest which they actively promote on Instagram before entries open - this creates anticipation and buzz for the campaign:

Button Poetry 2020 Yearly Video Contest On Instagram

Building anticipation for a video contest on Instagram.In terms of engagement, this is all about connecting with your audience. The key is to plan and automate as much of the contest activity as possible so that you can interact with participants during the campaign. Answer their questions, respond to their comments, and make people feel heard.


The follow-up is arguably the most important part of a contest marketing campaign. If you build buzz for your brand, generate leads, and collect customer data but then do nothing with it, what is the point?After the campaign comes to a finish, the first thing you need to do is notify and announce the winner. Then it’s time for email marketing automation to kick into gear. While you probably have a generic contest entry email automated for new submissions, you should expand this automation to engage with new prospects and turn them into sales. This is your contest follow-up sequence.

Acme Cameras' Autoresponder For Follow-up Sequence

Contest follow up email sequence.Your follow-up sequence from a video contest should include things such as user-generated content from the campaign, an introduction to your brand, personalization elements, and a targeted call-to-action.


There has never been a better time to run a video contest. Many people are working from home and catching themselves in a TikTok vortex every other day anyway. You can tap into this growing desire for personal video creation as a way of engaging with your audience and increasing your lead flow.Decide which type of video contest suits your brand and aligns with your values. Plus, make sure the structure you use is conducive to furthering your marketing objectives. Then, when the time is right, prepare, promote, engage, and follow-up to get the best results.Good luck!

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About the author

By Will Blunt ・5 min read

Will Blunt is the founder of Sidekick Digital by Will Blunt - B2B Marketing Expert - Sidekick Digital, a publishing business that launches, manages, and grows brands with content marketing.

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