7 Best Leave-In Conditioners — Top-Tested Leave-In Conditioning Products


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Forget what you think you know about leave-in conditioners: these do-it-all picks from the Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty Lab are so much more advanced than the thick creams you apply after washing your hair.

“Most styling product that promise to detangle, soften or smooth hair are actually leave-in conditioners,” says Sabina Wizemann, senior chemist in the GH Beauty Lab. Simply put, any product you don't rinse your hair is ly a leave-in conditioner.

That means that any hair cream, milk, lotion, spray, or mist you apply after washing your hair that helps maintain bounce, defines curls, controls frizz, or adds shine (even ones for heat protection!) are all leave-in conditioners (even if they're not called that outright).

And while these products do have light conditioning properties, unless you have super-fine, fragile hair, you shouldn’t swap them for your traditional conditioner. Most of these leave-in conditioners should be applied to wet or damp hair before styling, but some can be also added to dry hair to smooth frizz and polish your look.

Check out these top picks for the best leave-in conditioners from our beauty pros — all are past GH Beauty Lab Awards winners, Good Housekeeping Seal holders, or expert favorites:

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Best Overall

L'Oréal Paris Elvive Total Repair 5 Protein Recharge Leave-In Conditioner

A past GH Beauty Awards winner, L’Oréal’s treatment helps prevent breakage by strengthening strands. In our Lab evaluations, consumer testers loved the product, saying, “My overly color-treated, heat-styled hair looked less broken, and felt new in just few uses.”


Best Value

Garnier Whole Blends Gentle Detangling Hair Milk Oat Delicacy

Good Housekeeping Seal Holder

Pair Garnier's detangling milk with the matching Oat Delicacy shampoo and conditioner duo (also backed by the GH Seal!) to lightly condition and soften hair. In one study, 90% of consumer testers agreed that the it left their hair feeling soft, didn’t weigh it down, and kept it from looking dry.


Best Splurge

Davines OI All in One Milk

A favorite of Beauty Lab senior chemist, Sabina Wizemann, this Davines oil is great for anyone who wants lightweight conditioning. “It adds a flexible hold to my blow-dry without making it look overly done.” Wizemann recommends spraying it in your hands first, then working into damp hair. Best of all? The clean, herbal scent can double as a hair fragrance!


Best Lightweight Formula

Kérastase Discipline Fluidissime Complete Anti-Frizz Care Spray

Not only does Kérastase's multitasking spray combat frizz, it also helps soften and adds shine to strands.

All you have to do is spritz it on damp hair! This earned the highest score for leaving hair soft (not crunchy or tacky) in our Beauty Lab’s recent anti-frizz test — and it's a GH Beauty Lab Award winner! “I loved the texture of my hair right after applying it, and how manageable, soft, and shiny my hair was after blow-drying,” said one tester.


Best for Frizzy Hair

Garnier Fructis Style Smooth Blow Dry Anti-Frizz Cream

Garnier’s cream (specially-designed for blow-drying) earned high marks for smoothing and leaving hair frizz-free in Lab tests.

And anyone who struggles with frizz knows that rainy days can be a nightmare.

One tester perfectly summed up using the GH Beauty Lab Awards winner: “It rained for almost a solid week while I was using the product and I didn't have any problem with frizz!”


Best for Curly Hair

Dove Quench Absolute Supreme Crème Serum

Great for people with curls, Dove’s smoothing treatment left curls soft and flexible in our Lab tests. Our pros d this cream-serum hybrid so much they gave it a GH Beauty Lab Award!


Best Serum

Orlando Pita Well Behaved Anti-Frizz Cream Serum


In Beauty Lab tests, Orlando Pita’s creamy serum ranked high across the board. It proved top at smoothing and combating frizz — without making hair limp, weighing it down or leaving it tacky or sticky. “This left my hair shiny and frizz-free,” said one tester. “I also used it after my hair was dry to smooth flyaways without added weight.”

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Taco Bell bets you’re ‘dyeing’ to try Baja Blast


Canadians are known for many things – being polite, loving maple syrup and lusting after products only available south of the border.

Until recently, Mountain Dew’s Baja Blast was one of those products. After Canadian fans were “very vocal on social channels,” Taco Bell Canada finally brought the bright-teal beverage here.

To celebrate the Canadian launch, Edelman Canada is heading up the social-media heavy “Dye Hard” campaign, which gives die-hard fans the chance to get a “dye-hard” hairstyle.

Toronto’s Grip is supporting the social side, while MediaCom is handling media.

Since the lime-flavoured pop first came to Taco Bell stores in the U.S. in 2004, it’s been a hit with consumers. Over the years, the drink has come and gone from stores, and that scarcity has helped the drink reach cult status.

“It’s more than just a drink, it’s a lifestyle,” says Veronica Castillo, director of marketing and R&D for Taco Bell Canada. “We asked: ‘How can we make this [launch] a unique experience?’”

To ensure the Baja Blast Canadian launch was unique, Taco Bell teamed up with two Canadian influencers. Earlier this month, hair artist Theodora Raptis dyed Matt Dethridge’s hair while he played a game on live-streaming video platform Twitch.

The Nova Scotia-based video game player started out with naturally bright-red hair and built anticipation by posting about his flight to Ontario to get his new ‘do on and Instagram.

Once his hair, beard and, yes, even his eyebrows were dyed a bright unnatural Baja-Blast-inspired teal by Raptis he posted about the transformation online. The popular Stratford, Ont.

-based hair artist also promoted Dethridge’s striking transformation on her own Instagram account.

Dyeing hair every colour under the rainbow, from pastel pink to bright blue, has been a big trend over the past few years, particularly among Taco Bell’s millennial and Gen Z targets, says Castillo. For the “Dye Hard” campaign, Taco Bell specifically chose a male video-game player and a female hair artist so the campaign would appeal to both men and women.

To further build excitement, Taco Bell gave away jars of Manic Panic’s limited-edition Baja Blast hair dye on its page via a contest that sold out in less than two days, says Castillo. Raptis also promoted the giveaway on her Instagram page.

Fans of Baja Blast can follow in the footsteps of Dethridge for themselves next week.

A high-end, teal-coloured trailer, known as the #BajaBlessed Hair Salon, will be in Toronto on June 14 and 15, and in Hamilton on June 16 and 17, for those wanting to get their hair dyed the same colour as Baja Blast. The bright dye-jobs from the hair salon will be promoted on social media with the hashtag #BajaBlessed.

After a fourteen-year wait to get Baja Blast on our side of the border, Taco Bell Canada will continue to “build the cult” of what it dubs an “indescribable tropical-lime beverage of mythic proportions” on social media throughout the crucial summer season, says Castillo.

Taco Bell is no stranger to pulling big stunts for new product launches and limited-time offers. When Doritos Locos Tacos (DLT) became a permanent menu item in Canada in 2014 it got a fan to get a permanent tattoo of the DLT.


Dove Canada Contest: Win Baby Dove Gift Packs (25 Prizes)


The Baby Dove Gift Pack Giveaway contest

Enter the Dove Mother’s Day contest for your chance to win 1 of 25

prizes, each consisting of a Baby Dove Gift Pack.

The approximate retail value of each Prize is $30.00 CAD. 

To enter, visit and post

a photo, and you could win!

enter here

find more Canadian Contests    ~  View all Canadian Contests   ~   Win Beauty Prizes

Dove Canada is the Maker of products that beautify your skin, body and hair. Enter the new Dove contests to win free beauty products, gift cards and even shopping trips.

Stay tuned for more Dove prizes these:

Win a trip for two to Costa Rica with Contest

Right now Dove is inviting consumers to Take the Dove One Shower Challenge to achieve softer skin and maybe win a great prize in the process.

Just imagine winning a trip to a luxurious and exotic destination and that’s exactly what the grand prize winner will be awarded. In this contest you are entering to win a trip for two to Costa Rica, which just so happens to be one of the world’s most beautiful shower destinations.

That’s not all, the grand prize also includes a one year supply of Dove Body Wash and $500 towards beauty products that will pamper your skin and leave you looking and feeling beautiful.

This contest closes on Nov. 14, 2014 and is open to residents of Canada who are at least the age of majority.

Visit the, Click here for details. There is a limit of three entries per person.

Dove wants to celebrate summer and the warm weather with its Dove Go Sleeveless Contest which will award 15 winners with a great prize.

As mentioned there will be 15 winners each of who will receive a $200 gift card to a Canadian fashion e-tailer and a one-year supply of Dove Go Sleevelesproducts.

 Each of these prize packs is valued at just under $230.

Dove sells a variety of products beyond just ones for the armpit area. They are well known for their skin care, hair care, baby products, and more.

rules at https://.com/#/DoveCanada

Win Hair session with Hair stylist Mark Townsend LIVE on Breakfast Television

Dove is going on tour to put Nourishing Oil Care to the test in some of the most hair-unfriendly places in Canada. Share your hair story for the chance to win a one-on-one hair session with Dove and

renowned hair stylist Mark Townsend live on Breakfast Television or  1 of 25 gift baskets.

Visit Dove on to enter the Real Canadian Hair Challenge! You must live within 150km of 4 major cities (Toronto, Vancouver, Winnipeg or Calgary) to win the grand prize. One winner will be selected from each city.

All entries will be eligible to win one of 25 secondary prizes each consisting of a Dove® gift basket valued at $200.00.


Canadians begin exodus home from Southwest Florida fearing coronavirus insurance issues


To provide our community with important public safety information, our newsroom is making stories related to the coronavirus free to read. To support important local journalism this, please consider becoming a digital subscriber.

Many Canadians are making an early exodus from Southwest Florida because of insurance concerns related to the coronavirus global pandemic.

With the U.S. announcing Wednesday that the Canadian border would be shutting down for nonessential travel and flights beginning to dwindle, Canadians who usually winter in the area through Easter have changed those plans.

There were five incoming and five outgoing flights to and from Toronto at Southwest Florida International Airport on Wednesday — four each way on Air Canada and one each way on WestJet.

WestJet, which had planned on canceling flights after Saturday, has instead extended flights through Wednesday night, March 25.

Florida coronavirus updates: Confirmed cases skyrocket to 314; South Florida continues to be epicenter


Social distancing matters. Here is how to do it and how it can help curb the COVID-19 pandemic. USA TODAY

Air Canada has yet to announce any flight cancellations.

Canadians comprise about 4.4% of annual visitors to Lee County, the highest of any other country, with 216,762 people visiting in 2019, according to Lee County Visitor and Convention Bureau statistics.

There were about 36,951 Canadian visitors to Collier County in 2018, the most recent statistics reported by Paradise Coast, Collier’s visitor and convention bureau.

For Canadians who haven’t already returned north, most are doing so right now and trying to get back by the end of the day Monday, which is when most out-of-the-country health insurance policies will no longer cover coronavirus issues.

Coronavirus Fort Myers: Here's what is closed or has changed amid COVID-19 concerns

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John Hayes, 74, and his wife Julia, 69, explained why they are leaving their Cape Coral home Friday for their Mount Albert, home, north of Toronto about 1,200 miles away.

They bought their home here just after the Great Recession, meaning they got a great deal on the price and an escape from some bitter Canadian winters.

“Usually, we try to get down on the first of December, and we wander back the first of April,” John Hayes said. “This year was different. This year with the coronavirus, we have national health care up there as you know. But when we go Canada, we pick up a health insurance rider if you will, which covers us down here in the U.S.

“With the coronavirus, it could cost us a jillion dollars. It’s not a good thing for us to stay in the United States of America.”

Julia Hayes said she anticipated she and her husband would have a mandatory, two-week quarantine when they get home in case they were exposed to the coronavirus, which was fine with her.

“There are people volunteering to go and get food for you,” she said.

Testing sites open: NCH Baker Hospital Downtown conducts tests for coronavirus


Lee Health erects tent at Lee Memorial for coronavirus triage and screening Fort Myers News-Press

Paul McKenna, who splits his time evenly throughout the year between a home near Fort Myers Beach and another on Prince Edward Island, is preparing to return to Canada but not during this weekend’s rush.

“A million people will be heading back on the roads,” McKenna said. “It will be full bore. There’s 300,000 Quebecans, and they’re all heading back. They all want to head back this weekend. I’m looking to get back early, too. Just not this weekend.”

McKenna said he realized he ran the risk of not being able to find a flight back, in which case he would drive.

Annie Coquette and her husband said they lucked out with their December decision to drive an RV to Indian Creek, not far from Fort Myers Beach and the Sanibel Causeway.

Coquette had planned on riding her bicycle from Fort Myers to Key West with Ends of the Earth Cycling, a charity that raised $45,000 for a Christian missionary in Romania. With the ride canceled, she considered it a sign.

“Our plan was to go back April 18,” said Coquette, who is a commercial insurance underwriter and works remotely. “I was praying to God to tell me what I should do. When I received that call, I felt that was the call for me to go home.

“Usually, we always fly. But this year, we said, why don’t we take our RV and drive to Florida? That’s another God thing. We didn’t know at the time that the coronavirus would happen. When we go back, we can sleep in that. We can park in Walmart parking lots. It’s free, and there’s the grocery in case we need anything.”

Connect with this reporter: David Dorsey (), @DavidADorsey ().

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Everything You Need to Know about Running a Contest, Competition or Giveaway


It’s been a number of years now since has updated the News Feed to clamp down on what they call “engagement baiting.” This includes using contests to bait engagement and sharing. The changes don’t mean you shouldn’t be running contests. You just have to be more careful about how you share and promote them.

In fact, there are still at least a half-dozen reasons to consider running a contest to promote your business. A contest is just one part of an overall marketing strategy, but it’s one tactic that’s relatively easy to execute. And in the scheme of things, contests are very inexpensive to run.

A well-planned contest can:

  • Increase engagement with existing fans
  • Increase brand exposure to potential fans
  • Bring in new leads

Curious to see if running a contest can help you meet at least one of those goals? Then let’s move on, and take a look at the steps it’ll take to run a successful contest.

1. Set goals

On the face of it, running a contest sounds so easy: Let your customers know you’re giving away a prize and wait for them to fill out your entry form. But a successful contest requires more than just enticing people with a prize. A contest should be part of your bigger marketing strategy, and as such, requires just as much planning as your advertising and other efforts.

The role of a contest is really to attract leads. And in the context of a contest, a lead is an email address. Using contests to build lists of engaged people can benefit your business for years to come.

Some of the top contest goals we see from our users include:

  • Add fans
  • Increase brand awareness
  • Collect email addresses
  • Gather user-generated content
  • Crowdsource for new product or service ideas
  • Increase customer loyalty
  • Immediate sales
  • Announce new products and services or events
  • Learn more about customers’ preferences
  • Increase traffic to website or store

Yes, you could use a contest to collect more s for your page, but 1). you have to be really careful how you ask for s because you can no longer incorporate Liking a Page as a step in your giveaway, and 2.

) s aren’t really worth much unless you have a way to get in touch with all those folks at some point down the road.

And yes, you can use a comment/ importer tool to collect user IDs, but there are definitely more effective ways to create useful lists of prospective customers.

2. Determine your ideal customers

One common mistake we see businesses make with contests all the time is targeting anyone who can fog a mirror. Evidence? The iPad or iPhone giveaway. The problem is, if you’re trying to appeal to everyone, then you could very well end up appealing to no one.

We write often about the importance of using the “right” prize for your contest. So when it comes to settling on a prize, think about what would be relevant to your target market rather than something that is expensive and universally appealing. Targeting specific demographics will increase the lihood of attracting the right people to your contest.

Targeting specific demographics will increase the lihood of attracting the right people to your contest.

If you happen to have several target demographics, you could even run multiple contests to appeal to each group. You could run one contest with a prize and theme that’s more appealing to women and a separate one for men.

You could run another contest that appeals to people in specific regions of the country, or is targeted to certain age groups.

If you’re using ShortStack’s readymade templates, you can customize the look and the messaging of each contest — in minutes.

3. Choose a prize

As I mentioned earlier, your prize doesn’t need to be expensive…it only has to be relevant to your ideal customer and, if possible, unique to your business. Choosing a prize that’s interesting to your target customer is way more important than offering up something pricey.

So, if you own a bakery, give away a sample box of your signature cupcakes. If you’re a florist, a giveaway featuring your best-selling seasonal arrangement will attract the people who will think of your shop the next time they’re ordering flowers.

Restaurants that host contests featuring “dinner for two” as a prize are using a contest as a smart marketing tactic, and so are hair or nail salons that give away beauty services.

You might have fewer entries to a contest with a gift card for your products or services, but those entries will be people who are sincerely interested in your business rather than on the iPad you’re giving away.

4. Decide on the type of contest

There are three basic categories of contests you can run on : giveaways/sweepstakes, photo contests and “refer-a-friend” promotions. Giveaways are the easiest to start with, while photo contests are a great way to increase engagement and collect user-generated content.

Refer-a-friend contests require a little more work to enter, but they’re also the best way to motivate your customers to help spread the word about your contest and your brand, and for you to collect leads.

(See why it’s important to have determined your top goal before you start?!)

If you’re running a contest for the first time, or if you want to get your contest out in the wild quickly, a giveaway is the way to go. They’re popular because they’re so easy to enter. In fact, at ShortStack we see brands that run a giveaway or sweepstakes just about every month through the year.

Photo Contest

A photo contest, especially a photo-vote contest, is one of the best ways to drive traffic to your contest because people who enter are motivated to share their entry with their friends so they can collect more votes. For a photo vote contest, you can choose a winner at random, or choose a winner at random from the top 10 vote-getters (this can help reduce fraud).

A photo contest is also an ideal way to collect user-generated content. Consider requesting photo entries that show existing customers using your product, visiting your location, etc. (Just be sure it’s not a requirement that people purchase your product in order to enter — that would make your contest a lottery and lotteries are illegal.)

Refer-a-Friend Promotion

By adding a referral component to your contest, you can get double the number of entries (or more).

It works this: When people enter your contest, you give them an extra chance to win every time they share your contest form with a friend and the friend enters.

It’s a win-win, since people who refer friends increase their chance of winning and you increase the number of people who enter.

to Win

-to-win contests are very easy for even the smallest business to run because all you have to do is post a photo, video or caption and ask people to “” it and, voila, they’re entered.

Even though we’re not huge fans of this kind of contest because it won’t help you collect email addresses, it is one way to generate engagement.

To choose a winner at random, you’d use our comment/ importer tool with a random entry selector feature to choose a winner.

Comment to Win

Similar to a -to-win contest, a comment-to-win contest asks people to comment on your photo, video or caption in order to have a chance to win.

You could use this kind of contest to crowdsource ideas for your products by asking a question , “What is your favorite way to use our product?” and then choosing a winner from among everyone who leaves a comment.

To choose a winner, you’d use a comment/ importer tool with our random entry selector.

Similar to the -to-win contest described above, you can inspire engagement with a comment-to-win contest, but you won’t be collecting email addresses this way.

and Comment to Win

If your goal is engagement and interaction, you can ask people to both and comment to win. The amount of effort is still minimal but it is slightly more than asking people to your post. To ensure you get the number of entries you hope for, make sure your prize reflects the extra effort you’re asking people to make.

Mad-Libs Style Contest

If you turn your contest into a game, you can expect your fans to want to play along with you! A Mad-libs style contest, where you ask a question or make a statement and ask your fans to fill in the blank as the way to win a chance at your prize, is fun and easy.

Q&A Contest

Want to gather information about what your followers are interested in? A Q&A contest is a simple way to collect feedback.

Crowdsource Contest

You could also show two of your products side by side and ask people to comment on which color or style they prefer. Taking note of their feedback might help you decide which one to produce more of.

5. Decide how people will enter and write rules

As you can tell from reading about the different kinds of contests, your top goal or two will determine how people will enter your contest.

If your goal is to build a list of leads you can market to throughout the year, you’ll want to make sure people have to fill out a form to enter so you can collect their email addresses. If your goal is to add more s to your page, then a simple -to-enter contest will do the trick.

But no matter what, you must let people know how you will choose a winner, whether you will use any UGC you collect for future marketing, and other requirements you have set up.

The best way to let people know about your guidelines and requirements is to write a detailed list of rules and host them on a landing page.

6. Set a time frame

Whether you want your contest to run for four days or four weeks, make sure you include the time frame in your rules and guidelines.

If you have a short entry period, you will want to make sure you have the resources to get the word out quickly (more on promoting your contest appears below). We recommend letting your contest run for between two and four weeks to get the most engagement.

If your contest period is too short, you might not get the results you want but if it’s too long, people could lose interest and get tired of seeing your promotional posts day after day.

Multi-day giveaways — where you offer a new prize each day for several days in a row — are a terrific way to get people coming back to your page day after day. These “advent calendar” style giveaways are really popular during the holidays, but you could run one any time of year to countdown to a product reveal or an event.

7. Spend time choosing the right words and images

The average person sees hundreds of posts on every day, so if you want your contest to stand out in the news feed, you have to write an attention-grabbing announcement. Try using these copywriting tips to make your post stand out. Make sure you include a prominent call to action “Enter here” or “Submit.”

You also want to use images that look professional and show off your brand in the best light.

If you’re including a form people need to fill out to enter, keep the form simple! If possible, ask only for a name and email address. Asking for more increases the odds that people will click away from your contest before they enter.

8. Promote your contest

While your contest is running, try to post about it at least once a day (but not more than twice a day) on and your other active channels. Include an announcement in your email and be sure to add the dates the contest will run so people are motivated to enter immediately.

If you have a budget for ads, spend some money getting the contest in front of your target audience.

9. Get in touch with everyone who entered

One of the best reasons to run a contest that requires people to fill out your form to enter is … you can get in touch with them right away! You can use an email autoresponder to confirm their entry to your contest (and maybe include a coupon for a discount to your products and services to motivate them to make a purchase right away) and you can even schedule emails to send them other special offers while the contest is running.

10. Take note of what’s working — and modify what isn’t

A benefit to running a contest for a couple of weeks is that you can take note of what’s working and what’s not along the way. You can see real-time traffic and modify where you focus your promotion efforts.

You can experiment with ads on and Instagram and then put more money into ads on the platform that’s delivering more entries. You can do A/B testing with ads to see which verbiage is bringing more entries and adjust your efforts what you learn.

Some of the numbers to keep an eye on:

  • Participants
  • s and Follows
  • Shares
  • Emails
  • Sales

11. Notify the winner — and everyone else

Once you’ve chosen your winner, be sure to make a public announcement so people know there really was a winner.

You should also notify the winner via email and, while you’re at it, email everyone who entered to let them know a winner was chosen.

To soften the blow of not winning, consider sending everyone who entered another coupon or special offer, and let them know you’ll be emailing them an announcement about your upcoming contest as well.

So there you have it! Everything you need to know about running a contest! People can’t resist a good contest, so think about how one will fit into your overall marketing strategy. And if you have any questions about the steps outlined here, or if you want to learn more about how ShortStack can help you plan and create your next contest, don’t hesitate to get in touch.


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How to create successful social media contests that convert


How can you come up with a fast and surefire way to generate huge audience engagement on social media?

Put together a social media contest or giveaway!

There’s not much that compares to the excitement customers get when winning something, and it can be a great way for your brand to stand out from the crowd.

Curious how to run a successful social media contest that actually converts? We’ll cover all of the must-follow steps in this article so you can start building an exciting rapport with your online followers.

Why use social media contests

Before we jump into the how, let’s cover the why. Don’t hold social media contests and give away product and prizes just because you see other brands doing it. There are a lot of concrete reasons that these have been proven to work.

1. Grow your following

When you run a social media contest, you can ask someone to or follow you as a way of gaining entry. This can help to grow your following, increasing the percentage of people that might see your content.

The above Instagram post is a great example of a brand working to grow their following by requiring a follow as part of their giveaway entry.

2. Generate brand awareness

When people , comment on and share your content, social media algorithms recognize that and more people are ly to see it and learn about your business. Plus, many businesses will pair with others for giveaways, introducing you to their audience.

The above example is a great way to increase brand awareness. By partnering with different brands or influencers and requiring each person’s audience to follow all of the giveaway partners, you’re reaching entirely new audiences and increasing awareness of your brand.

3. Increase your email list

One popular method of gaining entries to a contest or giveaway is requesting people sign up and enter their name and email address as a form of entry. As long as you detail what they’re signing up for in your opt-in box and terms and conditions, you can add these entries to your email list.

When you read the description of the above giveaway, there are several different ways to enter, but you get double the chance if you sign up for The Whitening Co’s email list.

This is a great way to increase your lead generation through hosting giveaways, and this example also shows a really good way to be candid about what users are signing up for.

4. Jumpstart your engagement

Social media competitions are a great way to increase buzz around your page and get your followers engaging with your content.

s you can see from the examples above, almost any route to running a contest will lead to your brand getting additional exposure and more audience insight.

Be ready to use the boost of interest a well-targeted contest will generate and follow up with additional impactful social content.

How to run a social media contest

Now that you understand the benefits that running a social media contest can have for your business, let’s get serious.

There are a few steps that need to be taken each time you get started with a new contest or giveaway, so we’ll run through each one so you know exactly how to get started on your own.

Step 1: Set your goals

You know all about setting SMART goals for social media. Putting together a social media contest isn’t much different.

There are different reasons to host contests, each one leading towards a different type of social media contest or a different form of entry. So what is the goal here?

Determine whether you’re trying to increase social media followers (yes, this is typically a vanity metric, but when you’re aiming for a milestone the 10,000 Instagram followers to get the swipe up feature in Stories, you need to make things happen), generate more leads or simply increase brand awareness.

Each of those can lead to different types of contests, so you need to start out by knowing what you’re trying to achieve.

Step 2: Determine your contest type

After you know what your goals are, you can base the type of contest on what outcome you’re looking for.

If you want to increase your following, request entrants to follow your page or profile to enter. This is especially popular on Instagram.

If you want to generate more leads and increase your email list, you can request that people sign up or enter their email before entering. These can be done on a landing page and linked from any platform, or you can create a tab specifically for your contest.

Or if you’re most interested in simply growing your reach and generating brand awareness, you can partner with other companies and both share the giveaway on your profile, or you can ask entrants to tag a friend as a form of entry and spread the word.

You can even have a social media photo contest as a way of gathering user-generated content for future use. Check out these Instagram photo contest to gather inspiration.

There are many types of social media contests to choose from, but they all depend on your audience and your goals.

Step 3: Pinpoint your budget and prizes

You need to know what your marketing department is willing and able to spend on the contest or giveaway.

If you plan on doing these regularly – which is a great strategy to keep your followers excited and engaged – make sure you plan out a budget for the year.

Once you know how much you’re able to spend on the giveaway, you can break it up between ads to promote the contest and money to put behind the prize. Decide if you’re going to give away product, a cash prize or something else altogether.

Just remember that your prize needs to be something relevant to your specific audience so that you’re not attracting entrants that will never convert to customers.

Step 4: Know your audience

First of all, you need to know who your audience is and where they spend their time on social media. Once you understand this, you’re able to determine which platform(s) you should be focusing on with your social media sweepstakes.

Knowing and understanding your audience can also help you determine what type of prize or contest would make the most sense.

What would entice your audience to enter a giveaway? What kinds of actions would they be willing to take?

Remember that your contests should cater to your customers and target audience, not just potential entrants, so everything you do should stay as relevant as possible.

For instance, add labels and familiar language when you’re addressing your target audience. Tech companies might call out for marketers, while clothing companies appeal to “fashionistas.”

Step 5: Test different platforms

Whenever you’re trying out a new strategy, you should always, always, always test it out in many different ways.

In this case, you should be testing out different platforms to see which one generates the largest response to your social media giveaways. While there seem to be never-ending options when it comes to social platforms, there’s always a number one when it comes to strategy performance.

Figure out if , , Instagram or another platform will generate the best results, then focus on that platform to lead your future recurring contests.

You can also skip this step if you already know there’s a social media platform that outperforms all of the rest for your business. You want to stick to what you know works, so don’t waste time testing if you’ve seen proven results thus far.

Step 6: Understand contest rules

Each platform has specific rules for contests that you must adhere to in order to remain in compliance. Make sure that you read, understand and follow each of the rules for the platform you’ve chosen.

Here are a few of the most important rules for contests on each platform.

You can check out their full guidelines here, but it’s important to remember that you need to clearly state what the contest or promotion is. Be sure to let your audience know that is in no way affiliated with or a sponsor of your contest.

And you also cannot use friend connections to increase the reach of your contest, having people share the post for more entries, or even tagging friends in a post as a form of entry.

The most important concern for contests is stopping the creation of multiple fake accounts and the dissemination of duplicate tweets across accounts.

This is why their guidelines focus on ensuring users running contests and promotions discourage their entrants from creating multiple accounts and tweeting the exact same thing over and over again.


Instagram is owned by , so many of their guidelines are similar. For example, you must let your audience know that Instagram is not in any way sponsoring, administering or endorsing your contest.

Furthermore, you cannot inaccurately tag content or encourage your audience to do so, i.e., do not tag users in a photo if they are not in that photo.

Once you’ve chosen your platform, be sure you know the social media contest rules the back of your hand.

Step 7: Run your contest

We’ve made it! It’s time to start that contest. Announce it on your chosen social media platform, run ads to increase your reach even further and cross-promote it on other platforms, your email newsletter and even your website to create more buzz.

Announce your prizes, set the length of your contest and watch as the entries pour in.

Step 8: Measure your results

Once your contest is over, you’ve announced your winner and sent off their prize, it’s time to dig in and check out concrete results.

How well did your social media contest actually perform?

This goes all the way back to your goal. What were you trying to achieve? You want to measure results what your objectives were from the start.

And you can use Sprout Social’s reports to help you measure each one of them.

Check the report specific to the platform you ran your contest on, pull your trends report to measure hashtag use and review how engagement shows the impact of your contest.

Contests on social media should be all about improving engagement, reach, followers and potential customers, and you want to make sure you’re on the up and up by consistently checking in on your reports and testing new contest types and platforms.

Get help on your next social media contest

Running contests on social media is a great way to get your audience more involved in your online presence, but you want to make sure that you’re seeing results.

Testing different platforms, playing with contest types and alternating prizes are all great ways to see success from your social media contests. You also want to ensure that you’re only promoting your contest and giving away freebies to your target audience.

Follow the above eight steps to create a successful social media contest that converts. Start a free Sprout Social trial and see how Sprout’s features can make running and monitoring the results of your contest even easier.





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