When the closing date has passed, you'll need to pick a winner(s) and end the competition. We suggest you pick the winner of your competition and announce it on your website and/or social media channels asap. Too many competitions close, get left for a while, then disappear with no winners announced. By posting a Winner's List it also shows people the competition was won, and this gives them confidence in your website! It also gives them encouragement to come back and look over your site too.
Winners should be picked entirely at random. So that means no favouritism based on friendship, email addresses, or anything else. If you've ran a free prize draw then don't just pick the first entry as the winner unless your rules clearly stated that that was how winners were picked! Try and get an independent person involved in picking the winners. If your entries are stored in a database, use a RAND() SQL call to pick a random name. Alternatively you can use something like Name Picker or Randomizer.
With social media picking a winner can be a little more tricky. However there are tools available such as Wask (Instagram), Retweet Picker (Twitter), Twitrand (Twitter) and Comment Picker (Facebook). We've not used any of these tools by the way so we're not sure how good they are for purpose. With our own competitions we use apps like Gleam, Rafflecopter and Rafflepress which have a winner selection tool built in.
Occasionally a winner may not respond to your "you've won a prize" email. Our advice is to try and contact them after 14 days and 28 days. At 28 days inform them via email that if no reply is received within 7 days that the prize will be redrawn. If the time has expired then redraw the competition. In cases where the prizes are time sensitive, e.g concert tickets, then apply common sense but do ensure that your communication indicates that prizes must be claimed.
Don't forget about the competition! It's bad practice to leave a page saying "winners announced shortly" for months on end - and on the web it is something that even the major websites do! Perform the draw, judge the competition, choose a winner as soon as possible. Inform the lucky winners by email, and if they're willing announce their names on the webpage.
Once you've announced the winner, send the prize out as soon as possible. If there are problems regarding the prize, such as a delay in getting it mailed off, stay in contact with the winner letting them know of any problems. This is very important. Winners can often become frustrated (and even irate) when their prize doesn't show up (some people are impatient and expect their prizes the next day, but 14-28 days after notification is a reasonable and adequate time period). By maintaining contact and keeping them informed of progress they will at least know you are doing all you can to help them.
We have a Winners List section on Loquax and you're more than welcome (in fact we'd love you to) to post your latest winners on the site. Some of our users do this for you, but if you can do it then that'd be great. Announcing winners shows that you run good promotions and this encourages revisits for further giveaways and hopefully even a few sales if you're a retailer.
Sadly there have been a few scam issues on social media where wrong or false accounts have claimed a prize. A promoter has posted that "John Smith" has won and the wrong John Smith or someone who's quickly created a bogus account in order to steal the prize. Our advice is pick your winner and contact them on social media DMs before you announce they've won. Don't ask entrants to claim their prize ever!