How To Run A Twitter / X Contest

Learn how to run a successful Twitter / X contest with this helpful guide.

If you're a business with an active Twitter / X profile then there might not be anything you can do to drive online engagement that will be as effective as running a contest.

Before we get into exactly how you can put together the perfect X Contest, let's take a look at exactly why X contests are so powerful.

Twitter / X contests can provide you with an outstanding opportunity to grow your online following by acting as an initial touchpoint for people who have never heard of your brand or product.

By running a contest you will drive powerful actions from your followers and expose yourself to a new audience in the process. This is because potential new users may see a friend enter your contest or complete an action, become intrigued by your brand and ultimately enter your contest themselves or follow you on Twitter / X.

The more engaging and impactful your contest is, the more of these types of users you can expect to reach and connect with.

Research has found that some of the most common reasons users follow brands on social media are to stay up-to-date on the brand's activity or to gain access to promotions, giveaways and coupons. Take a look at any brand that runs contests on Twitter / X and you'll notice how their audience engagement gets a sizeable boost when compared to their normal tweets.

It's no surprise that the content which most users are seeking out is also the content which engages them the most, and therefore the exact type of content you want to be producing. If you can successfully engage your audience on a consistent basis you will be able to build brand loyalty, achieve top-of-mind awareness and ultimately drive sales. So if you really want to engage your following and make the most of your Twitter / X presence then promotions such as contests or giveaways are an absolute necessity.

Running a contest can be an extremely cost-effective way to amplify your reach on Twitter / X and promote a particular offering. This is especially the case if you're using your contest to incentivise Retweets, viral referrals or Tweets with a specific #hashtag.

For example, let's say you run an e-commerce website that is running a storewide sale next week. A smart way to leverage this promotion on X might be to giveaway some $50 gift vouchers to spend during the sale. This way you will engage your followers with a giveaway whilst also getting the word out about your sale.

Implementing similar tactics can also work wonders for the promotion of new product launches, your regular offerings, new content or even your other social media channels. It's a great way to achieve multiple marketing objectives at once as you can expertly engage your audience all while promoting your various offerings.

User-Generated Content is one of the most powerful resources a marketer can get their hands on. It's authentic, reliable, highly engaging and essentially free. UGC has a unique ability to connect with an audience and build trust. It will make for an incredibly valuable addition to any marketing strategy, and there's no better way to get your hands on it than by running a photo contest.

UGC isn't only valuable once you've gotten your hands on it. Contests which ask users to submit photos for a chance to win will engage your Twitter / X audience, allow your fans to get actively involved with your business and spread your brand message to a huge online audience of potential followers, so there's really no downside.

Run Your Own Photo Contest
Learn More About Photo Contests

Find out everything you need to know about setting up your own engaging photo contest and displaying submissions in a stylish gallery.

Now that we've taken a look at some of the key benefits of Twitter / X contests you're probably itching to get out there and run your own, but before you get started with any contest it's always a good idea to familiarise yourself with the platform's promotional guidelines. We encourage you to take a look at the guidelines yourself, but here's a quick overview:

  • You can use contests to incentivise actions such as following you on Twitter / X, retweeting one of your posts, or using a specified #hashtag. These are all powerful actions that are definitely worth encouraging.
  • You should try to discourage the creation of multiple accounts by creating a rule that deems anyone who uses multiple accounts to enter ineligible.
  • You should discourage the repeated posting of the same tweet by avoiding rules such as “whoever Retweets this the most wins”.
  • You should encourage the use of topics relevant to your contest. If you ask users to use a certain #hashtag you should encourage them to make their whole tweet relevant to your brand or giveaway.
  • Remember to follow the Twitter / X Rules, Twitter / X's search policies, and any applicable local laws and regulations.

When it comes to running a contest on Twitter / X, you have a lot of different options to choose from. There's no real right or wrong answer, it all comes down to what will work best for you and what will help you achieve your overall objectives. For instance, if your main aim is to generate photos of satisfied customers you'll be running a contest which is quite different to one designed to promote an upcoming sale.

To help you navigate these choices and figure out exactly what kind of contest is best for you, we're going to give you a rundown of the types of contest you can choose from.

The first types of contests we'll go over are what we call direct or frictionless contests. These types of campaigns are a common occurrence on X, and they're very easy for contestants to enter as they will never have to leave Twitter / X or hand over any personal information.

The downside of frictionless contests is that you will forfeit the ability to capture identifiable or marketable information about your entrants, and X doesn't give you email addresses (even via the API). It's because of this that these types of contests are best for short campaigns which simply aim to engage your audience and spread awareness rather than drive revenue or sales.

Before we get into how you can run a more comprehensive contest, let's take a look at a few frictionless contests you can run to drive instant engagement.

This is the most common type of contest you'll see on your Twitter / X stream, it's also one of the easiest to setup. All you need to do is compose your Tweet and let your followers do the rest.

The downside of this particular type of contest is that while you can grow your following and engage your audience, you don't actually capture any marketable information from your entrants other than their Twitter / X profile URL.

You will also need to find a way to track who is actually Retweeting the contest Tweet and pick a random winner from the list.

Hashtags are a common way to increase brand or product awareness, and if you have your own branded hashtag then contests are a great way to incentivise their use. Asking users to tweet with your hashtag as a contest entry is a great way to engage your audience by encouraging creativity, and if you're lucky you might even get your hashtag trending which is a phenomenal way to reach a huge audience.

The downside to this sort of contest is that you have no real control over what users do with your hashtag. On some occasions these sorts of contests can spiral out of control into a PR nightmare; plus you still don't really get any marketable data from your entrants if you can't capture their details.

The upside of this particular type of contest is that in addition to engaging your fans, you can also use Gleam's import actions to collect entries and pull hashtagged images into a gallery which showcases all the user-generated content you collect.

Another great way to engage your following on Twitter / X and give people an extra reason to pay close attention to your feed is running contests where people can reply to one of your tweets for a chance to win a prize.

These types of contests can give you a great opportunity to directly engage with your fanbase and ask for ideas, feedback, testimonials or anything else that can help you strengthen your audience relationships.

Picking winners for these types of giveaways can be a pain if you take the manual route and individually record every entrant and enter them into a random name generator, but luckily there's an easier option with Gleam.

You can use our import actions to automatically collect entries from X replies and draw random winners as soon as you're ready. You can even filter replies by words or hashtags to ensure entrants are following any submission guidelines you may have.

As we just alluded to above, with Gleam's Competitions App you can run frictionless contests that allow you to automatically award entries to users who tweet an image adorned with your designated hashtag.

With Gleam's import actions it's as easy as setting up your Gleam Competition, choosing your hashtag, and watching the app collect your submissions for you.

Import media from Twitter / X #hashtags in Gleam Competitions

By running a Twitter / X photo contest with Gleam you won't only be able to automatically enter hashtagged photos into your contest, you'll also be able to have submitted images instantly uploaded to a photo gallery.

Setting up a stunning Competition Gallery with Gleam is the perfect way to collect UGC, liven up your website and engage your audience. So if you decide to run a photo contest on X make sure you have a Gallery ready to collect and display submissions.

Run Your Own Photo Contest
Run Your Own Photo Contest

Check out our guide on setting up your own photo contest or get started right away!

If you run a frictionless photo contest with Gleam, administering entries and selecting winners (randomly or manually) will be significantly easier than it will be for the other types of frictionless contests we've discussed. However, you will still not be able to collect any marketable information from your entrants other than their Twitter / X profile URL.

If you do want to collect user information like email addresses whilst driving a huge range of actions (including photo submissions), then you should seriously consider running this next type of competition.

An In-App Contest is probably the most powerful type of Twitter / X contest you can run, and with Gleam's Competitions App organising and coordinating one has never been easier.

Running a Twitter / X contest with Gleam isn't frictionless, as it requires users to leave Twitter / X (via a link you share) and enter their details. However, these contests will help you drive more powerful actions such as follows, retweets, hashtag usage and much more. You will also be able to drive multiple actions from each user instead of the single action you are typically limited to in a frictionless contest. Also, when you run a X contest with Gleam, administering entries, drawing winners, and collecting email addresses from contestants are no longer challenges.

Brands such as Adore Me, Beardbrand, Wet Shave Club and many more have all had huge success using Gleam to run their own contests. In their early days, both Beardbrand and Wet Shave Club were able to acquire over 500 new Twitter / X followers, attract over a thousand followers across other social media platforms, and collect thousands of email addresses all by running a contest with Gleam.

As engaging and easy to as a simple frictionless Twitter / X contest can be, you'll never be able to drive nearly as many powerful actions and generate as much user engagement as you can by running an in-app contest with Gleam.

Take a look at our demo contest below and get a feel for what your own Twitter / X contest could look like with Gleam:

Looking at the demo above you should notice how you can ask your users to do a lot more than you can ask them to do in a single tweet, and this example barely scratches the surface of all the entry actions available with Gleam.

Deciding on what entry actions you want to use is one of the biggest decisions you'll need to make when running a X Contest, so to help you get started we're going to run you through some of your best options

Follow On Twitter / X

If you're looking to run aTwitter / X contest then it's fairly safe to say that you want to grow your X presence, and there's no more direct way to do this than by incentivising users to follow you with a contest entry. This is an outstanding way to grow your following, just make sure you keep engaging your new followers once the competition has wrapped up.

Post a Tweet

You can write a Tweet and award users a contest entry for posting it from their own account. This is perfect for reaching a wide audience and spreading a particular message. You can get users to Tweet about your brand, a certain product, a special offering or even your contest.

Retweet a Tweet

Similarly to getting users to Tweet a pre-designed message, you can also get them to Retweet one of your own Tweets. If you have a specific announcement or piece of content you want to draw attention to then this action should definitely make it into your contest.

View a Tweet

If you have a particular Tweet that you would like to draw attention to you can use the View Tweet action to display the post to users from within the Competition widget.

Select a Photo From Twitter / X

If you want to use your contest to collect user-generated content then it's a good idea to use the import actions we discussed earlier, but you can also use the Select a Photo action and allow users to choose a photo from their Twitter feed and submit it as a contest entry. You can also restrict submissions to a particular hashtag if you choose.

Import Hashtags From Twitter / X

As well as helping you collect user-generated content and put it on display in a gallery, our X Hashtag Import actions are also a great way to run a contest and collect entries without requiring users to ever leave X.

Twitter / X probably isn't the only social media platform you're active on, so why not use your contest to promote some of your other channels as well?

You can drive a variety of powerful actions across Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, SoundCloud, Twitch, Tumblr, Pinterest and more. So whatever other platforms you use, you can drive their growth with a variety of powerful actions.

Subscribe to a Mailing List

Email marketing is one of the most powerful promotional tools you have at your disposal. So as you set out to grow your presence on X, you might as well drive some mailing list growth as well.

This is only a small selection of the actions available on Gleam, but when it comes to growing your presence on Twitter / X and other online platforms they are the most powerful.

Once you've decided on what type of contest you'd like to run, you'll be ready to start setting up your campaign and putting all the pieces in place to run a successful contest that will give your Twitter / X presence a serious boost.

When you run a contest it's crucial that you include your own terms and conditions. This will help users understand exactly what they should expect from your campaign as well as give yourself a baseline set of rules and guidelines to follow.

Here are a few pieces of information we recommend including in your terms and conditions:

  • The name and contact details of the promoting brand.
  • Contest dates (including when submissions close and when a winner will be announced).
  • Rules of who can enter (such as age and employee restrictions).
  • Guidelines of how people can enter.
  • How the winner will be informed.
  • How the winner will be selected.
  • The time period the winner has to claim their prize.
  • The specifics of the prize (including the number of prizes, a description of the prizes, and any caveats).
  • Details of how the prize will be delivered.

If you run your competition with Gleam all you have to do to set up your terms and conditions is write them out and watch as they are automatically embedded in your widget.

Another important decision you will be faced with is how long you want your contest to run for. This, in large part, comes down to what type of contest you're running. If you're running a frictionless contest which is giving away a small prize to a user who retweets a post or follows you on X then you probably don't want the contest to last more than a few days. These types of contests are best for generating some quick engagement, so you want to be able to announce the contest, generate actions and publicly reward the winner before people start to lose interest.

If you decide to run an in-app contest with more entry actions and a more valuable prize then you'll want to run your campaign for longer. We recommend keeping your contest active for at least a month. This will give you enough time gain traction, drive a substantial amount of actions, and make sure you're getting enough value back from your prize. By running your contest with Gleam you won't have to worry about manually keeping track of entries, and you can easily keep drawing people's attention to your campaign by regularly promoting it on Twitter / X. So if this is the type of contest you opt to run there's no real downside to a lengthier duration.

If the primary goal of your contest is to procure user-generated content then it's advisable to keep your contest running for several months. The longer your contest is open for the more submissions you will receive. It's as simple as that.

Your contest's prize is the centrepiece of the entire campaign. It's what will drive the actions that will propel your brand's growth, so it's important that you pick a good one.

You want to choose a prize that will resonate with the audience that you're trying to attract. By picking generic gifts you run the risk of encouraging entry from users who want to win the prize while having no interest in your brand or product, so remember to pick a prize that is targeted towards people who are likely to have a genuine interest in what you do.

You also want to make sure your prize is valuable enough to justify the effort of entering your contest. The more you're asking users to do, the more you should be giving them in return.

To help you get your prize selection underway, here are few ideas for highly effective contest prizes:

For most businesses, giving away some of your own products or services makes for a perfect prize. After all, there's no better way to ensure that contest entrants are interested in your product than by actually giving away your product.

Giving away a gift voucher for your own store or a store which sells your products is another great way to attract a relevant audience without too much thought or financial outlay. Vouchers can normally be delivered instantly to the winner, which makes this prize perfect for short, engaging contests.

Vouchers are also good for aligning with a specific event or sale you have running. You can even use your voucher contest to also promote the sale.

People love the chance to win something that they wouldn't normally be able to obtain. Things that work well are:

  • Meets & greets with artists / famous people
  • Once off or unique products
  • A newly launched product (that no-one has yet)
  • Experiences / trips
  • Free stuff (T-shirts or goodies from their favourite brands)

Once you've got your contest set up, you'll be ready to go live and start promoting. Promotion is an often overlooked part of the process, but if done right, it can result in a huge increase in entries & awareness.

To help you get started with your promotional efforts here are a few best practice tactics for promoting your X contest.

The single best way to promote your Twitter / X contest is simply by regularly Tweeting about it. Remember to always include images to make your Tweets eye-catching and visually engaging, and always use relevant hashtags to try to get some extra attention. This could be a branded hashtag you regularly use, a hashtag you've specifically created for the contest or even something more generic like #contest or #giveaway.

As well as sharing your contest with all of your Twitter / X followers, you'll also want to make sure everyone on your mailing list is aware of your contest.

Your email subscribers have subscribed because they are interested in your brand and want to know about your latest happenings. Reward them for their interest by sending them timely updates about all your contests. Your mailing list is likely to be made up of people who are very likely to enter your contest, so it's important that they're made aware of all your contests and giveaways.

Promotional email blast for a giveaway

In addition to promoting your contest on Twitter / X it's also a good idea to spread word about your campaign across any other social media networks you're active on such as Facebook and Instagram. This will help you reach a larger audience, increase contest entries and convert your audience on other platforms into Twitter / X followers.

Partnering up with another brand or an influencer is a great way to expose your contest (and brand) to an audience who may not be familiar with you.

You can try reaching out to an influencer within your niche and getting them to promote your contest in exchange for some free product or even just the interesting content.

You could even try partnering up with another brand who sells a complementary product and giving away a product bundle together. For example, if you're a beauty brand then you could partner up with a women's clothing retailer or fashion publication to run a joint contest. This will expose the contest to both brand's followings and help each company reach a new audience.

If you have the budget for it, using Twitter / X's targeted ads can be another great way to gain huge exposure from a relevant audience who would otherwise not be exposed to your contest or brand.

If you run a contest with Gleam then you have the option of embedding your competition into your own website. This means that in addition to being able to drive traffic to your contest from various social media platforms you will also be able to attract attention and encourage entry from your website visitors.

These are the tactics that are likely to be the most effective at promoting a Twitter / X contest, but if you want to check out lots more worthwhile contest promotion strategies then check out our in-depth guide.

Competition Promotion Tips
Learn More About Contest Promotion

Check out our in depth guide for all the information you need on promoting your giveaway.

Once your contest has run its course and you're ready to wrap things up there are a few important tasks you'll need to take care of.

The way you go about drawing winners will depend on the type of contest you run. If you run a frictionless contest then you'll need to find a way to gather all your entries and randomly pick a winner. If you run an in-app contest with Gleam then we'll take care of the whole process for you.

Drawing Contest Winners
Learn About Drawing Contest Winners

Find out everything you need to know about how you can draw contest winners with Gleam.

If you run a photo contest then randomly selecting a winner is still an option, but you may prefer picking a winner yourself based on the quality of submissions. Depending on how many submissions you receive this can be quite a time-consuming task, but if you run your photo contest with Gleam you'll be able to neatly store all of the submissions you receive in a Gallery which will make the whole process a lot easier.

Once you've chosen your winner you'll need to publicly announce who it is and congratulate them for their victory. In the immediate aftermath of your contest you don't want to neglect the other entrants, so consider using your announcement as an opportunity to offer all your users a bonus reward or promote your other upcoming contests.

Another great way to wrap up a contest is by encouraging winners to share a photo of themselves with their prize. This is a great way to wrap up a contest in an engaging and relatable manner while exposing the winner's own social media circles to your brand.

Once your contest comes to a close it's likely that you'll have a lot of new Twitter / X followers whose interest in your brand has been recently piqued. It's crucial that you take advantage of this heightened awareness and attention by posting engaging content which will drive sales or other types of further action as soon as your contest closes.

For example, if you're an e-commerce store try running a sale at the conclusion of your campaign. This will help you drive sales from your new following and develop your consumer relationships before the goodwill you earned during your contest has worn off.


Ahron Burstin

Ahron is a Growth Marketer at Gleam. Shoot him a Tweet if you got something out of this post ☺