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How To Run A Twitter Contest

Gleam is a low cost, impact platform that can help you get the most value out of your ongoing Twitter competitions.

Running contests on Twitter is one of the most impactful ways to drive engagement for your business. There's a huge number of positives effects it an have on your userbase:

Converts Casual Users into Followers

Twitter contests can be that initial touchpoint for people that have never heard of your business or product before. They may see a friend enter, become intruiged & ultimately become connected to you via a follow. The more impactful your contest is, the more of these types of users you can hope to reach.

Helps You Engage Existing Fans

Research has found that one of the top reasons users follow brands on social media is to either stay updated or to get access to promotions & coupon codes. All you need to do is look at any brand that runs competitions on Twitter to see how the engagement of those Tweets compare to normal everyday ones.

Amplifies Your Reach on Twitter

A contest can be an extremely cost effective way to amplify your reach on Twitter, especially if you're asking users for Retweets, viral referrals or to Tweet with a specific #hashtag.

Let's say for example that your online store is running a storewide sale next week. A smart way to leverage a promotion on Twitter might be to giveaway some $200 gift vouchers to spend during the sale. This way you engage followers, but also get the word out about your sale. Essentially you can use Twitter contests to achieve multiple marketing objectives.

Deciding What Type of Contest to Run

The type of contest that you run on Twitter should be determined by your overall objectives.

Frictionless Twitter Contests

The first type of contest that is common on Twitter is what we like to call frictionless. These types of contests are easier for the contestant to enter because they will never have to leave Twitter, or hand over any personal information to you.

The downside of frictionless contests are that you forfeit the ability to capture identifable or marketable information about your entrants. Twitter doesn't give you email addresses (even via the API). Therefore these types of contests are best for short engaging campaigns, rather than driving revenue or sales.

Follow + Retweet this Tweet

This is the most common example you'll see in your Twitter stream. This type of contest is also one of the easiest to setup, you just compose your Tweet & let your followers do the rest.

The downside of this particular contest type is that you don't actually capture any marketable information from your entrants. Other than their Twitter profile URL.

You will also need a way to track who is actually Retweeting the contest Tweet, then also pick a random winner from it.

Tweet With a Hashtag

Hashtags are a common way to increase brand or product awareness. You can use hashtags to get users to be more creative with their contest entries, plus the advantage of hashtags is that they can trend in the Twitter sidebar.

The upside of this particular type of contest is that you can also use various products to pull your hashtags or images into a gallery or board to show the user generated content to your customers.

The downside to this sort of contest is again the control over the user, 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 con't capture their details.

In-App Contests

The second type of contest that you'll see on Twitter involves some sort of application that businesses use to administer the entries - for example, Gleam. This isn't frictionless, as it requires the user to leave Twitter & enter their details or complete a set of actions.

The advantage of these types of Twitter contests though is that you can combine the power of the frictionless contest with an app contest, to not only get lots of Followers & Retweets, but also email addresses & other actions too.

Consider this example, above from a contest that was run on Twitter & Facebook. They had over 1300+ users enter & were able to drive email signups, Facebook Likes & Instagram followers instead of just a Retweet or a Follow. All by asking the users to do the same thing they'd normally ask, but including an external link to their application which was ready to capture the important details from entrants.

Here's an example of what the user might see once they leave Twitter:

Email Subscribe Example

Notice how we can ask them to do a LOT more than you can ask within a single Tweet.

Choosing Your Prize

The prize is the centerpiece of your campaign, you want to giveaway something that resonates with the type of audience you want to attract.

Use Your Own Products

The first type of prize that makes sense for most businesses is one of their own products or services. After all, those that are already following you do so for a reason. Time to engage them :)

Do Regular Gift Voucher Giveaways

Gift vouchers are a great way to run simple, yet effective contests without much thought or financial outlay. They can normally be delivered instantly to the winner, which means you can do quick contests that might only last a very short period of time.

Vouchers are also good if you align them with a specific event or sale you have running. You can use your voucher contest to also promote the sale.

Giveaway Something Unique (or First)

People love 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)

Promoting Your Twitter Contest

Once you've decided on the type of contest you're running & the prize you'll need to consider how to promote it. Promotion is an often overlooked part of the process, which can result in a huge increase in entries & awareness.

Post it on Twitter (with Images)

The first point of call will be announcing the contest on your Twitter stream. Make sure to use images to increase engagement (especially if you're asking followers to Retweet).

Announce it to Your Subscribers

The second thing to do is get the contest in-front of your existing email subscribers. This will mean crafting a newsletter with imagery & choosing the best time to send.

Cross-post on Other Social Networks

A lot of businesses get caught up in just running their contest on Twitter. There's huge value in exposing contests to all your social networks, this helps convert users from Facebook to Twitter (and vice versa).

You can also use your social networks to announce winners & get people pumped for your next contest.

Use Partners

Build a list of partners that can help you promote your contests. Typical partnerships might be:

  • Companies that supply you products
  • Bloggers / PR companies
  • Celebrities or endorsements
  • Complimentary businesses, for example if you have a hair product you might partner with hair salons

Embed it on Your Own Site

An often overlooked aspect of any contest is that you can run them on your own site, completely outside social networks - but use the social network as a catalyst for driving growth.

Use Twitter Ads

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