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How To Run A Twitter Contest

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

Twitter contests can help you engage your audience and generate new leads with an unparalleled level of efficiency and effectiveness, and with Gleam's low cost, high impact Competitions app running an online contest or giveaway has never been easier.

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

The Benefits of Running a Twitter Contest

Growing Your Following

Twitter 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 actions from your followers which is a great wait to expose yourself to a new audience. 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.

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

Engaging Your Existing Fans

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 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 presence then promotions such as contests or giveaways are an absolute necessity.

Promoting Your Offerings

Running a contest can be an extremely cost effective way to amplify your reach on Twitter 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 Twitter might be to giveaway some $200 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 offerings.

Collecting User-Generated Content

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 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.

Learn More About Running a Photo Contest

Twitter's Promotional Guidelines

Now that we've taken a look at some of the key benefits of Twitter 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, 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 Rules, Twitter's search policies, and any applicable local laws and regulations.

Deciding What Type of Contest to Run

When it comes to running a contest on Twitter, 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 you're 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.

Frictionless Twitter Contests

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

Follow + Retweet this Tweet

This is the most common type of contest you'll see in your Twitter 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 contest type is that while you can grow yoir following and engage your audience, you don't actually capture any marketable information from your entrants other than their Twitter 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.

Tweet With a Hashtag

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 pull hashtagged images into a gallery which showcases all the user-generated content you collect.

Twitter Photo Contests

As we just alluded to above, with Gleam's Competitions App you can run a 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.

By running a Twitter 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 Twitter make sure you have a Gallery ready to collect and display submissions.

Learn More About Running a Photo Contest


Run Your Own Photo Contest

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 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.

In-App Contests

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

Running a Twitter contest with Gleam isn't frictionless, as it requires users to leave Twitter (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 Twitter contest with Gleam, administering entries, drawing winners, and collecting email addresses from contastants are no longer challenges.

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

As engaging and easy as a simple frictionless Twitter contest can be, you'll never be able to drive nearly as many powerful actions and generated 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 contest could look like with Gleam:

Twitter Example Competition

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

Follow On Twitter

If you're looking to run a Twitter contest then it's fairly safe to say that you want to grow your Twitter 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.

Twitter > Follow On Twitter

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 particular product, a special offering or even your contest.

Twitter > Tweet

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 particular announcement or piece of content you want to draw attention to then this action should definitely make it into your contest.

Twitter > Retweet a Tweet

Select a Photo From Twitter

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.

Twitter > Select Photo

Other Social Media Actions

Twitter probably isn't the only social media platform you're active on, so why not use your contest to promote some of them 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 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 Twitter, you might as well drive some mailing list growth as well.

Subscribe to a Newsletter

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

Setting Up Your Contest

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 presence a serious boost.

Terms & Conditions

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.

Contest Duration

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 Twitter 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 publically 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, 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 recieve. It's as simple as that.

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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