When it comes to contests on social media, Facebook normally gets all of the attention, with marketers and contest apps focusing most of their efforts there.
Now that Instagram is growing in popularity, photo and hashtag contests are booming there, too.
But what about Twitter? Twitter’s viral nature makes it the perfect platform to promote contests, potentially leading to increased engagement.
Hosting a contest on Twitter can be a bit different than hosting a contest on other platforms, so we’re going to focus this post on why you should host a contest on Twitter, how to run it, and best practices for success.
Why Host a Contest on Twitter?
Hosting a contest on Twitter offers the same benefits it does across all other social media platforms; it can provide a boost in engagement, increase your followers (and thus your reach and visibility), and be efficient in promoting your brand in a positive way. Plenty of users get excited about contests, and if they can incorporate their creativity or sense of humor (in an appropriate way), even better.
Twitter contests are a great way to build a relationship and loyalty with your customers, and you’re doing so quickly, in an entertaining way, and without a lot of financial cost—only one person has to win the prize, after all.
Twitter Contest Guidelines
Before hosting a contest on Twitter, it’s always a good idea to brush up on promotional guidelines for the platform. Twitter’s guidelines include:
- Discourage users from creating multiple accounts. This should be a rule stated somewhere.
- Discourage users from posting the same Tweet repeatedly.
- Uphold applicable laws and regulations (for example, no one under 21 can participate in a contest run by a liquor company).
- Encourage the use of relevant topics to the contest.
- Follow all Twitter rules.
- Ask users to @reply to you in their entry so that you can track all entries. This helps you to pick a winner, but also to measure overall engagement.
For more information about these guidelines, you can check out Twitter’s post on it here.
How to Run a Twitter Contest
When choosing how you want to run your twitter contests, you’ll first need to decide what type of contest you want to host. When choosing the type of Twitter contest you want to run, you want to keep your goal in mind. Using contest apps for sweepstakes contests, for example, can help you build your email list, while other types of contests may not.
Popular examples of different types of Twitter contests you can host include:
- Photo contests. This is one of the most popular types of social media contests, and it includes participants taking a picture (often with your product) and sharing it on the designated platform. They can do this on Twitter either by replying to your contest Tweet and/or attaching a designated hashtag. These requires some effort, and users can have a lot of fun with them, and they’re easy to run. If you encourage users to take pictures with your product, you can also boost sales.
- Retweet contests. This is pretty straightforward and can get you a ton of engagement just because it’s so easy for users to participate; all they have to do is retweet your original contest tweet. You can ask that they add their own thoughts to the retweet if you want to add an extra layer user engagement.
Retweet contests are easy to participate in, and even easier for you to monitor; you just have to view the retweets to pick a winner.
- Hashtag contests. Another popular type of contest that can yield great results, Hashtag contests are ideal for Twitter (and Instagram). You ask users to submit their entries—whatever those entries may be—and attaching a designated, branded hashtag. You can request that these entries be anything; they can be an answer to a question, an opinion on a product, a creative use for your product, or anything else you can think of. When it’s time to pick a winner, you just search for the hashtag and select the entry of your choosing.
- Caption contests. Caption contests are exactly what they sound like; the contest host posts an image on Twitter along with the contest information, and users are asked to reply to the Tweet with a caption as their entry. These contests can be a lot of fun for users, increasing engagement, and let’s users show off their sense of humor and creativity. If you ask them to reply to the original tweet, it can be incredibly easy to track entries and choose a winner.
- Sweepstakes. Sweepstakes contests allow users to enter information like their name and email in exchange for a chance at winning a grand prize. They can be hosted on Twitter, but to do so, you really need to use a third party contest app like Wishpond or Woobox. These apps create landing pages that you can post to Twitter, where users can safely enter their information.
Sweepstakes are a great way to build your email list, especially if the prize is considered valuable by your audience. They’re worth the cost of the contest apps, hands down.
Once you’ve decided on a type of contest, you need to decide on a start and end date, a prize, how many prizes you’ll give out, how you’ll choose winners (will it be random, or the “best entry?”), how you’ll notify winners (normally this is done in a public post and/or private message), and your official rules.
Due to Twitter’s character limit, it can benefit businesses to have a landing page on their main website detailing the contests’ rules and other necessary information. This page should direct users to the necessary Tweet, and can be shared across multiple social media sites to get additional eyes—and engagement—for your contest.
Best Practices for Twitter Contests
Stating that you’re running a contest on Twitter often isn’t enough to generate the hype and excitement—and results—that you’re looking for. There are several best practices, tips, and strategies you can put in place to increase your positive results and the success of the contest.
These best practices and tips include:
- Use a customized hashtag. Even if you aren’t running a hashtag contest, it’s still a good idea to use a customized hashtag. It can help generate excitement and engagement with your contest, and make it easier for you to track the overall impact your contest had—even outside of direct entries. If nothing else, make sure to ask users to use your regular branded hashtag during the contest.
- Have an impending deadline. Choosing the right time frame for the contest can be essential to its success. You want to have there be enough time to promote the contest and get plenty of entries and results, but you don’t want it to go on so long that people either lose interest or feel no sense of urgency to enter soon (decreasing the chance that they’ll ever enter). Having a contest last a week to a month seems to be a sweet spot for a fair number of small and medium businesses that I’ve worked with; the urgency is there, but you’ve got time for people to find out about the contest and participate.
- Don’t be afraid of Twitter Ads. Twitter Ads can be expensive, but they can also have pretty good results. If you think it will take off, using Promoted Tweets or Trending Topics (via your customized hashtag) could help get a ton of interested eyes on your contest, increasing engagement on the platform.
- Promote your contest off Twitter. Even if you only want to run a Twitter contest and don’t want to make it possible to enter from different social media sites (which can be hard to track without contest apps), it’s still a good idea to promote your Twitter contest on other platforms. You may have likes on Facebook who haven’t followed you on Twitter, for example. It also helps to send an email out to your list informing them of the contest. The more people who find out about the contest, after all, increases your odds that more people will participate.
- Continue to tweet about it. Since plenty of Twitter contests rely on having users interact with one specific Tweet, some businesses seem to be wary of tweeting about it later on. This is unfortunate, since it deprives them of the chance to continue to promote the contest to relevant users who might have just missed or forgotten about the first tweet. When promoting your contest on Twitter, always link back to the original Tweet users need to interact with, and make sure to specify that in the text of the new post.
Continued tweets can mean continued engagement, which means a big boost in social proof— and we all know how important social proof can be.
Twitter contests can increase engagement, loyalty and rapport with current clients, and help you connect with new followers. It can help to promote your brand and products, and it does so in a fun, positive way that you get some control over. With the right type of contest and the right strategies in place, Twitter contests can offer a slew of highly beneficial results at very low cost. Who could say no to that?
What do you think? Which strategies and practices do you use to increase engagement and get results from Twitter contests? Have you ever used any of the contest apps? Leave us a comment and let us know what you think!