Twitter contests can help businesses small and large build buzz, increase followers, and promote a brand. If you are not familiar with Twitter jargon, here are a few basic definitions:
Tweet: A message of 140 characters or less that is displayed to your followers on Twitter
Follow: “Following” someone on Twitter means you see their Tweets, and if they follow you, they will see yours.
RT: Also known as a Retweet, this is re-posting another user’s tweet to your own network
Hashtags: Hashtags are hyperlinked keywords with pound signs in front of them that link the reader to all other mentions of that word.
There are several types of contest that can be run on Twitter: Follower Gathering, Hashtags, Sign-Ups and Retweets. The purpose if a Follower Gathering contest on Twitter is to get more followers, resulting in more exposure. Participants are eligible to win the prize when a set number of followers are reached, so users will encourage others to follow the account holding the contest. Hashtags contests work based on the qualification that contestants must incorporate the hashtag of the company into their tweet to enter. Sign-up contests are used to build contact lists, where people provide their information in exchange for a chance to win. Retweet contests enter everyone who retweets the promotional tweet into a pool to win the prize.
To understand what type of contest to do, Chirrps.com is a good resource. The site continually lists the most retweeted tweets. This provides a good idea of what formats, wording and subject matter are more likely to get retweeted. There is even a “promotions” category at the top where the most popular promotions and contests are listed.
Twitter contest have caught on so quickly because people love the chance to get something for free, but simply running a contest is not enough to ensure that it will be a success. Give-a-ways and contests on Twitter first shot up in popularity in mid 2009 when Moonfruit, a London-based website-building company, increased their followers from 400 to 47,000 in only a few days. Traffic to Moonfruit’s home page went up astronomically.
Moonfruit gave away 10 Apple MacBook Pros over a week-long period. Contestants were asked to write one tweet that included “#Moonfruit” in order to be entered. This is the hashtag method mentioned previously. A successful Twitter contest starts with having a successful Twitter account. The contest will draw attention to the business, but that attention won’t last if new followers do not stick around. To avoid being unfollowed or forgotten as soon as the contest ends, the overall account needs to provide interesting or useful content.
Making the company’s product the prize of the contest showcases the value of the product, and means no extra expenses (buying 10 MacBooks for example). The product should be something people will really want or need. Giving away something too small or common may actually discourage interest.
Finally, contest should find some middle ground between too long and too short. Having a one-day contest may seem like a way to add urgency to the contest, but in reality it will probably just prevent it from reaching a large number of people. Alternately, if a contest lasts for over a month, it can result in people losing interest or forgetting. The ideal length for a contest is around seven to ten days.
By Michael Williams