How to run a Twitter Competition

So you’ve been on Twitter long enough to build a following that engage with your posts.  They reply, retweet, favourite your posts and you’re relieved that after months of feeling like you’ve been posting to a plank of wood, you’ve finally got a community of people surrounding your Twitter page.

This in itself is an achievement, so if you’ve got this in the bag, great job!  To celebrate, it’s time to run a Twitter competition with your followers.  You’ve got the prize sorted, you’re ready to spend a lot of time on Twitter and you’re giddy with excitement at the thought of making someone’s day but suddenly it strikes you, “how exactly do you go about it?”

As an agency we’ve managed a fair few of these for clients and we would like to share some of the things that we have learned when it comes to running an ‘RT & Follow’ Twitter competition.

Planning

Where to Host?

The first thing you might think is that you need to go to a 3rd party platform to manage the competition for you.  There are many out there offering various ways to host the competition for you.  The fact is you don’t need any of them. The easiest and most effective place to run your competition is right on your Twitter page, and that’s that.

Rules & Regulations

It’s very important to set out the rules and regulations of the competition before you start posting about it.  They are there to save you any trouble when some wise guy tries to take advantage of your kindness. For example, let’s say you’re giving away flights, if you don’t state the times, dates and class they can travel, you could end up with a hefty bill because they want to fly First Class on Christmas Day!

Have a really good think about how people could catch you out and nail them down.  All they have to be is a numbered list of Terms and Conditions which you can host on a Facebook tab or on a dedicated competition page on your website.

Influencer Research

To help your competition fly, you want to engage with influential people on Twitter.  You may already have established relations with a number of people on Twitter with a big following which will come in handy for promoting your competition.  If not, search on Twitter using keywords relevant to your industry and you’ll quickly find the influencers that you’ll be wanting to get in touch with.

Timing

As a general rule Friday’s are the best for 1 day competitions on Twitter so for all the folks who are big on ‘comping’, when they search #win on a Friday morning, they expect plenty of comps to enter.  If however, you know that your following engage with you better on a different day, there is no harm in running one then.

As for longer competitions, if you have a bigger campaign in your strategy that you’d like to tie it in with, run it for longer. However with internet users’ attentions spans at an all-time low, we wouldn’t recommend running it longer than a month.

Hashtag

Choosing a hashtag isn’t as easy as it seems.  It’s important to choose something that isn’t already in heavy use because if you’re looking to report on it for a client or you’re just interested to know the metrics of it all, the various tools available (which I’ll discuss in a bit) base their results on the hashtag.  Therefore when doing your hashtag research, use Twitter’s search function to see if it’s heavily in use during the time of your competition. If it was used by someone else last year and that action has stopped, that’s not a problem, you can re-use it.

Another thing to consider is that if you’re lucky enough for it to trend on Twitter, you want people to clearly know what it is.  You might want to include your brand name – #CarlucciosPicnic, it could describe what you’re giving away – #CookBookGiveAway or it may reflect a bigger campaign’s theme – #SaveTheSerengheti .  Whatever it is keep it unique and no longer than 20 characters so you can fit in a description and call to action in any of your competition tweets.

“The most effective place to run your competition is right on your Twitter page and that’s that”

Tweet Content

The advice on this is the same as constructing any social post, get your key message across as concisely as possible.  If there is some involvement from another Twitter user, mention them.  To get the ‘compers’ involved include #win.  Here’s a good example:

Passion Digital - Twitter Competition Post Example

Existing Followers

Your existing followers might think that as the requirement to enter is to retweet and follow that they can’t enter but this isn’t the case at all! They’ve already done 50% of what is needed to enter, all they have to do is retweet one of the competition posts.  If you sense that your following aren’t clear on this put out a few tweets like:

Passion Digital - Twitter Competition Post Existing Followers

Execution

Regular Posting

If it’s a one day competition, post hourly throughout the day keeping the message consistent but varying the way it’s written as you go to vary it up.  That may seem like a lot of tweets but social media users check their feeds in short bursts and as part of their daily routine.  The people who see your posts in the morning are less likely to see your posts in the afternoon and vice versa.  If the competition is over a longer period of time, post once or twice daily and vary the times of day that you post to capture as many of your followers for the same reason I mentioned above.

One important thing to add to this is that during your competition, you should not just post about it.  Tweet as you normally would, posting updates, engaging in conversations with your followers and sharing great content.  You don’t want your Twitter timeline to be one block of competition tweets and nothing else.

Complaints

As I mentioned, the best practice is to keep tweeting as you should and not let your Twitter timeline become one repeat message after the other. However, there’s always one isn’t there! One of your loyal followers might be annoyed that suddenly they’re seeing all these tweets asking for retweets and follows and that they’re leaving you because it’s not what they expect from you.  DON’T PANIC!

The first thing you do is respond to them and allay their concerns.  Assure them that you get a bit excited when it comes to a competition and your normal top quality tweets will resume once it’s done.

Then our (rather blunt) suggestion is to get on with your business as you planned because if someone finds the time of day to criticise you while you’re having fun and giving away amazing prizes then they’re probably not the most loyal fan of yours anyway.  Although we wouldn’t suggest tweeting any of this to them!

Picking The Winner

Time’s up, it’s time to pick your winner(s)!  Sounds easy but Twitter actually limits the amount of tweets you can see when searching your hashtag and there is no way of exporting them to a manageable format like a CSV.

To see all tweets that include your hashtag there are a number of tools you can use.  We recommend TweetReach, Hashtracking, and Keyhole as great tools to do this.  All of these offer a free trial which is fantastic to see the platforms however to export all tweets, you will need to upgrade at their respective costs.  If it’s a one off competition and you don’t do competitions very often TweetReach offer a onetime report which comes as CSV, PDF and shareable URL for $20/£13.

They also provide insightful analytics into the performance of your competiton (which I’ll discuss in the next section).

“To see tweets with your hashtag we recommend @tweetreachapp, @hashtracking, and @keyholeco”

Analysis

Key Metrics

When looking at the performance of your competiton you can use the tools I mentioned above to look at very in-depth analytics.  The 4 most important metrics to measure are:

Tweets:  # Tweets including your hashtag.

Users:  # Twitter users that engaged with posts including your hashtag.

Reach:  # Twitter accounts a tweet with your hashtag was shown in.

Impressions:  # Times a tweet including your hashtag was generated in users’ timelines.

For your first competition these provide a great benchmark to work from for future competitions.

So there you have how to run a simple ‘RT & Follow’ Twitter competition.  Always keep the quality of your feed in mind, be responsive to the feedback you get and most of all enjoy making someone’s day! I hope you’ve found this useful.  If you have any feedback or stories of Twitter competitions you’ve run, leave your comments below!

“Keep the quality of your feed in mind, be responsive to feedback & enjoy making someone’s day!”
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