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How to Run a Successful Twitter Contest

When you’re looking to increase follower participation and drive engagement from your fans, a contest might not be the first idea that pops into your mind — but it should be. These focused promotions encourage your fans to share your brand with their friends, participate in a fun, light-hearted social media event that keeps them focused strictly on your brand, and win some great prizes that keep them returning to you.

However, running a Twitter contest isn’t something you’ll want to do as a spur-of-the-moment decision, especially if you’re looking for bigger returns. With careful planning and thoughtful language, you can see your brand loyalty increase, your followers becoming brand ambassadors, and a more engaged, excited base of qualified customer and prospects.

Benefits to Running a Twitter Contest

  • Turn your followers into raving fans: You most likely have followers who have only gone so far as to follow your page. As a result, they don’t necessarily have a strong brand loyalty. Running a contest, though, especially with prizes that will attract these Twitter “acquaintances,” will often be enough to spark their interest and prompt them to take a step closer to your brand.
  • Find new followers: When your followers take an action for your contest, whether they are tweeting, retweeting, or even entering, their followers will see that action. If the contest has a feature or benefit that intrigues these new viewers, there is a better chance they will enter the contest, which requires them to step closer or align themselves with your brand. As a result, your follower base will grow, with a high percentage of these followers being retained.
  • Increase your engagement: The entire point of being on Twitter is to connect with a new platform and audience of fans and prospects. Running contests, especially if you run them on a regular basis, is a great way to keep your followers coming back to your page and seeing your tweets. When you run a contest, each follower must take an action to be eligible; whether they are tweeting, retweeting, writing, or posting photos, they need to do something that will enter them.
  • Promote your brand: A contest, especially one that is well-spread, can significantly raise your brand awareness. During Super Bowl Sunday, for example, Volvo encouraged users to tweet with a specific hashtag, #VolvoContest, during another car company’s commercial. They increased the number of people who were talking about them, with 55,000 tweets sent during the Super Bowl, and had more than 230 million earned media impressions, with an increase in both their engagement and brand recognition.
  • Retweets expand your reach: Contests expand your reach in two main ways. First, as I mentioned before, your followers will participate, and their friends and followers will see their interaction and be more likely to join. Second, certain contest tactics can be put in place specifically to increase your reach — asking for retweets, requiring a certain number of new followers to “unlock” your contest, or requiring entrants to use a hashtag related to the contest


Top Twitter Contests

American Tourister India: The company ran #ATxperience, a contest in which followers could answer 12 questions to win a variety of surprise gifts. Questions were released throughout the contest, with followers needing to hit a certain number of retweets before subsequent questions were released. They shared impactful photos of remote locations around the world, tying in with their traveling needs theme, and invited followers to guess the location. #Atxperience was published Sept. 27, also World Tourism Day, a great way to draw attention to a lesser-known recognition and still increase their engagement. Followers could also share their favorite travel stories and answer fill-in-the-blank questions. It was very well organized, and the company saw increasing retweets throughout the contest.

Laimon Fresh UK: Using the #winitwednesday, Laimon Fresh UK is an all-natural drink company that gives away from similarly-focused products to followers who retweet and follow their page. From candles to skin care products, they are getting big responses, with nearly 900 retweets in the first six hours of a recent contest. Their contest is generating interest; many previous posts had much smaller numbers for likes and retweets. Their prize images, as well as the keeping the theme in line with their own mission, is helping to raise awareness for their promotion of wellness for mind, body and spirit.

Maybelline New York India: The company encouraged their “baebellines” to share what they loved to win in a Maybelline hamper. There was extensive promotion of the contest, which encouraged followers and their friends to finish the hashtag #ILoveItWhen. Followers shared photos, humorous stories, and their favorite things about beauty, fashion, and Maybelline New York’s products, while others shared photos of their family, being well-rested, and personal comments. Followers tagged their friends and the company got a fantastic turnout. The contest was run in fewer than 12 hours, yet generated a great deal of excitement and engagement.

Papa John’s: The pizza chain held #TheNommies, encouraging followers to submit a NOMination in fun categories, like Cutest Pizza Couple, Cheesiest — a joke contest and Most Tasteful. Followers were encouraged to send photos, tweets, and share their contest, with fun prizes and recognition being revealed after the contest ended. It ran for four days, and increased follower engagement and loyalty by keeping them thinking about pizza and Papa John’s. In between contest promotions, they shared witty and quirky sayings, coupon codes, and participation from sponsorships, showing their participation in the community. Winners were revealed in unique videos.

Volvo Trucks UK: This company has a very specific demographic, so they might have a more difficult time gaining followers through a contest; their most recent Twitter contest, though, seems to be working to increase engagement. The company invited followers to tell Volvo Trucks UK about their favorite Volvo Truck to be entered to win some branded Volvo merchandise, including a collector’s edition truck. While they got several hundred retweets of their contest promo, they saw many of their followers tweeting, sharing photos, and increasing awareness of their products. These followers told of what they liked about each truck, and publicized the company’s qualities for Volvo Trucks.

Steps to Starting Your Twitter Contest

1. Identify your goals and objectives

Before you start a contest, think about why you want to hold the contest. What will your company get from the contest? What do you ultimately hope to accomplish? It’s vital to know where you want to go before you start going. Each contest may have a different goal, as well, with some centered on increasing your followers, some focused on gaining new followers, and others encouraging increased engagement from your followers. While all will help your business growth, the steps you take to accomplish each goal will be quite different.

2. Keep your eye on the prize

A Twitter contest is not the time to clean out your closet with unclaimed branded merchandise. Think about what would make the biggest impact on your business. If you’re running a contest, like Volvo Trucks, giving away a unique branded piece makes sense. This prize wouldn’t be appealing, though, if you are looking to gain followers who might not know about your business. Consider a gift card or free item — introducing them to your brand and encouraging them to return.

3. Make a plan

There are several different contest types; some work better with different objectives, though.

  • Sweepstakes are ideal if you want to direct followers to your Web site. Including your link and compelling language will drive them to your Web site to enter the contest. This will help increase brand loyalty, but since there is no sharing involved, won’t do much to increase your reach.
  • Unlocking levels, like American Tourister did, is a great way to increase your followers and reach new fans. Participants can unlock new levels or questions, or receive certain incentives or bonus points. This type of contest serves two purposes: to increase buzz and hype, and to find new followers.
  • Hashtags are a great way to promote your brand and increase engagement. Asking followers to share a story or photo, with a certain hashtag will not only reach new people but will place your brand or product name in the newsfeeds of thousands of potential new followers.

4. Promote your contest

Certain contest types, like hashtags and unlocking, will grow naturally because sharing is the nature of the contest. Adding in certain features, like a picture of the prize, or guessing game, can increase your odds of a successful contest. Using a picture is more like to increase your engagement, often doubling the chances a user will not only see, but interact with your brand. You can also opt to share the contest on your website and other social media channels to drive traffic to your Twitter account.

5. Track your stats

Make sure to track the numbers from each contest step. Knowing what worked and what didn’t can help you shape your next contest.

If you’re not sure where to start, contact us today. The team of experts at WPamplify can help you take your Twitter marketing to new heights, increase engagement, and develop new leads for your company’s growth through our revolutionary targeted demographic mapping process.