How to Win When Hosting a Twitter Contest

how to win when hosting a twitter contest

Even with a large social media following, getting your audience to engage online is increasingly challenging.

You cannot wait around for them to come to you. You need to take the first step and offer something of value.

One of the most engaging tactics you can employ on Twitter is hosting a contest.

It gives your followers a chance to interact with you or your brand, and provides them with a larger spotlight the same way trending hashtags do. It also gamifies the whole experience.

However, many bloggers and brands shy away from hosting a Twitter contest out of fear that there will be no one who participates. Or worse, they pour time, effort and resources into a Twitter contest that fails to garner any reaction.

Luckily, there are a few key tips you can follow to ensure your audience plays along.

Lower the Barrier to Entry as Much as Possible

Too often social media contests fail because they simply are not worth the time.

Well-intentioned social influencers set solid goals and mechanisms to track every participant through their pipeline, without realizing each step they add is a barrier to entry.

You’ve probably seen it before. A brand you follow offers an appealing prize and you can’t wait to jump in.

Five minutes later, you are half-way down the page on a lengthy survey form, trying to figure out how to use the required app, scrolling through information you honestly don’t care about.

What do you do? Nine times out of ten, you move on frustrated that you wasted your time in the first place.

Campaigns should be measurable and align with a set goal, but if your followers feel they are jumping through too many hoops, they likely will lose interest.

If you have a great idea but it requires a time commitment from your fans, you need to sweeten the pot.

Incentivize with the Right Prize

right price

The easiest way to get people involved is to offer them something you know they want.

You know your audience better than anyone, what do you think would really get them excited?

For example, for bloggers, partnering with a brand to offer up the latest product can help incentivize broad participation.

You may have to get creative, but if you can’t decide, use a Twitter poll.

This is a great way to build buzz about the upcoming promotion and let your followers tell you exactly what they want.

When selecting a prize, keep these three things in mind:

  1. Is the prize on-brand? Ask yourself: “Does it make sense for you to be offering this prize?”
  2. Is it worth your audience’s time? This may change depending on the prize but to the earlier point about lowering the barrier to entry, you want your followers to feel that you value their time.
  3. Does it follow Twitter’s guidelines for promotions? When hosting contests or sweepstakes of any kind, be sure to do your homework and comply with all applicable laws and regulations.

Make it Conversational

While asking for likes or retweets is the simplest contest you could run, what are you getting out of that interaction? What are your fans getting out of it, outside of the prize you offered?

The end goal of any Twitter contest should be to engage your fans and create a positive experience around your blog or brand. And, there are ways to do just that without asking too much of participants.

One effective option is to ask questions. Polls and trivia are great, but take it a step further and ask for their thoughts on a trend in your niche.

Remember, social media started as a platform for people to share their thoughts and connect online. Why not offer them a chance to do exactly that?

One advantage to this trick is that it creates a wealth of user-generated content you can reuse.

Each day, take the top three answers and repost them as quotes over an image and tag those users when you share the image.

You can also turn your audience into content creators by adding a multimedia component.

After all, content with relevant visuals receive 94% more views than content without images, and free image-making tools like Canva make it easier than ever to increase your campaign’s impact.

Listen to What Your Audience Is Saying

While monitoring Twitter during the contest is an obvious must, listening to what people are saying before and after the contest is equally important.

Before the contest starts, monitor across social and traditional media channels to help identify the topics, activities and prize ideas you’ll build your contest around.

Monitor during and after the contest to evaluate how much conversation the contest is driving and its lasting impact on your brand.

A communications strategy that monitors both traditional and social media channels is the most effective, but it can be the most difficult to actually implement.

Download Identifying Opportunities & Issues: Keys to Monitoring Traditional & Social Media  for tips that will help you improve your communication through monitoring.

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Author Bruce Kennedy is a social media manager at Cision, where he manages Cision’s global brands. Previously, he worked in public relations and firmly believes the art of storytelling makes the world go round. Connect with him on LinkedIn and follow him on Twitter.

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