How to run a successful Twitter competition and the top lessons to learn from it


At Orchard we’re squeezing every last drop out of our social networks. We do that by trying to use each network in the way it was intended; without bending the rules too much to force a commercial message. This means that when we want to run a competition of this kind on the account, we’ve earned our dues.

This year’s competition was the fourth on our @orchardtweets Twitter account. Building noise before the start of the competition is vital – but as we’re now a few years into it we can build on the success of previous years.

It’s important when running a competition to keep the barrier to entry as small as possible. The more elaborate and time consuming that barrier is, the larger the prize, or likelihood of winning, has to be. Asking entrants to post one prewritten tweet means the time and effort involved is as close to zero as it can be.

Another part of the success of a competition is having chosen the right prize. We give away Easter Eggs ‘bigger than your head’ just in time for the Easter holidays.

The prize is novel, extravagant, timely, and – because we had three to give away every day – attainable. It’s those factors together which makes the ‘cost’ of the tweet, the barrier to entry, justifiable in the mind of the entrant.

With our content schedule, the priority was pushing for as many entrants as possible, without crossing the ‘spam’ line which would have left followers tired of the message.

We were keen to post photos of this year’s winners as soon as they were awarded their prize.

There is the criticism that posting pictures of the day’s winners can feel like highlighting everyone else’s loss – after all, the majority of entrants don’t win. In practice, the opposite is true. Good coverage of the winners reinforces the fact that winning happens, and when it does it happens quickly!

We value the winners getting their eggs delivered in person, which involved a lot of man-hours set aside. The value of these photos and deliveries is to take the competition out of the digital realm and into the real world.
One important lesson we’ll be taking forward into future years is a water-tight set of rules.

This year saw some competition entrants tweeting many times to improve their chances. In future years we’ll be including a rule which enforces one tweet per day to combat this. It’s important that the competition is fair, and the winner should win out of luck, rather because they tweeted all day.

We intentionally stayed away from words like ‘win’ in the tweets. We’re aware of professional competition entrants, scouting Twitter for these words and phrases.

When looking at Analytics ‘compers’ are great, but the value of this competition for us wasn’t just the number of mentions (over 1,300 in four days) but engagement from and exposure to real professionals in the industry.

Overall, this was great exposure for the Orchard brand and met our objectives. We’ll definitely be running the competition again in coming years, but perhaps with a few changes based on the experiences we’ve had along the way.

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