Types of Twitter Competition – Finding The Winning Formula


Twitter is great for engaging with customers and followers and it’s always good to give back to your loyal followers so why not run a competition.

There are various formats you can use and outlined below are the 4 most popular types including some top tips for each type of Twitter competition. Before choosing which type of competition is best for your brand consider what your objectives are; is it to gain more followers, improve brand engagement, brand opinion research or something else.

Hashtag your competition.

Before you start running a competition you need to come up with a relevant and memorable Hashtag. The Hashtag will be useful in searches to track the competition and will also be picked up by Twitters Trending Topics if it becomes popular enough, especially if all tweets must include it when entering. It’s best to make the Hashtag quite short as you don’t want to be taking up to many characters.

Now it’s time to chose what type of competition you are going to run.

1. Retweet Competition
These are the easiest competitions to organise and will more than likely create the highest exposure for your brand. The RT competition is a perfect way of gaining more followers however it has limited interaction with followers and wont really enhance your brand, I would advise staying away from this type of competition unless building followers is your objective.

The basic principal is your twitter account posts a Tweet that encourages followers to RT, once tweeted you can follow the RTs using numerous tools and then select a winner from those who have RT’ed. The downside with this type of competition is that you may end up with lots of entrants who aren’t interested in your brand and just want something for free. Believe it or not many people just search twitter for these competitions and RT anything and everything and never actually engage with any other twitter users let alone a brand.

Additional Tip: Make the competition a Retweet & Follow competition to make sure the entrant follows you.
Example Tweet: RT & Follow @SM_Experts to win a …….


2. Question & Answer
Another tried and tested competition method used everywhere from printed media to TV & Radio. This type of competition can act as a good research tool for your brand and you can find out what people know about you and your products.

Set your followers a question and get them to tweet in the answer, you can then chose the winner via various methods, fastest answer, closest answer or even a random draw of all correct entrants. If you are doing a fastest answer it is always a good idea to give your followers a warning and tweeting earlier in the day mentioning the time you will be posting the question. You can also use this type of competition to drive followers to your website, by asking a question that they will need to visit the website to find the answer will further expose them to your brand.  A good example of this is T3.com who ask questions based on content of their site.

Additional Tip: Make it clear how the winner will be chosen and set a closing time or date for the question.
Example Tweet: To win the prize answer the following question: What is the name of the Professors Owl?


 3. Complete the Tweet
Like the Question & Answer style competition the Complete the Tweet style can act as a great research tool to find out what customers and followers think about your brand. By getting users to complete a tweet you can get them to really interact with your brand and to also find out their feelings about your brand. However, this type of competition  is the one you hear about in the national press when it goes viral after the entrants rebel against the brand or come up with some extremely witty entries.

Two recent high profile examples are Qantas airlines who asked their followers “What is your dream luxury in-flight experience?” on the day their planes were grounded by strikes in Australia and resulted in an angry backlash from customers.
A more closer to home example is Waitrose who recently asked customers to complete the tweet “I shop at Waitrose because_____” and were inundated with numerous comical replies regarding their upper class reputation including:

…because ASDA Value Peacock feed isn’t as nice.
…because Tesco doesn’t stock Unicorn food.
…because Clarrisa’s pony just WILL NOT eat ASDA Value straw

The competition received thousands of entries and created a massive buzz across the media with many media outlets calling it a “PR Disaster” but in my opinion it was a PR win with the company getting lots of column inches that would have cost thousands and also allowed them to show their sense of humour to a whole new customer base. The social media team at Waitrose took it all in good spirit and didn’t get defensive or try and hit back at the comments, they simply tweeted, “Thanks for all the genuine and funny #waitrosereasons tweets. We always like to hear what you think and enjoyed reading most of them.”

Additional Tip: Be prepared for some negative comments and make sure you have guidelines in place with how to deal with them.
Example Tweet: The best thing about SM Experts is _____


4. Photo & Interaction
They say a picture is worth a thousand words so it’s definitely worth more than 140 characters. A photo competition is a great way to get people interacting with your brand and is a great way to identify brand advocates and brand champions. Ideal for brands who have high engagement levels with their customer and follower base this type of competition allows their products to be showcased, and even though the entrants may not realise it, endorsed by their followers. The premise of this is to ask a question that gets your followers to take pictures of themselves and friends interacting with your products or brand.

A good current example of a Twitter Photo competition is Bet365’s #bet365OnTheGo competition which encourages their followers to take pictures of themselves using the company’s mobile app in sporting and unusual locations in return for a free bet.

Additional Tip: You need to make sure you outline some rules; you don’t want entrants doing anything illegal or dangerous.
Example Tweet: Send us a picture with you and the Professor around Manchester


Final Tip
Make sure you have some Terms & Conditions set before starting your competition; recently the ASA has been getting tougher on companies who are running competitions.  It’s also worth heading over to http://advertising.twitter.com/ and reading the excellent advice from Twitter themselves. Visit the Faculty Library, for some helpful guidance.

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