Tips for Running a Twitter Contest

Tips for Running a Twitter Contest
Twitter is the social networking powerhouse for people to connect with family and friends. It's become so popular that businesses have used it to reach their customers. One way they do this is by running contests on Twitter. But it isn't just big businesses using Twitter as a promotional tool. Small business owners, bloggers, authors, artists and crafters use it to connect with their customers and fans, reward their loyalty and promote their work and products.

Types of Contests

Authors use Twitter to give away their latest books. Bloggers use it to increase traffic to their site and also show their appreciation to loyal readers. They often ask entrants to retweet the contest info to enter. Crafters and artists run their contests the same way.

Larger businesses may do the same type of promotions. Trivia contests are fun and winners may be chosen from the total number of entrants who answered a question directly or you can give away your prize to the first person who answers the question, but that doesn't give as much time for promoting your business website as a longer contest would.

If you have an email newsletter, you should make an announcement about the contest in the newsletter first. This way, fans and customers who might not otherwise be using Twitter will have the chance to create an account. These type of contests don't just promote your work but also your Twitter account which gains you even more exposure.

Twitter Guidelines and Local Laws

Make sure to have people enter via @reply when you make your contest announcement. That way you can keep track of all the entries. After you announce the winner, let them know that you'll message them directly via Twitter to get their contact and mailing info. Be clear about start and end times and who is eligible to enter.

One difference between social networking site contests and mail-in entries or even other online contests is that more doesn't necessarily mean better. Keep in mind that Twitter may see the same tweet over and over again from one account as a sign of a spammer and penalize accounts, so don't make it a requirement to retweet the contest info a lot.

You are responsible for staying within the Twitter terms of service when you run your contest. The company also expects that you will be complying with any state or national laws regarding running a contest from your location.

Raffles and lotteries are generally a no-no as many states require that you be licensed to hold a raffle. Try a search at your state's government website for gaming and contest laws for more info or if you're really concerned, you may want to consult your attorney.

Sources consulted:
  • Guidelines for contests on Twitter. Twitter Help Center,

  • Milan, Courtney. How to Run a Website Contest (without going to jail)., December 20, 2010.
To see examples of how other people run their contests, visit Twitter Sweepstakes and Giveaways.

I also recommend this resource available from Social Media Marketing All-in-One For Dummies

You Should Also Read:
BellaOnline Sweepstakes
Win Books at Goodreads and LibraryThing
Quotes About Luck

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