Twitter Contests: What's the Point?

By Renee Revetta | Dec 15, 2009
More Articles by Renee

Using Twitter for contests, polls, coupon distribution and invitations has been embraced by socially savvy companies.  In my opinion, these options are great – but if companies aren’t executing them in the right fashion, what’s the point? Here are some of my gripes and suggestions as an observer and (sometimes) participant of Twitter and Facebook contests.

Give Aways.Image by chooyutshing via Flickr

Begging for Followers or Engaging?
If a brand asks people to follow them to enter a contest, the potential customers should at least be awarded with good content.  Engaging participants begins with following them back.  The last thing a contest registrant wants to see is that they are one of a thousand followers, and the company is only following 5 people back.  The brand should at least LOOK like they’re thankful to the contest entrants and give a little love back to the participants.

A note about engaging…a simple way brands can engage is to thank new followers of the day.  If the contest follows the “when we reach ____ followers, we’ll randomly choose a winner” model, then the campaign manager needs to keep entrants filled in about the contest’s progress!  The team managing the TGI Friday’s Woody campaign did this very well.  They informed fans frequently through Facebook about how far away they were from reaching 1 million fans.  Although the promotion was conducted with Facebook, the principle of interacting with registrants still applies.  I love to see brands having conversations with their followers, just like on a personal Twitter account.  I bet you do, too, naturally – humans love interaction.

What’s the Goal?

So do these contest work? What are their goals?: To get followers, gain business by engaging with potential customers, or something else?

Before a brand begins a campaign, the goals need to be clear.  I became a fan and followed a lovely resort in West Virginia for chance to win free stay.  They sent a confirmation e-mail of sorts, but I haven’t heard from them since.  They aren’t following back those that follow them, either.  Normally following everyone back is something you probably wouldn’t want to do, but in this case, if a company is inevitably trying to sell me something, at least follow me back. This hotel’s goal seems to be more visibility, the hope that the contest winner will spend extra money at the hotel during their free stay, and if their experience is a good one, the potential of a return customer.  If these are their goals, they sure aren’t convincing me (someone who probably won’t win) to become an advocate of their brand or visit their hotel.  And because of their lack of engagement, they’ve fallen off my radar (except as a bad example of a Twitter contest for this post!).  However, if they were also sharing their story and great content, it might think differently.  Regardless, let’s hope their goal isn’t just to build followers.

Remember, gaining a fan doesn’t necessarily increase traffic or automatically make the follower think highly of the company.  I’d recommend not creating a Twitter ID solely for the contest.  Companies should use the brand’s main Twitter ID instead.  Otherwise that entire community that was cultivated dies once the contest is over.  Building a thriving community with contests is hard work and takes constant dedication of time and resources, but if executed with thought and planning the results can be worth it.

Do contests like this work? What are your experiences? Find me @reneerevetta on Twitter.

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