Twitter Contest Ideas

These days, lots of com­pa­nies have a pres­ence on Twit­ter. Most of these com­pa­nies use it to share what’s going on in the com­pa­ny, which new prod­ucts they are launch­ing, and have a con­ver­sa­tion with their fol­low­ers. Oth­ers try to pro­voke inter­ac­tion by shar­ing inter­est­ing sto­ries and insights. But for most com­pa­nies, that’s about it. Only a small minor­i­ty dare ven­ture into the realm of Twit­ter con­tests and com­pe­ti­tions.

In this arti­cle we will explain six ideas for Twit­ter con­tests, and why these ideas might or might not be suit­able for your com­pa­ny.

Loyalty vs. Opportunism

Before we dive into the myr­i­ad of pos­si­ble con­tests to hold, let’s take a minute to con­sid­er. What are you hop­ing to gain from this com­pe­ti­tion? What is the aim you are try­ing to accom­plish?

  • If your goal is to get as many new fol­low­ers as pos­si­ble, than this is the way for­ward. Con­tin­ue read­ing this arti­cle.
  • If your goal is to build a last­ing rela­tion­ship with your cus­tomers, than a dif­fer­ent tac­tic might be required.

Ask your­self: which of these is best for me and my busi­ness?

Let’s Talk Prizes

If you are going to run a con­test, you will need cool prizes or it just won’t work. No-one will par­tic­i­pate if all they can win is a pen or stick­er with your com­pa­ny logo on them.

The prize(s) should be relat­ed to your busi­ness. A good idea would be a prod­uct you are sell­ing on your web­site, since it’s relat­ed to the top­ics you tweet about. This can assure your new fol­low­ers will be inter­est­ed in what you’re sell­ing, and you will have less ‘cheaters’ who just want a fan­cy prize.

What About The Rules?

Twitter rulesTwit­ter specif­i­cal­ly men­tions what you can and can­not do in their Guide­lines for Con­tests on Twit­ter. Stick­ing to these guide­lines will prove par­tic­u­lar­ly help­ful if you’re new to the whole con­cept of Twit­ter. Vet­er­an users best keep this in mind:

  • Don’t encour­age dupli­cate updates as mas­sive retweets (“spam”) are fil­tered out of Twit­ter search.
  • Ask users to include a @reply to you in their update so you can see all the entries.

All of this sounds fair­ly obvi­ous, doesn’t it? Now let’s get to the good stuff!

Competition Ideas

Here is our overview of poten­tial ideas for run­ning con­tests on Twit­ter. Each idea tries to bal­ance the pros and cons of each. Remem­ber: there is no “best idea”. Dif­fer­ent busi­ness­es with dif­fer­ent fol­low­ers might get dif­fer­ent results with the same idea.

Follower Milestones

Twitter followers growthEvery Xth fol­low­er gets a reward. In the Nether­lands, a trav­el agency gave away a pleas­ant day off for every 100th fol­low­er they reached. The sto­ry here is that fre­quent small­er prizes beat one big prize. It allows for more peo­ple to see your con­test and par­tic­i­pate in it.

  • Pro: Attract a lot of new fol­low­ers fast with only rel­a­tive­ly small bud­get.
  • Con: Your exist­ing fol­low­ers you may not be aware that you are hold­ing a con­test. The spam­mers out there might start tar­get­ing your account. Once you come close to the Xth fol­low­er, you will see a huge increase in num­ber of fol­low­ers, mak­ing it quite dif­fi­cult to fig­ure out who the legit­i­mate Xth fol­low­er was. Are you ready to deal with this?

Creative Replies

Stephen Fry on TwitterThe most cre­ative par­tic­i­pant wins. After @StephenFry reached his 50.000th fol­low­er, he held a com­pe­ti­tion amongst his fol­low­ers to cel­e­brate the occa­sion. Peo­ple had to tweet a mes­sage using 50 L’s in one tweet, and the most cre­ative one won. It attract­ed a lot of bizarre entries, but was fun and got him thou­sands of new fol­low­ers in just a few days.

  • Pro: If your idea gets a lot of atten­tion, it may become viral and you could see a huge return. In stead of hav­ing to retweet a bor­ing mes­sage, par­tic­i­pants can be orig­i­nal and have fun in the process. Word of advice: be sure to set up some good track­ing in advance.
  • Con: Viral cam­paign? You will attract spam­mers. Lim­it­ed fol­low­ers? Your con­test might not get seen and may not deliv­er the results you were hop­ing for.

RT for Reward

Retweet buttonFol­low­ers retweet a mes­sage and receive a prize. A job adver­tis­er in Bel­gium used this tac­tic to spread its mes­sage in return for free film tick­ets. You can give some­thing to all par­tic­i­pants, or draw a win­ner from every­one who joined.

  • Pro: One of the eas­i­est ways to give your mes­sage a max­i­mum of vis­i­bil­i­ty.
  • Con: It is not a gen­uine way to inter­act with your fol­low­ers and may cost you some good fans. Also, Twit­ter doesn’t like this tac­tic. (See ‘Rules’ above.)


GiveawayA give­away on Twit­ter: some­one fol­lows you, and in return you share some­thing of val­ue. For online mar­ket­ing agen­cies this might be a free PDF down­load of your lat­est whitepa­per. Alter­na­tive­ly, FMCG com­pa­nies could con­sid­er giv­ing away online coupons.

  • Pro: You’ll only attract peo­ple inter­est­ed in your prod­uct and  may stand to gain some inter­est­ing fol­low­ers.
  • Con: Invest in an auto­mat­ed sys­tem if you expect a lot of inter­est or you could end up send­ing every sin­gle direct mes­sage your­self.


Trivial PursuitSend peo­ple on a search through your web­site to find some­thing hid­den. This type of con­test requires a judge to go through all entries and select the real­ly cre­ative or fun­ny answers. A win­ner is drawn from all par­tic­i­pants who found the right answer, prefer­ably with­in 24 hours.

  • Pro: It’s chal­leng­ing and fun. Peo­ple inter­act with your web­site. And with only a lim­it­ed time to play, par­tic­i­pants don’t have to wait too long for the results.
  • Con: Some prepa­ra­tion is required on your web­site. Also, cheaters may find the answer by scan­ning your time­line.

Second One is Free

Buy one, get one freeReward loy­al cus­tomers with a sec­ond item they can share. If you are a writer, ask peo­ple to share the pur­chase tick­et of your book via Twit­ter. In return you send them a sec­ond, signed copy of the book which they may give to a friend. You can lim­it the num­ber of par­tic­i­pants by ask­ing for a moti­va­tion before choos­ing a win­ner.

  • Pro: This con­cept is not too pushy. Peo­ple aren’t oblig­at­ed to par­tic­i­pate. It allows you to reward real fans, while at the same time ensur­ing your prod­uct reach­es more peo­ple.
  • Con: Mak­ing users dis­close per­son­al infor­ma­tion on Twit­ter is not easy. Best to han­dle things per direct mes­sage or via e‑mail.

Gepubliceerd door Stijn Vogels

Natural born probleemoplosser met een oog voor usability, design, trends en details. Professioneel bezig met letterwoorden als SEO, SEA, SMO, DIY en CYA.