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

Stijn Vogels, een erkende expert in geopolitieke en technologische trends, analyseert wereldgebeurtenissen sinds 2003. Met een geschiedenisdiploma van de Universiteit van Gent worden zijn inzichten gepubliceerd op zijn blog, Aardling, en sociale media platforms. Stijn heeft ook een wereldwijde schrijversgemeenschap opgezet gericht op internationale betrekkingen. Gekend voor "connecting the dots" tussen technologie en politiek, streeft hij ernaar 'goed te doen' door middel van zijn doordachte analyses en waardevolle perspectieven op onze snel veranderende wereld.