How to run a Twitter giveaway

Do you want to host a prize promotion on your Twitter account? This post will show you how to do it as successfully and fairly as possible, for free!

Two years ago I investigated the problems with Twitter RT giveaways in my blog post Choosing a winner for a RT giveaway. My conclusion? You can’t choose a winner fairly because Twitter can’t be relied upon to find every entry. In addition, a RT giveaway is spammy and it’s easy for entrants to abuse – there are hundreds of automated ‘bot’ accounts that search for RT Win and retweet, regardless of the prize. Genuine entrants are disheartened to see brands give prizes to people who cheat by entering from multiple Twitter accounts, or have programmed an account to retweet automatically while they pick up the prizes!

If you run a random prize draw on Twitter I think it’s better to ask people to @ reply to you in addition to a RT & Follow – and Twitter guidelines say the same. That tiny bit of extra effort to send a new tweet will reduce the chance of a bot or cheat winning your prize promotion. It also results in a much nicer experience – actual conversations with your fans and followers!

howtoruntwittercomp

Case study: Neem

My client Sunita Passi (@MsPittaVata) wanted to boost her Twitter following – she had just launched a new beauty product Neem Sunita Passi and hoped to raise awareness of the brand.

In ten days, the Twitter promotion increased @MsPittaVata’s Twitter followers by more than 600, from 211 to 814, with 607 retweets

Here’s a step-by-step guide to how I ran the Twitter giveaway for Neem.

Step 1. Write the tweet

Decide on the prize and use the word WIN to draw attention to the tweet – I used a hashtag #LoveNeem to track entries. Remember to search on a hashtag before you use it in your tweet – you never know what content might already be tagged!

WIN lotion, wash & powder. Follow, RT & reply with by 11.8

Send out a single tweet about the promotion – then pin it to your Twitter page for the duration of the promotion (click the arrow top right of the post, then Pin to Top). If you want to promote it again, quote the tweet with text similar to ‘Don’t forget our prize draw is still running – see our pinned tweet’ , or quoting/linking to the original tweet. Posting multiple tweets is confusing for entrants – and makes it harder to choose your winner fairly because the entries are all over the place.

You don’t have to include a graphic, but you will get a lot more entries and retweets if you do. Add text such as a closing date to the image if you’ve run out of characters in your tweet.

Is it a prize draw or a competition?

In the UK, if you’re choosing a random entry as the winner, it’s a prize draw. If you’re choosing a winning entry based on judging criteria (which you must specify in the T&Cs) it’s a competition. In the US, a random draw is a sweepstakes and judged is a contest. Generally though, in the UK we tend to refer to all prize promotions as competitions or just comps – but make sure you use the correct term in your T&Cs! On Twitter it’s easier to choose a random winner – judging all entries to a competition is more complicated and you should create a list or spreadsheet of links to all the entries.

Step 2. Write Terms & Conditions

Just because you only have 140 characters to play with does not mean you can skip the T&Cs – see CAP’s Prize draws in social media for more on this. It’s essential to include the closing date (and ideally, the time) in your tweet, otherwise people will continue to retweet even after you’ve announced a winner – sometimes for years! Twitter’s Search API can be unreliable, so keep your giveaway to less than 14 days.

Host a longer set of T&Cs by creating a file at www.Twitdoc.com – include a link to this file in your tweet. See the Neem example at http://twitdoc.com/67LH.

What you should include in your T&Cs…

  • What’s the prize?
  • When is the closing date, time – and time zone, if appropriate.
  • Are there entry restrictions? eg. age or location
  • How do people enter – do they have to Follow, Retweet, Reply, attach a photo/GIF/video…?
  • How is the winner chosen? ie. random or judged
  • When and how will the winner be informed? eg. a reply to their tweet, a DM (direct message)

The final tweet:

neemtweet

Step 3. Share your prize draw

First, get the direct link to your tweet – right-click the timestamp (10m, Sep 23, etc.) and copy link address.

Once people start retweeting, you’ll see the entry numbers go up. It might even get spotted and added to the MoneySavingExpert comping forum (note that you’re not allowed to add your own comps to MSE!) 

You can also embed your tweet into a blog or website – click the . . . (more) option under the tweet then embed post and copy the code.

Tip: Create a unique link at bitly.com to share on social media, eg. http://bit.ly/LoveNeem – this is neater than a Twitter link and you can track clicks on the bitly website.

Step 4. Choose and contact the winner

The Tweetdraw tool is a free way to choose a random winner, and you can find it at competitionagency.com/tweetdraw. Unfortunately you can’t download a spreadsheet/list of every entry – and the disclaimer does tell you that its success is dependent on twitter’s API infrastructure – but as a free tool, it’s the best option you’ll find!

Paste a link to your tweet into the appropriate box – there are options to choose from retweets, followers or a hashtag – in this case, I chose my winner using the hashtag search, ticking the box for one entry per user.

When you have a winner, check their tweet against the entry requirements:

  • if you asked for a reply, search Twitter for the winner’s username plus your username (and your unique hashtag, if appropriate) to find their entry tweet – then check it was sent before the closing date
  • if appropriate, make sure they follow you (it will say Follows You under their name)

Check the account doesn’t look like a ‘bot’ – a clue is a timeline full of retweets, some of them completely unrelated to competitions. Check the Tweets & Replies tab – is there any original content on their profile page? If you have any suspicions at all that it’s an automated account, choose an alternative winner.

Contact your winner privately via direct message, and give them a deadline to respond. 28 days is CAP’s suggested time, but 14 days is enough – if it’s an imminent event, the time allowed can be much shorter. Dependent on your winner’s privacy settings, you may need to follow them back before you can message.

Step 5. Tell people who won

When your winner has accepted the prize, it’s nice to share a congratulations post on your Twitter feed so everyone knows about it! You don’t have to do this, but if someone privately requests it, the CAP Code states you must tell them the winner’s full name and county (a Twitter username isn’t enough).

Finally, get your prize to the winner as soon as you can, but certainly within 28 days – use a tracked delivery service if possible.

Did you find this post useful? Join my promoters mailing list for the latest tips and advice on running fun, fair and successful promotions. 

You can also buy ‘Blog Giveaways: How to run successful competitions, contests & prize draws on your blog for £1.99 on Amazon.

Also see How to run a Facebook competition.

Author: Di

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  • Hi, I’ve already started my giveaway and done the RT to win thing. Is there a way I can see all those who have RT’d?

  • Unfortunately not! You can’t access a list of people who retweeted, which is why RT giveaways aren’t really fair…. you just have to rely on something like Tweetdraw finding them all! http://competitionagency.com/tweetdraw/

  • Lindsay Davison

    Great post with everything I was looking for. Thanks a lot!

    Lindsay | http://www.lindsaydavison.co.uk

  • Stewart Hardy

    Thank you for the valuable information and insight Di. We are just starting out with our own competitions and great to have this resource from someone with experience of both sides of the fence where prize competitions are concerned.