Contests are a very popular way of gaining subscribers. In Twitter, you can think of followers as subscribers for your newsletter. With traditional newsletters, you can offer an "ethical bribe" or a free gift in exchange for someone to give you their e-mail address. With Twitter, a contest can be a great way to find your targeted followers.
If you decide to conduct a Twitter contest, here are some things you want to keep in mind. :
- Know your purpose for the contest- What do you want to accomplish with a Twitter contest; sell a product, service or book? Are you trying to use your Twitter account to feed your website newsletter? Are you trying to build your subscriber followers? In my opinion, you will achieve the most success with your Twitter contest if you focus on building your Twitter followers. And not just any followers, but targeted followers. Anyone can get tens of thousands of followers. But which would you rather have? 10,000 followers who never read your tweets or 1,000 followers who actually follow you and your tweets? Give me enough money as a prize and I can inflate your followers significantly. Sure, you want followers; but in the long run, you want qualified followers more.
- Think about your prizes- What prize will you use for your contest? That is, what will be the "ethical bribe" you use to get people to enter your contest? An i-pad? a $500 gift certificate to a five-star hotel? $1000 in cash? These prizes may sound impressive on the surface, but chances are that they will not give you the results you are looking for in your contest. Those types of prizes attract people who are only interested in one thing- the prize. They could care less about you, your book, or your services.
Ideally, you want to find prizes that will attract only the people who are interested in the products and services you offer while being passed on by everyone else. This is where you find your targeted followers that will be the most responsive to you tweets later. When I ran my Twitter contest, I gave away a library of signed book marketing books to the winner. After all, on my blog I deal with people who want to learn effective ways to market their books, products or services. If the prize package didn't appeal to someone, I wasn't necessarily looking for them as a follower. But if the person was someone who prayed to win that library, then they were the person I wanted to make sure knew about my blog.
- Don't run your contest by yourself- Here is a mistake that many people make when running Twitter contests designed to increase their follower base: they give away a copy of their own book, service, or product. While this may be a great prize to have, it may not do a lot to expand your followers. The people who sign up for your contest will be mainly from your current subscriber lists. While you may have a few people re-tweeting your contests to their follower list, it will probably not be on the scale you are looking for.
In order to find new followers, the details of your contest must be placed in front of new people who are not following you. That means you must find a way to encourage people to re-tweet your contest to their followers. Two ways to do this effectively:
A. Create a prize with enough viral power to make others want to retweet it
B. Give away a prize created by other people who have a lot of Twitter followers
If you follow those two suggestions, you will have people who will use your contest to promote their own product. This is the way you create a win-win-win situation. If you can give away good, solid publicity to the creators of your prize, they will be more likely to tell their follows about your contest and encourage them to enter.
Recently, I saw the power of this point. I ran a Twitter contest and went back to the same sponsors I had used in the past. While I had great participation, the percentage of new followers for me was down. I attribute it to a couple of things, one being that my contest was in front of the same followers it was in front of in the past. It was good lesson to learn.
- Choose your contest length with care- If you run your contest too long, people will lose interest very quickly. They will also not see the urgency of entering now or tweeting about it now. On the other hand, if you make it too short, it will be over before you have time for it to really ramp up and deliver the followers you are looking for. My personal preference is to run a contest for about 10 to 12 days, starting on a weekend and ending after the next weekend. This will give you the best chance to catch the business Tweople as well as the weekend Tweople.