How to Run a Twitter Competition or Giveaway (The Definitive Guide)

Want to know how to run a competition or giveaway on Twitter?  Read on.

We’ve talked before about how we’d like to see fewer RT and Follow prizedraws, but, that notwithstanding, here is our definitive guide to running a Twitter contest.

Include an image

  • Tweets with images can generate 35% more Retweets (source) than tweets without.  Other studies put this figure much higher; some as high as 100%
  • An image gives you the space you don’t have in 140 characters to outline further details of the competition, and most importantly illustrate the prize entrants can win
  • Your image dimensions should fit Twitter’s in stream image preview (which means users don’t have to click away to see all of it).  The most recent (2014) Twitter in stream image dimensions are from 440 x220px up to a maximum of 1024×512, with an aspect ratio of 2:1

Twitter in stream dimensions and ratio

Start it at peak time

  • What is peak time for Twitter?  Well, for the most part, peak hours are after around 6 or 7pm onwards.  There are notable engagement spikes too at lunchtime and breakfast/commuting time.  Much will depend on your target demographic (their age, working day, lifestyle etc) so bear this in mind
  • On weekends, brands typically do not engage on Twitter on the weekends, one study finding that only 19% do (source).  Contrast this with a study showing that engagement with tweets on the weekend can be 17% higher (source)

Consider your entry method carefully (and explain it)

  • The main entry “vectors” for a Twitter giveaway are Follow, Mention (@), Retweet, Hashtag, and Favourite
  • Remember Twitter’s disclaimer that “Keep in mind that not all Tweets are indexed” in search if your entry mechanic relates to composure of a tweet
  • Hashtags are not permanently stored in search, and typically Hashtags expire after two weeks.  Hashtags composed of numbers alone (e.g. #2015) will not be hyperlinked, and thus are not searchable
  • Consider how protected accounts may affect entry

Include terms and conditions

  •  140 characters is not sufficient to describe your promotion and include terms and conditions.  An end date is not enough
  • Users are more willing to participate and share a competition they believe has rules and is fairly administered
  • In the event of a dispute, the promoter will need to be able to demonstrate that rules and regulations were established and followed
  • Link the landing page hosting your T&Cs in your tweet using a short URL ( has good tracking) or use Twitter’s default auto-shortener
  • Include in your T&Cs your start and end dates, full details of prizes to be won, dates of draw/contact/prize delivery, demographic and geographic entry requirements, and all prohibited actions (multiple account entry for example)
  • Your jurisdiction is likely to have rules/laws requiring adequate terms and conditions for any contest or sweepstake (in the UK it’s the CAP Code, section 8)

Draw your winner fairly

  • Many prize promotions on Twitter are not drawn fairly.  Sometimes they may blindly point at an @ mention, or deliberately select a popular Twitter user
  • Draw your giveaway fairly, and tell your users how.  They’ll be more inclined to enter and share.  ASA (UK) complaints relating to unfairly drawn Twitter promotions have in the past been upheld
  • If your mechanic is a giveaway/sweepstake (i.e. a random prizedraw, not judged) services like Tweetdraw are useful examples of how to draw your winner more fairly

Follow this best practice guide and your contest should be a success!

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