Twitter is a fantastic place to host a contest. You have a direct line to your customers and fans, you can easily set a time limit, and you can even use a hashtag to track it easily. However, there are some things you’ve got to consider when setting up your Twitter contest, or else the scammers, hackers, and otherwise deceptive people will start coming out of the woodwork and ruin all your best intentions.
1. Create a website/contest rules page
This is the first thing you should do before launching a Twitter contest. You might want to just dive right in, but unless you have a rock-solid plan your contest won’t go very far.
Creating a website, or at least a web page with the terms of the contest, will ensure that you’ve got all your bases covered. You’ll want to outline the contest time period, which country or countries the entrants must be from, what will disqualify someone from the contest, how you’ll be selecting the winner, and more. Plug all the holes here, and the actual contest will be smooth as butter.
2. Understand how to monitor the results
If you or your company are relatively new to Twitter, you might want to do a trial run before launching the actual contest. Structure the trial run exactly as you would your contest, but make the prize something small – say, a retweet to your followers, or even just a thanks. You won’t get as many entries, of course, but you’ll be able to see how the tweets come in, and, most importantly, how you have to monitor them.
Get to know a Twitter dashboard, and set up a search for the hashtag or @mention that you’ll use to collect the entries. Be sure you are catching them all during the trial run, and you’ll be more comfortable monitoring the entries from the contest itself.
3. Research your hashtag
Most Twitter contests use a hashtag to keep things organized. It’s a good idea to create one just for your contest: something like #mycontest or #winwithmybrand. In your rules and explanatory tweets, just require that all entries include this hashtag, and you’ll be able to easily keep an eye on the entries as they come in, by monitoring just that hashtag.
However, it’s is absolutely imperative that you research your hashtag first. Do a quick search on Twitter.com to see who else is using that hashtag, and for what purpose. If it’s being actively used, choose another – you want one that is unique to your contest, so that you aren’t inundated with dozens of unrelated tweets.
4. Limit the number of entries
One last consideration is to limit the number of entries that any one Twitter account can submit. Otherwise, you might encounter a spammer who tweets hundreds of entries a day, or someone who sets up fake accounts to spam your contest even further.
You can limit the number of entries to a certain number per day, or for the entire contest period. It’s up to you. But for your own sanity and the integrity of the contest, you must put some sort of limit out there, or else you could end up giving your prize away to a Twitter bot.
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