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How much social media can $200 buy?
14 tips for Twitter contests that build followers and brand visibility
3 APRIL, 2009 2 COMMENTS BY ALEXANDRA SAMUEL search
Today, we're launching Social Signal's first Twitter
contest, inspired by another great contest that ran today
Twitscoop is a service that tracks the hottest topics on
Twitter. This morning, one topic jumped out as the super-
hot discussion of the morning: 200k. It turns out that
hipster T-shirt company threadless had made the About Alexandra
following offer: Samuel
Social Signal CEO,
@threadless In celebration of passing 200k followers, we're giving away $200 in GC today! RT this to be
Harvard Ph.D. and
eligible to win 1 of 8 $25 GCs
Let me translate: of online task
@threadless [the Threadless company's Twitter account] now has 200,000 "followers" on Twitter (people collaboration tools.
who get their Twitter updates). To celebrate, they are offering $200 in gift cards. To enter a contest to
win one of eight $25 gift cards, you must "retweet" the offer. That means you copy & paste the
threadless message into your Twitter update field, and click "update" (or more likely, hit the "retweet"
button in a Twitter client like TweetDeck).
by Alexandra Samuel
When I first pulled up the collection of ensuing tweets, it had been an hour since threadless posted this Using social media to drive business
offer; in that hour, about 950 people had retweeted the message. In the time it's taken me to write this innovation: insights from Guy
blog post and eat breakfast (roughly two hours) another 500 people have twittered it. When did YOU last Kawasaki and Target's Michael
get 1500 of your customers all shilling for you on a single morning, at a cost of $200? Axelin
3 steps to jumpstart your corporate
Threadless has some particular strengths that positioned it to do this kind of marketing. But those Twitter account by moving friends
strengths are within your reach, and so are the benefits of this kind of promotion. Here's how you can and followers from other accounts
learn from Threadless' example. 3 tips to make better use of the
1. Participatory brand/site + Twitter contest = Tweet-o-rama. Part of the reason that threadless was
able to get this kind of uptake -- and get 200,000 followers in the first place -- is that it is an
intrinsically participatory brand. Threadless is a t-shirt company that invites user-submitted
designs, and then sells the most popular designs online. It invites high-intensity, expressive
participation with tangible rewards (submitting t-shirt designs in return for exposure and the
prospect of winning $2,500) and low-intensity, still expressive participation (scoring and optionally
commenting on designs). That participatory edge makes it a darling of the Twitterati, and gives it
real credibility when it invites customers to engage in another form of participation (like
2. Chicken/egg? Big contests << >> more followers. Part of the reason this got so big, so fast is that
threadless is building on a base of 200,000 Twitter followers. That's a lot of people receiving their
offer. It's a great example of why it pays to build your Twitter audience: many follower >> big
impact from online promotions >> more followers.
3. For Twitter juice, frequent $100 prizes beats one $500 prize. Unlike a blog post, a tweet is
evanescent. If I happen to be on Twitter when you post your update, I'll see it; otherwise it's
unlikely I'll hear about your contest. Threadless is able to get around that because its high volume
Find related resources
of followers translates into a high enough surge of tweets that it shows up in Twitscoop; but the
under these questions:
How can Twitter fuel our
14 tips for Twitter contests that build followers and brand visibility | Social Signal Page 2 of 4
best way to build up to that base of followers is by offering contests, discounts or limited-time-
only stock on a regular (even daily) basis. That said, $25 is a bit low -- you'll probably get more
action in the $50-100 zone.
marketing and growth?
4. Great contest + short deadline = Twitscoop love. The threadless contest unfolded over just a few How can we use social media to
hours. That encourages a high density of participation in a short time, which is what pushed it to increase our sales and revenue?
the top of Twitscoop, making the threadless account visible to far more people.
5. Unique phrase + retweeting contest = Twitscoop visibility. Make sure there's a unique phrase
you're asking people to retweet, so that it can emerge as a Twitscoop trend.
6. Intriguing context SoSi
Blog Dear + retweeting contest = mentions = visibility. The key metric you're after is
Twitter "mentions": people posting updates on their account that reference your account name.
Ideally, it will be in an intriguing context that makes their followers curious about who this
@account belongs to, and they'll click through to find you.
7. Twitter contest + boring Twitter account = wasted effort. For a contest or promotion to pay off,
you want to capture new followers. If someone sees a contest-related tweet and clicks through to
your Twitter feed, you need to grab their attention. A list of your latest blog post URLs won't do it. Using online contests as a
So make sure you have some funny, intriguing or informative tweets, and possibly other recent marketing tool
offers that make you worth following. 3 steps to jumpstart your
corporate Twitter account by
8. Twitter contest + 1-click participation = big results. It takes literally a single mouseclick (on the moving friends and followers from
"RT" button) to participate in this offer and forward threadless' mention. With such a low other accounts
participation threshold, it's easy to get big numbers. 6 essential social media tools for
9. Twitter contest + your product as prize = great showcase. The threadless prize is threadless your business or organization
product; not only does it save them a hard cost on prizing, but it showcases their product as a
Ten Twitter tricks I've learned
10. Short tweet + retweeting contest = room to spread retweets. Make sure your offer or promotion without even directly touching the
doesn't take all 140 characters of your Twitter update. When people retweet, the "RT Twitter API - Chad
@accountname" will be counted against their 140-character count, and your offer will get cut off. IT Conversations | Jon Udell's
11. Retweetable offer + reason to retweet = viral. Each person who tweets the threadless offer Interviews with Innovators |
"spread" it to their friends, who were likewise motivated to retweet it. This has exponential growth Martin Murray (Free Podcast)
potential, particularly given the low barrier to participation. Yes We Can Twitter: Barack
And three guidelines that threadless didn't follow: Obama Supporters Use Social
Media to Show Their Support |
12. Retweeting contest + actual content in tweet = retweets with value. If you're asking people to Own Page One: Search Engine
retweet something, give those retweets some value. Twitter is going to suck big if it gets cluttered Visibility Blog - Online Marketing
up with a thousand people retweeting contest offers every hour. (If your Twitter feed is full of RTs Strategy and Tips
of this morning's threadless offer, you know what I'm talking about!) So think of a way for those
retweets to offer something more: a smile, an insight, a user-contributed tidbit.
From the web
No related items were found.
13. Contest + request for follows = more followers. Until you get to at least your first 10,000
followers, you need people to follow you as much as (or more than) you need to Twitter you. So
don't just ask for retweets, ask for follows.
14. Sucky Twitter feed + relaunch + contest = redemption. If your site, brand or Twitter feed fall
short on any of the criteria above, successful contests are still within your grasp. Use a contest to Your vision starts here »
turn lemons into proverbial lemonade: announce a (re)launch of your Twitter presence with a
great contest that speaks to your new, compelling Twitter strategy.
That's what we're doing today.
In February, we created a new feature on Social Signal as part of our site relaunch. Dear SoSi offers
answers to the questions you're asking about social media:
As of today, we're renaming our Twitter feed from Social Signal to Dear SoSi. Follow it to get the
practical, strategic and funny tips we offer in our Dear SoSi Q&As, condensed to a magical 140
characters. You'll also hear about the most useful social media advice we've found online, the latest
DearSoSi resources, and of course, you'll be the first to know about our great Twitter promotions.
So here's our very first Twitter contest:
The Concept Jam finds the social media
Retweet one of these tips on Twitter promotions, and you'll be entered to win a Flip MinoHD concept that creates value for your team
Camcorder, pre-loaded with Rob's Teh Funny keynote at Northern Voice -- in which Rob and audience. Learn more!
became the first standup to heckle himself on Twitter. Follow DearSoSi on Twitter to get these
tips in 140-character, retweetable form.
14 tips for Twitter contests that build followers and brand visibility | Social Signal Page 3 of 4
TA G S CONTESTS PR O M O T I O N S TW I T T E R
ALEXANDRA SAMUEL'S BLOG E M A I L T H IS P A G E Email: *
HomeBlog Dear Services About
APRIL 3, 2009 - 10:41PM
These are great ideas. It certainly got me to retweet! I wish you much success with the contest.
Later in the day I saw a mention of this article in my twitter stream: Social networking isn't for spamming.
I'm curious what your thoughts are on this?
I've been thinking I should look into twitter clients that let me filter my feed. Not for "spamming" but for
livetweets of events I'm not interested in. When there's a few folks live tweeting something you're not into
it can get pretty annoying.
Rachel W. says
APRIL 6, 2009 - 6:26AM
While these are great and helpful ideas, I'm frequently astounded at how little people do to protect
themselves and their brands when running contests. I'm not talking about individuals who may not have a
clue, but corporations who leave themselves open to potentially nasty lawsuits by failing to include any
kind of language or disclaimers protecting themselves when they run contests- tweeted or otherwise.
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