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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
                                                        on Twitter.


                                                        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
                                                                                                                                            compulsive adopter

      Let me translate:                                                                                                                     of online task
                                                                                                                                            management and
      @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
                                                                                                                              Firefox browser
        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
             retweeting).

        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




http://www.socialsignal.com/blog/alexandra-samuel/14-tips-twitter-contests-build-followers... 4/6/2009
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.
                                                                                                                           more Q&A
         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.

     Home
       6.     Intriguing context SoSi
                Blog Dear + retweeting contest = mentions = visibility. The key metric you're after is
                                      Services About
              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,
                                                                                                                         From SocialSignal.com
              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
                                                                                                                         From del.icio.us
              desirable incentive.
                                                                                                                           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.




                                                                                                                       Name: *




http://www.socialsignal.com/blog/alexandra-samuel/14-tips-twitter-contests-build-followers... 4/6/2009
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: *


                                                                                 Leave a
                                                                                comment                                  Unsubscribe




      Comments SoSi
     HomeBlog Dear                                   Services           About

      Tzaddi says
      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.


      REPLY




      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.




      Rachel


      REPLY




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       Greatest hits                               Leaders                         Concept Jam                             Team

       Alex's posts                                Marketers & Communicators       Engagement Audit                        Clients

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  • 1. 14 tips for Twitter contests that build followers and brand visibility | Social Signal Page 1 of 4 Featured case study Social media that comes alive. Home Blog Dear SoSi Services About case study more cases Home Blogs Alexandra Samuel's blog 14 tips for Twitter contests that build followers and brand visibility 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 on Twitter. 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 compulsive adopter Let me translate: of online task management and @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 Firefox browser 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 retweeting). 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 http://www.socialsignal.com/blog/alexandra-samuel/14-tips-twitter-contests-build-followers... 4/6/2009
  • 2. 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. more Q&A 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. Home 6. Intriguing context SoSi Blog Dear + retweeting contest = mentions = visibility. The key metric you're after is Services About 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, From SocialSignal.com 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 From del.icio.us desirable incentive. 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. Name: * http://www.socialsignal.com/blog/alexandra-samuel/14-tips-twitter-contests-build-followers... 4/6/2009
  • 3. 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: * Leave a comment Unsubscribe Comments SoSi HomeBlog Dear Services About Tzaddi says 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. REPLY 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. Rachel REPLY Leave a comment Your name: Anonymous E-mail: The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly. Homepage: Comment: * Styles Path: Disable rich-text Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <p> <b> <i> http://www.socialsignal.com/blog/alexandra-samuel/14-tips-twitter-contests-build-followers... 4/6/2009
  • 4. 14 tips for Twitter contests that build followers and brand visibility | Social Signal Page 4 of 4 <br> <blockquote> <img> <object> <embed> <iframe> <h2> <h3> <h4> <h5> <style> <br> <table> <td> <tr> <xmp> Lines and paragraphs break automatically. Save Preview Home Blog Dear SoSi Services About BLOG DEAR SOSI SERVICES ABOUT Ideas and insights Questions and answers Strategy and solutions People and process Greatest hits Leaders Concept Jam Team Alex's posts Marketers & Communicators Engagement Audit Clients Rob's posts Community Managers Strategic Roadmap Case Studies Podcast Community Members Community Builder Research Cartoon Friends Presentations and Workshops Work with us News Contact This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Social Signal, 680 Citadel Parade, Vancouver, BC V6B 1W8 Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.5 Canada License. Phone 604-568-8787 - info@socialsignal.com http://www.socialsignal.com/blog/alexandra-samuel/14-tips-twitter-contests-build-followers... 4/6/2009