Skip to content

How To Run A Twitter Contest

July 3, 2017

As an account manager at tbk Creative, Kylie McConnell has coordinated award-winning digital marketing campaigns for brands like Jiffy Lube® Ontario (59 stores), Beverley Hills Home Improvements, and Lerners LLP.

In 2015, tbk Creative launched a pilot Twitter contest for Jiffy Lube® Ontario (59 stores), an iconic and internationally known oil change and vehicle maintenance provider.

We had already built a respectable follower base through mostly an organic (non-paid) social marketing strategy over the past year. We were now looking to build on the success we had created after our first term working with the brand.

The table below shows the increase in engagement (percentage) when running a Twitter contest vs. no Twitter contest the previous year.

ImpressionsEngagementsEngagement RateNumber of RetweetsNumber of RepliesNumber of Likes
+ 117%+ 499%+ 56%+ 990%+ 1.923%+ 391%

The goals behind our Twitter contest strategy were:

  1. Obtain greater organic reach on the Twitter platform
  2. Increase the number of followers for our Twitter profile

In this guide you’ll discover how to run, and the results you can garner, through the implementation of a successful Twitter contest for your business.

Step 1 – Identify the Purpose and Goals of the Contest

There are many different reasons why your business may be interested in running a contest on Twitter. Perhaps your current content strategy is not producing the results you expected, or you’re looking to further integrate your efforts on Twitter with other facets of your digital marketing strategy. Whatever the reason, Twitter contests can help to:

  • Generate more traffic to your website.
  • Collect consumer emails for email marketing efforts.
  • Generate further reach and brand awareness.
  • Increase followers and create brand loyalty.

The first step is to determine what the goals of the contest are. This is critical as it will greatly inform the type of contest you should consider launching on the Twitter platform.

Step 2 – Map Out a Contest Brief

With any client that is looking to implement any type of contest, I always make sure to start with a contest brief. This is similar to a standard creative brief, but more robust. The purpose of the contest brief is to map out all of the messaging, structure, tactics, platforms and processes that you will lean on to run a smooth and successful Twitter contest from start to finish.

The details of the brief are always ironed out in partnership with our clients to ensure the contest is in line with their marketing goals and their business objectives. Some elements that are typically included in the contest brief are:

  • Contest theme / concept
  • Timelines
  • Primary and secondary objectives
  • Target audiences
  • Prizing
  • Structure (how to enter, when to enter, draw dates, winner notification processes, etc.)
  • Online paid-advertising platforms to market the contest
  • Online organic (non-paid) platforms to market the contest
  • Traditional mediums to market the contest (if applicable)
  • Creative ideas (contest name, tagline, hashtag etc.)
  • Collateral required (digital ad designs, print ad designs, landing page design, etc.)
  • Legal documents required
  • Critical path (approval dates, distribution dates, launch dates, draw dates, etc.)
  • Processes, team members involved and responsibilities

Further in this article I have mapped out each of these items at a more granular level.

Step 2A – Contest Theme / Concept

Think about the ideal time to run the contest, and what theme makes sense for that timeframe. Perhaps there is a new location opening, you’re celebrating a business anniversary, launching a new product or you’d like to run a contest during a specific season. There are many different concepts and themes to consider, and deciding on one is the first step to producing your contest messaging and creative and determining the best giveaway prize.

Step 2B – Timelines

Determine whether your contest will have a start and end date, or if it will be an ongoing initiative (i.e. one large giveaway or indefinite weekly draws for a small-value prize). It is also important to map out when your draw date(s) will be for winner selection.

In the case of Jiffy Lube® Ontario, we’ve run two ongoing Twitter contests: #JiffyJackpot and #JiffyLootContest.

Step 2C – Objectives

Set out clear objectives and goals for the contest. It is typically best to set a primary objective, and you may also want to layer that with secondary objectives. In the case of the Jiffy Lube® Ontario our primary goal was to increase our reach and follower base on Twitter. However, your contest may have a goal of redirecting traffic from Twitter to your website, and translating that traffic into conversions such as an email subscription or coupon download.

Step 2D – Target Audiences

Determine the ideal user profile you’d like to reach with your message. Your contest messaging and creative, content and ad targeting should be tailored towards this specific audience.

Step 2E – Prizing

What will your prize(s) for the contest be? It is okay to have multiple prizes or a single grand prize available to be won.

Here are some examples:

  1. Grand prize draw at the end of the contest (e.g. a trip for two)
  2. Weekly giveaway prizes throughout the contest (e.g. a $50 gift card)
  3. Gold, silver and bronze prizes available to be won at the end of the contest (a large, medium and small-value prize)

Coordinate a brainstorming session with your team and discuss what types of prizes are likely to peak the interest of your loyal followers and grab the attention of new ones. Choose prizes that are valuable, exclusive or seasonal to generate more interest.

For example, if you’re running a summer-themed contest, a good prize may be a weekend getaway to a local resort or a ticket to a popular summer event. In the case of Jiffy Lube® Ontario, we managed weekly gift card giveaways to encourage current and prospective customers to come in to a location and experience a Jiffy Lube® service.

Step 2F – Structure

The contest structure is, in my opinion, the most critical part of the contest plan and should be well thought out.

There are three key questions to consider:

1. How will users enter the contest?

There are many contest entry methods to consider, but here are some of the most popular.


Encourage followers to re-tweet (share) your contest tweet as an entry into the contest. It is also recommended to ask users to use the campaign hashtag and/or tag a friend when they re-tweet your content. This is an excellent method if your goal is to boost your reach on Twitter as it will increase @mentions of your company’s Twitter handle and attract new followers.


To encourage more engagement on Twitter, ask followers to submit a photo or answer a question to qualify. For example, both the #JiffyJackpot and #JiffyLootContest Twitter contests have included tweets asking users to do one of the following as an entry mechanism:

  • Answer a skill-testing question
  • Share a photo
  • Share a story (e.g. “tell us what you love most about your Jiffy Lube®)

Above are four tweets tbk Creative published for Jiffy Lube® Ontario to promote their #JiffyLootContest.


A sweepstakes contest is framed around driving Twitter users to a landing page on your website or a microsite. When you tweet about the contest, share the link to the landing page and include text that encourages people to visit the landing page to fill out the form and enter the contest.

2.When will winners be selected?

If your contest is going to be a one-time initiative, I suggest setting one draw date to select the winner(s) of the prize(s).

If your contest is ongoing, I suggest setting a consistent day of the week or month in which a draw is held and a winner is selected. Followers of your brand will know to check your page on that day each week or month to participate in the contest.

3.How will winners be selected?

There are many different winner selection processes, but here are a few of the most popular. Contest winners can be chosen:

  • At random
  • By being the first one to correctly answer a skill-testing question or complete a challenge
  • By being the first person to re-tweet

There are some additional details that should be ironed-out as well, such as:

  • What is the cut-off date to enter the contest?
  • Are there any stipulations that would void a contest entry? (e.g. a user can’t win twice).
  • How and when will winners be notified?
  • Are there any requirements the winners should be aware of? An example could be to take a picture with their prize for the business’ marketing efforts post-contest.

Step 2F – Advertising Mediums & Platforms

You must decide what (if any) online advertising platforms will be utilized to successfully market the contest. Some recommendations are noted below.

  • Paid social advertising – Twitter ads or boosted tweets or advertising on a different social platform.
  • Email marketing – including a section for the contest in your regular email marketing newsletter (or a dedicated campaign) and encouraging subscribers on your list to follow you on Twitter and enter.
  • Organic social posts – posting about the contest on Twitter and encouraging followers on other social platforms to follow you on Twitter and participate in the contest.
  • Print creative – marketing the contest at store-level or in other mediums such as print.
  • Website – marketing the contest on your website through a display banner of some form.

Above are two excerpts from email marketing campaigns tbk Creative designed for Jiffy Lube® Ontario.

Step 2G – Creative & Collateral

The best marketing campaigns provide consumers with a clear, consistent and effective message. Your contest messaging should be integrated and consistent across all of your marketing channels and collateral produced.

  • Official contest name
  • Contest tagline
  • Contest hashtag
  • Call to action (what do we want the user to do?)

Step 2H – Legal Documents

With Twitter contests (or any online contest for that matter), it is recommended to begin with at least two legal documents: the Contest Terms and Conditions (contest rules) and a Declaration and Release Form.

The Contest Terms and Conditions are aimed at mapping out the contest specifics, rules and regulations. The Declaration and Release Form also protects you legally as the contest operator. It mitigates your risk of liability if the winner(s) misuse the prize, and in signing the declaration form the winner also grants you permission to use their name and/or likeness for the purposes of publicity and advertising.

Over the years, tbk Creative has run a number of successful contests and have consulted with lawyers that specialize in business and advertising laws. In our template guide, we provide you the most up to date documents that we actually use to officiate sweepstakes that comply with Ontario and federal law, such as the Competition Act and Criminal Code.

We’ve made template user legal terms available for you to download!

The contest terms and conditions can live as a downloadable PDF on your website and a link to these terms can be setup in your Twitter profile’s about description.

Above is a screenshot showing Jiffy Lube® Ontario’s Twitter bio with a link to its contest rules.

Step 2I – Critical Path

The critical path should map out your major contest milestones. This would include:

  • Start Date
  • Draw Date(s)
  • Winner Notification Deadlines
  • Winner Announcement
  • End Date

Step 2J – Processes, Roles & Responsibilities

There can be many hands in the cookie jar when it comes to running Twitter contests, so it is essential that clear roles and responsibilities are mapped out. Below is an example of how that structure can look.

Content Creator – This individual will be responsible for generating all social posts related to the marketing of the contests.

Digital Advertising Specialist – This person will be responsible for creating any digital advertising designs and copy to promote the contest.

Social Media Manager – This person will be responsible for posting any tweets relating to the contest, choosing a winner, notifying the winner and announcing the winner. When a winner is selected for one of our Jiffy Lube® Twitter contests, the social media manager will typically send the winner a private message to coordinate next steps for claiming their prize. They will also ensure the declaration and release form is signed and returned from the winner. Once this process is complete, we suggest announcing the winner on Twitter at the end of the contest (if it is a one-time contest) or announcing whom the winner is on the original tweet (for an ongoing weekly/monthly contest) and tagging that person.

Prize Coordinator – This person will be responsible for making sure the winner receives their prize after the declaration and release form is signed. The prize could be mailed out, or an in-store photo opportunity to handoff the prize could be organized with the winner as a public relations opportunity.

Marketing Manager – This person is responsible for any post-contest promotional efforts such as setting up a story-telling page on the website that outlines the details of the contest or working with the media on a write-up about the contest if the contest attracts any media attention.

Step 3 – Consider Twitter’s Specific Rules and Best Practices for Running a Contest

Before launching a contest on Twitter, it’s best to familiarize yourself with the promotional guidelines on the platform. Twitter provides its own guidelines and best practices for the management of contests.

At the time of this writing, here are some of their guidelines:

  • Discourage users from creating multiple accounts
  • Discourage posting the same Tweet repeatedly
  • Ask people to mention you in their update so you can see all the entries
  • Encourage the use of topics relevant to the contest
  • Follow Twitters Rules and Best Practices
  • Familiarize yourself with applicable laws and regulations for your location.

A Twitter contest that drives traffic

By implementing some or all of the above tactics, you will likely see increased engagement and following on your businesses’ Twitter page. It’s never a bad idea to consult with a lawyer before running an online contest to ensure you’re in compliance with applicable laws. If would like a referral to a lawyer we’ve used, please reach out, and we’ll be happy to make the referral.

Do you need digital marketing help with your next sweepstakes? If so, let’s work together, the team at tbk Creative is always around and ready to assist.