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The essential Twitter contest guidelines


Running a contest on Twitter is serious business. For a successful Twitter contest that leaves everyone feeling satisfied and pleased to have just be a part of it, there are a number of things you need to bear in mind. We’ve put together an easy set of essential Twitter contest guidelines for you to refer to when running a Twitter contest. We've even got a printable version of it to keep nearby.


Check the rules.

First of all, you need to make yourself aware of any laws and regulations for Twitter-based contests in your own country. It’s always good to be aware of exactly what restrictions there might be so you know what you can and cannot do.

Secondly, you need to ensure that your proposed contest adheres to Twitter’s own guidelines, so read them carefully before planning your contest. The key points you need to bear in mind when deciding on a contest format are:

  • Multiple accounts are not okay: If users make multiple accounts to enter a Twitter contest more than once, ALL of their accounts could be suspended. Include a rule that says anyone found using multiple accounts to enter your Twitter contest will be disqualified.
  • Spamming Twitter is also not okay: Posting duplicate, or near duplicate, Tweets is a violation of Twitter Rules and may lead to Tweets being filtered out of Twitter search. You wouldn’t want Tweets to disappear would you?
  • Keep things on topic: Nobody likes a hashjacker, so remind your followers to only use the official contest hashtag and avoid hashtagging irrelevant things. For example, if you’re running a competition where entrants can win an iPad, hashtagging #Samsung, #Android and such like isn’t appropriate.

Create a unique Twitter contest hashtag.

Decide on an official contest hashtag! This will make sure your participants stay relevant in their Tweets and also gives you a simple way of keeping on track with the number of entrants. Ask your entrants to include the hashtag in their entry Tweets. Just make sure you clarify that only Tweets containing relevant content which include your hashtag will be considered an entry, you don't want to end up like Gigatown.

Make your terms & conditions clearly available.

Another thing you need to tick off your contest planning list is making sure you have a set of terms and conditions specific to your contest that are easily accessible to all the participants. If you’re planning a big contest that will take over your Twitter feed for a few days/weeks, why not create a themed banner picture and add the URL to your Twitter bio? Don’t forget to Tweet occasionally reminding people of where they can find the terms and conditions, to be on the safe side.

Set a clear contest deadline and remind entrants frequently.

Set a clear date and time for when the contest will end. Make sure entrants know the cut off by including it in your terms and conditions, as well as Tweeting it regularly, so anyone new to the contest is fully aware of the timing. If you plan to extend it for whatever reason, advertise this as well!

Lay out any restrictions regarding the prize.

You don’t need to give away a flashy expensive prize to get people’s attention and attract entrants, but it does help if you include any additional info about the prize in your Twitter contest details and terms and conditions. Let’s say you’re an airline giving away plane tickets to ANY HOLIDAY DESTINATION!*

*Make sure entrants know if there are any restrictions, such as needing to travel on a particular date, if accommodation is included, how many plane tickets can be claimed. Most of all, do not promote a prize you don’t intend to give away or mislead anybody. Because that spoils the fun for everyone - and it’s illegal.


Ask your entrants to @ you as well as hashtagging!

It’s crucial that you don’t miss a Tweet, so ask your entrants to mention your Twitter handle in their entry Tweets to make sure you’ve seen all the contestants when it comes to picking a winner. These mentions will appear in your Notifications timeline.

Monitor your campaign.

This applies both during and after! You should consider using a Twitter analytics tool to measure the performance of your Twitter contest, and keep an eye on how many people are engaging, who is engaging the most, and more. Use this insight to tweak your contest as you go along. For example, are enough people engaging? If not, consider using Promoted Tweets to spread your message further, or if you have a specific hashtag, use a Promoted Trends (find out more about Twitter Advertising here).


Have a fair method for choosing winners.

Note: choosing the person with the prettiest profile is not considered fair. When deciding on a winner, you need to make sure you have a fair and compliant method to select a winner. One that your entrants can watch is even better, as you’re able to prove that you had a method of choosing. Pulling entries out of a hat is a little too old school for Twitter contests. You can also look into software which will objectively pick winners at random. Either way, however you choose your winner needs to be outlined in your terms and conditions.

Announce your winner on Twitter.

Make sure you’ve announced your winner publicly! Do it repeatedly over the space of a few days or simply pin the Tweet. That way everybody who has entered sees that the contest is over, the winner has been selected, and they can uncross their fingers. Tag the handle of the winner or follow them and send a direct message to make sure they know they've won!

Get your winner to post a pic! (For publicity reasons, of course).

Ask your winner to send in a photo of them with their prize for you to share on your own social networks. This is a bonus point that if you tick off your list, will lead to content you can repurpose. Not only is it great content to share around that will make your business look fabulous, but it proves to other entrants that your contest is legit.

These are the essential Twitter contest guidelines you need to get you through a successful Twitter contest! Seeking more contest-related content? Check out our blog on how to utterly ruin your Twitter contest.

If you’d like a tickable checklist of these guidelines to work through when you plan your next Twitter contest, why not download our lovely printable version absolutely free? Simply click the banner below and tick to your heart’s content!