Spotting Fake Twitter Competitions!

November 29th, 2010

Last week we blogged about WETcreative and their mysterious iPad Twitter competition that vanished forever leaving many twitter compers believing that it was in fact a bogus giveaway. Well now there’s another name joining them!

This week it’s the turn of @Treasurechase. They were running a competition to win £250 of Selfridges vouchers. To take part entrants just needed to retweet a message with the person doing the most RTs winning. However, when it came down to naming the winner yesterday the account was closed. This resulted in the following tweet to @loquax.

another scam comp on here, from Treasure Chase to win £250 of Selfridges vouchers. Profile has disappeared. :/

Spotting bogus competitions via Twitter isn’t easy. It’s also incredibly risky, given the way messages can be tweeted, to announce a competition is dodgy only to find out it’s not. In other words, we urge caution to anyone thinking they’re capable of determining what is and what isn’t fake in the Twitterverse.

That said there are little things you can look for if you’re concerned about a competition being run via Twitter. Let’s take the @TreasureChase account (shown above) as an example. We think the below should have set off a few alarm bells to compers!

1. There’s no link to a company website! No website or no indication of employer is not a good sign. The site may well be “reviled” on 1st December, but it wouldn’t have hurt for them to include a link.

2. No terms and conditions. We’d actually like Twitter to make including a link to terms and conditions of tweet giveaways compulsory. It’s good competition practice and protects both consumer and promoter. It also gives a point of reference to entrants so that they can contact the site if required.

3. Big prize, new account! Ok, not an absolute indicator of anything untoward, but it should make you go and check (1) and (2) above. Most twitter comps are for small prizes. When a new account offers a big prize – do your checks before retweeting! Don’t rely on your friends to do the checking.

The @TreasureChase account is now closed by the way.

What can you do if you think a competition isn’t for real?

Don’t be afraid to contact the twitter account holder and ask for verification of their site, terms and conditions or even a contact. If they are genuine then they should be happy to let you, and other people know. If you’d rather not contact a company then ask us and we will. We’re not afraid of asking questions!

If the twitter account has a website attached to it take a look at the site. See if there’s a contact name or company name about and make a note of it (just in case the twitter account vanishes).

Also have a look at who follows the account. Many people have multiple twitter accounts and when they start a new one they add their other accounts as followers. Have a look at the first people in.

Finally use your friend Google to see if you can find anything out about the Twitter account holder.

Of course the above isn’t foolproof and there will be, no doubt, more issues to come! What’s important to note is that you rarely lose anything other than time when entering comps via Twitter. You’re not giving a bogus competition your personal data for example.

Thankfully most Twitter comps are genuine and that’s also important to remember.

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