Loquax Research on Twitter Competitions

Posted on: February 10th, 2011 by Jason

Twitter competitions have become increasingly popular over the last year or so. Every day, especially Friday, there’s usually a number of giveaways offering prizes ranging in value. To enter an entrant is usually asked to retweet a message to enter. What we, at Loquax, wanted to do was take a look at Twitter comps and see if we could find out more about them.

What we wanted to see was how many people entered, do many people enter more than once, can people who enter more than once win, and are winners randomly selected.

This is the very early stages of our research, but we thought it’s a good time to let you know what we get up to beyond what you see on the competition listings.


To do this we selected at random a number of competitions from various promoters. They range from big brand fashion sites to gift shops. For now we’re opting to keep their names hidden as we think that’s the fairest thing to do. Our criteria for analysis was that the competition needed to have a named end point (e.g Comp Closes at 5pm) and the competition had to be a “retweet to enter” mechanic.

The first issue we encountered with our analysis was dealing with Twitter’s search set up. Twitter’s system can be a bit of a nightmare to search and locate all entries – especially if the competition lasts over a long period. In fact, we’re quite concerned about any retweet competitions that last longer than a couple of days. Unless promoters are databasing entries as they go along, we’re unsure how they pick winners given the quirky nature of Twitter’s API (advanced method for searching essentially).

Because of this issue our analysis has been restricted in terms of historical competitions. By historical we mean as early as last week. Therefore data really can only be analysed from competitions that have run over the last few days. It may well be the Twitter search is playing up, but our feeling is we have these issues then maybe so do promoters?

Number of RT to Enter Entries

Once we were able to do searches using Twitter’s API system we started to find some intriguing data. The biggest surprise was that the number of entries in a Twitter competition seemed to be very low. Remember that these comps tend to only be for a few hours, but even so we were surprised to find many attracted between 200 to 500 (maximum) entries.

We also analysed when people tweeted – breaking down the time of entry compared to the original competition tweet. Most people tended to enter at the very start of the promotion – with the first hour or two tending to attract the bulk of the entries. However is this a good strategy?

Best Time to Enter

The good thing about Twitter is that most promoters name their winners and so we were able to look at who won and when they tweeted. Our initial assessment is that promoters tend not to use automated randomised methods to locate winners. Only one company, based on the format of their winner announcement and the time (early hours of the morning), seems to be using an automated system.

This means that winners could well be picked by a “pin in the search results” method. Not the most ideal. Of the competitions we analysed a lot of winners came towards the end of the competition time. In fact only one competition of the twelve we looked at had a winner who had tweeted in the first hour of the promotion. The majority of winners always came in the second half of the promotion time.

Can Doing More Than One RT Win?

Another interesting fact that cropped up was the one of duplicate entries. Every competition had duplicate entries! The vast majority of entrants only entered once, but roughly 10% make 2 or more tweets. And entering more than once doesn’t seem to stop people winning.

Of the competitions we analysed half of them had winners who had retweeted more than once. This clearly indicates that promoters either don’t have rules about number of entries that can be made OR they’re not checking to ensure all entrants are playing on the same level field.

Early Conclusions

Of course all this is preliminary research but it’s quite eye opening in many respects.

The number of entries in a typical RT to enter competition varies but it’s not as high as we expected. People who enter more than once don’t seem to be penalised as they can still win but the vast majority of people just make one entry. Entering at the start of a promotion is popular, but we think there may be more success if you enter towards the end.

Of the promoters we looked at only one seemed to be using an automated method of picking a winner (based on their time/format of announcement). However, our early understandings of the Twitter API system seem to indicate that managing a long term twitter competition could be quite difficult and compers should be wary about how winners are picked under those circumstances.

We’ll be looking at more Twitter competitions over the coming weeks to see if our early analysis has foundation and also bringing together some data and pretty graphs to support are findings.

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