Time For Twitter To Improve Contest & Competition Guidelines

Posted on: January 27th, 2011 by Jason 1 Comment

Twitter competitions, where promoters offer prizes to encourage users to tweet or follow them, have become increasingly popular. In any one day you can expect dozens of RT this message to win or follow us and we’ll giveaway a prize tweets. Follow a few compers and your timeline, especially during working hours, can become inundated!

Twitter itself has offered promoters, brands and indeed individuals contest guidelines, yet they really don’t go far enough. The fact is they are “guidelines” not rules so many of these are totally ignored.

The first guideline is “Discourage the creation of multiple accounts“! Any competition/contest that offers a prize based on number of followers, for example we’ll give away a prize at 2011 followers or we’ll give away a prize to our 200th follower, doesn’t follow this guideline. People will create multiple accounts if the prize on offer is worth the effort (and in some cases even if it isn’t).

The next guidelines suggests “Discourage posting the same tweet Repeatedly“! So all those promoters who ask users to retweet “follow @xyz and you can win a something or other” and then tell their users they can enter more than once are ignoring this. The result can be multiple same tweets in the time lines. Have multiple accounts and it’s more chaos!

Personally I find retweet and follow us competitions pretty unexciting – they don’t build relationships. Retweeting a message is easy, but is it really social interaction with the user and your brand? I think not. Yes the timeline may well get filled with the same tweet a few times, but where’s the relationship between brand and user?

It only takes a second to RT a message and you’re probably instantly forgotten! Ask a person to visit your site to find a product they might like or ask them a question that involves your brand in some way and you’ve got their attention for a little longer.

The problem is that Twitter really don’t have any hard and fast rules on what people should and shouldn’t be doing. The guidelines are ignored and this can result in fake competitions as well as a lack of transparency.

I’d like to see Twitter insist that all competitions are associated with some fixed terms and conditions – @sainsburys are one of the few I can recall who do this. They tweet their competition message, then follow up with a link to their terms. This protects them and protects the consumer. It defines entry details, who can take part, the entry method and the closing date.

I’d like to see the end of retweet and follow us competitions too. Especially the “prize draws” where the person who is x00th follower or next two tweeters win formats. Sometimes these are unrealistic – for example “we will give away prizes at 10000 followers – yet the promoter has 50 followers and Andy Gray has more chance of commentating on Miss World than them ever attaining 10,000. People will follow/RT in these cases but they’re merely being used without the prize ever likely to be given away.

The problem with Retweet competitions as well is that quite often people use different browsers and apps to enter. I may RT via the browser but a promoter may not realise this via their application. Therefore it’s an unfair format to start off with. Twitter’s third guideline “Ask users to include an @reply to you in their update so you can see all the entries” is all well and good, but it, I think anyway, doesn’t always cover every entry.

Another issue is automated entries. Readers of this blog and compers on Loquax will know my strong views on automated competition entries (applications where a third party is paid to enter on another person’s behalf). I’d like promoters to disqualify all automated entries – and yes you do now get them on Twitter.

One argument “for” automated entry services was because people are at work and will miss some competitions! I don’t think that holds any weight personally, but that issue can easily be overcome simply by promoters running their promotions over a longer period (e.g. 24hours).

So what would I like to see….

I’d like Twitter’s guidelines to become a bit more solid. I’d like all contests run via Twitter to have to include a link to some terms and conditions and I’d like promoters to be more rigid with those rules. One entry, per person – only. Automated entries are disqualified. Plus a bit of transparency with how they choose their winners.

I’d like Twitter to stop “we will giveaway at xyz followers” contests and also I’d like them to take action on those promoters who encourage spam (tweet and enter as many times as you like).

In many ways this can be overcome by promoters and brands getting cleverer with their Twitter comps – and that involves interaction with their followers, not just asking for lots and lots of retweets of the same message.

Just One Comment So Far...

  1. lebeeuk says:

    There was a prime example today of how a competition shouldn’t be run. Over this week @ThreeUk have been running their first competition, the prize a Smartphone. The winner was announced tonight as @bobmantooth which when you look at the profile is quite obviously a bot. Their T&C’s stated that the person had to have ‘followed’ & retweeted & also be resident in the UK. Being the sad person that I am & being annoyed that it was a bot I scrolled through the whole list of 2009 that he was following & no where could I find @ThreeUK. They’ve been told by a number of people what is going on but all they are saying at the moment is that the person has a week to respond…..hmmmm

    On the positive side though @MoltonBrownUK are also running a competition at the moment & I think it fulfils all of Jason’s suggestions & it really interacts with their website well – apart from the fact that like the FB comps people can just copy & paste someone elses answers, but they also have an email means of entry, which on it’s own would stop the cheating.

    Is there really any solution?

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