Lately I’ve been witnessing more and more competitions and prizes being offered by Twitter users as a way of increasing subscriber numbers. They usually go something like this:
Follow me on Twitter and you’ll go in the running to win “XXX INSERT PRIZE HERE XXX”.
Each time I see these competitions (and I’m asked to link up to them every 2nd day by those holding them so I see quite a few) I have mixed feelings. I’ll be honest (and I hope I’m not stepping on anyone’s toes) but there are things about these types of competitions that both attract and repulse me. Let me explain (and hopefully in the process of writing this post I’ll actually work out what I think on the topic).
The Positives of Twitter Competitions
As someone looking to find followers a competition can and (in many cases that I’ve observed) does work. I watched with interest @shoemoney and his competition recently and he saw his follower numbers shoot up hundreds (it could be thousands now) almost overnight by offering some pretty cool prizes. If you’re just interested purely in raw numbers of followers then it’s probably a strategy to try.
The flow on impact of lots of followers has some positives to it – particularly if you’re promoting a site, product or service (or building profile). It’s also probably quite good for social proof and recruiting future followers (there’s nothing like having 10,000 followers to make you seem legitimate on Twitter.
The Negatives of Twitter Competitions
The main reason I react against the idea of competitions as a way to build my own follower numbers is that I wonder if it’s actually a good long term strategy for building a profile on Twitter that has focus and will build a network that has value.
Here’s a question:
“Would you rather a follower who followed you because they wanted to win a prize or because they saw something in your Twittering that they thought was valuable or useful to them?”
I think most of us would take the second type of follower – one who decides to follow you because they think you’ve got something to say that might enhance their lives in some way or because they’re interested in the topic you tweet about.
I’m not saying that followers gained from a competition are useless – but I wonder whether going the route of essentially buying followers will end up providing you with a network that is valuable?
The danger of running a competition with a cool prize is that you could end up with a whole heap of followers who have little interest in you or what you tweet about rather than a network of followers who are engaged and actively interested in your topic.
Lets Brainstorm Competitions that Might Work
I’m not totally against competitions – but I wonder if there might be ways to use them that help you to recruit a more focused follower.
Focused Prizes that Attract Focused Followers – One idea that comes to mind is to do a competition that has a prize or giveaway that is strongly related to the topic that you tweet about. I think that the recent Sitepoint giveaway was an example of this. In their promotion they gave away a book called ‘The Art and Science of CSS’ for free.
Now that prize is not as flashy as some of the prizes I’ve seen given away lately (I’ve seen iPods, cameras, laptops etc) – but it will attract a certain type of follower. The book is about CSS and as a result its a promotion that will only appeal to a certain group of people – the type of people that Sitepoint are attempting to connect with on Twitter.
Community Building Competitions – the other type of competition that I think has potential on Twitter is the type that you run FOR your current followers rather than for recruiting new ones. These competitions are where you add value to your follower network by giving something away. You might do this by doing a random giveaway or by asking your followers to enter by submitting a tweet answering a question of some kind. I don’t react as negatively to these types of competitions simply because they are more about increasing engagement with your current follower community than simply attracting the masses.
What Do You Think?
As I’ve said above – I’m in two minds and a little torn on this issue and would love to hear your feedback. What do you think about competitions on Twitter? When do they have merit and when are they too much and even potentially harmful to your twitter profile? What type of competitions have you run or seen others run that you think were worthwhile?