If you are an online writer or blogger, you can’t afford to ignore Twitter. Your success on Twitter depends on two main factors: the number of your Twitter followers and the quality of your interaction with them. If done well, your efforts on Twitter can attract extra traffic to your blog or website and boost your online success and income.

One surefire way to develop your following on Twitter is to organize a Twitter contest. Running a Twitter contest does not cost you anything, especially if you find sponsors to donate prizes. However you do have to plan and promote it properly.

To organize an effective Twitter contest, you need to follow this ten-step strategy:


1. Create a master plan

This is the first and most important step in your preparation. Plan your contest meticulously and record it in a Word file or journal. Decide all aspects of your contest well in advance such as the purpose of your contest, starting date, ending date, prizes, list of sponsors, contest rules, promotional campaign, etc. Keep updating and reviewing your master plan regularly.

2. Decide on the prizes

Make sure your contest prizes are valuable and will appeal to your target audience. The greater the value of the prizes, the better will be the response to your contest. Get in touch with potential sponsors in your niche and request them to donate prizes for your contest in exchange for an increase in exposure, Twitter followers and blog traffic. In addition to donating prizes, your sponsors will help to promote your contest to their blog subscribers and Twitter followers.

3. Create an official contest page

Post all relevant details of the contest on your blog or website. Include the name of the contest, message to be retweeted, starting and ending dates, rules, sponsors, prizes, etc.

Don’t forget to update this page regularly.

List the prizes donated by each sponsor in the following format to ensure that they gain maximum exposure:

1. Description of the prize with an active link to the product page of the prize.

2. Name of the sponsor with an active link to their websites, and

3. Twitter username of the sponsor with a link to their Twitter profile

For example, “The Ultimate Guide to Internet Marketing E-book” by Jane Brown, @janebrown”

4. Inform your online network about the contest

In addition to your sponsors, create a buzz about your contest in your blog, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other sites. Send regular reminders and updates to the sponsors of your contest. In addition, request bloggers in your niche to promote the contest to their subscribers.

5. Decide on the contest rules

Make it easy for people to enter your contest. The simplest way is to ask them to follow you on Twitter and retweet a message including a @reply to you and a specific hashtag. Using @yourTwittername and a hashtag makes it easy to track entries to your contest.

(A hashtag is a hyperlinked keyword starting with a “#” sign. Clicking on the hashtag directs you to a search page that shows all Twitter updates containing the hashtag.)

For example, “RT @yourTwittername win internet marketing prizes worth $900 #yourblogname [short link to your blog post about the Twitter contest]”

Make sure this message is less than 140 characters.

Finally, discourage the creation of multiple Twitter accounts and repeatedly posting the same tweet to avoid violating Twitter’s guidelines for contest(www.support.twitter.com/entries/68877).


6. Track your contest entries

Use Twitter’s search function (www.search.twitter.com) to track all entries to your contest. You can search for your Twitter username (@yourTwittername) or the contest hashtag (#yourblogname). This will bring up a list of all tweets related to your contest. Copy this list into a text file once or twice a day.

7. Continue to create buzz about your contest

Once the contest is launched, carry on promoting it on Twitter and other sites. Send general tweets as well as tweets to highlight the contest sponsors.


8. Inform your network that the contest has ended

Once the contest is over, post an update on Twitter and in your official contest page stating that the contest is over. Share this message with your sponsors.

9. Select the winners

Pick the winners in a way that gives all entries an equal chance of winning. The best way to do this is to use an online random number generator to choose the winners (random.org).

10. Final steps

Inform the winners and congratulate them. After you get confirmation from them, send their names and e-mail addresses to your sponsors to enable them to send them the prizes. Don’t forget to thank your sponsors and everyone who helped you to organize your contest. Finally, update your official page with information about the winners.

After the contest, analyze the results. You are likely to see a big increase in your Twitter following and blog traffic. Continue to steadily expand the number of your Twitter following by posting relevant and useful tweets. After a few months, you can organize another Twitter contest, using the same process all over again.

(8 August 2012)

Rohi Shetty is a medical doctor, Vipassana meditator, writer, editor, translator and blogger. His short stories and articles have been published online and in print.

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