Running a competition on Twitter seems relatively straightforward. There are some guidelines in place, but, unlike Facebook, marketers are not required to set up any third-party applications to be within terms.

However, a more relaxed approach often breeds lackadaisical behaviours that would make your legal teams cower in fear.

Whether brands don’t know it or know it and ignore, Twitter competitions fall under the CAP Code of Advertising and Sales Promotion and there are strict compliance issues you need to be adhering to. 

Couple that with an increasing reliance on follower numbers  over true advocates and you will find yourself trying to engage an empty audience on an ineffective platform of your own creation.

Don’t let that put you off, though.

There are three simple points that you can easily follow, to ensure your Twitter promotion is compliant and effective: 

  • Does it work within industry competition guidelines?
  • Does it work within Twitter’s platform guidelines?
  • Does it work for your brand?

Are you legal?

There are two types of promotions you can run on Twitter: 

  1. A sweepstake with a random prize draw, where a winner is selected completely by chance.
  2. An actual competition, whereby the winning of the prize requires a degree of input from the entrant that is then judged.

For both, you need to make sure your promotion is compliant. To do this, the CAP code states that you must make the following clear before anyone enters:

  • The start and closing date of the competition.
  • The entry mechanic.
  • The prize itself.

In providing this information, you’re ensuring that anyone who enters or shares, extending it beyond your initial fan base, is still including the terms for others to follow.

Pet Plan was recently rapped by the ASA for failing to provide all of this information before the entries started flooding in. Even if it’s just the slap on the wrist Pet Plan was served, it’s not a great reputational success.

Naturally, this information can take up over 140 characters, so many brands have found it easier to host the full terms on a microsite and tweeting out the link to remain compliant.  

The CAP code also states that all random drawings and competitions must be adjudicated independently by a third party.

This means having someone who does not work within the company sponsoring the promotion, selecting winners either through a computerised process that provides verifiably random results or through a separate agreed upon adjudication process. The key is that it has to be independent. No more marketing department-led draws from  

There are companies, such as Promoveritas, who are able to perform this role for brands. Should you choose, these companies can look after everything from drafting specific terms and conditions, hosting them, and running the draw or adjudication.

All of this comes at a cost, of course, but will remove the grey area and ensure you’re completely above board.

Will the platform like it?

With so many marketers under pressure to keep numbers up, a lot of brands have resorted to ‘Follow and RT’ competitions to boost their number of followers.

From Twitter’s perspective, they want their platform to be full of rich, interesting and engaging content. They don’t want users spamming their followers with multiple tweets about one thing, or the setting up of multiple accounts in order to enter more promotions.

As such, any competition or draw that encourages that sort of behaviour could easily be shut down by the platform. 

Check out Twitter’s guidelines in full here:

Is it worth it for the brand?

Anyone who has on the ground experience running a ‘Follow and RT’ promotion will be aware of the ‘serial compers‘ – people who enter competitions on a semi-professional basis.

They aren’t genuine fans of a brand; they’re fans of getting free stuff, and if I’m being honest,  serve absolutely no value to a brand whatsoever. Once they win or lose, they’re off the grid. It’s an entirely empty engagement.

We need to urge everyone to look at value over volume. Target genuine fans by purposely putting up barriers to entry.

Make people actually do something worthwhile rather than a simple mindless retweet. Ask fans a question; get them to make suggestions about your brand; ask them to head to your website to find an answer. All these tactics encourage fans to invest time in learning and brand understanding.

It’s a simple process to follow, but making sure you do will ensure your competition is effective in driving awareness of your brand or campaign, not just to your fans, but to a whole new audience.