The Age Of Twitter ‘Con’tests

twitter contest

Twitter has picked up quite a pace and engineered serious interest in the past year. What began a few years ago as a nascent medium to connect strangers with synchronized wavelengths, has soon rampantly become an integral part of every brand’s core marketing strategy.

How can a brand make use of Twitter to reach out to its audience? There are plenty of ways, but the most engaging (requiring little effort and having been done to death, yet continuing) are contests! Some smart, some absolute no-brainers, but engaging nonetheless.

Now the real question is, should a brand let its agency/team define its social media image with a meager low IQ question just for the sake of engagement? The answer is an emphatic NO, and this is where most brands are getting it wrong today. Most contests conducted for brands today follow this format:

  1. Get in touch with an influencer with a minimum 1,000 followers.
  2. Give them vouchers/goodies worth Rs. 500-1,000.
  3. Get them to conduct the contest with one intention – maximum impact.

The contest usually has a no-brainer question with the following eligibility rules to win:

  1. Follow the brand.
  2. RT the question.
  3. Some even go to the extent of tagging a friend.
  4. Get influencers to RT some positive as well as negative responses which mention the #tag.

If you’re an influencer, you probably have other influencers following you, so what do you gain by annoying the hell out of their Timelines with your non-stop brand-pimping RTs and pleads? Absolutely nothing!!

But you do lose the respect and credibility that you have so painstakingly earned over time. Always, remember, they followed you for your tweets and not so they could read about you advertising brand contests.

If you’re a brand, you probably will reach millions with such no-brainer contests, and probably even trend for a few hours.But stop for a minute and think of the impact you’re making in the long run, zoom out and look at the bigger picture and the brand-perception you are leaving behind. Zilch!

The very customers/prospective customers you are trying to impress, are going to bed with a brand-image that’s as low-quality as the contest. Good on brand-recall, but not so great on quality-perception of the brand. In Twitter’s own words, #FAIL.

I am not trying to infer that contests are bad, but what I’m saying is that they can and should be conducted smarter.

Disney, for example, conducted a contest #DisneyQ where they didn’t reward the best answer, but the most interesting question. This ensured a great level of intrigue and also minimized backlash for the brand from sour grapes when the winners were announced. The only people who faced a backlash were the active ones who invariably became Disney’s brand ambassadors for the day (Smartly played Disney!).

Of course there was the annoyance that comes with spam, as is expected with contests, but in the bargain, Disney inspired intelligent conversations and trivia which set the quality bar for Disney as impressive.

The crowd goes where the influencers go, and as I see it, such no-brainer contests are soon going to become extinct with more and more brands realizing that the damage simply isn’t worth the effort.

I sincerely hope that 2014 brings in a new wave of intelligent concepts that will not just amplify the message but also create smarter audiences on Social Media.