Social Media TOS Tuesday: How to run a #highered Twitter contest without any trouble

October 1st, 2013 Karine Joly No Comments

Ah, contests on social media platforms… Nothing like a contest to generate some tweets, right?

They are a great tool to increase engagement (the promise of a prize is a powerful motivator) without breaking the bank (only a few prizes will help engage many hopeful participants).
Since the beginning of times (well, almost), contests, sweepstakes and other similar tactics have been a core promotional and marketing tactic.

This is the reason they are usually regulated. Got to have some rules to protect the many, right? With social media low barrier of entry, it’s not surprising they are so popular in general as well as in higher education.

So, today, let’s talk about the rules you should follow when running a contest on Twitter!

Your first time coming across a Social Media TOS Tuesday? Read this first!

Social Media TOS PresentationIn my Social Media TOS Tuesday posts (that I’ll update if any change happens), I’m addresssing some of the points I see most often infringed in higher education as well as any specific questions you might have about what you can or can’t do as a social media professional according to the terms of service (TOS) of the main platforms.

I’m not a lawyer (so, never consider what I post as legal advice :-) the previous line is part of the TOS of this blog ;-), but I read what nobody does – the TOS! – to prepare a presentation I will give for the last time this year at the High Ed Web conference in Buffalo, NY next Monday: Social Media TOS Crash Course.

Contest Organizers don’t let Contest Participants get into trouble

Twitter has set up some very simple guidelines for anybody who wants to run a contest on the platform.

The goal of these guidelines is to make sure people taking part in a contest aren’t pushed to abuse the platform and its community of users. Twitter doesn’t want contest participants to be enticed to break its terms of service (TOS) to satisfy their burning desire to win the contest or to fulfill the obessive yearning of the contest organizers for more engagement ;-)

So, if your school runs a Twitter contest, make everybody’s life simpler by following these guidelines!

2 things to do before running a contest on Twitter

The essence of a contest requires some rules to be set. So, everybody can understand 1) what needs to be done to get a fair chance to win and 2) how the winner will eventually be selected.

  1. Check to make sure the Twitter contest you want to run comply with laws and regulations
    Depending on your state or country, there might be additional rules to abide by when organizing any contest. If you’ve been running contests on other marketing channels, you are already aware of these rules. They do apply on Twitter as well :-)
  2. Make sure you include these 2 very important points in your Twitter contest rules:
    • Participants should NOT create multiple Twitter accounts to submit multiple entries as this might result in the suspension of all their accounts.
    • Participants should NOT post multiple times the same tweet or retweet to take part in the contest as this kind of practice is seen as spamming on Twitter and could lead to account supsension.

2 things to do during the contest on Twitter

  1. If you use a hashtag as a way to collect all the contests entries, this hashtag should be specific to the contest.
    This way the participants of your Twitter contest won’t abuse any exisiting hashtag with unrelated spammy tweets.
  2. You should ask participants to use the hashtag and @ reply you
    It is not a good idea to rely only on Twitter’s search feature to collect entries. By using the @ reply method, you will make sure you can see ALL the entries and not a portion of them. Twitter search filters might get triggered by the volume of contest entries and remove some from the search results. By following this guideline, you will guarantee that everybody has a fair shot at winning the big prize! :-)
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