I loved running CR 25 back in January. Beyond SEO, it gave me the chance to properly flex my content marketing muscles. From guest blog posts to crowdsourced content; from Google Calendar embeds to Google Map embeds; from interactive timelines to infographics; we did a little bit of everything.
We finished off CR 25 with an ‘IT Acronym Quiz’ – a 10-question multiple-choice quiz created using SlickQuiz.
It was my first attempt at a competition. It went well. Not quite how I’d hoped (as I’ll explain below) but we had a good number of entries and a good, positive response overall.
Here are the three lessons that I learnt.
1) Make sure that your competition’s terms are air-tight
As I said above, I’d never run a competition before – but I knew that you had to have some good set of terms & conditions behind it. I’m sure there are some decent templates out there, but I decided to draw inspiration from real-life examples. I can’t remember all of them, but I do remember that one of them was an iPad giveaway on The Guardian‘s website.
It contained the usual suspects: participants must be UK residents over 18-years-old; it specified the closing date; in order to be eligible, they had to tweet a few particulars, including a link to the quiz and the hashtag; etc. etc. It had a total of 19 clauses.
I even thought that I was being extra-clever: I put in one clause that said that their tweet had to be live by the end of the closing date – just in case they deleted it a couple of days after tweeting it.
…And yet I missed out one (or maybe two) that was hugely important and should’ve been obvious.
A few days into the competition, a friend of mine entered. He asked: “how many times can I enter?”
We didn’t have a clause that said ‘one entry per Twitter user.’ We also didn’t have a clause that said that a person could only enter once, full-stop. In other words, if someone managed more than one Twitter account, technically they could’ve entered more than once – even if we had that previous clause. It wouldn’t have been too much of a problem if we only had one prize to give away (aside from the fact that they would’ve increased their chances of winning that one prize), but we had three prizes – meaning that one person could’ve won two or all three prizes, and we couldn’t really do anything about it as our terms didn’t cover it. Whoops.
Fortunately we got lucky and I don’t think that we had a single person enter more than once. But you live and learn. If I ever run a Twitter competition again, I’ll be sure to include that clause – and in fact I think that I’d also spend more time on creating and fine-tuning the competition’s terms & conditions in order to make sure that nothing can trip us up later on down the line.
2) Competition & giveaway websites aren’t all they’re cracked up to be…
One of the perks of running a competition such as this is that you can add the competition to a number of dedicated competition/giveaway websites – resulting in juicy, juicy links, which can help out on the SEO and inbound marketing side of things.
I actually held off on using competition websites at first, mainly because I wanted the competition to grow organically. But despite our best efforts to promote it, it took a few days to get our first eligible entry and over a week to get three (enough to give one prize to each entrant), at which point I began to panic. So I added the details to a few competition websites, with the competition making it onto at least one of them.
Suddenly, we had another 70(!) eligible entries in a week – the final week that the competition was running.
Sounds good, right? Well… Before that, we had 9 eligible entrants, all of whom were South Wales-based and with the majority working in IT – so very relevant to what the campaign (and the company) was all about. The later 70 entries were random people across the UK who mostly (or only) ever use their Twitter account to enter Twitter competitions. It felt… soulless.
Here’s an example of a random entrant’s Twitter feed around the time of our tweet:
Additionally, the original 9 entrants were more ‘involved’ with the quiz and the competition: scoring high was important to them, with one participant commenting (via @mention) that he had to try the quiz more than once in order to get a perfect score of 10 out of 10. A lot of the later 70 entrants seemingly didn’t care what score they got, ranging from anything as low as 3-4 and with only a handful scoring 10 – it seemed to me that they just wanted to enter the competition and be on their way (as it didn’t matter what score they got – in order to qualify for the competition, they simply had to tweet the score, no matter what it was).
Yes, it meant that we had a healthy number of competition entries in the end, and yes, it resulted in a link or two, but if I were to do it all again, I wouldn’t have submitted it to competition websites – unless I was running a UK-wide competition and one of the goals was to get as many entries as possible. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful about those later 70 entrants, but in hindsight, it didn’t seem like the right move to submit the competition to those types of sites.
3) Make the most of the draw – turn it into an event
When I devised the competition’s terms & conditions, clause 12 looked like this:
12. Winners will be chosen at random by the promoter. Each entrant’s Twitter handle will be printed onto paper and three names will be drawn at random from a hat. The actual score from the quiz will not make any difference in an entrant’s chances to win a prize.
I thought nothing of it at the time, but when it came to actually drawing the quiz, I was kicking myself – why didn’t I just say that I’d use some online list randomiser? It would’ve saved so much time.
But the more I thought about it, the more I liked the appeal of doing a proper draw. So I decided to make a thing of it.
The beauty of working at Welsh ICE (a co-working space and my ‘base’) is that we all like to help each other out. I asked to borrow an iPhone stand/tripod and a hat from my fellow members, and a videographer (Owain of Tree Top Films) kindly offered to lend his equipment so that I could film it properly (originally I was simply going to use my iPhone to record the videos). The business that lent us the hat (RecRock) offers music tuition, including drum lessons, so I asked if I could also borrow a snare drum, cymbal and drum sticks so that we could do a proper drum roll. While they were happy to oblige, they were busy, so one of their students – who also works up at ICE running his own business (Cosmic Anvil) – volunteered to do the drum roll. I then used Windows Movie Maker (which is free to download) to edit the videos, turning up their brightness and cropping them at the beginning and end to a) make them shorter and b) cut out our voices either side of the draws.
Here’s an example of one of the three tweets:
— Computer Recruiter (@ComputerRecruit) March 5, 2015
I uploaded them onto YouTube – privately at first, then making them public when we published the tweets. This way we could show that the competition was legit, plus we had an excuse to tweet about it – with the videos appearing in-stream for followers of @ComputerRecruit.
The freelance videographer also suggested adding them to Facebook, as videos published on Facebook auto-play in people’s feeds. So I combined all three draws into one video using Windows Movie Maker and put it on Facebook, too.
So while it might take more time to do a proper ‘draw’, it gives you the excuse to make a thing of it – to turn it into a spectacle, an event.
There we have it – those are my three lessons. Here’s to many more Twitter competitions – and therefore many more lessons…! Have you ever run a competition? How did it go? What did you learn? Drop a comment below.