I’ve always been intrigued by the use of competitions as a PR tool. How effective are they in reaching the right people for your brand, and do people take notice of much else other than the prize on offer?

With this in mind, I wanted to look at Twitter and how it’s currently being used for competitions in online PR. Search for the word ‘competition’ and you’ll immediately come across a number of different ways that they are currently being hosted and talked about. Three such examples are:

Retweeting or following to enter, often asking you to include a web link or similar

 

Asking a question or for an opinion – the answer being your entry into the competition

 

Announcing a competition initiative hosted elsewhere i.e. company website

 

Obviously, they all demand a varying degree of involvement and as such the ‘RT and win’ option seems to spread most effectively around the Twitterverse. The obvious problem with this is that the competition host isn’t providing much reason for potential entrants to engage or remember them, apart from the one or two people that actually end up winning!

It raises the question as to whether it’s better to build up a large number of followers using these tactics, or whether you invest in a competition idea that gets followers interacting with you (hopefully creating brand advocates in the process).

There’s bound to be many examples of those who have reaped rewards with both methods but I think it’s important to keep in mind the following when deciding on the best way to use Twitter competitions for your brand.

What is your long-term social media strategy? If you’re using a competition to boost follower numbers, have you thought about to maintain these numbers and ensure they stay engaged and interested.

Is the prize relevant? Countless competitions on Twitter lure in entrants and followers by offering iPods, mobile phones and other desirable products. Think about the message the prize you choose conveys, is it benefitting your PR image or Apple’s?

How creative or thought-provoking is your competition? If you come up with something quirky and unusual, you may find it inspires discussion outside the competition itself.

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