You are looking for a little marketing juice for your store or book or maybe just a few more Twitter followers. What better way to get some traffic or attention than a contest? People love to win stuff and if your prize is tempting enough, your contest can take on a life of it’s own.

Best of all, the only cost the running the contest is the cost of the prize.

Step 1: Pick a prize.

  • The prize should be relevant to what you are trying to market but also tempting enough to bring it entrants outside of your usual readership. If you are just trying to get more followers, the prize should be relevant to what you usually tweet about. If you are trying to market your book, then then prize should be something like a signed copy of your book. If you are trying to market your store, a gift certificate or sought after item from your store might be the best prize.
  • Keep in mind that the only cost of this contest is that prize so even if the prize is a big ticket item, the marketing may be well worth it in the end. The better the prize, the greater the reach of your contest and the more marketing benefit.

Step 2: Pick your phrase.

  • The easiest way to run a contest on Twitter is to have entrants tweet a specific phrase. Crafting this phrase is harder than it might seem. To start with, this link is what everyone will be tweeting out so it has to have the marketing juice for whatever you are promoting Secondly, it needs to be short enough that people can easily just retweet it to enter the contest. Also, you need to jam a twitter username in there because that is how they find winners so if you also want to include a link, that could be challenging. (PS, you only have to include a twitter name in your phrase if you use TweetAways, more on that in a minute)
  • Be sure that the phrase has something before the twitter name in it otherwise the marketing benefit will be negated as only people following both you and the entrants will see the tweets. If there is text before the user name, then everyone following the entrants will see the message giving you more exposure.
  • Examples:
    • via @mlpcollecting Do you or your kids collect My Little Pony? Win a copy of the newest guide book. RT to enter: (This was from an actual contest Priced Nostalgia did a few months ago)
    • Looking for info about eBay & e-commerce? Follow @hilarydepiano to win a $50 eBay gift card. (RT to enter) <– not a real contest, just an example, so feel free to rip it off if you wish

Step 3: Write up your contest terms.

  • When does the contest start and end? Can people enter from multiple accounts? Are employees of your company eligible? Decide for yourself what the terms of this contest are.
  • For me, I prefer to encourage people to enter as often as they like from as many different accounts as they like. After all, the more often they tweet your link, the more marketing power it gives you so I figure why cap it?

Step 4: Promote your contest.

  • Promote your contest on your blog, on Twitter, in your email marketing, promote it everwhere you can! Send out a press release, do interviews about it, whatever! The marketing benefit of a contest is two fold. Firstly, everyone entering the contest is giving you publicity by tweeting what you ask them to and secondly, the contest itself is an event that you can publicize as a cheap excuse to get people to your site. Also, the contest rules will be posted on your website so that will bring in traffic as well of possible applicants.

Step 5: Pick a winner.

  • There are two ways to do this. The first way is to simply use Twitter seach to search for the phrase you selected and then select a random winner from the results.
  • The second way is to use TweetAways. The disadvantage to using this free service is that you must include a twitter username in your contest phrase (when you go to pick a winner on their site, you must use the same username you included in your contest phrase). The advantage, however, is that they will select a random winner for you so you don’t have to worry about people crying foul that you picked so and so over them. I like the hands off approach that TweetAways gives but you get a little more flexibility if you just use Twitter Search so it is up to you.

Once the contest is over, you can DM the winner for their address so that you can send them the prize. Be sure to post the username of the winner on your blog when the contest is over so that people know the results.

Any questions? Suggestions from people who have run a contest like this before? Please share below!