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Brands leverage Twitter sweepstakes to boost mobile strategies

In the quest to leverage the convergence of mobile and social, a growing number of marketers are embracing Twitter sweepstakes. While significant opportunities exist to engage mobile users, there are challenges with this strategy of which marketers should be aware.

Dunkin? Donuts has held several Twitter sweepstakes this year, and other brands are following suit. Sweepstakes, when done correctly, can be a great way to reach mobile users with short, quick-hit experiences that are fun and engaging.

?With 60 percent of Twitter users accessing the social network from their mobile device, a Twitter sweepstakes can definitely play a big role for a brand when it comes to their mobile marketing strategy,? said Tara Yavorsky, a social strategist at digital marketing agency Resource, Columbus, OH.

?It?s imperative for brands to put themselves in the mind of their consumers or potential consumers and think about where, how and why they are using social networks,? she said.

?It's becoming more and more common for consumers to check social networks from their mobile devices while in line at the grocery store, riding the train to work or while watching TV at night - brands have to fit into their consumers' daily lives and habits, and leveraging mobile as well as Twitter is an effective channel for that.?

Boosting mobile engagement
The Twitter audience can be attractive to marketers because it is a scalable mobile audience that is engaged and interested in consuming content. Earlier this year, Twitter reported a user base of more than 200 million users who generate 400 million-plus tweets each day.

In addition to more than 60 percent of users accessing Twitter via mobile, these users also tend to click and retweet content at higher rates than desktop-only users.

Leveraging Twitter for sweepstakes can help marketers boost engagement for mobile users especially as part of a purchasing, dining or live event experience.

A recent sweepstakes gave users a chance to win $50 mobile gift cards

?Brands can use hashtag-based question-and-answers, mini-essay contests, trivia and even photo contests to drive conversation around a product or campaign, in addition to gaining followers,? said Sara Kowal, vice president of innovation at digital engagement agency ePrize, Pleasant Ridge, MI.

?Brands can also benefit from crowdsourced opinions shared on Twitter," she said. "It's a great portal for social listening and ongoing community management.?

Cross pollination
One of the advantages of running sweepstakes on Twitter is that the social media platform tends to be the most lenient channel when it comes to running sweepstakes, with less strict rules and guidelines than Facebook or Pinterest, per Resource?s Ms. Yavorsky.

Twitter also offers opportunities to cross pollinate on other social networks such as Vine or Instagram.

For example, some of Resource?s clients have seen success by running a sweepstakes through Twitter and Instagram simultaneously to take advantage of hashtags and search while growing their reach and awareness.

Brands can also drive organic impressions this way and benefit from the word-of-mouth marketing via replies and retweets, which can generate a higher volume of sweepstakes entries.

?The earned media potential with Twitter is a big win for mobile,? said Wei Tsay, managing director of social media agency Laundry Service, New York.

?Although the earned media potential is typically seen positively in any scenario, it can present issues if the sweepstakes is meant to be geo-targeted,? he said.

Long-term commitment
There are several challenges when it comes to Twitter sweepstakes that brands need to keep in mind.

For one, Twitter?s reach is not at the level of Facebook, therefore limiting the potential audience for sweepstakes.

Also, Twitter sweepstakes should not be treated as one-off campaigns.

Efforts such as sweepstakes that boost the number of followers on Twitter should not be undertaken until there is a strategy outlining social goals and ongoing plans for content.

?Any brand considering a Twitter sweepstakes should have a long-term plan for engaging and managing a community of Twitter followers,? ePrize?s Ms. Kowal said.

?Sweepstakes can be a great way to generate short-term buzz and spikes in following, but the challenge and opportunity that arises is the longer-term commitment to keep those followers engaged after the chance to win is over,? she said. 

Hashtag marketing
The character limitations on Twitter can also be a challenge, especially when brands take into account the requirement for a link that leads directly to the full terms and conditions of the sweepstakes, per Laundry Service?s Mr. Tsay.

Hashtags should also be short and easy to type for mobile users.

Additionally, brands can keep an eye on trending hashtags or Twitter influencers to help drive awareness and engagement with their sweepstakes.

?It is also important for the hashtag to have a unique brand-specific touch,? Ms. Kowal said. ?A hashtag tied to your brand helps consumers understand they're participating in a promotion and narrows down eligible entries."

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York