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updated 3/18/2013 10:46:06 AM ET 2013-03-18T14:46:06

In his book " Ultimate Guide to Twitter for Business," online marketing expert Ted Prodromou offers an easy-to-understand guide to using Twitter that will help small-business owners generate leads and connect with customers. In this edited excerpt, the author outlines exactly how to create a contest on Twitter that attracts more followers.

The goal of most Twitter contests is to increase the number of targeted followers. Targeted followers help spread the word about your products and services for free. When a third party spreads positive comments about your products or services, it gives your company credibility and helps sell your products.

You also want to collect contestants' contact information so you can nurture new leads and eventually turn them into customers. You collect their contact information by enticing them to fill out a web form on your website or blog.

There are several ways to attract targeted followers during your Twitter campaign:

1. Have a clear goal for your contest.
What are you trying to achieve with your Twitter contest? Are you trying to generate new leads? Are you generating traffic for a new website or blog? Are you announcing a new product and want to generate a buzz? You need to have a clear goal and outcome for your Twitter contest or you'll be disappointed with your results. The clearer your goal is, the better your results will be.

Related: Building Your Brand on Twitter

2. Choose prizes carefully.

This is where people make some of their biggest mistakes when they conduct a contest. Your prize should match the goal for your contest. If you're trying to generate more targeted followers, offering a large cash prize isn't the right prize. Offering a $1,000 prize will attract a lot of new followers, but they may not be targeted. In fact, many of your new followers will be participating in the contest just to win the $1,000, not to support your company.

If you're trying to attract landscape artists as followers, for instance, you could offer an autographed book of landscape pictures or artist accessories as your prize. This would be a more effective way to attract targeted followers than offering a large cash prize.

When you create a plan for your Twitter contest, it needs to do two things:

  • Encourage people in your niche to participate
  • Discourage people who aren't in your niche from participating

This may seem obvious, but it's imperative that you design your contest properly and choose appropriate prizes so you attract the right people. Choosing the right prizes that appeal to your targeted Twitter audience will make your contest more successful.

A great way to generate buzz with your Twitter contest is to cooperate it with one of your partner companies. Your company could be the primary in the Twitter contest, and you could offer a prize donated by your partner company. This approach will grow your Twitter followers while providing publicity and exposure for your partner company, a win-win scenario for all.

You'll benefit most from your contest if you focus on your sponsor more than on your company. Make them the center of attention in your promotional campaigns and link to their blog and website as much as possible. Go out of your way in your contest promotions to thank them for donating the valuable prize. Rave about the value of the prize and how great it would be to win. When the sponsor sees how supportive you are, they'll become more enthusiastic about the contest and promote it like crazy to their customers and prospects. The more they promote the contest, the more followers you get who in turn could become new customers for you.

Related: Using Twitter's Promoted Services

3. Track your campaigns.
This is an obvious step in running a successful Twitter contest, but I'm always surprised by the number of people who don't track their results. It's important to use appropriate tools to measure your contest. If the objectives of your contest are to increase followers, increase ReTweets, and generate leads, you need a tool that can measure these statistics. You may have to use more than one tool to measure your results. In this example, you could use a tool like HootSuite or HubSpot to measure the increase in the number of followers and ReTweets. To measure the leads generated by your contest, you could set up a new campaign in an email autoresponder program like Aweber or Constant Contact to capture your new leads.

When your contest ends, reach out to the winners on Twitter and via email as soon as possible. Once they respond, I let the Twitterverse know who won. It's important to wait until they respond to confirm that they're a real person and not a Twitterbot. It would be embarrassing if the winner of your contest was a Twitterbot and you announced it to the world -- that could have a negative effect on your credibility.

I usually give the winner a few days to respond before I choose another winner. If you wait too long to announce the winner, your contest will lose momentum and people may be reluctant to participate in future contests. Make it very clear in the contest rules that the winner must respond in a certain timeframe or another winner will be selected. This helps avoid any confusion and negative publicity if the original winner is slow to respond to you.

Once you confirm the winner, it's time to celebrate! Announce the winner publicly on Twitter, and on the contest's web page, your blog, Facebook, LinkedIn, and your other social communities. You can even send out a press release announcing the winner of your contest. Make a big deal about announcing the winner. The more publicity you generate, the more popular your future contests will be.

When your contest is complete, take time to review its results. Did you meet your goals? What worked and what didn't? What could you do better in your next contest? It's important to review your contest in detail so you can make your next one even better.

Related: 3 Steps to Streamlining and Improving Your Twitter Account
 

Copyright © 2013 Entrepreneur.com, Inc.

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