5 Great Twitter Contests

The Best of Breed

If you have some more ideas, Tweet me at @TreyRatcliff!

I’ve been asking all my social media pals, photographer-friends, and others about some of the most successful and fun Twitter contests that have been run.  I was sitting down with my publisher at @Peachpit, because we need to Give Away a few copies of “A World in HDR“.  While we thought of a few ideas, I thought we would open it up the Internet to see what we can find!

Frankly, and this might offend some people, I think that straight give-aways are crass and obvious.  I think it can get you followers, but I can argue those are ill-gotten followers.  You may disagree.

I think there are more fun, engaging, and productive ways to run Twitter contests.  So, to that end, I’ve assembled some of the best below.  If you have MORE, drop me a note in the comments, and I’ll do a redux soon! 🙂  Also, please, tell me your favorite contest idea and we can try to do something similar for the new book!  I’ll probably have @Peachpit run the contests, since I don’t want to Tweet about give-aways once an hour on my personal Twitter account (@TreyRatcliff). Besides, you guys should follow Peachpit anyway, since they are a good company that publishes fantastic books.

1)  The Michelle

  • So named, because it is the idea of Michelle Greer, a clever Twitter user and social media smarty-pants at Rackspace.
  • We pick a non-photography related blogger who frequently uses pictures in their posts to act as a judge (who’s interested??)
  • Judge announces a theme for the day (Landscape, architecture, etc) and announces via Twitter.  We’ll get that Retweeted widely and repeatedly.
  • Contestant picks a photo that fits the theme, “Hey @TreyRatcliff and @Peachpit, this #hdr is inspiring (link).”  Note this does not have to be MY photo…it can be yours, or anyone’s!
  • Judge picks the winner and uses it on their blog with attribution.  Winner gets a the prize!

Why I like this idea:

  • People get to find and share great art online
  • People get to discover new photographers and new sites that feature them
  • I’m a big fan of Creative Commons (all my work is CC, no Commercial Use allowed without contacting us first).  I think bloggers out there should know about all the beautiful photos from photographers that are available.  And photographers who believe in creative commons LOVE to be featured on blogs.
  • Everyone likes eye-candy on Twitter!

2)  The Trivial

  • Thanks to Eugene, a frequent guest on this site!
  • Send people on a scavenger hunt through a particular website to find something hidden
    • For example, we could ask, “How many nights in a row was Trey forced to eat borscht cooked by three Russian women in Argentina?”
  • The contest judge accepts tweets with real, creative, or funny answers.
  • The winner is selected randomly amongst those that got the right answer in 24 hours.

Why I like this idea

  • It’s fun and game-like
  • People get even more engaged in a website and might find some hidden gems
  • You have 24 hours to play, and you don’t have to be “quick on the draw”

3)  The Macleod

  • A frequent guest of the site, Barbara Youngleson, brought this one up.  Thanks Barbara!
  • This idea appears to have come from Hugh Macleod, the clever cartoonist and consummate cooligan
  • It works like this (more or less):
    • Purchase a book by any means, and send the PO over Twitter
    • A limited number of winners are chosen
    • Receive a second book, signed, for free.  Give one to a friend!

Why I like it:

  • It is non-pushy
  • It rewards people that are real-enough fans to buy the book in the first place!  Hehe.
  • Hugh did it, so it must have some coefficient of cool

4)  The Threadless

  • This idea is being successfully executed at Threadless.com
  • If you see a Tweet you like, you can submit it to the contest
  • It is then voted on by the Threadless community
  • The best Tweets end up on T-Shirts and the Tweet author gets sweet cash.

Why I like it:

  • It’s incredibly fun and engaging.
  • It’s super-viral.  I found out about it because someone nominated one of my Tweets: “If I get another dog, I shall name him ‘ROFL’.”
  • Threadless is cool, and it is fun to be associated with a cool brand.

5)  The Moonfruit

  • Moonfruit (a website buildin’ company) ran a good promotion where you can use the hashtag #moonfruit in any kind of Tweet
  • They selected a random person every day and gave away a MacBook Pro
  • It resulted in the #moonfruit hashtag being a trending topic and gaining over 30,000 followers

Why I like it:

  • It was very easy to enter
  • It was viral because you wonder why your friends are all talking about Moonfruit!

Today’s Photo – The Bar at Dosa in San Francisco

The photo today was taken at an awesome Indian restaurant in San Francisco called “Dosa”.  The manager was nice enough to allow me to move around and take a few photos after dinner.  I was dining with the marketing and PR team from Peachpit (@Peachpit), who is publishing the book.  Taking roll-call, we had Scott Cowlin (@ScottPeachpit), Sara Jane Todd (@SaraJaneTodd), and Laura Pexton (@Laura7).  We sat around all night talking about having some fun Twitter contests for people to give away books… so here we are, and you get to vote on your favorites!

5 Great Twitter Contests

  • casusan

    Beautiful lights and lighting here Trey – love the warm glow! Like the ‘trvial’ idea of Eugene’s – sounds fun – focus is on us frequent visitors – we all have excellent memories! 🙂

  • Awesome. I stayed up just to read about the compilation of these great contest ideas!

    Contest idea #1 is really neat because it allows a showcase of photographers’ images on a non-photography site – and pictures can definitely spice up a blog post filled with lots of words 🙂

    For contest idea #5, what would you pick as a hashtag? #stuckincustoms? I do like that people could use the hashtag in any kind of tweet they like 🙂

    I like contest idea #4, but the only thing that I am concerned about is that if it goes through threadless, there will be lots of people who enter the contest who won’t be visible? You know what I mean? If you do a hashtag contest (#5), you can search on twitter all people who have entered. I think it might be harder with contest idea #4.

    Contest Idea #3 is great – awesome business strategy at work 🙂

    And of course, I fully support contest idea #2 ;). I think it has the potential for contest participants becoming most engaged with you and the Stuck in Customs blog! It would be so much fun to scavenge through your photos and captions to find the answer to the trivia question(s)! 🙂

  • gorgeous shot.. for a minute there, I thought it was a reflective pool of water!

  • I like “The Michelle”. And I’ll volunteer to play judge for you. I can be fairly creative with the theme for the day to make it fun for all. 😉 The fact that I use a photo on every post on my blog, combined with the fact that my blog has a high PR probably happen to be a good fit for this type of thing anyway.

    The problem with #2 is that once one person finds and posts the answer, the contest is done. Everyone after them can see it, so it really only works for the very first person. And then you’ve got an issue of simply being lucky enough to see the contest first.

    I like #3 because you are going to definitely reward someone who is a true fan. But I wonder if that is going to build as much momentum and spread the word? I don’t think so really.

    #4 works for T-shirts. Not books.

    I like #5 a lot. #StuckInCustoms. A little long, but not too bad!

    I’ve got an option #6. How about giving away a copy to some lucky winner who takes a photo of themselves holding a copy of the book? They don’t have to even buy it. They just have to take their iPhone or camera to a bookstore, hold it, and tweet it or post it to a blog then tweet the link.


    John P.

  • Great Photo Trey! I’m in San Francisco for three weeks. Hope to get outside the Fairmont Hotel to get some HDR’s of San Francisco!

  • Neat photo, Trey!! I like the Trivial idea, sounds like fun for those on twitter!!!!

  • Cool 🙂 Great feedback.

    John P – I like that #6 idea too! 🙂

    Eugene – sure thing – I agree!

  • Contests are always fun. I like the idea of Michelle. It adds a bit of adventure and hunting to a fun idea. I like todays photo as it give me a sense of suspense. Keep up the good work.

  • Has to be ‘Michelle’ for me !
    Love the latest pic Trey ! Awesome !

  • James

    I like the Threadless and the trivial. Something that you don’t have to be on top of. #1 of course if you want a true Fred Miranda style photo competition though.

  • Rod

    #1- kinda like stumbleupon which I love and yet I get to find new areas of the web from people like me who are into cool pictures. Can’t be a judge though. my blog is a photoblog. not a fan of #2, #3 has possiblities, #4 naw don’t need any more tshirts. #5 would be my second fav. in order 1,5,3,4,2

  • Jill Baxter

    Love the gorgeous photo – would love to be there. As far as the borsch is concerned, I remember that, and think it was 5 days to a week, but don’t remember. It was a long time to eat borsch that many days in a row, but then I bet it was good.

  • Sarah

    The threadless!!!!

  • Facebook User

    You are my HDR hero. Absolutely love your photography.

    I love the Michelle and I would be willing to be a judge.

    I also think the Trivial would be a hoot.

    Can’t wait to see what you come up with.

  • Wow – I had to look twice on this one. Not sure if this merits a post.

    Don’t let your addiction to twitter circumvent your art. It getting a little cheesy here. Twitter seems bringing this site the wrong direction.

  • @carbonboy. Twitter just allows others to spread art. If you have something beautiful it is selfish to keep it to yourself.

    You might be sick of Twitter, but I know a lot of artists who are really struggling right now in this economy and could learn a thing or two from what Trey is doing.

  • colene

    great photo love it!

  • I volunteer for the Michelle!

  • Trey, I just posted on my prints blog Five Ways to Run an Effective Twitter Contest. It goes along with some of the ideas brought up in this post (Moonfruit idea gets the mention, for example).

    John N Pozadzides above makes a valid point about how once a user figures out the answer to a Trivia question (on Twitter), other people may cheat (and it may become a sour contest for all). To that end, I address how the issue can be resolved in item #2 here.



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  • Thanks for the post – my blog is getting an overhaul in time for the new year, but would love to run a contest once i am running full speed.


  • We’re running a neat contest to crowdsource our tagline.

    Come up with the best tagline and win an iPhone.


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  • We are also doing a mega competition, a chance to win 1000 dollars, simply head on over and follow and retweet to enter.


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