Twitter Hashtag Contests: the Pros and Cons from Shoppers Stop (Indian Retail Brand)

Shoppers Stop ran a Twitter Hashtag contest designed to get consumers to tweet about the brandIndian retail brand Shoppers Stop recently launched a Twitter hashtag contest with a “tweet store” microsite in India that generated more than 22,500 tweets for the store. Based entirely on chance, the contest was designed to engage consumers on Twitter with the opportunity to win a series of fun prizes in realtime.  The microsite was the “first of its kind in India,” using the Twitter API to track all #sstweetstore tweets, according to social media marketing expert Sorav Jain.

The contest was simple:  the custom microsite would announce what prize was up next, and which tweet would be the winner.  In other words,  the 350th, 800th, or 1,000th tweeter to use the #sstweetstore hashtag would win the prize, with the number constantly changing for each prize.  The contest ran on June 12th and 13th, with prizes including a set of headphones, makeup items and gift vouchers, to name just a few.

The contest microsite would show contestants how many tweets were needed before the winning tweet.  The app on the microsite worked in realtime, with a tweet ticker on the bottom of the page that displayed each tweet and the serial number assigned to it.  When the winner of one prize was announced, the ticker was reset for the next contest.  Winners were announced on the Shoppers Stop Twitter page, and also on the Winners tab on the microsite.

The Pros — and the Cons

According to Lighthouse Insights, the contest created a “traffic jam” on the specially created microsite around five hours after launch, generated 7,154 tweets within that short time period, and the hashtag was trending for a short while on Trendsmap Mumbai.  A later update by Lighthouse Insights revealed that in total, the 2-day contest created a record of 22,568 tweets with #sstweetstore.

However, many of the tweets had little to do with Shoppers Stop.  Some were completely inane but just included the hashtag, posted by consumers trying to win the prizes.  So using the hashtag did not necessarily involve much engagement with the brand itself – begging the question, “What value add do such tweets give the brand?”

What would have made the contest more effective?  Creating a theme for the contest – one that fosters deeper engagement with the brand – would have been beneficial, suggests Lighthouse Insights.  Having participants tweet what they like about the brand would provide the brand with valuable information, and perhaps eliminate some of the random contest tweeters who have no interest in the brand itself.

The contest did have a fun, random element: choosing the winners by complete chance made it possible for anyone to win, rather than limiting the prizes to Twitter influencers.  However, this also means that users weren’t encouraged to share the contest with their friends and networks.

Finally, did engagement suffer due to the realtime countdown for the winning tweets? When the ticker would read ‘800 more tweets’ before the next prize, participants most likely held out until it appeared closer to “winning” time.  Would the hashtag have been tweeted more consistently if the prize-winning tweets were selected at random times?

Brands are continually seeking new ways to engage consumers on Twitter, using contests, hashtags and more.  Consumers are always excited to win something — but do you think Shoppers Stop could have done more to foster brand awareness, keep participants consistently engaged, and to encourage them to come back after the contest?