The Anatomy of a Twitter Party – Fair & Square

The Anatomy of a Twitter Party – Fair & Square

Twitter Parties are a relatively new form of promotion that brands are using.  As more and more people use Twitter as a platform to communicate and engage, Twitter Parties have become an excellent way for brands to do giveaways.  As these parties grow and become more popular it only makes sense that brands reach out to others that have skills (and followings) in social media.  In comes the bloggers.

A Twitter Party hosted by a brand and moderated by bloggers is the perfect fit. Bloggers have reach. They have followers.  They know how to promote. That is what they do. They work hard to develop those skills and build that readership.

A Twitter Party almost always involves prizes.  And where there are prizers there are, of course, winners. Everybody wants to win. Fair enough.  I am a former devoted contester. And there is nothing more frustrating, when you take the time (and yes some people devote a lot of time), to enter giveaways and then someone suggests that the giveaway was not run fairly. I’ve been on that end of that kind of giveaway or contest. It sucks.  But you know what sucks even more?  When you are the one running a giveaway and you hear these rumours. And you know they aren’t true.

So, I thought it was time to write a little post about the inner workings of a Twitter Party so everyone can understand that “rigging” a party is the absolute last thing a blogger would do.

A brand wants to host a Twitter Party.  Maybe they approach you.  Maybe you approach them or already have an existing relationship with them. You work with that brand to identify their needs and goals for hosting a party.  Is it to promote a specific product, promotion or event? What is the messaging they want to get across?  What is the demographic they want to target? Next you have to pick a date and time. You do the leg work to find the right date, one that doesn’t overlap another party or event that would take your audience away.  You work with the brand to decide on an appropriate and effective hashtag. You discuss and decide on prizes for the event.

Once you have the preliminary details worked out it’s really time to get down to business.  Imagine throwing a party for 400+ people.  There are a lot of details to work out.  You put together a team.  Usually other bloggers that have the appropriate skills to promote and help manage the event. You write posts, to give details about the party and give people a place to RSVP (and this is important for the prizing which we will get to later). You start promoting – blog posts, tweets, Facebook posts. You continue to communicate with the brand – keeping them up to date on progress.

While all this promoting and engaging is going on you get to work on the script for the event. Now I don’t want to give the impression that every word or conversation of a Twitter Party is scripted.  That’s not possible, nor is it desirable. That is not engagement.  However, questions need to be written, key messaging needs to be scripted.  The importance of all this is timing.  Timing can make or break a twitter party.  If it’s  a small or more informal chat it’s not as necessary or even appropriate but, again, if you are expecting a lot of guests you need to ensure that the party flows and progresses on a schedule.  People are tuning in, ready to give you an hour (most parties are an hour) of their lives so you want to try and give them, and the brand, what they need and want in an hour.

So, you have your “script” ready to go. You have have your team assembled.  You, your team and the brand have been promoting the party. There are always changes that need to be made a long the way.  You make them. This is about the brand and their goals.  That is always the bottom line. You give them guidance because, well, you’ve done this before.  You know what works and what doesn’t work. But in the end you are working for them. It’s party time.  The team is together (virtually).  The brand is ready to go. Let the party begin!

The questions are tweeted.  The answers are flying.  You, your team and the brand engage, engage, engage.  I can’t stress that enough.  Engagement is king. Like any party, people want to feel included. You do your absolute best to make that happen. While at the same time watching every second of that clock, trying to catch any questions or concerns from attendees. Is someone having trouble RSVPing?  You’re on that. Someone didn’t see the question tweeted?  You’re on that. The hashtag is trending?  You’re on that.  Whatever is happening – you’re on that. That is your job.

And then there is prizing. A typical party will have maybe 5 or six prizes.  There are various ways to draw winners.  I’ll describe how our team does it.  The first question is tweeted.  The attendees answer the question using something like Q1 {answer}#hasthag. Once the answers start coming a member of our team goes to the RSVP list. She checks how many people have RSVPed (and she will check back each time a question is asked because more people will RSVP throughout the night). She then takes that number and heads on over to random.org.  The site gives her a randomly generated number within the parameters (number of people on the RSVP list) she has put in. She then takes that number, heads back over to the RSVP list and finds the twitter handle associated with that number.  She then goes on over to Twitter and sees if that person has tweeted a response to the question.  Voila, we have a winner! It is completely and totally random. There is no weight on how many times you have tweeted, how many twitter followers you have, what color underwear you are wearing that night. It is RANDOM.  As long as you are on the RSVP list and tweeted a response (with the hashtag) to the question your odds of winning are exactly the same as anyone else at that party.  Period.  End of story.

We have nothing to gain and absolutely everything to lose by hand picking winners

The idea that a blogger or bloggers would “rig” a Twitter Party is an idea that just doesn’t fly.  We have nothing to gain and absolutely everything to lose by hand picking winners. No credible blogger would ever put their own brand and the brand they are working with at risk but doing something like that. Putting on a Twitter Party is hard work.  It’s also good work.  I take a lot of pride in what I do.  I blog and work with integrity.  With ethics. So do most of the bloggers I know.  Allowing cheating to be involved in a Twitter Party (or any giveaway) that we are attach our name too could be blogging death.

So you attended a Twitter Party and a “big blogger” won a prize.  Well, good for her or him.  Odds are, well, odds.  Plain and simple. There is no doubt that a number of bloggers (and that number varies) will go to a Twitter Party.  They may be there to support another blogger.  They may be there to try and connect with the brand.  They may be there to learn more about Twitter Parties.  They just may be there because they want to win a prize. It really doesn’t matter why they are there.  As long as they follow the rules they are eligible to win.  Just like you. Their chances of winning are not any higher or lower than anybody else that is at the party and following the rules.

I’m not sure there is much more I can say on this matter.  I, personally, have never won a “big” prize ( a few smaller ones though) at a twitter party.  And I go to a lot of twitter parties.  Many of then hosted by other bloggers that I know.  Many of them I know personally.  #justsayin

This article has 39 comments

  1. I am a fan of the RSVP list. Its the parties that don’t use it that I give a side eye and usually won’t participate.  Not that they are handing picking winners either, I just prefer the RSVP method. 

    I like seeing “big bloggers” win!  Alot of them like yourself help throw these parties for brands & deserve a chance  to win as much as the next tweep ::)  

    • I understand what you're saying – about the RSVP list. There are so many ways to do parties and draw winners.  None of them wrong.  The list is our preferred method for use because we do our best to be as transparent as possible!

    • When there is no rsvp there is a random winner generator called Twitter Draw that many of us use. Just FYI

  2. Love this post! I'm going to be starting a monthly Twitter party series soon (a smaller scale) and this gives me even more to think about. Thank you!
    My recent post Beautiful Buttercream Rose Cupcakes

  3. I am very happy you wrote this. Anyone thinking a blogger would jeopardize themselves by "rigging" is nuts! There is no reason why anyone should think any different. Twitter parties are way more work than most would think. I have won a few prizes, nothing big. I love that the winner is drawn at random. Luck of the draw! 
    My recent post Against the Wild on DVD March 11 with Giveaway US/CAN

  4. Thank you for this insight and education into the world of Twitter parties. It provided me with an explanation of how the names are drawn and how much work it is to throw one as well. 

  5. Great post; thanks for the explanation…definitely something that needed to be said. I have only every won anything once and it wasn't a large prize AND I have gone to a bunch of Twitter parties. I think it's like real life, some people seem lucky, others not. My inlaws for instance seem to win on anything they enter and me, never! It seems strange honestly but that's just the luck of the draw on random selection. Thanks to Dar for saying that too; bloggers have a right to win too, obviously whoever runs it isn't eligible but the rest are, just like anyone else.

    I've shared and tweeted 🙂
    My recent post Sugared Strawberry Mini Donuts

  6. I have unfortunately heard of a host picking a winner who they think wins too often & is a blogger on a site they don't like and picking another winner for that prize but I think it is the exception rather than the rule.

    I see some people win several prizes in a row but you also have to consider they may not win again for a year when others win occasionally throughout the year – all random.
    My recent post Harry’s (Shaving Items) Now In Canada

  7. I'd just like to add that personally, as someone that hosts Twitter parties for large brands quite regularly, I also take screenshots of every single draw and, additionally, of the tweet in which the winner answered the posted question. It takes extra time but it is very helpful if there are ever issues about the accuracy or transparency of the draw. So the idea that Twitter parties have no transparency is rather absurd.
    My recent post Make Your Look Sparkle with OPI Spotlight on Glitter Nail Lacquers

  8. Journeysof TheZoo
    Sunday 2 March 2014, 10:43 pm

    Thanks for sharing some insight into hosting Twitter Parties. We are fortunate to have such a great team.

    As for the nay-sayers,  there will always be critiques and everyone is entitled to an opinion. Bottom line… random is random and I sleep well at night.

    Besos, Sarah
    Blogger at Journeys of The Zoo
    My recent post Five Myths About Mexico

  9. Excellent post, very well explained. I like that you give a complete break down, for those that attend twitter parties, and do not host, we have no idea the team work and effort and time consuming prep work that goes into one of these events. Thank you for sharing with us the ins/outs and the look behind the twitter party scene!

  10. Thank you for this post.  I will be sharing this with friends.  I'm glad you posted about the winner being picked from RSVP and then verified.  I hope more people read this and know they don't have to RT everything every host/moderator says and try to talk as much as they can to everyone to try and get their tweets high in the numbers to increase their chances of winning.   I like when a twitter party is about having fun and engaging with companies, hosts, and friends rather than people just using each tweet as an entry. 

    • It's important to read the rules for a Twitter Party.  There are, in fact, some parties that actually do put weight on how many tweets you put out.  Those are definitely not in the majority but I have seen them.  So, like any giveaway you are entering read the rules! And if there are no rules posted ask the host/moderators to provide them.  

      • Ohh of course 🙂 I do read the rules when posted.  Many times there are never any posted.  Is this a requirement? I assume it is since any other contest in Canada is supposed to have rules.  I will be sure to ask in the future if I don't see any posted.

        • Yes it is a requirement.  And most brands and bloggers do post the rules. But you are right, not always.  It sure makes this whole transparency thing easier when they do!

  11. Great post Shayna, I've been lucky enough to win a couple of times lately but I've been to a lot of twitter parties over the last 4 years and have only ever won about three times in total. It's so random. It's best to go for the fun and company and if you win, it's a just a bonus. 
    My recent post Headed to France? Be aware of the Paris Gold Ring Scam

  12. Don't hate me 🙂 & Please read all of this before you freak out.

    I have only been doing tweet contest for 3 mths. A newbie ..but I have seen some really absolutely suspicious responses/wins. Three short mths and it has become easy for me to see which bloggers/brand reps have ethics & which ones don't. If I can see it I assume you see it too. Denying it happens does not help. 

    So what to do? Contest peeps need to remember We have the empowerment not to "follow" those bloggers & any bloggers who actively associate with those bloggers. To unfollow those brands who are blind to the action of these types of bloggers or reps. 

    I appreciate this article Shayna as I didn't know the background that goes into a "party" Obviously a lot of work!  So I can see why "ethical" bloggers can be upset with the whispers of unfairness. I learned that it is not your response to a question that causes your win but it is a random chance. Awesome! As it should be. 

    I do hope I can use this as a platform with suggestions to eliminate causes for questioning on wins….
    Such as, if the Brand is represented by a network of bloggers ex: PTPA Then no blogger associated with PTPA can win. They can support their team by attending but not win.

    A non win by association would eliminate innuendos of unfairness.  

    Also, I do love how the USA parties are sometimes set up. A whole list of clear rules are given when you RSVP.  Usually, it states any REP (association) of the Brand can not win.

    I also appreciate when past & present winners are listed on any bloggers/reps/ Brand site. It's a obvious way to eliminate any questions. I have seen some list that go back years 🙂

     I do not think every contest or party is rigged. (Or no one would enter!)  My own opinion is that I have personally witness questionable & unethical "wins" You don't have agree with my "opinion". That's blogging, right?

    I congratulate Shayna for bringing this discussion forward. A Hot topic! Within the "contest" peeps world & obviously with bloggers too. Hopefully her article will help
    I equally hope my suggestions are taken with open minds. 

    PS To my contest peeps. I would not have written this if I thought I would be "black balled" from further wins.  "Random"

    • Jane thank you for the comments.  I really appreciate another viewpoint on this.  Of course I cannot blindly say it does't happen.  I can only say that I honestly have never seen it myself and that none of the bloggers that I have relationships with would unfairly skew the results of a random draw.  But of course I don't know every blogger and although I attend a lot of parties I don't attend every single one.  

      Thank you again for your input.  I'm sure other bloggers will see it and if there is need for improvement in how rules are made and articulated then we can work on that!

    • Agreed! There are some bloggers who you can tell truly pick random winners then there are some who do not…many ppl have noticed it and it has been discussed amongst us many times…it has nothing to do with being a sore loser but it has been pretty transparent. I think it's a great idea for a non win by association ex. momvstheboys winning the momcentral twiter party stove/oven prize..I strongly believe she was chosen because she works for them. Sundays Oscar party is an example of one that went well and you could tell it was random, but there have been others that were very suspicious. Kudos to those of you who run your parties properly and to those who don't people notice and just don't say anything about it to you…I think I've only seen 1 party where 2 or 3 ppl spoke out. Anywho that's all I gotta say.

      • Agree with copperjane, nobody who works for an organization should be eligible to win a prize, regardless if they are 'involved in that campaign" or not. You see it all the time with other big name companies, nobody who works for them in any way can be eligible to win, and usually none of their family either.

        • I completely agree with CopperJane.  And the comment above.  NO ONE should win anything from a company contest/party that they have a working relationship with.  End of topic.  I do not understand WHY any of the bloggers would even wonder why people are questioning this.  It's obvious isn't it?  Defending yourselves is one thing, but you have to see the other side of it.  Really.

  13. This question is for the bloggers that say they choose winners at random and are transparent. Would you be willing to back that up with screenshots? Could you provide a link showing transparency? Remember, its not whether bloggers are cheating or not, its the perception that they are that you'll have to overcome if you want the public to "engage". Thanks

  14. Great post! I've hosted a ton of twitter parties, and they are my bread and butter. You made some great points here. I hope this article attracts more twitter party clients for you. There are so many mom bloggers like us trying to run twitter parties now that we have fierce competition for the top brands. Good luck with this! Thanks for sharing your tips.
    My recent post #WordlessWednesday with #Linky on a Monday – My Princess

  15. Thanks Shayna, I really appreciate your reply.
    This is a huge issue! My DM & Email & FB have lit up. Examples of suspected unfairness. Requests to add to my "suggestions" and unfortunately "trash" talk. People you should know I will not respond to "trash" talk of another person. No matter who. I do understand this is a very sensitive subject but I am not willing to individualize anybody! Like I said, Unfollow, Unlike or Disconnect. Support the people/Brands you do trust.
    I do feel I need to put this out….If you are a senior member of PTPA  or YMC or Mom's Central Please review your entire twitter practices , as specially Twit parties. Maybe consult with past & present contestants (not just bloggers) on suggestions for improvement. Somehow! there has to a platform for people to express their "thoughts" without worrying about negative results. Maybe there is and I don't know about it?
    Sorry people but I am not that platform. I retired from that life 🙂 

  16. I have never ran a Twitter party, and I don't participate too often (it's just a time thing) so I am not 100% on how they work (although you did answer a lot of questions). THAT BEING SAID, you know how I know it's fair and ethical?

    Because in our blogging group there is often questions on how to fairly draw a winner or what random generator does everyone use.

    When I do participate and I see a fellow blogger win, you know what I do? I CONGRATULATE THEM. They put in the time just like everyone else to enter these parties and contests.

    I'm not a big blogger by any means, but I'm not a small one either. I enter contests and the odd Twitter party and I don't win often. I have probably won two contests in the last year. Do I complain and start judging my peers? No because I know how random everything is! The people that usually win MY contests are the ones that RT daily and lots of them are bloggers. They are putting in the work to up their chances- they deserve it.

    As for some of the people cornering a blogger about winning a big prize and complaining because she is apart of the consulting network. So am I! I always enter other bloggers contests who are working with that company, as long as I didn't receive a product from that campaign – I would like to win something…just like everyone else 🙂

  17. I think this is a good, and important, conversation.  I can't speak for other bloggers, only myself, but I really want to get this feedback. As a blogger I am nothing without readers and that includes the people stopping by to enter giveaways or RSVP for a Twitter Party.  And if my followers don't trust me then that's not good for brands that I work with. It's also personal.  

    I do want to touch on the subject of Twitter Parties and agencies such as PTPA, Mom Central Etc.  I am a blogger who works with groups like that.  And I can tell you that for the most part we, bloggers, are very much at arms length with these networks.  And there are times when we are not.  For example, I work with Mom Central as a #Kindermom.  Recently I posted about the Kinder Eggs Crack 'n Win Contest.  Subsequently, I am not allowed to enter that contest.  But if they are giving away a fridge and I was not involved in that campaign then I'm going to enter to win that fridge just like you are.  And I also know that my chances of winning that fridge are exactly the same as your chances.

    Could things be clearer?  Obviously YES.  And I know that not everyone believes this but – we are listening. Just like the contest world has forums to discuss these matters, bloggers do as well.  For some bloggers this is their bread and butter. And accusations hurt both personally and professionally.  

  18. Wow, I was totally shocked to read some of the accusations online about bloggers rigging twitter parties.  I've won big, a few times… and I'm pretty well unconnected 🙂 

    Jealousy isn't pretty folks.  It's a contest, a game… you win some and you lose some. My four year old can grasp this but it seems many adults can't.
    My recent post Jamaica’s Jewel Runaway Bay Beach & Golf Resort

  19. I don't think that it is a matter of cheating so to say.  I think what people are very upset about is the fact that people do not understand why bloggers who are seemingly working with certain brands are winning contests/twitter parties those brands host.  It is a matter of transparency.  It's hard for a contest enterer to understand  why those people are allowed to win.  To the average contest entrant, perhaps its hard to know who is connected to the brand and who isn't because there are so many bloggers/brands hopping on the twitter party band wagon.  I do not think it is jealousy or being a sore loser on the contest entrants part.  It is honest mis understanding as things are not made very clear, especially with many twitter parties I have seen, the rules are very much lacking in detail.  I think all of this is happening for a reason and it is going to be for the better, as it is very obvious changes need to be made by how these parties are run.  Calling people crazy and jealous for stating opinions and for questioning/being suspicious is no better than saying a blogger is a cheater.  An understanding from both sides needs to be met, and of course that means more work on the bloggers/brands part.  Once this happens (more comprehensive rules, and clear explainations of how a party is run, as well as perhaps screenshots/posting of winners) there will be a greater understanding, and also will benefit the bloggers/brands even MORE because more people will attend the parties, if they understand it a little better.  If that makes sense?

  20. Wow – what a great post, Shayna – I really like the idea of taking the random.org screen shot to eliminate any doubt that the winners have been hand picked!
    Thanks to all who support our twitter parties & chats … and good luck to all of us who love getting prizes in the mail!

    My recent post #CDNmoney Twitter Chat Tues March 18th 7-8pmET Teaching Kids About Money!

  21. Great post! However, I have to agree with some of the more cynical comments. I have reason to believe not all hosts of Twitter parties are credible. Unfortunately, these are the same ones who are quite successful at what they do. Perhaps that is how they become successful – I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine. I have participated in twitter parties and, in light of the sheer number of participants, it is highly improbable that the SAME person wins repeatedly. Luck is one thing. But luck over and over and over etc. again is another. It has nothing to do with jealousy. It has to do with facts: Recently, a twitter party was held and the grand prize winner only entered the discussion the last 11 minutes of the full hour it was running and all she did was RT; another winner in another contest hadn't even tweeted a response to the question asked. I also participate in twitter parties where there is no prize. I choose the ones with a topic that interests me or an issue I want to help bring attention to. I will continue to participate in the ones I feel I can learn something from but it is not above me to contact the company whose product is being advertised/promoted should I see such blatant abuse again. It is up to them to look into it should they choose. I wish there was more transparency and accountability. Perhaps taking screeenshots like I read above that "mommykatandkids" does is a prudent idea. Your post sheds light into how twitter parties should work. It is clear, well-written and helpful, and I'm confident that most twitter parties are held in good faith. I don't wish to appear cynical vis-à-vis all bloggers because the majority are great. Thanks for the post.

    • I appreciate you sharing your thoughts.  I know that most of us that are involved in hosting twitter parties genuinely appreciate this kind of feedback.  We need them to be a good experience for everyone including the attendees and the brands we are representing. Transparency is important and I think more and more we are getting that and striving for it.

  22. FormerTwitterPartier
    Tuesday 28 October 2014, 9:14 pm

    I'm entirely convinced these parties are rigged. You won't convince me otherwise. At one point, back in 2011, 2012 when twitter parties were fairly new- I had actually won a few parties myself. Totally random. Now that I participate- I'm noticing the same names being pulled for prizes. I'm sure there's some elbow rubbing behind the scenes. You, personally, may not host parties in this way but don't think for a minute that everyone else is being "fair and square". That's naive.

  23. Last year I went almost 12 whole months at not winning at a twitter party! It didn't matter if my RSVP number was 7 or 207, I just could not win at all! At one point I quit going to parties for awhile. I do see a lot of the same people winning. I'm not saying its rigged or anything, I just know that some people are luckier then others.

    • I use to be so lucky with contests! Not necessarily twitter parties but online contests. For three years my average winnings were about $10,000 a year. Now I might win a Timmies card here and there 😉 I guess my luck ran out 🙁

  24. Great explanation! Out of curiosity – how are winners picked when there is no RSVP list?

  25. Great post Shayna. I used to win on occasion when I was a contester, but haven't done so in a few years. I rarely take part anymore out of lack of time. I host and run parties occasionally as you do. We do our best to share the rules and regulations and be honest and fair and then also make sure everyone receives the prizes in a timely manner as well. That's no picnic either. A lot of work goes into all of it actually. 
    My recent post Make Back to School Rock with Monster Headphones #BTS

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