Despite his productive on-court form since coming back from injury, John Wall recently delivered the Twitterverse an example of precisely what not to do when it comes to social media competitions.

In an effort to promote the college-party themed film ‘21 And Over,’ the Wizard’s point-guard held a signed cap competition, tweeting the following on February 28:

On the surface – Positives and Negatives

Let’s acknowledge what he did right. The tweet contains a simple message and offers a task that is relatively easy for followers to execute. He also gets a tick for displaying the prize on offer, as this provides clarity as well as visual appeal to the competition.

However, the overall effectiveness of the promotion has left a lot to be desired.

What instantly hits me is Wall’s apparent lack of enthusiasm for the initiative. His opener; ‘Anybody want a signed hat?’ emits a lackadaisical tone, reminiscent of the I-guess-I'll-choose-you attitude the captain of a school yard basketball team shows toward the kid chosen last in a pick-up game. The tweet feels subdued, and I can't imagine his fans are jumping out of their seats to get involved.

But the more significant problem lies in the type of competition Wall has implemented. Given it requires just two of his followers to tweet in a photographic response it could, in theory, be run and won within 60 seconds. Fast-forward another 30 minutes, and it would be feasible to suggest that most of Wall's 721,000-strong Twitter following wouldn't bother to make the effort to take part, as they’d be under the assumption that, due to Wall's popularity on the Twitter space, the competition's outcome had already been decided.

The Stats Don't Lie 

Astoundingly, despite being posted out over three weeks ago, it appears Wall's tweet has only received one direct reply:

When we dug a little deeper – using Twitter's advanced search tool – the results were even more damning. Here are some of the things we uncovered: 

  • Zero competition related tweets to @John_Wall containing the words: ‘signed,' ‘cap,' ‘movie,' ‘ticket,' ‘stub,' or ‘prize'; 
  • Zero competition related tweets to @John_Wall containing the names of the major apps people use to share photographs online (twitpic, lockerz, instagram pic.twitter, snapseed, camera+, etc); and
  • One competition related tweet to @John_Wall containing the hashtags ‘#21andover,' or ‘#signedcap' (and that was merely a retweet from a fan).

In addition to illustrating poor fan engagement, I'm sure promoters of the film wouldn't be that impressed with the 28 retweets and 28 favourites that have come since the tweet was published. 

Correcting Wall's mistakes

A more effective way to implement a Twitter competition of this nature would be with the use of a random incentive system. In this scenario, instead of rewarding speed, Wall would stipulate that any reply containing a picture of a movie stub ticket from '21 and over,' sent to his account by a certain time two or three days later, for instance, would go into the running to win one of the signed caps. This would give each of his followers an honest chance at winning the memorabilia, and a reasonable time in which to reply. A competition held over a sustained period, with uncertain results would undoubtedly encourage a wider and more intense level of fan engagement. Winners would then be drawn at random using a website such as Twitterdraw.

While has already examined what it takes to carry out an effective social media competition, using Collingwood defender Harry O'Brien's boot competition as case study, we can also use a more recent example provided to us by Wall's NBA-counterpart, Kyrie Irving, who on February 22, tweeted about a competition for ‘Crysis 3’ a first person shooter game from Electronic Arts (EA):

Note the differences between this tweet and that of Wall’s:

  • The proactive tone and personalised endorsement of the product;
  • An easier method of competition entry (i.e. Retweet rather than a reply that has to contain a photograph);
  • A non-absolute sense of time (i.e. You may still have a chance to win, even if you aren’t in the first 5% to respond); and
  • No confirmation on the number of copies Irving has to distribute.

As you can see, this has been retweeted more than 4,500 times, which is a significantly superior result in contrast to his Washington Wizards counterpart, despite having a smaller Twitter fan base to work with (506,068 at time of publishing). While you could argue that the Cleveland point guard has a better product to promote, his approach is significantly more engaging than Wall's.

Final Observations

Since there have been no follow-up tweets from Wall's account confirming a competition winner there are still in theory, two signed caps up for grabs.  You could enter the competition now, nearly a month later, and still be in with a shot of winning a cap signed by a number one draft pick in the NBA!

If the Wizards' guard replies, I'll be sure to let the Sports Geek family know.

Tips for Prize Giveaways on Twitter:

1. Be Concise and Well-defined in your message – 140 characters can evaporate quickly; use them wisely!
2. Use engaging Criteria – Frequency over immediacy. Rather than asking for the ‘first’ reply or retweet, convey that any fan who meets the criteria by a certain time, has an equal shot at winning (It’s a marathon not a sprint!).
3. Adopt an Active and Enthusiastic tone – If you’re not excited about engaging with your followers, why should they reciprocate?
4. Don’t get offside with Twitter – Try to adhere to Twitter guidelines when it comes to competitions and giveaways.

*Photo of movie ticket stub was acquired from the Twitter account of Bspor3, who was responding to a similar competition held by Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons.

UPDATE: Thanks to Dane May from NCLUSIVEsports for alerting us to other another reply to John Wall's competition, and the fact that there were other NBA players who partook in the '21 and Over' campaign:

Update - new reply

While Wall wasn't the only NBA star to undertake a Twitter competition to promote the film, we chose to highlight his giveaway because we were amazed by the lack of response he received, despite having such a large Twitter fan base. Just goes to show how difficult it can be to engage a large audience on the social space.