Navigating Your Brand through Social Contesting
These days it seems that almost every company with an online presence is driving users to social contests and promotions—and for good reason. Online competitions are a great tactic to promote and showcase the various aspects of your brand and reward your loyal supporters. With so many contest all competing for users navigating and delivering success in this realm is a multi-disciplinary challenge.
The road to successful online contests, competitions, or promotions is a perilous one. A well-executed campaign will deliver new and highly engaged supporters plus add significant brand value and social buzz. Consider the success of Tourism Queensland’s “Best Job in the World” promotion. Estimated media coverage reached AUD$400 million, and the campaign has reached an audience of approximately 3 billion people. The web stats alone are mind boggling with 8,465,280 unique visits, 55,002,415 page views and 8.25 minutes average time spent on the site.
Alternatively, there can be a considerable downside when you get it wrong and, in some cases, only partly wrong. I recently entered Mammut’s “The Biggest Peak in History” contest, initially lured in by the interesting concept, enticing video and the brand creative. Despite being a great idea and design with superb promotional support, the contest’s user experience was massively confusing.
So how can brands of all sizes create meaningful online contests that get big results? It's not super easy and there is a lot to consider. What follows are ideas that we have used as a guide with some of the many campaigns we have developed. Perhaps these might help you in your planning and execution.
Developing Online Contest Ideas
In social promotions the sky is the limit. I think this is why we are constantly excited by this kind of campaign. The challenge to develop creative concepts that showcase products, provide entertainment, and promote brand themes through design and creativity is a marketing dream.
More often than not we have a “big idea” first. Having innovative ideas about a brand and developing business concept should always be encouraged; BUT, the idea must align with the brand and business objectives.
The key to success in social contests is strategizing, planning and executing well. Imagine that?
What is it you want your contest to achieve? Noting down your big picture goals and objectives is a great starting place. A quick SWOT will help tell you more - find out where the pain points and the opportunities really are.
With your objectives and SWOT in hand, down your ideas. Based on the results, brainstorm or build upon your existing ideas. The key to the ideation is objectivity. Remember:
- Don’t attach yourself emotionally to one idea;
- Consider the down side if it were to go wrong and the run on implications e.g. a crowd-sourced logo contest
- Narrow the list down to top two or three ideas.
Tools to Shape Ideas into Achievable Contests
KISS for ALL
Keep It Simple Stupid for all! Your supporters must be able to use, participate in, and understand your contest easily.
Low Barrier Entry and Platform
By ensuring it’s easy to participate, you can reach the largest possible audience. Photo contests have kind of been done to death but you get the idea. Your platform should also be carefully considered. Facebook and twitter are very particular about running contests on their platforms if at all.
The most successful campaigns are entertaining, informative, rewarding and stimulating for both participants and viewers.
Social media will be central to your success in this space. This can take many forms, including voting, user ratings, comments, blogs or just sharing the contest. Ideally you can stand back and watch your promotion spread itself through social media channels.
Easy to Administer
Developing a promotion that is not a massive administrative nightmare will ensure that you don’t make yourself more unpopular at the office.
Oftentimes contests are a voyage into the unknown and not something for the risk adverse. An element of risk motivates you to plan well and is a good thing. Mitigating liability risk and ensuring that you live up to contest rules and timing are fundamental.
A long drawn out contest will be more work to resource and keep exciting. Carefully consider the timing and duration of your contest.
A promotion should have a tangible benefit or result. Knowing what will measure success will make it easier to deliver.
Before you commit resources, get input from friends, colleagues and associates. Lots of people will tell you it’s a great idea because they want to be supportive. Find knowledgeable partners and ask them what they really think.
Plan Your Project
It is beyond the purposes of this post to delve into the nitty gritty of project management, but here are items that we tend to focus on when planning for social contests:
What your contest will require in terms of prizes, budget, human resources, and equipment (e.g. cameras, etc).
Technology and Design
What’s needed to entice the user, to capture their interest and socially promote your brand through the contest.
In many cases we have been able to reuse existing contesting infrastructure that we have created. This can make it easier to sell to the money people, as it allows investment to be amortized over a number of years.
Promotion and PR
How are you going to get the word out and support this undertaking with all the other marketing channels available to you? One item that is super important and is so often overlooked is the contest follow-up and reward. Ask yourself how many times have you seen the winner receive a prize online? Rewarding is hugely important as it ensures legitimacy to your brand and the contest. Contemplate the PR opportunities to convert on through the winners of your contest.
If you are thinking this sounds overwhelming at this point, it is important that you find a partner capable of executing your ideas and meeting your goals.
Execution and Delivery
Promotions that are fun to run are generally fun all around and will be successful. If you are thinking this sounds great but are totally overwhelmed by what to do next. Find a partner with the wherewithal to execute your vision and meet your goals on time and on budget.
Create and Promote Buzz
Utilize and mobilize social media to engage, judge and spread your promotion far and wide. It is important to also build up excitement through PR and messaging on external sites (blogs, etc) and media.
Promote entrants and winners
people like to be recognized for their contribution to a contest and a good campaign will allow promotion by administrators, entrants and people on the sidelines. Make a big deal about the winner - and use this as a PR opportunity
Communicate with entrants and engage them further. This can be done through social media, the development of targeted email, and so on.
Monitor and review the results of your contest in relation to the goals and objectives that you identified. Refine and mobilize resources accordingly.
Finally, it is very important to carefully monitor press and social media conversations about your contest.
I have tried not to focus too much on the tactical but instead on the strategic. No doubt there is more to add given the massive growth and popularity of online contests. Whether you run your own contest or have a partner develop you a custom branded application, there is truly unlimited potential to cost-effectively fire your brand into the stratosphere through innovation and strategic marketing.
VentureWeb has delivered contests for The Telluride Tourism Board, G3, Backcountry Snowcats, and Barkbusters, among others. VentureWeb is a digital agency specializing in design, development and online marketing for lifestyle and action sports brands.