How to Run a Successful Online Contest
Whether you're planning to market the next phase of your company's newest product or hoping to drum up some support for a fresh corporate idea, there's really no better way to attract attention faster than by hosting an online contest. In the marketing days of yore, getting the word out was easy - decision-makers could load up trendy cafés and jazz clubs with posters and flyers, building awareness for their projects with sheer physical rhetoric. Times have changed.
Instead of jazz clubs, we have Facebook. Instead of coffee shops, there's Google+. Even now, the nature of social media has made run-of-the-mill digital marketing different, but a common thread remains - the interests that once drove people into those cafés are still there. People can still be identified and targeted according to what they like. To run a successful online contest, you first have to know what people like and then go for it, like Miley on a wrecking ball.
1. Themes keep contests tidy.
Think about your favorite musician. He or she is probably larger than life on stage, capable of transporting you to their world. Lady Gaga, for instance, will transfix you with her funky looking shoes and latex ensembles until you firmly believe that she is the mother monster and you are here to bear witness. Now imagine the same concert without the theme. The music itself can lend a hand in making you a believer of her fantasy, but it'll be tough without the extras. Your business is Lady Gaga and the contest is the concert. Without something people can believe in, it'll be tough to keep them interested.
2. Once you've got a theme, fill it with purpose.
The idea is there and you're fairly certain it will work, but themes are nothing without the intricacies of the contest that make them worthwhile. If the prize itself isn't enough, make sure your audience feels incentivized to keep coming back to it. To that end, now is when you should decide how transparent the contest will be. Will people be able to see how they're stacking up against the competition? Will they be able to see it changing in real-time? Any of these little perks that keep people engaged are only going to make them try harder to succeed.
3. The framework is set - now what?
With the big-picture ideas stabilized and the general gist of the contest percolating, it's time to actually flesh out what will happen throughout the course of things. Additionally, it's around this stage that a date and time for the launch of the contest should be decided. If there's a static end date in mind, try to engineer the contest around that. Some online sweepstakes have a rolling entry date and a judging process, for instance, if the company is collecting writing samples or some kind of artistry.
4. Have fun with it, but make sure there's a goal.
Some business owners love this sort of thing. There's nothing more appealing than having a flurry of activity centered around the work you've done, and if the above-mentioned tips are followed, people are sure to come flocking. That's great! Any website traffic is good traffic, but make sure people have some kind of call to action once they've arrived. Perhaps the contest is building awareness about a new product, as noted above, or maybe you're excited about a successful merger. Whatever the case may be, it's important that there's a goal to focus on throughout the process. Maybe the objective is to simply show your audience how fun you are, but if that's the case, make sure the contest is a thrill ride even Robin Thicke couldn't deny.