It was Vince Lombardi Jr. who once said, "Winning isn't everything - but wanting to win is." It's a statement that rings true for sponsored contests as much as for sports events. Contests enjoy the rare distinction of being as popular among consumers as they are among brands. Few marketing strategies can boast that they offer something for everyone, and even fewer can make that claim when they live online.
It used to be that online contests were simple affairs: invite your target audience to enter a sweepstakes for a chance to win a product-related prize. While this type of contest is still going strong, the growth of social media has created new opportunities for brands to connect with consumers in the context of a contest, and the results can be very appealing. An increase in Facebook fans, Twitter followers, and word of mouth are just a few of the potential perks.
Seeing the Value in Visual Submissions
Brands are finding unique ways to build contests around digital platforms like Instagram and Pinterest by inviting consumers to submit photographs related to a product or brand persona. When American Airlines wanted to promote mobile products like its mobile site and mobile boarding pass, it called on social media users to share a photograph for a chance to win round-trip airline tickets. Each week was defined by a different theme, and contest participants could use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or email to submit their original photograph; the photographs that best represented the theme were posted in a gallery on the American Airlines contest microsite and Facebook page.
Other brands, like public service company Common Sense Media, have invited consumers to create original videos in order to increase not just awareness and affinity, but also deliver the organization's brand message. Common Sense Media contests have incorporated video submissions from both parents and school-age kids, with entries drawing attention to the role that media and technology play in children's lives and educating consumers about online safety. This is video content with value, and a contest of this nature can do a lot for a brand with a compelling story to tell - even if that story is more closely related to a niche salable product than a public service benefitting all.
Best Practices for Digital Contests
Regardless of what kind of contest you undertake, there are a few things you can do to enhance your campaign.
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Tessa Wegert is an interactive media strategist with Enlighten, one of the first full-service digital marketing strategy and services agencies, serving such brands as Bioré, Bratz, Food Network, illy, Hunter Douglas, Jergens, and Olympic Paints and Stains. An industry veteran, Tessa has worked in online media buying and planning, marketing, and online copywriting since 1999. She is an active freelance writer specializing in interactive marketing who has contributed to U.S. and Canadian publications, including "USA Weekend Magazine," "Marketing Magazine," "The Globe and Mail," and "The Montreal Gazette." She is frequently quoted as an industry expert and speaks regularly at industry conferences and events.
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