Southwest Airlines Tests Facebook Video Contest

southwest.jpgIn the weeks leading up to the travel-busy holiday season, Southwest Airlines was eager to ramp up awareness of its complimentary luggage policy while increasing its Facebook presence. Setting out to kill two birds with one proverbial stone, the airline ran a video contest from Oct. 26 to Nov. 16 in a first-time effort.

Southwest worked with the Lafayette, Calif.-based firm Votigo to allow contest participants to register, upload videos, browse other submissions, vote for favorites, and share videos with friends via e-mail and on Facebook. The effort included a video-screening tool that helped weed out inappropriate content.

Promotion of the contest included display ads via Yahoo, MSN, USAToday.com, NFL.com, and WSJ.com, as well as posts at the brand’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. Also during the effort, people who clicked on the Facebook icon at the bottom of Southwest’s e-mail campaigns during the three-week run went to a landing page dedicated to the contest.

The landing page continuously used the copy, “What Would You Do for $100?” It entailed a poll that asked viewers how they would spend that amount of money, allowing them to choose between “Bag Fees,” “Clothes,” “Concert Tickets,” and “Food.” Viewers could vote in the poll without publishing it to their Facebook page. Additionally, a 30-second TV commercial was repurposed in a video player towards the bottom of the page.

Contest participants were required to create a 60-seconds-or-less clip about what they’d be willing to do for $100 and then upload it at Southwest’s Fan page. The airline offered the following prizes: vacation packages for groups of four to Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, Orlando, and Phoenix, respectively. Contestants had to be U.S. citizens and at least 21 years old.

In the end, 10,967 people became fans of Southwest on the airline’s Facebook page, increasing the brand’s Facebook presence by roughly 13 percent. The contest also reaped 115 approved videos and 153 total submissions. Nearly 1,700 viewers voted for a winner, and a modest 420 people registered during the contest while having the opportunity to opt-in for future messaging.

The four winners were selected on Nov. 23, and members of the Fan page were encouraged to share the clips with their online friends. Jim Risner, CMO, Votigo, suggested that the viral impact of the contest — and subsequent Facebook growth — was aided by the unusually well-crafted video submissions. “And of course, any time you get over 100 approved videos, that’s a huge success,” he said.

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