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August 04, 2013 | Tom Ballard

GUEST COLUMN: Marketing through online contests

Efficience-tekno(EDITOR’S NOTE: The following guest column was submitted by Greg D’Amico, Chief Executive Officer and Principal with Knoxville-based Efficience.)

While businesses look for the latest, greatest way to get their name out to the masses, online contests are becoming increasingly popular. And though contests themselves are nothing new, online contesting is an effective, yet inexpensive way to build your fan base and engage your audience, while empowering your audience to do your marketing for you.

One recent contest our company had great success in creating was in conjunction with Graphic Creations – a local company who wanted to give away something to the business community in celebration of their 25th anniversary. The prize? An opportunity for somebody to help promote their business through a vehicle wrap.

In order to get maximum exposure, owner Jim Caughorn chose to run the contest through social media and asked the Efficience team, led by Creative Director Tori Rose, to head it up.

“In addition to increasing the sheer number of people who interact with your brand, a contest provides a means to deepen the connection, as well,” said Rose. “A user-generated content (UGC) promotion, such as a photo or video contest, is a great way to do just that. UGC contests tap in to the human drive to compete, and they provide an opportunity for everyone to experience their 15 minutes of fame. Most importantly, when participants upload their personal content (e.g., a photo or story) to your promotion, they are naturally invested in your brand.”

The Wrap My Ride contest was run through Graphic Creations’ Facebook page, asking participants to submit either a picture or video showing their ride and telling why it needed a wrap.  The top three entries with the highest number of votes were judged by Graphic Creations.

“We have received more business because of the campaign,” said Caughorn. “Many of the clients that entered were still interested in a wrap or other services that we offer. It was great exposure for our existing customer as well as new prospective clients. highlighted why they feel contesting through social media is a new, winning approach to marketing, providing a rich source of data. In short, contesting helps you to build your likes on Facebook very quickly.  You can double your likes, even if you have a lot already, with a contest. If you only have a few, you can take this up multiple times.  You can engage your audience with user-generated content, which is what Efficience did with creating a video and asking for a video in return to win a prize. This competitive nature is part of the human drive, and when others share their personal material, it invests them in your brand.

The entries for Graphic Creations’ contest ranged from simple, to fun and creative. But the contestants all had one thing in common: they were engaged and gave the client useful data on potential customers.

Getting data is crucial to building relationships, and contests are a key way to do that. This data will help your company to learn a lot about your potential clients during this interaction, so you can better understand their needs and how to provide value to them.  It is also nice to have your clients share your story and to help you market. That is what a good contest can do – allow your customers to share with others and help foster name recognition.

As for the statistics, in a mere 30 days, the contest resulted in more than 16,500 visits to the contest page and a subsequent 2,000 referrals. In that time, the client also doubled their fan base.

When coordinated with an overall social media marketing plan, a good contest can be a powerful tool. What are you doing to create a contest that people will talk about and share with others?