I met Rebecca Bollwitt (@Miss604) in September 2007 at our very first Launch Party event in Vancouver. At the time, she was working at the company, Exact Transactions and was not blogging full time. Strutta had not even launched yet and the tech community in Vancouver was pretty small and tight.
Photo credit: Nordica Photography via Miss604.com
Since then, Rebecca has co-founded sixty4media, a WordPress website development firm and co-authored two books: Blogging to Drive Business(2010) and Blogging to Drive Business: 2nd Edition (2012). In addition, her site, Miss604.com has been voted the #1 Blog in Vancouver for 3 years in a row and Rebecca has won numerous awards and accolades, including BC’s Top 100 Women of Influence by the Vancouver Sun.
As a well-respected blogger who runs weekly contests on her site and has presented on the subject, I couldn’t think of a better person to turn to for feedback on How to Run Effective Blog Contests than Miss604.
Maura: When did you start blogging and what is the focus for your blog?
Miss604: I started blogging in November of 2004 but at that time I only blogged every few weeks.
In 2004 and 2005 Miss604 was a diary blog and I didn't use my real name. It wasn't until 2006 that I opened up my blog, talking more about Vancouver and my interests instead of my personal life. My career has been in online media since the year 2000 so developing my blog, learning more about the technology, and meeting others from the online space in Vancouver became a large part of the growth of my site. In 2008, I began doing my blog full-time and ventured out on my own with my own company.
Maura: I see that you have a special contest section on Miss604. How often do you host blog contests?
Miss604: I usually host at least 2 contests a week. I start one a day and try not to overlap them too much. I also ask my contest partners for exclusive dates since they are most likely running contests with multiple blogs. If I'm asking them for this exclusive time frame, I offer the same courtesy.
Maura: Can you share your strategy for running effective contests on your blog?
Miss604: I always make sure to determine the goal of the campaign, with my contest partner and for myself. Whether that's to raise awareness about their product, boost their social media profile, or get feedback from my readers for them.
It's important for both parties to promote the contest on their social networks as well. It helps boost entry numbers and adds legitimacy to the campaign.
Always make sure to get the 'fine print' from your contest partner and put that up on your post as well. I've never had anyone complain about the fine print (such as black out dates, 'based on availability', age limits, etc.) as long as everything is out in the open.
Over the years I have finely-tuned my contest policy. For example, I don't run 3rd party contests -- giving away a prize with a company that does not have anything to do with the product -- unless all parties have signed off on the contest. I also do not do contests for products that do not fit the model of my site -- naturally the contest subject matter needs to fit with my audience. Generally, if it's related to Vancouver (tourism activity, locally-made product, an event in town) then it will go up.
Maura: What are some of the best ways to promote these contests to encourage engagement?
Miss604: The main point of promotion for the contests is on my blog but I also reach out to my social networks.
On Twitter, people can re-tweet to enter to win. On Facebook, I have a slightly different audience who will see the link for the contest, click, and enter via the blog with a comment. If my contest involves a more technical prize, I've found sharing the link on my Google + account brings in a few entries as well. It's good to promote across all networks but tune your messaging based on the audience.