6 Tips for Running an Engaging Voted Contest

Posted by Danny Wood

Our blog series continues! This post is the third of our Words of Wisdom series, where we will share some of our top tips that we have learned over the course of hosting promotions for the past 10-years. In addition to our Voted Contest post, we will also share tips for Random Draw Sweepstakes, Instant Win, and Judged promotions.

Today, there are many forms of driving “engagement” with your branded campaign online, but before the rise of social media, Voted Contests were one of the earliest ways to truly drive engagement through an online marketing campaign. Still popular today, some of the most visible contest campaigns involve a voting component, such as American Idol and The Voice.

Here are our top 6 tips for promotion organizers who are planning a Voted Contest:

Always include a Judged component

If you were to only read one part of this article, this is definitely the most important: we strongly recommend against the final result of a Contest being determined entirely by a public vote! Don’t get us wrong, Strutta has vouched for voting contests for a long time. However, without the oversight of a voting component, it’s possible for the public to become over-engaged and take your contest in an entirely unexpected direction; just ask the organizers of the contest to name the ship now known as RRS Sir David Attenborough.

Boaty McBoatface

In our opinion, the best way to run a voted contest either to combine voting and judging in a “finalists” model, i.e. one method chooses a group of 2-8 finalists, the other chooses the winner, or have a special prize awarded for the winner of the popular vote. Doing so will mean that you can still derive the benefits of including a voted component, without the risk!

Make your rules accessible and transparent

For all other contest models, the engagement process for participants is relatively straight forward, even if they aren’t interested in the specific mechanics of how the contest will work: submit an entry, wait for a period of time, find out the result. In this sense, voted contests are more complex, and as such, clear communication with your users about the winner selection process is key.

Important points to highlight for your participants include:

  • Overall process of winner selection
  • Timeline for voting
  • Vote restrictions (how many votes, how often, geographical restrictions)

Promote the vote

The most common mistake that voted contest organizers make when planning their voted contest is to assume that entry participants will automatically think to begin promoting their entry to their friends and personal networks after submitting.

Although general promotions through social media can be helpful in getting new participants to visit your voted contest and submit votes, directly encouraging entry participants will have a much greater impact - the individuals most likely to vote are the people in those participants’ personal networks who have a connection to them and want to see them succeed.

Voted Contest User Generated Content

Keep it Simple

A mistake that we see becoming more common is to increase the complexity process of submitting a vote for an entry in a voted contest. Whereas creating an additional step of posting an entry to Twitter with a hashtag in-order to submit a vote can drive additional visibility for your contest, it’s important to remember that most voting participants are simply engaging in your contest to support a friend or colleague, not to assist with your contest’s promotion.

Keep your voting component simple; a button on the entry page that is accessible from any platform (desktop or mobile), and does not carry a heavy barrier to entry for first-time voters, such as a long form or an email confirmation.

Offer a Sweepstakes-style prize for voters

In addition to keeping things simple for voters, another way to encourage participation by voting participants is to offer a potential reward for their engagement; a prize randomly drawn for one of the voting participants.

As long as you utilize a promotions platform that collects and aggregates a small amount of data about your voters, it’s possible to run a small draw on the side with an additional prize as a way of saying thank you to the participants who engaged in your voted contest by selecting their favourite entry or entries to win.

Voted Contest Entries Gallery

Pay Close Attention to your Vote Restriction Mechanism

Never underestimate the importance of a solid vote restriction mechanism as part of running a contest. Especially as your contest gains traction and becomes more visible to your target audience, your participants will place more weight on the outcome of the overall contest, which will in some way hinge on the reliability of the results of participant voting. If participants find a way to “game” your voting system, a number of different outcomes are possible, none of them good.

Strutta’s method of choice for enforcing vote restrictions is Facebook Authentication. With Facebook being the most-used platform in the world, (almost 1/3 people on the planet have an account,) requiring voting participants to authenticate with Facebook on their first vote means a simple process that is a positive experience for almost all participants. There are different options available in the contest platform market that use different authentication methods, but a few important things to consider include:

  • What kind of barrier to entry does this method present to participants?
  • How difficult is this method to “game”? I.e., if the method only requires the participant to provide an email, would it not be easy to create fake email addresses?
  • Does this vote restriction method provide some kind of output/export that could be used to track participation and offer a voter prize?

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for our next installment, where we’ll tackle our final topic, Judged UGC Promotions!

We Love Talking Voted Contest Promotions! Have a further question about something we’ve laid out here that you’d like to follow-up on, or even something else that we didn’t cover? The Strutta Team love talking Social Promotions; shoot us a message with any question related to a promotion, and we’ll get back to you!