Three Reasons Why Contest Marketing Builds More Than Buzz

With both Mercedes-Benz and Audi both running high-profile social networking contests integrated with their Super Bowl marketing efforts, it's clear that contest marketing has evolved to a whole new level. Forrester Research notes that "50% of online users like to enter a contest or sweepstakes at least once a month and businesses that offer contests have twice as many social network followers." We predict this trend to continue and see 2011 as "the year of the contest" as it becomes the central tactic for social media engagement. How long will the trend last? When will contests go the way of "quizzes" on Facebook? This will depend on how committed marketers are to the new engagement marketing paradigm and the depth of their overall social strategy. Will this tactic help your business or organization to achieve its marketing goals?

One obvious outcome is to build buzz. And there's no question about it - a successful contest can quickly generate a lot of exposure by capturing attention and gaining connections through link building.

The problem with buzz.

It's the bee and the flower syndrome - buzz is fleeting. As quickly as it comes, it goes. For a bee, the flower is the prize. But once the bee has had its fill, it's off to the next flower, or in this case, once your contest is over, your newly minted "fan" moves on to the next hot topic of the day. The reality is that just because you've gained a "link" doesn't mean that you've won a "fan". Building buzz, therefore, is just one out of many outcomes gained from contests.

Contest Marketing can help you achieve these goals as well:

  1. Build Your Brand. Increase Awareness.  Many of your new "contestant" connections on your social media platforms may not know your brand. This is a great opportunity to share who and what your company is all about. Keep the conversation online casual. Remember this is not a sales pitch or one-sided conversation. It's important to ask questions too.  
  2. Build Feedback. Gain Insights. Think of your newly increased database as more than a list of emails with inboxes just waiting for your next swanky e-blast campaign. It's so much more than that. Your database is a potential think tank. Instead of highly paid consultants or experts, you have access to a constant stream of thoughts, opinions and ideas from those who know or care about your company. Hey, if it works for Starbucks, imagine what it can do for you.
  3. Build Loyalty. Achieve Lasting Success. Humphrey Bogart said to Louie at the end of Casablanca, "I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship," - the same sentiment should hold true for you. The end of your contest marks the beginning of an opportunity to create true fans. You've created a connection, and now it's up to you to turn it into a relationship. You have the platforms in place; use them by engaging with your base on every level. From providing quick updates to asking questions and even doing more contests - you will turn buzz into a constant hum of activity.

Remember, creating buzz is a short-term goal of Contest Marketing. Gaining a loyal following is what you really should be striving for if you want long-term success. Don't be a one-hit wonder. 

Next week we'll talk about what you need to do to implement a successful contest.

This is the first installment in a month-long series about Contest Marketing.

1 comment(s) for “Three Reasons Why Contest Marketing Builds More Than Buzz”

  1. Gravatar of Eden Sunshine
    Eden Sunshine Says:
    This makes so much sense. Hopefully folks will recognize that they need to develop an underlying strategy to build a brand and following. This might include doing contest marketing among other things.

    Contest marketing is simply another, potentially faddish, piece of the puzzle.

    Nice posting.

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