What if your creative social media contest became a viral contest and it wasn’t positive …
What would you do?
Over the holiday season, one company didn’t do anything until the entrant requested something be done.
That should never happen.
Your social media marketing team should be vigilant and put a stop to online bullying the moment they spot it.
You can prevent the same thing from happening to you by learning from the worst, the best and following these four steps.
The Worst Creative Social Media Contest
When Something Goes Awry
As both a marketer and a contestor, when something goes awry in the community, I tend to get contacted with regards to fixing the problem. It could be anything from cheating, to sponsors not following their own rules, to sore losers. Sadly, I do not carry the weight or influence in the marketing community to correct every problematic sweepstakes out there.
I do not enter contests as often as I used to, so I missed the drama and unfolding of the events that lead to the bullying.
No Frills: #HaulidayContest
No Frills hosted a five-week contest awarding both daily and weekly prizes. To enter via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram you had to:
Upload a photo OR video depicting either one of the following:
(i) Your “Haul” during or after a visit to your local No Frills; OR
(ii) Showcasing a minimum of five (5) items from your pantry, refrigerator or freezer from your most recent “Haul” from your local No Frills. Entries must tag @NoFrillsCA and must include the hashtag #NoFrillsHaulidayContest
The social media contest prizes were a $100 gift card given away daily and a $1000 gift card given away weekly.
I entered a couple of times. My boyfriend even won a daily prize as I snapped a picture of him during our big shop for Christmas dinner. There was no real effort other than ensuring his image depicted a happy customer.
As it was a Consumer Generated Media (CGM) promotion, and the entries were judged, the more creative you were, the more likely you were to win.
It was only upon chatting to a contest buddy who won one of the weekly grand prizes, did I hear about bullying. The third weekly winner’s entry went viral. It received almost a million views and almost 1000 hateful comments on Instagram. The sponsor of the now viral contest didn’t do anything until the winner asked them to remove the comments.
View this post on Instagram
Our third weekly winner sang and danced her way to a $1000 PC gift card! Want to win too? We have 2 more grand prizes left for the very best of haulers! Post a photo or video of your haul with #NoFrillsHaulidayContest and tag @NoFrillsCA on Facebook/Twitter OR @haulhard on Instagram for a chance to win! https://www.nofrills.ca/hauler#rules
I thought her video was quite clever and could see exactly why she won. I know as a marketer if I had been in the office selecting winners, I would have picked hers.
Why her video viralled and commanded the hate she received is beyond me. Plus, why not any of the other winners?! (The official rules have been removed, but you can view all the contest entries (winning and not) on the No Frills website.)
I ended up filming a rant video blasting the sweepers who bullied her because writing a blog seemed to tame a platform to express my frustration and anger towards the contest community at large. But I had to wait a bit before filming as I needed to calm down or you would have seen steam coming out of my ears, cartoon style. I was exasperated because they did not seem to understand that their poor behavior could end sweepstakes forever!
Companies are not going to want to host sweepstakes if all they get is grief and hate when all they are trying to do is generate excitement and engagement with their customers and prospects. That said, the sponsor should never have let the hate generated from their viral contest get that out of hand.
Further Reading: Are Promotional Game Sweepstakes Rigged?
Two Sides to Every Coin of a Viral Contest
There are two sides to every story. My dad always said, “There is his side. Her side. And the truth is somewhere in between.”
I have no idea why the sponsor waited until the entrant spoke up before stopping the online bullying. Especially in this age of anti-bullying programs such as #ChallengeDay and messages such as #BeTheChange. I would love to interview the marketing department or ad agency to get their side and reasoning behind their actions as it boggles my mind.
If you are running a giveaway, and you see out of control online behavior, you should be stopping it in its tracks. Do not just look at the numbers and be happy with what is perceived as amazing engagement. Read the posts, comments, and replies. What is being said? One or two negative comments can be expected from sore losers, but hundreds or thousands is not OK.
The Best Creative Social Media Contest
Do not let the possibility of negative consequences from a viral contest deter you. Be bold. Host a creative social media contest and trust your fans.
Doritos Contest: Crash the Superbowl
A successful example of a CGM campaign is the ten year run of the Doritos Crash The Superbowl contest. Wikipedia has a full history of the Crash the Superbowl contest outlined there, so I will not reiterate it in full, but it’s such a brilliant campaign, it’s even a case study at Penn State!
The basic idea behind the campaign was to have the public submit videos of commercial ideas they wanted Doritos to make for the Superbowl. When the campaign idea was first created, it was mocked as weak, lazy and unimaginative. Making a customer work for their own content was real advertising. Doritos blocked out the noise and launched the campaign.
If you type Doritos Crash the Superbowl into YouTube you get dozens of videos. Everything from compilations of the Top 10, to rejected submissions. You will also notice all of them look professionally filmed. Even though the contest was originally created for the average consumer to enter, you will notice you must be extremely creative, understand videography, be highly skilled at editing and a have some sort of budget to even stand a chance at the grand prize. Yes, I said budget. As the finalists often spent thousands to enter.
Is that fair to the average consumer when the winners have all been filmmakers? Probably not, but when the prize is $1,000,000 the stakes are high. That shouldn’t deter any smaller companies from running their own versions to garner fan participation. Remember, the No Frills’ grand prize was only $1000.
If you choose to run a creative contest that asks entrants to engage with your brand, you need to get creative.
ONE: HAVE OFFICIAL RULES!
There is a reason this is my number one tip for marketers. Your entrants need to know EXACTLY what the entry requirements are, including:
- the standards: eligibility, end date, and region open to.
- the specifics: entry methods and judging criteria.
If you do not properly list out all of the entry requirements, you will have problems.
Everything from ineligible people entering because the terms are not specific enough, to inappropriate entries with competitor logos or nudity.
Hire a promotional lawyer (yes, there are lawyers that specialize in contest law) to write your rules. The cost is worth every penny. Don’t think so? How much would a contest going awry cost?? Why Social Media Contest Must ALWAYS Have Official Rules
Be sure you follow your own rules!
TWO: WAIT A MINUTE
Not all the entries will flood in the first few days. Do not panic that your contest is a failure if entries are initially low. People need time to think and/or determine exactly what you are looking for by reviewing the first batch of winners.
Yes, ALWAYS post your winners in a CGM contest.
This way people know where the bar is set and what they have to do to surpass it. The final weekly winner’s submission in the #NoFrillsHaulidayContest looked like a commercial. Not unlike the level of professionalism shown in the Doritos contest. He knew what he had to do if he wanted to win.
THREE: NO MAN IS AN ISLAND
All the winning Doritos commercials were clearly a team effort. Director, writers, actors, camera people, etc. Depending on the stakes ($1,000,000 prize for Doritos, but only $1000 for No Frills) your entrants may or may not choose to enter on their own.
Back to my #1 tip. Be clear in the rules who enters the contest is the one that will be declared a winner. How the prize is shared after that is up to them. Not you.
FOUR: FLEX YOUR FUNNY BONE
Don’t think you are clever or witty enough to come up with a winning promotional concept your customers would like? Just like any other muscle in the body, the more you use it, the stronger it will become.
Have social media contest ideas pop into your head? Keep a small pad of paper and a pen with you at all times to jot down inspirations, or dictate them into your smartphone.
Start with a small contest. Track your results. Analyze the data. Adjust and do it again.
Ready. Fire. Aim.
T. Harv Eker