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What You Should Know About Running a Successful Blogging Contest

When blogging for business, two challenges always seem to cause content creators and moderators headaches:

  1. What should I write about?
  2. How much content should I be creating?

One way to tackle both questions at the same time is to run a blogging contest. Not only do contests help you curate large volumes of content, but the content you receive through contests are from your customers and champions of your brand who tell your story for you! Content can’t get much better than that.

This post covers what to consider when developing a blogging contest, and it highlights one company’s recent successful blogging contest.

Business blogging contest to-do’s

The most important thing to remember when you’re planning a blogging contest is to keep your message simple and clear. It probably goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway – people are more likely to engage with your contest if they can understand what you want them to do. Clearly communicate the following:

  • What’s in it for them: Cash prize? Free service? Gift card? Make it worth participants’ time so their content will be worth the prize investment.
  • Set a clear start and end date.
  • Rules: If they can’t understand what they have to do, they probably won’t do it.
  • Make it about them: They are more likely to tell a story about their experiences than they are to talk about how awesome your company is.
  • Promote through multiple marketing channels: Get out the work through Facebook, Twitter, email, your company’s website, etc.
  • Pivot your approach if necessary: If you’re not getting the response you anticipated, don’t be afraid to tweak your message, the deadline or rules to make it easier for people to engage.
  • Encourage social sharing: The more people talk about you to their friends and followers the better.

Contests Increase Brand Awareness, Traffic and Leads

The College Network is an educational services and eLearning provider based in Indianapolis. One of its five core target audiences is people who want to earn a nursing degree. The College Network already had an established team of internal content writers but wanted to collect user-generated content and leverage those stories as blog content.

National Nurses Week happens every year from May 6-12. Hospitals and health care facilities around the country get excited about Nurses Week and celebrate it. To coincide with that celebration, raise awareness about its organization and engage their customers and prospects, The College Network ran a 12-day blogging contest that ended the day before 2011 Nurses Week began.

The College Network employees broadcast the contest ahead of time through Twitter, Facebook, their website and email to customers and prospective students by asking “Why Did You Become a Nurse? Tell us Your Story.” The message was simple and clear.

People started submitting stories to The College Network’s blog. Those stories were published on Facebook where friends and followers could vote on their favorite story by clicking the Facebook “Like” button.   Please note that Facebook no longer allows the Like button to be used as a voting mechanism. But the same type of contest can be performed using comments on posts instead of likes. The person who had the most votes won an iPad2.

Proof that contests work when done correctly

In just 12 days, The College Network collected 99 stories (25% were non-customers and potential leads), 2,084 Facebook “Likes” and 58 additional Facebook fans through the contest!

The contest drove nearly 5,000 visitors to The College Network blog. Prior to running this campaign, its blog traffic was closer to 1,800. For those keeping score, that’s more than a 170% increase! The College Network’s organic search traffic increased 26%. The winning story received 760 votes, meaning that 760 of the winner’s friends put links to The College Network on their Facebook pages for their friends to see.

The contest was a success, and now The College Network maintains an ongoing “Share Your Story” campaign to continue capturing student stories.

Lindsay Schmitt of The College Network says it best“This is why blogging is such an important part of social media strategy. The content isn’t going away; it stays. It’s not like Twitter and Facebook. On Twitter, your comment is gone in 30 minutes. On Facebook, it could be gone in a day. Blogging should be the center of your social media strategy.”