As marketers, we have been trained to think that lowering the barriers of entry will increase participation. Contests should remain simple, requiring only one step or one action by the user for entry … right? Not necessarily. Tumblr and Pinterest are two platforms changing the way we think about social media contests.
Take, for example, the Aldo Rise Tumblr contest. Hoping to connect a highly engaged fashion community within the platform, Aldo decided to reward five lucky winners with a design consultation, a custom Tumblr theme and five reblogs from the brand’s account. In order to participate, users were asked to submit their reasoning why they should be chosen, while also following the brand on Tumblr.
Well performing contests on Pinterest, like Land’s End Pin It to Win It and Something ModCloth, Something You, featured similar formats, requesting users follow both brands, asking users to complete a series of steps and then email their final products to the brand. Each contest required users to create their own boards, with specific details – like including required hashtags or pinning an image from the brand’s original site – to then be considered as a winner of a gift card, judged on creativity, personality and uniqueness.
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Land's End Canvas Pin It to Win It Contest Entry
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ModCloth Pinterest Contest Guidelines
What stands out about these contests is the number of required steps that brands are asking of their users. Even more striking? People are taking them. The reason for this success is clear: the user behavior already exists. People are already blogging on Tumblr; they’re already pinning and creating new boards on Pinterest; this isn’t a list of new tasks being asked of them, it’s a project they’re already engaged with – a conversation they already find interesting.
As marketers, we need to redirect our focus. Not on how we’re getting participation, but why. Why would a user be willing to do the things we’re asking of them? So, next time a brainstorm about attracting a new online audience concludes with a social media contest, see if the user behavior you’re looking for already exists. If the answer is yes, you’re already a step closer to a successful campaign.