Posted by RobOusbey
There are very few tactics which can guarantee success in linkbuilding. Executed correctly, giving something away is one that gets close to fulfilling that promise.
This post covers competitions and giveaways; I’ll share techniques and tactics you can use, and will include links to some interesting competitions seen online recently, and some that we’ve run for clients.
Running giveaways online typically offers a few different opportunities; of most immediate use to SEOs is that competitions can attract links from authoritative sites and a variety of domains. They can also be great for data collection – it’s fine to ask the entrants for their email address and whether they’d be happy for you to send them emails again in the future.
Furthermore, there’s a potential for increasing brand awareness amongst people who’ve not heard of you before.
Running a Giveaway
In the simplest competition users visit the website to fill out their details, possibly answer a simple question, and then a winner is picked out of the hat.
If you have high margin products, these can make attractive prizes without harming your bottom line too much (e.g.: giving away tickets for your theatre doesn’t cost anything if the show isn’t sold out.) You should also consider ‘money can’t buy’ prizes: a trip to watch a rugby match is cool, but spending the day working for a national team and getting a signed jersey is priceless.
Look out for partnerships: when Distilled recently ran a whisky giveaway (to create buzz around the brand prior to the launch of our US office) we were sent messages by Jura whisky and Master of Malt (neither of whom we knew beforehand) offering some quite exceptional additional prizes.
There’s potential to improve any competition by approaching suitable partners first, to offer some co-publicity and links. (I once emailed some contacts to ask for contributions to a competition, and ended up with £300 worth of books, £120 of CDs and DVDs, £50 of gift vouchers, two magazine subscriptions, a £120 digital camera, a wild animal adoption, a bottle of port and a towel that folded up into a beachbag.)
Of course, the flip side of this is that you could simply look out for people in industries related to you that are running competitions, and offer an additional prize for their promotion, in return for links, etc. You can use Google to find such opportunities: search for terms like ‘win’ and ‘competition’ alongside phrases used in relevant niches (eg: ‘win album’ for music prizes) and then filter down to results from the last week / month. For example: this Google search.
The ‘comping‘ community is a great place to seed your competitions to begin. Certainly in the UK, a listing on a few active sites will often send the first 2 – 5,000 entrants – and I’m sure it’s not just us limeys that love a freebie. Search around for sites to submit your competition to, but regional sites you could consider include:
Each site may have specific restrictions, and can have a delay between a few days and few weeks before submissions are published, so submit your competition as early as possible.
Send competition details directly to twitter users & bloggers who you either know well, or think would be interested in covering it. Remember that people can be less inclined to share a competition if it’s good enough (to give themselves better chances of winning.) There are various creative solutions to this issue, but you can just keep it simple and appeal to the blogger’s love of sharing cool stuff with their readers.
Furthermore, look for opportunities to find partners who have email lists. Let’s take two companies with email marketing lists: BigHotel (a large, fictional hotel chain) whoc is running a competition, and GreenTour (a successful, fictional eco-tourism site) which is launching a new feature. They have similar audiences, but there’s no overlap between their products; BigHotel can mention the feature launch in their next newsletter and EcoTour can promote the competition to their subscribers. This just required finding a partner and making a gentleman’s agreement; as Bonytoad is fond of saying: “Win-Win, For Teh Win.”
Use Your Affiliates
Make sure that your affiliates can add their tracking codes to the entry URL, and they’ll help to spread awareness of the competition pretty quickly and to places you might not be able to reach to otherwise.
Create a video primer
The Irish rugby competition mentioned above was launched with a 60 second video promoting the prize.
Videos are particularly shareable: embed codes can be copied from the Youtube page, and lots of social sites (including Tumblr, Facebook, Reddit) allow for easy importing of videos. Given that people might be watching the video anywhere, make sure to prominently display the URL for the entry page in the video, either on-screen or using video annotations.
Lots of magazines and newspapers are happy to mention competitions and link to them from their websites. Find publications that target the geographic area or niche targetted by the competition. Pick up the phone and give them a call – ask to speak to someone who deals with promotions, or in the editorial department. A few minutes later you might have a decent link and some coverage that will be read by a very targeted group of people.
When people have entered, it’s a waste to just show them a ‘thanks for entering’ message. Use this opportunity to give a call to action – typically to share the competition with other people. Consider having a secondary prize that encourages people to share the competition. For example:
Click here to send a tweet, or enter your friends’ email addresses below to send them a message.
Everyone who tweets / emails the competition will automatically be entered in a competition to win a set of steak knives.
Upsell the Competition
Have a successful competition, and want to take advantage of this get more entries? Take the email addresses of everyone who entered so far, and send them a message during the week before the competition finishes.
You recently entered our ‘Win a Holiday for Two’ competition through XYZ.com. The competition finishes in a week, and we’ll be drawing the winner then.
We’ve had quite a few entries, but only 10% actually got the answer correct. It’s only one entry per person, but if you have any friends, partners or siblings who might want to win a trip to the otherside of the world, then do let them know that they have a week left to enter. (Don’t forget to remind them who sent them the link if they do win…..)
The entry page is still up at: www.xyz.com/win-a-holiday
Best wishes, etcetera
I’ve not done this, but I think it could work really well to add an extra 10% to your number of entries. To be honest, I’m considering not mentioning it here, and saving it for myself for a while, but I want to see what CTR & results anyone who tries it gets. Let me know if you have a chance.
Other Competition Structures
Outside of the basic ‘name-out-of-a-hat’ competitions, there’s potential for all sorts of interesting competition structures.
Competitions to Encourage Engagement
Ooh.com run a competition with two $100 prizes each week. The winners are picked from the new ‘OOHs’ which have been uploaded, and encourages people to not only add their content, but to make sure it is as ‘rich’ as possible.
Sites with user generated content (such as a forum, social networking or social media site) could use similar techniques to reward particular contributions.
A competition where the only entry requirement is to tweet a message including a link to a site / account / hashtag has very low barriers to entry for Twitter users. Once up and running, such competitions excel at keeping momentum – the more people hear about the competition, the more people enter – and help to improve brand awareness for companies and products.
The tactic’s been used by a variety of organisations; the most famous execution was probably the competitions run by Moonfruit. This did well, but the concept already feels a little bit passé – plus you have to have an awesome product and spring for $10,000 of prizes to have the same impact that Moonfruit enjoyed.
Consider modifying this viral ’self-fullfilling prophecy’ competition for other formats or networks; Umbro had people upload photos on Facebook – the Facebook ‘News Feed’ then showed entrants’ friends that they’d submitted an entry. If you’re looking to find similar success for your sites, Google Buzz is still new & cool… I’m just saying…
A couple of miscellaneous points about operating a competition:
Conversion Rate Optimisation
If you’ve attracted people to the competition entry page, you should hope to see a very good conversion rate to completed entries. Try using some CRO techniques on the entry page, to maximise the number of entries received and the amount of useful data collected.
Log the IP address along with each entry – you can then investigate any IP addresses which submit a lot of entries to identify people who are trying to cheat the system.
OK; I hope that this has been useful, or at least inspired you to go through the back of the cupboards, and see if you have anything interesting to give away. Using tactics like this can be an iterative process – it doesn’t need to go exactly right first time, and people will never get bored if you run a few competitions to improve your process. Good luck!
Facebook wants to keep users on Facebook. So far, they are doing a pretty good job of that. More and more people are spending more of their online time on Facebook, not to mention, spending more time connected to the web in general (at least partially due to rising use of smartphones).
How much time do you spend on Facebook in a month? A week? Let us know.
Facebook recently made it a point to show users how to use the social network to keep up with the news. Users can simply become fans of their favorite news organizations’ pages (feel free to include ours in your mix), and group them in a “news” list just as they would create a group for friends or co-workers. The bottom line is; spending more time on Facebook getting news headlines is spending more time on Facebook period. There is also talk of Facebook working on its own web email service. Again, more time spent on Facebook.
One way Facebook could capture even more of its users’ time, is if it introduced a “blog” tab. Facebook currently has a “notes” tab, and quite a few people do use this. It’s a similar concept, but what if it was given more prominence and renamed “blog?” A blog tab might keep Facebook users even longer. First of all, the users blogging with it would obviously be sticking around to write their posts. In addition, their friends and fans would be sticking around longer to read those posts, which would generally be much longer and require more time than the average status update.
Would more people become bloggers?
I suspect that the word “notes” doesn’t quite resonate the same as the word blog in the minds of many Facebook users, although for all intents and purposes, the feature operates like a blog. You can post longer-form content for your friends and fans to see, and they can comment on it, while it all remains in tact in one spot for future reference. Not only could the addition of a “blog” tab keep Facebook users around longer, but it could have a significant impact on the Blogosphere. Simply calling it a blog and having it available right from any user’s profile page might just inspire.
Is social media killing blogs?
No, but it’s hard to say that use of sites like Facebook and Twitter (and now Google Buzz) don’t lend to less blog posts being created. If nothing else, it’s simply a time issue. It is easy to push out a quick status update if you have something to say. It’s easier than blogging. For longer-form content, blogs are generally the better option, which is one reason they are still alive and well. But if Facebook had a blog tab, the social network could cut into the Blogosphere even more, given its huge userbase, while establishing itself as a go-to place for blogging (another area in which Facebook could compete with Google, I might add. Don’t forget that Google owns Blogger).
If Facebook did this, it is very unlikely that all current bloggers would immediately go running there to do their blogging, but Facebook users who may not already be blogging may find the urge to do so when that tab is right in front of their faces. And frankly, I’m confident many current bloggers would go running there. Facebook is a powerful tool for building an audience or expanding upon one.
It works on MySpace. Look at director Eli Roth’s blog, for example. He gets a lot of engagement there (although he hasn’t updated in several months). Facebook is another animal altogether, and its growth is unprecedented. Just look at Facebook’s latest round of stats.
Facebook is frequently adding and changing features, as any user can certainly attest (for better or for worse). It is not hard to imagine them doing something like this. For the record, the company has made no mention of going such a route, to my knowledge. There are currently ways to blog within and around Facebook if you look hard enough, but if Facebook made blogging a focal point, I think it could take off, and perhaps lend to the concept of Facebook as a news source, and even add greatly to the Blogosphere by encouraging more blogging.
Should Facebook Have a blog tab? Would you use it? Share your thoughts.
Most people I know are pretty tired of hearing about Tiger Woods, but the world is still apparently eager to hear what he has to say at his press conference today. Currently, “what time is tiger woods press conference” is listed on Google Trends, and “Tiger Woods” is a trending topic on Twitter.
Clearly a lot of people still care. If you fall into this category, you may be interested to know that YouTube will be streaming his press conference today live at 8am PT at YouTube.com/citizentube.”We’re experimenting with a live-streamed press conference on YouTube,” YouTube’s Chris Dale tells WebProNews. “Anyone in the world can watch the Tiger Woods press conference.”
Regardless of whether or not you will be tuning into the Tiger Woods press conference, the larger picture is that YouTube has simply become a legitimate news source (they do supply non-celebrity news as well). It has grown a lot since its launch. It used to be considered a great place to upload silly cat videos, and while it still is, it is also now a place to get breaking news as it happens.
This is not the first time YouTube has offered live streaming of a press conference. For example, back in April, they offered an Obama press conference on his first 100 days in office.
YouTube is the second largest search engine on the web, so a lot of people are bound to be watching Tiger’s words there. The more events YouTube streams live, the more people are likely to consider it as a go-to news source.
It is worth mentioning that a variety of other sites will be providing coverage as well, but considering the size of YouTube’s user-base, I’d say it has an advantage.
Google is expanding Google Maps into 30 African countries where it was not previously available.
“One of the things we spend a lot of time thinking about at Google is how we can make the world’s information more accessible and useful to people all over the globe,” Google says. “This includes providing rich local geographic data because, after all, a huge number of search queries have a geographic component. Our efforts to start putting Africa on a map kicked off back in 2009 when we announced the launch of Google Maps for Kenya. Not long afterwords, we announced that users across 45 African countries could build and edit maps in Map Maker. Most recently, we launched Google Maps for South Africa.”
With Google Maps launching domains for 30 more countries, that means not only scenery and roads for these countries, but also local business listings, which can drive a lot of business to brick and mortars. Search engines have all but replaced print yellow pages for many people, and businesses in these countries should feel the effects of that as the listings grow.
Google is encouraging users in the new countries to get involved and help them make the maps better. “You know your local area better than we do, which is why Map Maker is on offer. With Map Maker, any user can create or edit map data, ranging from schools to local businesses, national parks to taxi stops. If you know your local area, or you’ve seen something that’s missing, take up the opportunity to get mapping! As we’ve pointed out before, maps are also invaluable for governments, NGOs, universities and entrepreneurs, who can visualise, plan and market the areas and projects that they work on.”
Including islands there are now over 50 African counries with Google maps available.
The Pew Internet & American Life Project and the Internet Center at Elon University teamed up to survey 895 experts about the future of the Internet and its affect on human intelligence.
“Three out of four experts said our use of the Internet enhances and augments human intelligence, and two-thirds said use of the Internet has improved reading, writing and rendering of knowledge,” said Janna Anderson, study co-author and director of the Imagining the Internet Center.
“There are still many people, however, who are critics of the impact of Google, Wikipedia and other online tools.”
Two-thirds of those surveyed said reading and writing skills and the rendering of knowledge will be improved by 2020 due to the influence of the Internet.
Eighty percent of the experts agreed that “hot gadgets and applications that will capture the imagination of users in 2020 will often come ‘out of the blue.”‘
The experts were fairly divided on whether anonymous online activity will exist in 2020, with nearly 40 percent predicting that anonymous Internet users will have their access sharply decreased.
“The privacy and civil liberties battles over the next decade will increasingly focus on the growing demands for identity credentials,” said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center.
“New systems for authentication will bring new problems, as more identity information will create new opportunities for criminals.”
On the issue of an open Internet in the future, nearly two-thirds said the Internet will remain as its founder envisioned.
More than a third chose to agree with the statement “the Internet will mostly become a technology where intermediary institutions that control the architecture and content will be successful in gaining the right to manage information and the method by which people access it.”