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I was thinking of doing something monthly along the lines of "best content in X category" as opposed to something numeric like "most forum posts", etc which would just encourage tons of poor quality content.
It is much better to have a prize which is desireable, with in the mix.. or to include a partner site, " 1 years free subscription too .. etc... )
It really depends on who you are targeting and what you are selling..
Apart from getting out of the only doing business online mindset, you may find that people respond much better to personal contact and voice conversations, requests like yours done by email can and will just be deliberately ignored..
[edited by: Lobo at 12:05 am (utc) on Nov. 1, 2007]
If you are hoping to generate new visitors with a contest, you'll have to promote it via press releases, blog and forum posts (as appropriate and allowed), and perhaps PPC. That will be more difficult and expensive, and will require a more valuable prize if you want people to both visit the site and post.
For your existing members, recognition may be as important as the prize. Consider reinforcing your branding by offering site-logo gear like mugs, hoodies, etc. There are plenty of sites that let you do this without any big commitment for quantity and without a setup fee.
I'm in the same boat as you - am starting a forum integrated with our site and seeing what I can do to give it an initial push and incentivise posting.
The way I see it is that we can do a number of different things:
a) Have a prize draw on a set date.
This is probably easiest to set up but from a user perspective, these kind of things are all over the internet, people don't think they're going to win (large element of chance involved!) and to many seems more like a gimmick.
b) Have a prize draw based on content / number of posts.
I agree that this is problematic. You don't want people just posting random stuff to get their number of posts up... With the "content" aspect, it's very subjective and hard to conceptualise by users - probably won't convert that well..
c) Same as b but let other users vote on usefullness of posts.
I thought this was a brilliant idea until it started getting a little complicated.. If you let a user vote and base a prize on that, you're inviting people to try and manipulate the system, vote for themselves, set up multiple profiles etc. BUT.. what about saying that you can only vote if you've made a post yourself?
So in the above scenario you have to post and then you can vote.. if you post something rubbish then your score will go down as others prob won't vote for you. Not bad in principle but will it work.. and is it too complicated?!
d) Giveaway for everyone
Free stash! Send EVERYONE who signs up something - preferably with your logo / brand all over it! This takes the chance and sceptic aspect out of the equation. Every user knows he will get something.
It depends how much value you put on visitors but this for us would not be feasible - way too expensive!
Not only that - your giveaway has to be really desirable... (try and get imagination working in overdrive..)
e) Giveaway for first x signups...
Forst 100 people to sign up will get a branded mug...
If you're getting something started this could work and keep costs down...
f) Giveaway if you signup and get 5 friends to signup
Brilliant in that it guarantees something for the user. There is no element of chance - if they get 5 friends to sign up then they will receive...
Not so good in that the whole "refer a friend" has been totally overdone in last few years, and it has a tendency to make people nervous and sceptical.. (according to user research I've done!)
g) Money off something / partnering with someone
There's loads of ways which you can do this. Potential things include offering a company free exposure in return for a prize, or paying a company x amount so that they can give each referral x amount off a product.
Right - those are my thoughts! Anyone else have any ideas on this?
Likewise - can anyone share on any incentive success / failure stories that we might be able to learn from?
What would be a feasible established traffic base?
I know it may be difficult/impossible to nail this down to specific numbers, but some approximate ideas?
100 visitors/day? 500? 1000?
Now, moving on to our specific scenario,
We have a fairly new (~ 2 months old) niche community site, now crossing 1000 uniques a day, with an average of about 10 page views per visitor. Visitor to post rate of about 10% i.e. about a 100 posts daily. About 25 to 30% of the posts are of reasonable quality, while the rest are 'Aarrrrrgh's, 'Ouch's, 'Ooooohhhhhh's etc.
What benefits (if any) would a 'best post' type contest with say, daily prizes provide a site like this?
The posting activity level seems good, too.
One potential issue: once you choose a "best" post, you may alienate a bunch of members who don't agree.
Here's a idea - flag as many posts as "high quality" as seems reasonable, and then do a random choice from those. It might not encourage any REALLY high quality posts like a "best" contest, but it might give more people a sense of participation. Just a thought...
I think the trouble is that people are afraid to enter an online contest because they think its just a trick to harvest email addresses.
If you are a Fortune 500 company it might be a whole lot more successful. For a site that few have heard about it will be an uphill battle.
On the flip side, we did have a few positive things that came out of our contests.
- press releases generated links
- there are sites devoted to online contests, you get free links from them
Our problem was that our site is ecommerce, so I suspect people figured we were doing it to harvest email addresses. Which was not our goal, it was just to get people to visit our site and as link bait.
We ran a couple of contests for our B2C part of our site and another for the B2B part. The B2B prize was worth like $4000 and there were 3 of them. We still only had less than 2000 people enter. When we contacted the winners, one of them thought it was a scam because he forgot he entered. It took a lot of convincing for him to take the prize. Ironically, the guy now loves us and buys from our website a few times a year.
We never even spammed the entrants by the way. Not even sure where I put the database.
There's a good overview written by a Berkeley lawyer here:
Basically, if you make it a legitimate game of skill (the "best" content) then you have it relatively easy and your main requirement is to show rules that are really clear about your judging criteria and using qualified judges.
It may make sense to consult a lawyer, but at a minimum I'd recommend reading the article.
The randonmess of it started to irritate me though.. you'd be doing something on the site and a pop-up would inevitably appear..
What I don't think it did was initially draw in visitors.. it might have helped in "user satisfaction" with the site, but just staying to get more bags is not practical..