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How to generate lots of free content

Give away 120 Mazda cars. Can you top this?

2:38 am on Aug 25, 2005 (gmt 0)


WebmasterWorld Administrator webwork is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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Yahoo has a strategy for generating free local content, i.e., reviews: Partner with Mazda and give away 120 cars in the next 2 months.


I wonder, on a "per page of content" basis what the actual cost per page will be for this "quality content"? I'm guessing $0, since Mazda likely donated the cars in return for the promotional element.

See any flaws in this approach?

Now, what's your idea for incentivizing the creation of relevant content for your website?

Wish you could work out such a deal? What makes you think that you can't work out such a deal? Have you tried? I haven't, yet, but I find Yahoo's entry into the realm intriguing. This might just be good training for your content creators You just might get it to work, so let's put on our thinking caps and discuss "How can the little guy compete using this model?"

Anybody have a success or failure story to share?

Maybe this is a bad idea? "Hey, I'm not going to spend my time giving away my content for nothing in return. I'm going to spend my time posting and reviewing at websites that at least give me a chance to get something in return."

Ya, I can see that coming. Is this a bad or hazardous precedent?

Who might a webmaster get to contribute what "give away" in return for some promotional boost in your "create content" promotion?

Exactly what type of content creation would you seek? Perhaps better said: "What type of content is best suited for such programs?"

How would you regulate such a creation process?

11:46 am on Aug 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Nice conversation starter Webwork.

The first and most obvious answer is links for content. e.g. I'll give a link to anyone that writes an original article. This doesn't tend to work that well as people use recyled content etc., and I haven't seen a good marketmaker for it yet.

Second idea is a contest of your own. Offer an iPOD to the person who writes the most quality posts in your forum, or maybe each quality post is a ticket in the lottery. Requires you having a forum or community already of some kind, and the offering should be something cool, trendy and portable.

Regulation in the 2nd case is easy; if I don't like it, it's out.

Anyone else?
ps Webwork you're the online lawyer but I think that contest is valid in the USA at least as it is free to enter, yes?

12:05 pm on Aug 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I think it's a great idea and is a novel way of getting good user content for sites. It's pretty similar to the way that magazines often offer a silver pen (or whatever) for the best 'Letter to the Editor' in each edition.

I doubt that it would appeal to hardened copy-writers, as it's difficult to make a living by relying on winning competitions :-)

For more user-based content like reviews and forums, I reckon it would work a treat. It would have to be quality-based though (e.g. best post/review, as mentioned in above post), otherwise you're just going to get hundreds of rubbish posts that are there solely for the point of getting a ticket into the competition.

And obviously the prize would have to be relevant to the user group you're targeting... no point in giving iPods to 90 year olds, most of them would just get used as paperweights (the iPods I mean, not the 90 year olds!).

1:32 pm on Aug 25, 2005 (gmt 0)


WebmasterWorld Administrator webwork is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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Re: Online contests

"Games of chance", to the best of my knowledge, are subject to regulation on a State by State basis, so I don't know the answer to the question "Is there a single strategy that would work to satisfy the requirements of all States/jurisdictions?"

If I, for myself, was thinking of running such a contest (this is not advice to anyone else) I would:

1. Specify that "the game" was taking place in my home State. It's simply open to the world.
2. Check with my home State rules and comply with them.
3. Make it a free, no purchase necessary, contest.
4. Read the rules of any other published contest running in my State and attempt to determine a) why they are the rules; and b) how to comply.
5. Offer a simple statement that the odds of winning depend upon the number of entrants. Check local rules. Usually there's a "State Division of Gaming" or something of the sort where you can write for rules.
6. Keep the rules of play really clear and simple. (Wouldn't want to get sued by some class action lawyer claiming that - by the rules - 100s of others also "won".)
7. State that the winner is responsible for paying an taxes on the prize and likely report the prize to the taxing agency. Require SSN as condition of payment.
8. Require the winner's cooperation in any post contest promotion. Include right to use image.
9. Only entrants over the age of 18. Require proof of age to claim. Submission of entry likely requires full disclosure of contact information AND agreement that all entrants may be contacted in regards to the contest. (Think mailing list.)
10. Limit to your own country. Heaven knows the rules of all those other nations. ;)

That's a start.

4:23 pm on Aug 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

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BTW, they are NOT giving away 120 Mazdas, but you can gather up to 120 chances of wining one mazda. One for each vote/contribution.
4:45 pm on Aug 25, 2005 (gmt 0)


WebmasterWorld Administrator webwork is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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Interesting. My bad re: 120. The article used the phrase "120 chances to win", which ordinarily is used as a reference to the number of prizes to be award, not the limit of the number of times you can "make an entry". Interesting way to turn a phrase.

Now, as to the 120 "chances to win = contest submissions". I guess that keeps the obsessives at bay or keep the bots away?

[bestof.yahoo.com...] is a nice outline of the rules 'your' sweepsstakes might want to follow.

4:41 pm on Aug 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Years ago I looked into doing a contest online, and there were definitely enough different state laws that it made me pause for some research. It didn't matter where *you* were, it mattered who was eligible to be in the contest (and so you are delivering the prize to *that* state or country).

One option I liked was online companies offering to run your sweepstakes/contest, and you provide the prize or cash to them. So, it was their liability to comply with laws, deliver the prize, etc., and it gave your contest a more anti-scam appearance (i.e. it wasn't fixed to go to your relatives) (of course it could go to the relatives of these web start-ups!).

Besides looking at Y! and big giveaways, I'd look into how small sites are doing this type of promotion. And there are lots of sites to post your info on - they will point their freebie-loving users to your contests.

6:35 pm on Sept 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

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This is a strange thread. For half the audience, WebWork's post on steps to run a legal contest in the USA is very, very valuable. For the other half of the audience, including me, it's simply not.

I'm not American and I don't host my sites there. I've worked in America, but mainly outside it. Outside of America, as long as no one complains about a contest to the RIGHT legal authority, you'll almost never have a problem. Even if they do complain the workers at the agencies are very overburdened and chase the biggest cases. So even if you don't have a strong case, most of the time they'll just ask you to stop. It's only if you are running something that sounds like pyramid scheme or lottery that you'll get in to trouble.

Now if you are crossborder say, hosting in UK and advertising incorrectly in Germany, the odds of a problem decrease even more so. It's simply too much hassle at least for those of us who run a few sites but aren't brand names.

There are always exceptions to this rule, and I realise that by having American customers I am likely open to lawsuits etc., but we all take risks everyday in business and normal life. I'm comfortable with these.

As the non-American I'd love to get back to WebWork's initial thought: brainstorming on original ways to increase traffic!