Contests and challenges have been popular for hundreds of years. Why? Maybe because we have a natural drive to win. When there is a social cause component to it, those who participate may also like the added feeling that they're doing something good or worthwhile, thereby being rewarded on both an intangible and tangible basis. I know I've always been fiercely competitive about everything—from board games as a child to sports matches with my buddies.
Underlying any interest in participating in a challenge, competition or contest is the “what’s in it for me?” motivation you can leverage to convince your audience there's enough in the contest for them to give it a go. There are many ways your business can take advantage of this motivation with a challenge-type contest, whether your intent is to get user-generated content, gain traction for your brand or simply create marketplace buzz for your products or services.
When I heard I could use an app and leverage my competitive nature as a marketing tool, I couldn't think of anything better than that. Finally, that competitive streak I was told to control could be used to make money and do some good in the process.
Here's how you may be able to take advantage of contests for your business and the social cause of your choice.
Appeal to the Competitive Spirit
The Challenged App takes this urge to compete and elevates it by challenging people to do something related to a social cause or that produces some worthwhile benefit. For example, a challenge could raise money for a charity, a weight loss competition or anything else that pits one person against another in a fun way to see how far people will go to pull out a win.
In the process, there's a social dimension to the Challenged App that allows others to share the challenge and interact with influencers like Internet sensations, as well as friends and even celebrities. It can be exciting to compete alongside people you admire and respect.
Choose a Relevant Topic
Just think of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that took over everyone's social media feeds. It struck a chord with me and my circle because it drew attention to a disease that is unfamiliar to most. People wanted to know what ALS was and why it was getting such attention as the focus of a challenge. Therefore, it makes sense to pick a subject or topic that is narrow enough to elicit interest but not so different that it seems like it would only appeal to a very few.
This means you don’t necessarily have to focus on something that raises money to fight cancer. Instead, run a competition in October directed at Breast Cancer Awareness Month. If you want to call attention to something like heart disease, then do a heart health competition during the month of February, a month designated by the American Heart Association as American Heart Month to address heart disease, the danger signs and the solutions that build a healthy heart.
Numerous sites and tools are now available to help you create a relevant contest, competition or challenge as well as manage and gauge the results. Some tools include Tradable Bits, Binkd, Wishpond and SnapApp.
Pick the Right Parameters and Publicity
While there are no hard and fast rules for a challenge or competition, it can be important to carefully consider the time frame, type of data you're collecting from participants, prizes and overall rules. The clearer the directions are for the audience, the more likely they may be to join the challenge.
Also try to ensure that your challenge or contest is publicized to maximize participation. Consider including in this publicity strategy an effort to hit as many channels as possible with news about your challenge, including an email campaign, blog post, press release, PPC campaign, social media posts and landing page. You can also try sites like Contestful, which offers a directory listing for your competition or challenge.
Focus on Fun
Although the competition factor and prizes are great incentives, the main focus should be on making the challenge fun and memorable for participants. After all, it's the user experience aspect of the challenge that may determine whether participants will return for a similar event, helping you to continue leveraging this type of marketing tactic.
I've been involved in a few of these competitions, and the ones that really stand out are the ones where I can let off steam and do something silly I wouldn't do at work. Plus, these competitions make for great videos to share and laugh about later with friends, reminding me how I would like to get back to that same great feeling again in the future.
Murray Newlands is an entrepreneur, investor, business adviser and co-founder of Due, as well as the author of How to Get PR for Your Startup: Traction. He's also a member of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC).
The information contained in this article is for generalized informational and educational purposes only and is not designed to substitute for, or replace, a professional opinion about any particular business or situation or judgment about the risks or appropriateness of any financial or business strategy or approach for any specific business or situation. THIS ARTICLE IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR PROFESSIONAL ADVICE. The views and opinions expressed in authored articles on OPEN Forum represent the opinion of their author and do not necessarily represent the views, opinions and/or judgments of American Express Company or any of its affiliates, subsidiaries or divisions (including, without limitation, American Express OPEN). American Express makes no representation as to, and is not responsible for, the accuracy, timeliness, completeness or reliability of any opinion, advice or statement made in this article.
Read more articles about customer engagement.