Gamification is a marketing strategy. So when you see online contests where the top 50 X category of blogger are nominated and elected, don’t misunderstand the motives behind the event.
Blog contests are a clever scheme to drive traffic to the host site. The contest host gives awards in hopes that nominees will promote the contest for votes. The host company gets backlinks, traffic, and buzz. It’s a very smart marketing move for the contest host.
What Bloggers Need to Know About Contests
As a blogger, it’s your call how involved you want to be in the contest campaign, but be conscious of these facts.
1. Contests are a marketing ploy. It’s okay to participate, but realize that you are helping that site or company to grow. Leverage it for your benefit, but go into it with your eyes open.
2. These events are more a contest of persistence than quality or even popularity. The bloggers who pester their readers to vote will probably do better in the long run. Blog links and social media mentions are exactly what the host site wants. That is why the contest is set up with the option to vote once each day.
3. If you are nominated, realize that readers love you! That’s a real plus. Thank your readers and don’t openly disparage the contest. You don’t have to shill for votes or gush about the contest if you don’t want to. You can stop at a single mention and quietly go about your business of creating great content.
What Brands Need to Know About Contests
1. Your contest can generate a lot of traffic and buzz, but it can also generate feelings of competition and insecurity that cause division among bloggers instead of community. When you set up your promotion, keep the potential for harm in mind and structure it in ways that maintain goodwill.
2. Contests are a load of work, and technical glitches can be a nightmare to deal with in the midst of an active campaign. Be on your toes before it begins.
3. Leverage the contest for followup. If you are going to invest all the work, you need to have a strong return on investment beyond backlinks and buzz. Tie your contest into actions that allow for followup post-event, namely getting email signups. By adding to your email list, you have potential for directly reaching the audiences of the bloggers who voted for them.
I am in no way against using gamification as a marketing strategy. I think it can be done well and offer fun for the blogging community as well as benefit for the host. When both sides have a realistic perspective about the goals of the event and both sides can benefit in comparable measure, blog contests are a great promotion tactic.