in regular

Anatomy of a contest

What if, rather than buy lots of chocolate bars in the hopes of a Golden Ticket; Charlie had to spam several hundred of his friends for two weeks? Does this sound familiar? If so, you might be on a social network where right now someone you know is trying to win something.

If you’re a good friend, you’re probably trying to help. Maybe you enlist others to join the cause as well and before you know it, you’ve got a small army attempting to help someone get something cool, nice or perhaps support a good cause along the way.

As social media continues to invade the mainstream, brands and whoever else want our attention seek ways to capture the eyeballs of a mass that don’t have time for them. Tugging at the heartstrings of personal relationships seems to be a good way to develop brand awareness, if you lack it. But at what cost? And is there long term value in this strategy? Without hard data, I won’t begin to speculate. 

Just looking at it, I think people are going to gradually wear from these types of contests. Right now, they favor folks who have a lot of social connections and can leverage those to their benefit. It can level playing field sometimes and result in the best team wins. In other instances, it just harnesses the power of the “American Idol” effect and while it might provide an uptick for the sponsor; it’s questionable whether small brands with little impact see an increased buzz to their aims by running contests in this way.

I’m not sure if running contests that are just opportunities for the web savvy to demonstrate their prowess really benefits brands. I’d think hard before plunging into an ocean head-first with an upstart or little-known brand in tow, in an effort to spam people into noticing what we’re doing.

It might work, but I’m not convinced (yet) that it’s worth the potential harm.