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December 21 2011


Merry Christmas from Tell Ten Friends

…and a happy New Year! See you in 2012.

December 02 2011


Why a Contest? Here’s 7 Good Reasons

We don’t have to tell you because you see them everywhere; social media contests are red. hot. and everyone seems to be doing them.

Some are doing them well, while others miss the mark. The ones that do them well have one thing in common; they’re clear on WHY they are doing a contest. So in case you are on the fence about having a comtest as part of your marketing mix, and you’re still looking for your reasons, here are 7 to choose from:

1. A social media contest gives you something to talk about

The preparation for, execution of, and follow-up after a social contest are all opportunities to engage with your community and grow it. Instead of watching your Facebok Page collect dust, host several campaigns a year; a schedule that you can deliver consistently and experience growth from.

For example, if you have even just four prize giveaway campaigns a year, that means 4 months of steady activity during the actual campaigns themselves, and the rest of the year to plan, promote and discuss those campaigns with your community. Each subsequent campaign builds on the success of the last, ensuring consistent growth in community size and activity. Yes, this means it is time to make contests a fixed line item in your marketing budget, and consider growing your investment each quarter and each year.

2. Social media contests can make you money

As we have said before, execute a complete plan with your social media campaign, and you can turn it into a profit center rather than an expense. Read our previous post on the topic for inspiration and ideas on how to do this.

3. Social media contests are great for mining data

When you do a contest right, your prize incentive will ensure that people are happy to exchange their contact info with you in exchange for a chance to win. Bu the best contest tools will let you ask for even more. What is it that you want to know about your community? Add some key survey questions (and ask for permission to stay in touch) at the point of entry, and you can extract some useful data from participants.

For example, ask “How did you hear about us?” to test the effectiveness of marketing channels. Or ask “When do you plan to buy your next tv?” if such a thing matters to your campaign goals.

CAUTION: Make sure your prize incentive in relative in value to what you are asking of participants. By this we mean: don’t ask for too much, in exchange for too little a prize. If you do, expect your results to suffer, as each additonal field on a contest represents more barriers to entry, and reduced participation. Have a juicy enough prize though, and you can ask for much more.

4. Social media contests can be a great source of content

This is a touchy subject, and one that has to be handled with a great deal of transparency and “legalese.” People want you to be clear about how you will use their content, their “art,” so you must be clear and fair, and protect yourself.*

But a properly executed photo or video contest can yield excellent content that, one could argue, you can’t “buy” elsewhere. To best illustrate this, we’ll give two examples:

Eg. 1. Popular beverage company “Beverage X” hosts a video contest that asks the question, “How do you like to enjoy Beverage X?” The resulting entries are a series of passionate testimonials about the popular beverage, prepared by their ideal target market, for their ideal target market.

Eg. 2. A cruise ship company that is accustomed to snapping party photos on their cruises adds a contest element to the mix: Enter your fun cruise photos in the cruise companies’ Facebook photo contest and share with your friends on Facebook, and you’ll be entered to wn your next cruise for free. Do you see what we’ve done there? By implementing a Facebook app and a simple “opt-in” process to a service they were already providing, they are getting happy cruise-goers to knowingly promote the fun of cruises to their Friends. I don’t need to tell you, this is better than any advertising that money can buy.

*Standard practice with UGC contests (user generated content) is to keep ownership of the content in the hands of the creator/entrant, but to grant a usage license to the contest administrator/brand, to protect their right to reuse it if they wish. This is the kind of thing you let us worry about for you, as our vendors and policies have already accounted for it.

5. Social media contests do the marketing for you

A truly successful contest campaign will have some sharing element; some way of incentivizing people to share with friends. The best way to so this is by adding a popular vote. The most enthusiastic entrants will rally their friends for votes, spreading the message of your campaign far and wide.

Bonus voting contest pro tip: Stick to a one-vote-per-person format. Asking people to vote more than once is asking too much, and makes you look greedy for traffic. Just don’t do it, seriously.  By keeping it to one vote per person, your overall traffic numbers might be lower in the end, but the metric that matters the most (new visitors) will be way up. The most competitive contestants will be forced to find new audiences for you in order to win. Also, this prevents a compounding effect (where the most popular entries compound their leads in a “one-vote-per-day” or “vote-as-often-as-you-like” format, because of their larger network)., keeping the  vote race closer and more exciting.

6. Social media contests are still newsworthy

Here’s your chance to test our creative abilities. The right contest theme for your company could generate not only community growth and cashflow, but also some excellent PR, if you’re the first at something. The space is stil new enough  that the early movers can take credit like champions in their respective trade publications and business articles.

Some examples: Why not be the first chain restaurant to host an internal competition to select your company’s social media ambassadors from among your existing staff?

Or what if you’re a portrait photographer, and you ask contestants to enter their best self portrait for a chance to win a portrait session with you? It is pretty easy to turn the attention on your community instead of you, and in the process, create a real shake-up in your industry.

One more, for fun: You’re a large corporation who makes charitable donations each year. You ask your community to nominate charities to receive your donations, and dole out your contributions to the most deserving charities as chosen by your community’s votes. This is the stuff headlines are made of, and how philanthropy awards are won.

7. Social media contests are fun

Some brands get too few opportunities to have fun. And it can be easy to use that as an excuse for not engaging with their community. But that’s precisely why they ought to give a contest a shot. Think about what your community likes and responds to, and build a campaign that will get them excited. What do they care about? What will get them to react and participate in contest? Even if you’re selling insurance, there is fun to be had if you’re willing to let your hair down a little. Ask us how!

Depending on your goals, the execution of your campaign can take many forms. We’re here to help you navigate through your options and build a campaign that will yield the results that are important to you. Drop us a line and we’ll tell more abut how we can help make contests a part of your marketing mix. For more inspiration, read “10 Ways to Make Your Social Media Contest Promotion Kick Ass.”

And as always, you can add your comments or questions in the handy Facebook comments form below.

November 15 2011


Making Money with Social Media Contests

In our day-to-day dealings, we are often asked about the ROI (return on investment) of social media.

Looking at stacks of money is good for you.

When I hear this question, first I stifle the laughter, then I simply respond with another question: “What are you doing, specifically, that you are measuring for its effectiveness?”

Not that it requires too much further explanation, but social media can mean a lot of things. If you want to take advantage of social media tools and see some measurable returns on your investment of money and time, then you just need to plan. A campaign that features some incentives (prize draw, coupon offer) is the fastest way to generate social media activity, and it really isn’t hard to make a social media contest a profit center.

@WildfireApp‘s Maya Grinberg recently wrote a post over at HuffPo about this very thing, giving five examples of customers that have used the Wildfire platform as a money-maker. I like the Duck Tape example, in #5: Use a sweepstakes to drive people to your coupon (it works in reverse, too).

Or, consider example #3, in which Zappos offered a chance to win a $500 gift certificate to anyone who filled out a “wish list” of what they would buy if they won. I don’t need to tell you- this stuff works. Some of those gift registries convert to real sales.

Still the best example of this that I have seen is Crate & Barrel who, working with their agency Phenomenon and using a customized contest site built on the Strutta platform, host the Ultimate Wedding Contest. To date, the multi-year promotion (photo, story and required gift registry of $2K of more) has yielded $10s of millions in Gift registrations. Even at conservative conversion estimates, their returns are in the millions. And all because they had a plan. (Kudos, Phenomenon)

Insert your insanely compelling offer here.

Ideas like these can work at any scale, and your options for execution are many. Just tap into what your community really wants, and what they’ll respond to. Earlier this year, the gang from Pinpoint Social ran a campaign with Putting Edge, an indoor mini golf company with 20 locations. They quickly doubled the size of their Facebook community, got a 50% redemption rate on their coupon offer and drove in an extra $15,000 in business in February; traditionally one of their slowest months.

Stop thinking about marketing as an expense, and start taking a look at what you can do to turn it into a revenue generator. If you struggle, drop us a line and we’ll be happy to give you a hand.

November 10 2011


10 Ways to Make Your Social Media Contest Promotion Kick Ass

We have seen it many times before: brand and agency agree that they are going to run a contest promotion. Promotion launches, all hell breaks loose in a flurry of complaints, negative Facebook wall posts, accusations of cheating, software failure and worse. Brand and agency hang their collective heads in defeat, wishing they could go back in time.

The best "kick ass" image I could find in a Flickr search

Why did it go down this way? Because what seemed like a good idea to generate online engagement, actually was not. By missing or devaluing any one small part of the contest process, you could create a disaster where a success would have been easy (given the right plan).

Rather than make the (easy) list of “what not to do,” below you will find 10 ways to make your social media contest or promotion kick ass. For these tips to work though, you have to define what “kicking ass” means to you. This is the biggest mistake I have seen agencies and brands make; holding a contest or creating a promotion idea without first considering WHY they are doing it. What are the goals of the campaign? Only once you know that can you make the right decisions about how to proceed.

If you have a goal picked out (more sales, more Facebook Likes, some good video content for your site, brand “visibility”) you can begin with a well-planned promotion. These tips should help get you started.

1. Make it About the Experience

Ultimately, you are asking someone to share information with you, or spread the word about you, in exchange for an incentive (prize or coupon). That said, the “experience” involved here can be fun; a good theme for the right audience can make all the difference.

Example: Let’s pretend you are having a Facebook photo contest to promote your popular adventure tourism company. You could list your prize as “Two skydiving vouchers and a lunch for two,” or you could add a little sizzle:

Enter to win “The Most Thrilling and Romantic Date Experience for Two” featuring memories that will last a lifetime. Have you got the guts? Take the plunge and enter now

Do you see what we’re getting at here? Make it a fun experience right from the start, and the entire campaign will reflect more positively on your brand.

2. Make it About Your Community

This is an easy one to get wrong. Too often, marketers assume that because there is some level of incentive with social media promotions, that they can ask more of participants. Unless you have the brand loyalty of the likes of Apple, try to center your campaign theme around your community and the individuals in it, don’t make the mistake of making it about you.

Example: You’re a pizza restaurant chain, having a video contest with the prize of “pizza for a year.” Naturally, the promotion will attract your brand’s biggest fans. You COULD ask them to and tell you in a video what they love about your pizza, and you will get a limited number of (likely similar) answers. Or, you could ask people to simply express what they love about pizza; their favorite toppings, etc. In the second example, you will receive more entries and (I would argue) more truth in the responses, which you will find more valuable in the end. If you are having trouble agreeing with me on this, read the third paragraph of this post again. If you still like the first option given here, as it is more in tune with your goals, then you’re absolutely right and you may proceed. The point is just to give this some consideration with your community in mind. Make it about them.

3. Make it Fun

No need to go into great detail here, this one should be obvious. Of all the marketing that you do, your Facebook promotion or social media contest should be among the most fun. Step just a little bit outside your comfort zone; let your hair down (so to speak). If you have followed the rest of the pointers here, you should be safe. Yay!

4. Make it Easy

Easy is relative. What is the prize you are giving away? Is it a new car? You can ask for a little more (of the right audience) if it is. Is it a dinner voucher or coupon? Then  you’d better lower the barrier to entry, so it is as easy as possible. Asking for anything more than a few clicks and an email address could limit your campaign success considerably. Limit the number of form options/survey questions to only what is necessary. Also, for photo and video contests, try to choose themes where entrants might already have a piece of content that will work.

Example: You’re a spa, promoting a weekend getaway package with a photo contest. You could ask: “Take a photo of yourself during your chaotic day, for your chance to win,” but that requires that I plan, stage and shoot a picture, get it onto my hard-drive and then upload it to your contest. I’ve got two kids, and you’ve just made my genuinely chaotic day even worse with your challenging request! Ask instead: “Enter your photo that shows what “peace” means to you, and you could win a peaceful weekend getaway…”  Now, the entrant can upload that sunset photo they already have that they love, or the pic of them doing yoga on the beach. This dovetails with point 2: Make it about them. They love that picture already, and now they already telling their friends about it in your contest, collecting votes, etc. Ya dig?

5. Make it Pretty

Design counts. Not only does a good UI (user interface, or user experience, if you like) mean a greater chance of success because things look nice and easy, but an investment in great design “looks good on you.” That’s what much of this effort is all about; making you look good in front of your community. We encourage brands to have a campaign-specific design*, but to incorporate  their existing branding, colors and themes for familiarity.

*Typically this takes the form of a custom CSS design “skin” on one of the available third party promo applications; making it easy to implement, iterate and re-use designs on future campaigns.

6. Make it Fair

Rules matter. They can be boring and tedious, but we need them. All the details about how prizes will be awarded, eligibility, contest terms, all of that. But, in the case of a contest with voting, you need even more. Be explicit about the rules of your contest. Your software applications will be helpful here, certainly, but knowing in advance what to do, say and where to point people to when the first accusations of cheating arise can make all the difference.

Because like it or not, even if you have followed all of these tips and created a fun contest with a desirable incentive, people will cheat, and they will accuse each other of cheating. Why is this of little concern? Because of tools like Strutta’s Fraud Guard, that let you track and identify any voting that is deemed repetitive or suspicious. Since you have been warned, you can pre-write your statement about how cheating will be dealt with, and include it in your contest rules. (Pro tip: Ask how we deal with specific methods of cheating, and how we can host fair contests without ever accusing anyone of cheating, ensuring a crisis-free experience).

The point of “Make it Fair” deserves its own post; there are a lot of issues we could discuss here, so we will explore this one in more detail soon.

7. Make Money $$

Why not, right? Here you are, you’ve gotten people to engage with your brand on Facebook; you have their attention. Build a sales strategy into your promotion that you can track the success of. A coupon offer, gift registry invitation, newsletter subscription opt-in, or even something as sanguine a referral link to your online store can help boost business. Take names!

A note about Coupons: Not all brands agree with devaluing their product or service by reducing price, and that’s fine. The goal is to offer some incentive, so a giveaway (could be added service, etc,) loyalty program, gift registry, wishlist or any of the above can be a suitable substitute for a discount coupon.

8. Make it Count

Well done, marketeer. Your campaign is done, and you can start the follow-up process and start planning the next one. The first thing we always do is export all of the mailing list “opt in” folks and add them to our client’s mailing list. Wait, what? You didn’t ask for permission to contact people via email after the promotion? We are fans of asking of contestants only that which is very important. In our minds, nothing is more important than an attempt to establish an ongoing relationship. That’s why we encourage email lists and extensive analytics tracking, in addition to the “up front” ask of a “like” on Facebook.

Campaigns like these are great for visibility and engagement, but visibility and engagement alone don’t keep the lights on.

9. Make it Stick

If your contest theme idea is good enough, you should be able to repeat it each year with a similar level of success. It will get easier each time, and you can build upon the success of previous campaigns by reconnecting with your community via Facebook, Twitter and of course your email lists.

10. Make Us Do It

The administration of an online contest need not be a scary thing. We assist brands and agencies with the execution of promotions of all sizes. We would love to hear from you if you have questions about how to create a kick ass social media promotion, either on Facebook, or attached to your existing site.

October 23 2011

The littlest @whitecapsfc fan, with Spike the mascot. Cc @southsiders

August 18 2011


Learning to Share

My kids have just turned three and one, respectively. For the first eight months of my daughter’s life, I was at home caring for both her and my son full time. It was the most challenging, and at the same time the most rewarding thing I have ever done.

As a “stay at home” parent, you are blessed with a lot of time to wander off in thought, but cursed with a lack of time to act on anything but pressing kid emergencies, and hopefully the odd shower. (You will thank me for sparing you the gory details of parenthood, all ye non-breeders). This is not a job for the faint of heart, but if you are full of heart, there might be no better feeling in the world than to care for one’s family and watch them grow. To see yourself reflected in your children’s eyes, literally and figuratively, is a pleasure that I cannot express with mere words. My wife and I thank each other every day for this blessing, and for each other’s support.

In observing them playing together: the inevitable hair pulling, push-and-shoves and tantrums eventually give way to hugs and sharing. They enjoy themselves so much more during those times, and it is much quieter in the house. It’s a bit funny to me, that observing the actions of toddlers has given me some insight as to how to be a better man.

This time of reflection has helped me realize a lot about myself, what is important in this world, and what I want out of this life. For one, I too am happiest when sharing, so I have committed to spending more time helping others, whenever I can. It is this same commitment to a life of service that helped me realize it was time to return to my business as well. This is where I am at my best; helping companies discover their “voice” and tell their stories, and getting tangible results that we can bring to the bank. Sharing is at the heart of what I teach, and I am committed to “walking the talk.”

My years at Strutta were fun, educational and above all, by virtue of all of the entrepreneurial activity happening around us, inspiring. I owe a debt of gratitude to every team member and office mate, past and present, and every client I had the pleasure of working with. Thank you for everything you taught me; for the opportunity to put so many of my ideas into action with some of the world’s most famous brands, and to work alongside some of Vancouver’s most promising startups. I have made friends that I will certainly keep for life, and that is what is truly important.

And so, to make good on my words about sharing and a life of service, I offer myself to you, dear friends. If you have a question about something I can help with; be it about social media, online business tools, parenting, how to bake and decorate a kickass birthday cake, where the fish are biting, or even how to cope with the onset of grey hair, drop me a line. Ring my phone (778.840.8355), send me an email, leave a comment below or hit me up on Twitter. I’m back, and I look forward to connecting with you.

As always your friend,


Get in Touch

August 13 2011


What is the ROI of Social Media?

It is a question we hear a lot. We usually say that this question is akin to asking: “What is the ROI of customer service?” Because effectively, they are one and the same, and every business will have a different answer.

“Social media” is our current term for the tools that we use to communicate on the internet. That’s it and that’s all. Yes, there are certain etiquette to follow, and each tool comes with its own learning curve, some even with their own syntax. But if you are looking for a strategy as to how to use those tools, the safest way is to simply create the digital equivalent of your company’s existing customer service policies. It sounds simple, because it is. Social media is, after all, real life. ‘Xcept on the internet. When you talk about yourself too much, people get bored of you. Put your own interests ahead of your customers? A competitor is gonna eat your lunch. Got caught in a lie? Time to make good, right now. The rules are the same, only the tools have changed.

With that aside, we have the great pleasure of being able to tell you that if you want it to, social media can help have a direct effect on your bottom line. Not unlike the way great customer service strategies can help boost profits, a good social media plan can lead to more sales, leads, referrals, testimonials or whatever goal you set for your business. But you have to do it right.

Offer Value First, Get Loyalty in Return

So how do we use social media to make more money? To put in the simplest of terms: we take advantage of the scalability of these to tools to offer a lot of value to a lot of people. We offer so much value, that when we ask for something in return, we get it. And what’s more, we stay connected to our entire community, especially those that want to hear from us on the regular. That builds loyalty, and loyalty leads to evangelism, referrals, and repeat business. And let us not forget that these tools can be used for sales prospecting and follow-up, coupons, monitoring competitors, online contests, and promotions of all kinds. Let us also bear in mind that these days, customers expect to be able to connect with you online. If you are silent, your are conspicuous.

Taking that first step to a more active online presence can be a bit scary, and if mishandled, truly risky as well. But if you have a plan that includes offering value first, you can win at this game we call social media.

Have questions about how we can help? Hit us up in the comments, or contact us.

March 04 2011

So stoked to have @chefwolfe at our place as @alexleebehan 's birthday surprise.

October 12 2010

@alexleebehan and I carved pumpkins. Mine is on the left. Happy Thanksgiving!

July 29 2010

July 24 2010

July 11 2010

July 09 2010

July 07 2010

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