Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Lessons learned: Using blog contest to promote your site

Makoy recently organized his 2nd BigMak Blog Contest as a way to promote his blogs and get his readers involved.

Makoy announced the winners last March 20 and am glad that he granted this request to share his lessons learned.

Janette: What goals do you want to achieve for the contest?

Makoy: My main intention actually is to promote my four blogs and to improve my Page Rank. Months ago, I have launched my makoyskie.com site and having this contest is one way of promoting it. By the way, my target number of entries is 100. I would want to have many contestants as possible since I have many sponsors. Anyway, I also took this opportunity to meet new friends and to expand my network.

Janette: What did you do to achieve those goals?

Makoy: To achieve my goals for the contest, I have created specific mechanics like dropping quality comments in my four blogs, linking my sponsors, using Digg and Twitter and pasting my very useful contest badge. To achieve more Page Rank for my blogs and to all my sponsors, I used anchor links for my blogs that is SEO and SERP friendly. For the contestants part, I have invited everyone I know from my closest friends, to my Entrecard friends and to contestants to other blog contests.

Janette: Did everything turn out according to plan? If not, what did you do to improvise?

Makoy: This is my second contest and so far I haven't perfected yet the formula. Looking for sponsors is not a tough work but meeting my target contestants is the hardest. Would you believe that I was even hurt that some of those who promised did not even join, and they are even my closest blogger friends. Aside from my quota contestants, I find the course of the contest went well. I even have new blogger friends now that constantly visits my blogs.

Janette: How did you get your sponsors?

Makoy: One month before the contest, I posted an announcement in my blog that I am looking for sponsors. During the one month period, I also visited blogs that held contests. I visited the sponsor's blog and invited them to be a sponsor in my contest. I even dropped messages to EC profiles, which led to the spam warning of Entrecard. Thank God, my account wasn't suspended. And lastly, I posted announcements in forums and in Yahoo! Groups.

Janette: Did you achieve your goals?

Makoy: Based on unique contestant, I failed to meet the 100 quota since I only have 63 contestants. But all in all, I managed to earn 141 links for myself and to my sponsors. I also have earned additional links for the reviews made by my contestants, a joyful 556 links. Based on the figures, I think it is still a win-win scenario. And what's so nice about this contest is that I gained new friends and loyal readers. I have yet to see though if my Page Rank would improve.

Janette: What worked and what didn't? What would you do the same next time? What would you do differently?

Makoy: My contest have its high and lows. During the first week, some of my mechanics were revised. I took out Stumbled Upon since I don't have a way to verify if the contestants really submitted it or not. I even made the mechanics more clear to eliminate cheating and confusion.

In my next contest, I would do the same thing in terms of mechanics but I would focus more on promoting the contest. I would also require the sponsors to post my contest badge and to do some contest promotion. I have learned that having a blogging contest is not about me and the contestants. Sponsors should also do their part to make the contest successful.

Janette: What surprised you about how the contest played out? (positive and/or negative)

Makoy: It surprised me that there are really contestants that are dead serious in winning. In my contest, there are three contestants that are very eager to win. It just boils down on the strategy and understanding well the mechanics to win. What's also surprising is that contestants know me a lot by reading my old and present posts. I even tagged a contestant a stalker since she knows many things about me. She read all my posts from the start I think.

On the darker side, it surprised me that there are really contestants that sour grapes. I know that they worked hard to win but not everybody can win. They even question you on how you count the points. It is very hurtful to read from a participant that I am not fair in counting the points. Well, I cannot please everybody. What's the most shocking of all is that some contestants don't even bother to read or understand the mechanics well. They would even bother me just to ask on how to join.

And lastly, what surprised me is the number of Pinoy bloggers around the world. Through this contest, I met Pinoy bloggers in the US, Netherlands, Holland, UK and of course in the Philippines. Isn't that great?

Hats-off to Makoy

I am one of the sponsors that Makoy tapped and happy on how the contest turned out. It allowed me to discover new blogs and learned a lot on how Makoy handled this contest.

Personally, I'm partly worried as well that bloggers may be experiencing a contest-fatigue of sorts. This puts pressure to be creative when developing contests that bloggers will feel excited to participate. It also made me more conservative when coming up with figures on the number of contestants.

Thank you Makoy and congratulations!