Last year I entered a social media competition that caught my attention. The bar was set quite low and the prize was a trip to Ireland for group of six or so, courtesy of Guinness.
From memory, I ‘won’ the set of Guinness glasses, mostly on the basis of sharing a Tweet and a Facebook post, having filled in the form (the competition’s ‘entry mechanism’). I was then sent the glasses and encouraged to work harder at sharing to try and win the Irish break.
I love that I won the glasses. my children were excited by the parcel. It was a low entry level initially. The glasses have now gone to a good home, and Guinness undoubtedly won some ‘social mentions’ off the back of the promotion. I opted out of the second part of the competition.
However, with my PR hat on (as a potential organiser of this kind of promotion) I had a few observations on the competition, in the spirit of thinking about how we do these things. I have no ‘inside track’ and if the organisers read this I’d love their thoughts and contributions (in a spirit of shared learning).
1. I entered because I fancied a trip to Ireland. Not because I wanted glasses. I was a bit disappointed by the glasses initially. It felt like a slap in the face – your network isn’t valuable enough! I’m over it, but others may have had the same thought and not voiced it. I think there’s a lesson here around being upfront about the prizes/what will happen in the early stages – if I’d known there were more prizes to be had, I’d still have entered – perhaps more so as the odds of winning something increased! Of course I may be in a minority of one!
2. But if I’d known upfront about the second stage of the promotion, I’d perhaps not have entered. The second stage of the ‘competition’ – asking me to spread more stuff around my ‘social’ network, effectively spamming them, felt like a barrier. It’s not very ‘English’ to bombard your friends to get them to tweet and retweet. And not very sociable. It didn’t feel genuine and ran the risk of upsetting people. I’d done it once to win the glasses. To know the pressure increased half way through would have stopped me entering. So this stage was good for retweets, but bad for goodwill.
3. Asking me to get friends to share the promotion so often also fed into my insecurities – will people like me enough to retweet this? This is a particularly female thing (I recommend Lean In, by Sheryl Sandberg for an insight.) As a result, I wonder how many competitions of this type are won by men (‘one of the lads’ rather than women?) I looked for resources online to see if any research had been done. I found little, but did stumble across this interesting piece in Salon.com: Why are men so foolish?
4. I initially found it hard to spot the objective in the competition, but ended up with a mixed bag of thoughts:
- If it was to get more people onto its social media streams, initially I thought I’d have just given out a voucher for a free Guinness/money off to people who followed. You’d rarely go on your own to a bar, so although it lacks the excitement of a competition, there would have been a business benefit to this approach. But of course, the alcohol promotion rules would have prevented this, so maybe this was more reasonable than at first glance. That said, just persuading people to follow directly and tweet about it for a chance to win the trip would have served the purpose just as well, and for less cost.
- I didn’t follow their social media streams. But then I don’t drink Guinness (although I do cook with it occasionally, so I am a potential customer!)
- If it was for SEO, why?
- Brand extension? Is coming from Ireland that big a USP? Maybe in the US it is….
- Brand recognition. Possibly. But without values attached, we’re talking name recognition rather than brand.
5. Because I’d been given something, free, I felt honour bound to write something up about it: thank you, Guinness. Albeit several months later!