Using Contests and Giveaways to Increase Forum Traffic

By JulieVA · Apr 20, 2011 ·
  1. JulieVA

    JulieVA Habitué

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    JulieVA submitted a new Article:

    Using Contests and Giveaways to Increase Forum Traffic

    Read more about this article here...
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 17, 2016
  2. yossi25

    yossi25 Neophyte

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    Wow! Really usefull
    I hope I will use it! thanks a lot dude!
     
  3. tbofram

    tbofram That cool member

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    thanks. that looks like it might come in handy in the future


    :banana:
     
  4. JulieVA

    JulieVA Habitué

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    You're welcome.

    I am female. :)
     
  5. gogoblender

    gogoblender shiny happy pantless

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    Julie, thank you! I was hoping for a guide like this to come up, and you just about covered everything. The TOC at the beginning is great. I was hoping that someone with a lot of experience in running contests like you would find some time for the rest of us to have a look at all the planning that goes into running a successful contest. Thanks for taking the time to put all this down for us.

    Great work!
    :)

    gogo

    P.s. I found the Avoiding Trouble particularly interesting... ahh, always the details huh ^^
     
  6. JulieVA

    JulieVA Habitué

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    Thanks!
     
  7. SEOWarrior

    SEOWarrior Enthusiast

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    wow nice bit of info thank you.. I'm looking to run a contest in mine but i want to build it up a bit first to where its easier for members to post. we have only been up a short while but starting to get around 2 members a day.
     
  8. JulieVA

    JulieVA Habitué

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    Thanks for the positive feedback everyone :)

    Here's something else to think about:

    Sometimes you have a good prize and lots of publicity ...you've done all the right things...made it easy to enter - but you just don't get a lot of active participants in the contest or giveaway.

    It's a maddening problem, but you have to consider that lots of people think "why bother? I'd never win." and we can't really control that. :(
     
  9. PartsDr

    PartsDr Aspirant

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    Nice writeup. How large do you think a newer forum should be before running a contest/giveaway?
     
  10. JulieVA

    JulieVA Habitué

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    Thanks PartsDr

    I think that the answer to your question is "it depends."

    For example, you could run a giveaway with a really big prize to get a new forum active and populated. You could run a giveaway designed to reward active members in a midsized or to encourage members to invite other people to an established forum which is in need of fresh people...

    I think that Giveaways need to be aimed some goal, not necessarily the size of a forum.
     
  11. BrandonSheley

    BrandonSheley loving life

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    Excellent writeup JulieVA!

    I've ran a few contest and all have followed your suggestions :)
    I'll have to bookmark this to make sure I remember everything with the next contest.
     
  12. evaino

    evaino Neophyte

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    Thanks! I actually had two prizes that were offered by sponsor companies that I had been sitting on. This article reminded me of it, and got the creative juices flowing to start a new contest.

    My forum is new but did very well initially. But I fear it is just passing the honeymoon phase and traffic is slowing. I think this may do the trick to kickstart it again. I hope!

    And special thanks for the 'how to win' part - I just had to edit my announcement to include that. oops!
     
  13. JulieVA

    JulieVA Habitué

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    Glad this is helpful!

    We have had such a huge success with Giveaways @ Our Mom Spot.

    We have grown to the extent that lots of companies are approaching us all the time.
     
  14. RiverJ

    RiverJ Aspirant

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    Sadly, this is not helping me at all. I'm doing an ear bud giveaway and it's open for US only because I have to pay for shipping. We haven't gained any new members for it and the giveaways turned rather dead.
     
  15. JulieVA

    JulieVA Habitué

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    Sorry to hear that RiverJ.

    Keep brainstorming...

    Do some googling & look at how other sites in your niche formulate their giveaways. Look for bad examples too. Examples of less than successful giveaways are a source of info because they can help you avoid mistakes.

    I should back up here...Define what would make your giveaway a succes....Is it more page views, 10 new members, an increase in posts...etc etc?
     
  16. JulieVA

    JulieVA Habitué

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    We've been at it for almost 1 year. We have been experimenting with different types of giveaways and marketing plans. We have grown from 34 Twitter followers to almost 4000... From 10 Facebook fans to almost 400 (More work is needed there LOL!)

    Anyway...There are some "lessons learned" I would like to share. I hope this helps you!


    Lessons Learned
    • Marketing!
      The better your marketing plan is for giveaways & the more giveaways you have, the more companies will want to do giveaways with you. That's because your marketing efforts will result in more people in your niche knowing about your site and companies will want to tap into that.

      If you get this right, you will start receiving multiple emails with requests to do giveaways.

      That's a good thing.

      Word to the wise: Don't be afraid to say "no." Screen the companies & evaluate the proposed prize. You don't want to be associated with anything inappropriate, boring, negative, or offensive to your target audience.

      Of course you should make every effort to say "yes" and work with a company to agree on a prize which would be interesting to your target audience...but if it isn't a fit, leave it alone. Ask the company if there is some other way you can assist them. Perhaps you could give them an honorable mention via twitter or a small forum announcement. Brainstorm & don't burn bridges!

    • Beware the Phony Prize
      Our policy is: Winners should not have to buy anything to get a prize. Watch out for companies which offer giveaway prizes like... a “discount” with a purchase or a coupon which can only be redeemed when making a purchase.

    • The Contest / Giveaway Junkie Effect
      Unfortunately, contests & Giveaways tend to attract contest & giveaway junkies - people who scour the Internet looking for contests & giveaways. They will join a site to get into the event and then they will not return...or they may return for the next one.

      When forum owners do contests & giveaways, they are hoping for new people to join & to become active members. (At least - that's what we were hoping.) It is our opinion that this is not likely to not happen on a wide scale with any contest / giveaway regardless of marketing, type of prize, or $ value of the prize.

      A realistic goal for community events is to help spread the word about the community & what it has to offer beyond contest / giveaway prizes. The exposure should result in a higher awareness about your site within your niche and a steady stream of new members will be the result.

    • Contests / Giveaways...Why Bother?
      Our experience has been that the immediate result of contests & giveaways is usually a few new members...many of which are only interested in winning the prize, not in participating at the site and becoming an active member of the community.

      Some current members who have become less active may be prompted into action by contests & giveaways, but the effect is largely temporary.

      The long term result of well marketed contests & giveaways is the chance to become more involved with and known within your niche, as well as, attract new members organically and steadily over a period of time.

      I think that a forum owner should not be discouraged if only a few people enter a contest or giveaway. The key is to define realistic goals for building an online community and work towards them. Contests & giveaways are just one tool in that endeavor.
     
  17. JulieVA

    JulieVA Habitué

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    My pleasure!

    Update:

    For 2012 we're spacing out the contests & giveaways. At one point we were doing at least 2 (or more) a month!

    At this point we're focusing more on quality content, via our Guest Article Program. So, we'll probably have 1 posting contest every 2 months (whoever makes the most comments wins) & 1 giveaway a month (make a minimum number of comments to be entered to randomly win).

    The contests & giveaways are a nice way to inject some life into a forum, but they don't necessarily build a "community" in our particular niche due to the Giveaway Junkie Effect I described above. In our niche there are people who deliberately look for contests & giveaways...They join the site & then they disappear. We feel that we can definitely do the contests & giveaways but we need to focus more of our time & energy on community building activities.
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2011
  18. gackt

    gackt Aspirant

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    thanks for your great info
    you still do giveaway contest! I will read carefully and use your methode as a roll model for starting up my new forum site
     
  19. JulieVA

    JulieVA Habitué

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    We do still host giveaways, but we do no more than one a month.

    I think that the observation that giveaways do not "build" a community still stands - at least in the mom & dad niche.

    We have been experimenting with Twitter Parties. We allow guest posting in the Party announcement to collect RSVPs. This way, we get the email addresses of anyone who RSVPs and we can approach them directly to encourage them to join & participate, as well as send them invites for furture Twitter Parties. We have a high rate of people who attend the Twitter Parties joining us. Getting them to actively comment has been moderately successful.
     
  20. Esprit

    Esprit Participant

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    Great tips! One tip about contest deadlines. If you set a deadline (eg: Friday May 25th, Midnight) ensure to specify a time zone. I recently held a contest and neglected to do this. Some folks were upset that the contest ended "early" for them as they were in a time zone three hours behind mine.
     
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