How to (and Why to) Run a Viral Contest

October 9, 2007 at 7:52 pm 6 comments

(In the interest of full transparency: I had the idea of writing a “How to run a viral contest” then saw an ad for a contest which involved coming up with a “How to” post. Perfect. Then some other contests asked that you mention them in your blog in order to enter. Brilliant. So, being a hyper-tasker, I thought I’d take care of all my necessities with one post… So here goes:)

In my last post I focused on viral marketing, but placed much of the emphasis on video. Of course there are other examples. Contests (even non-video ones) are especially successful at creating buzz about your blog/product/service etc. In this post, I will give a brief overview of viral contests (I intend to address the topic in more detail in an upcoming post).

Why Are Contests Such A Good Bet

Contests are, by nature, viral.

Writes Jonathan Kok in of blog contests:

“Other than the superficial benefit to both blogs of the blog with the contest generating
lots of backlinks to their site as well as the blog that blogs about the contest having a
chance to win the contest, there is also a benefit that people often overlook. And that is
the fact that the blog contest creates a buzz and is then passed on to others by viral

Your Goal for Running a Contest

What do you want to accomplish with this contest? In most case you want to promote
your blog/self/product/service/company. You can do this by asking entrants for posts or link backs, reviews and even entries to help you advertise your product. All these accomplish many goals with just one promotion.

Another good form of publicity is to sponsor a contest which bring awareness and more to your

Running a Successful Contest

Get the word out. In “How to Run a Smashing Blog Contest and Win With It”, Vijay

“When I say publicize, I mean publicize the contest and using it, indirectly publicize the
blog as well. Publicizing is all about getting the right links in the right places and driving
traffic to your blog.”

He goes on to give the following tips (which are fully explained in the article): Submit to
Exclusive Contest Sites/Blogs, Request mentions from friends, ask for Invites and

One Degree’s article “Five Questions for Hooplah Inc. – Canada’s Yummiest Mummy
Contest” has Hooplah providing the brilliant tips of “partnering with like-minded sites” which send out “email blasts to their subscribers, as well as posting banners and buttons on their sites” as well as using Facebook by dedicating a group to the contest.

The prize. The type of prize is frequently not very important. Most entrants also enjoy entering contests because it allows them to participate and be included in a community.

Make sure it’s simple. In their informative article “3 surefire ways to run a totally radical blog contest” Contest Blogger advises you:

“Don’t make your readers jump through a million hoops in order to enter your contest,
dude. Requiring a short review of your blog or a couple of backlinks is fine, but you
won’t get many entrants if they have to write a 500 word post about your blog and link
back you using seventeen different anchor text phrases.”

Some Examples of Simple and Effective Contests

Geeks are Sexy (well, they are, but that’s actually the name of their website) asked that
you write a “How to” article to be published on your blog in order to enter.

Some, such as one on The Beef Jerky Blog wants entrants to merely mention their contest (including certain terms) in order to enter their comfort contest where they are giving away fuf chairs. It’s Write Now has an Ipod contest where they ask entrants to do the same.

Some contests give you added entries for “favouriting” them on Technorati etc. All of these methods have aforementioned goal of getting people to publicize and spread the word.

Further Articles/Sources

On Blog Contests:

8 Constructive Bits on Running Blog Contests

John Chow’s article “How to Use Contests to Drive Traffic and Make Money

On Video Contests:

“Advertising Of, By, And For The People: Getting consumers to create ads saves a ton of
money — and builds buzz”

MemeLabs: Tips For Promoting Your Contest Video” (aimed at users, but still great


Entry filed under: contests, Viral Marketing. Tags: , , .

Why I read Marketing Pilgrim How to Catch the Bug – A Crash Course on Viral

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