I remember the time that I had conducted a social media contest for our client in the mobility sector, where the winner had won another contest for a different client in the book publishing space.
This might appear absolutely fine, and I would concur until…
I thought of making a background check on the person’s social profiles and here’s what I figured out:
He was on social media for the sole purpose of participating in contests – Yes. He must have played over a 100 contests in the space of one year and was going strong!
Yes, there's still nothing wrong with that!
Then one day, I stumbled upon a post in which our esteemed winner was selling some gift coupons he had won from a brand. This wasn't one of our clients, but it's still unethical.
Now this was not done! How does an activity like this help a brand?
After that, we arrived at another startling revelation.
We received a mail from our ‘esteemed winner’s’ father that he had not received the prize he had duly won. But on the contrary, we had the receipt of delivery with signatures and the contact details of the receiver, who was none other than our ‘esteemed winner’!
We double-checked with the courier company and they again confirmed that our esteemed winner had received the courier at home. We emailed the proof of receipt and guess what, we got no response! (It was better to assume that the gift had been sold off even before the family had found out about its receipt)
I learnt two things from the incident: Contests don’t create loyalists. People play, win, and forget.
What is required now is to relook the way we run contests so that only brand loyalists can win, or at least, people who cherish the product.
Why did I think of narrating this incident?
This is just not a rare incident! There are many people out there on social media who are doing nothing apart from winning contests and selling the stuff they win. So as agencies, we need to relook at the way we engage people on social media.
We need to ask ourselves, ‘Do we really need to run contests at all?’ Yes, I do think that running loyalty programs on social media is much better than investing in contests.
As an agency (and after the above mentioned incident), our focus has changed to creating loyalists and reaching out to people who are our actual as well as our potential customers. We're still trying to figure out the right mix to ensure that our brands get good value in the long run.
Yes, we do have agencies that are proposing contests with incentives bigger than the brand itself, but we don't want to follow them. At times, brands call these agencies that create content that ‘GOES VIRAL’, not understanding that content or contests that go VIRAL doesn't necessarily mean content that adds VALUE to the brand.
Till then, we continue to focus on figuring out a way to make people fall in love with our brands while we're competing with agencies who aim to make people fall in love with the incentive.
In the long run, it's worth it - because value matters, not just virality.