When doing blogger outreach, a popular strategy is to have the bloggers host different types of blog contests.

And the use of contests is getting increasingly more scientific as well. Well, potentially anyway. Hosting contests require quite a bit of strategy.

Sure, it might not be the most sophisticated social media strategy for your brand to be doing constantly, but for some categories of bloggers, hosting contests is a very appreciated form of corporate collaboration.

So what are the most common blog contest mistakes to avoid?

1. Selecting Business-Relevant Prizes

Make sure the prizes are relevant to the blogger hosting the contest, the readers of that blog and last but not least — make sure the prizes make sense from a business standpoint as well. Whether you sell soap, online learning courses or system integrations, why would you give away a trip around the world? It might spark sharing and a create a spike in traffic for sure, but is relevant?

Know that there are loads of sites aggregating fresh contests from around the web, driving their traffic to the blog contest. They come there to win free stuff, not because they care about the blogger hosting the contest or your company. Make sure your prizes attract potential customers of yours. If these types of prizes aren’t interesting to the blogger and its reader, then you’re probably not a good match anyway.

Pro tip. Select blog contest prizes that relates to your business.

2. Solidify Your Online Monitoring

Contests will most likely cause spikes on your chosen monitoring dashboard. This might actually skew your running analysis quite a bit. People will say a lot of positive things about your company to win a grand prize, but this isn’t a very organic sentiment. Because of a contest, your ongoing social media dashboard might show a greater share of voice, greater positive sentiment and a set of hot topics that differs from the actual reality.

So make sure you tag and track contest engagement separately, not only to evaluate the contest itself, but to keep your ongoing analysis honest.

Pro tip. Avoid skewing your ongoing analysis by tracking blog contest engagement separately.

3. Avoid Lottery Style Contests

A lottery can be described as a contest where all you have to do is to enter to be eligible to win. Lotteries are allowed in most countries, but in some countries, they are strictly forbidden. So how do you tackle this? One way is to close the contest for those countries where lottery type contest aren’t allowed. But there are several problems with this strategy.

Here’s the bottom line: If you don’t ask the contestants to offer anything except for their entry, how will you ever be able to ask them to go ahead and purchase your products or services down the line? It’s better for your company to get less spin as long as the spin you’re getting is targeted. Therefore, I would strictly advice all companies to avoid arrange online lotteries and instead focus on skill-based contests.

Pro tip. Avoid arranging online lotteries and opt for skill-based contests instead.

4. The Importance Of Using A Jury

A contest is often a quick way to ramp up your traffic. But contest promotions are often regarded as a dirty practice. For good reason — few promotional strategies are quite as abused online. If you run a quality business, you don’t want to attract the bottom feeders and freebie hunters. However, if you comply with strategy no. 3 above, and you run skill-based contests instead, this can easier be avoided.

But how do you then select a winner — or winners?

A popular strategy is to allow the readers to vote for their favourite. This creates a second wave of social graph traffic as contestants often promote their submissions to their friends. However, this comes with a risk … a considerable risk. Someone might not take your contest seriously and promote mock entries. And these mock entries might just be so funny that they’ll win your contest. And now you HAVE TO award that mock entry, because they did comply with the rules and got most votes, likes or comments.

Therefore it’s advised to use a qualified jury. The blogger hosting the contest should be in that jury of course, as well as a representative from the company. In fact, revealing the jury can be a promotional strategy in itself! If you run a multi-blog contest, the bloggers can all be in the same jury (if you can get them to get along). You can still have people voting for their favourite entries and allow the jury to pick winners from the highest voted entries by the community.

Pro tip. Assign a jury that includes at least the blogger and a representative from your company.

5. How To Deal With The Legal Stuff

Make no mistake about it — you need legal professionals. Of course, the blogger must publish the basic rules of the contest in the blog post, including information as to who can enter, taxes, when the contests closes, how winners are selected and how winners will be disclosed and contacted. Most bloggers are themselves unaware of all the legal aspects of hosting a contest, and you don’t want to put either them or your company in harms way, right?

It gets especially tricky when hosting international contests. In either way, I would strongly recommend having the blogger include a link in their post to a site (in your company’s control) with terms and conditions for the contest. I know that many does copy and paste of existing terms of conditions, but this is at your own risk. I advice to always make sure that you have a green light from a legal professional.

Pro tip. Have the blogger link to a terms of conditions page in your control and have a legal professional proof your tactics.

6.  Mind The Moderation Aspect

Moderation is an often over-looked aspect of having bloggers hosting contests. Some experts say that total transparency is the way to go, but this can be hazardous. In some countries, the host must moderate the entries to avoid entries containing racist remarks, attacks on other people and other types of criminal activities in general. If the contests takes place in a comment field out of your company’s control, this might spell trouble for you or for the blogger.

If nothing else, your relationship with the blogger can turn sour really quickly once the blogger realises that he or she must spend tedious hours on end to moderate all entries. So take moderation into serious concern BEFORE launching the contest and make sure that there are no nasty surprises for anyone involved.

And if you moderate entries, there are plenty of examples where companies have removed mock entries without being clear about it in advance in the terms and conditions. This can really make people angry and virally backfire!

Pro tip. Make sure that the issue of entry moderation is resolved and stated clearly to the public before you launch the contest.

7. Opt For High Quality

Contacting 250 bloggers and allowing them to give away a t-shirt each in exchange for a blog post is almost always a bad strategy. Yes, even if you let them keep a t-shirt each. Remember, you’re setting a prize on what their (and their readers) time and endorsements are worth to you. And the bigger the company, the more you’re expected to bring to the table. If you’re a leading car company for example, then first prize really should be … a car.

YES, I’m serious. YES, that’s an expensive prize. But you will then have a prize that people will be prepared to offer their high-quality entries for. You will then get entrants who really desires what you’re selling — and nothing else. And you will be able to get serious with the blogger to get this contest right from the start. And your contest activity overall will be given the level of serious effort it deserves and thus — yield results relevant for your business.

Pro tip. Go for fewer blogger collaborations, fewer contests over time and don’t sell your brand short.
For more tips on blogger outreach tactics, check out Blogger Outreach 101!
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