Running blog competitions

Ya’ll noticed I ran a competition last week right? I mentioned the week before I had the goal in mind of gaining experience running competitions. I still do a fair lick of PR work freelance. In 17 years, I have had a hand in running three competitions. One I ran on Facebook when Like/Share comps were legal. One pairing up with a DVD launch which my colleague signed off without asking me first. Hoo, boy did that backfire. One was with a magazine. I ‘m not big of competitions, but I learned something from each.

With this competition, I wanted to see if the rules would be followed, how many entries it would acquire naturally and if it would impact my page views.

Method

I asked participants to share my post anywhere on the internet and post a link to the share in comments on the blog post.

How to enter

Share this post anywhere. Social media, blogs, forums and anywhere else on the net you fancy. Then leave a comment below linking to where you shared the post.

At the closing time, I closed comments on the post. 11:59 pm on Saturday 7th, so nobody could continue to enter the next day.

I added the names of all entrants to a spreadsheet and randomly selected a winner (mistakes happened there, see below). It’s worth saying when people leave comments I copy pasted their exact username into the spreadsheet. That way when I selected a winner I could simply search WordPress comments for their name, and pull up their contact email or social media account they linked to. Once a winner was selected and I had the screenshots for this guide, I deleted the spreadsheet. If you run a competition and collect anything more than names, you need to check the legal implications of any country that may enter. You may need to declare what you are doing with peoples email addresses if you intend to store them or add them to email lists.  By just taking names and searching comments for their contact details, I sidestepped any legal issues. Bare that in mind if you run a give away though. Data is sacred and can come with legalities.

Results

I had a very low entry, 26 people in total.

I did not push the competition. This was an experiment for me and I prefer to see followers and subscribers enter. Low entry is to be expected. However…

I did notice a lot more people shared the post than left comments to enter. I had at least 30 people shared the post on Twitter. With every Twitter share, I get an @ message. Although my icons show none, I also saw a number of Tumblr shares. I have 20 Facebook shares listed on the icons. Some people shared on their blogs as well. I’d estimate, across the board, I had 100 post shares. But only 26 people left a comment with a link. That’s quite a disparity eh?

I currently have about 28,000 WordPress followers and 40,000 social media followers. Each day my blog receives around 2,100 individual hits. Most of my views on LittleFears.co.uk come from WordPress reader, so I get no stats at all from that because most people do not actually open my posts. They are short enough to be read without opening my site. In addition, to all my main social medias (Instagram, Medium, Tumblr and Ello) I share the posts in full. So the 30,000’ish followers I have on those social media’s have no reason to come to my site. My stats will always be terrible. For the first three days, I received an extra 300 individual hits per day. On the fourth day, that dropped to 100 extra hits. Then I was back down to 2,100 hits a day. As a grand total, over the 6 days, I ran the competition, I received 1,000 extra individual hits.

I had an issue with the name selection. I had an over the top way of doing it in a guide I linked to in the original post. It did not work. The snippet of code needed to randomly select a name was easy to write myself.

Have a look at the image below. All the names from comments I added to Column A on a spreadsheet. Beneath the names is a cell with a line of code.

The selected cell with Amanda’s name in has the following line of code.

=INDEX(A1:A26, RANDBETWEEN(1, 26))

I think even as a non-software geek that’s fairly easy to follow. The A1:A26 refers to the cells the line of code is being pointed towards. The RANDBETWEEN(1, 26) is telling the spreadsheet to select a cell numbered 1 to 26. The spreadsheet then gives a random name in the cell you paste it into.

I hope that’s simple enough! If you want more advice with this, please do leave a comment and I shall do my best to help.

Takeaway

As you can tell, I learned quite a bit from running this competition.

The main take away is I need to run future competitions as simplified as possible. The difference in a number of shares I had to the number of entries was quite large. So, simplify. Ask people to take one single action anybody can do. Certainly, do not add two-step processes for running a competition like I did.

In addition, I would run a competition on one platform, so I can monitor it better. WordPress stats on poetry, haiku, short story and comic websites are notoriously unreliable. Consider Twitter or Tumblr. retweet and reshares contests would be better than a blog share contest. When someone retweets or reblogs on Twitter and Tumblr you get a listed notification. ‘Retweet this’ is as easy as I could make it, and may generate a decent outreach.

If you have any questions, please do ask. You all know I try to be as informative and transparent as possible with everything.