One of the best ways to generate WOM about a contest, is to incorporate a "People's Choice" voting component into the judging. Doing this transforms an otherwise very static contest experience (submit your entry into a black hole and wait for the winning announcement) into a totally talkable, shareable experience lead by the people most passionate about your contest - the participants themselves. In the last week I've come across two contests doing just this - the YouTube Symphony Orchestra, and Happy Cog's SXSW Cog'aoke party.
YouTube Symphony Orchestra
YouTube is using the power of the interwebs to call for musicians from around the world to submit an audition video and be considered for the first ever collaborative online orchestra. Submissions were narrowed down to 200 finalists by the London Symphony orchestra, and the winners - who will participate in an 3-day offline summit with world renowned musicians and then play Carnegie Hall - are currently being chosen by public voting.
Behold, while I now prove the power of the People's Choice voting tactic! One of the reasons I wrote this post is that my friend David from Bermuda is actually one of the 200 finalists - and needs your help to get to Carnegie. You can watch his video below and VOTE by visiting www.youtube.com/symphony, clicking on "Vote" and searching for "David." His is the first of the two videos. No need to log in, just give the green thumbs up.
So, great contest idea - no doubt. However, let's agree not to talk about how hard YouTube makes it for contestants to actually direct people to their page. Asking people to do anything more than click on a unique URL is votes lost. And the smartest contests make this WOM generating step as easy as possible. Let's look at someone doing it right...
Happy Cog's OK! Happy Cog'aoke Party at SXSW
Apparently I am not the only social media pro who loves karaoke. I learned of Happy Cog's OK! Happy Cog'aoke Party from my karaoke soul sister over at Bad Ass Ideas. The event revolves around a karaoke competition between 20 contestants - who have all submitted their entry and been "voted up" by the public. (It's like the YouTube Symphony... for drunken geeks.)
Clearly I'm totally entered into this contest - Doug Meacham and I are hoping to get enough votes to be in the Top 20 and regal the crowd with our rendition of Johnny Cash and June Carter's "Jackson." Now, you need to....
Visit our entry page "Crazy Like Joaquin" and vote as many times as you like.
Not surprisingly for a web design company that prides itself on the human experience, Happy Cog makes it ridiculously easy to create buzz about your entry (and their party.) From your individual URL that you can easily forward to others, to your customized entry page, to badges you can put on your blog, to publicly displaying vote count to urge you onwards - this is a great example of public voting done right.
Now that we've seen why People's Choice voting can be such a powerful tool - GO VOTE!