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How To Run a Successful End of the Year Contest

Last week, as part of our open beta launch, we announced a contest to find the Top 50 Content Marketing Posts of 2013. We are running this contest until Friday December 13 so if you haven’t voted or nominated a post yet, do it now.



Over the past seven days, we’ve received more than 1,800 votes from hundreds of users on more than 120 nominated posts. Most of these users are new and all of them are highly targeted in our core market: sales & marketers. This was not an accident. Andrew and I put together a game plan that was designed for maximum outreach in a short amount of time. Here’s what we did and the lessons we’re learning in medias res. 

Leverage the Influencers Deliberately

From the very beginning, Andrew and I knew we had to engage some of the leading voices in the sales & marketing community to give it the proper gravitas. Luckily for us, as part of our private beta launch, we were able to connect with community thought leaders like Craig RosenbergMatt HeinzLori Richardson and Trish Bertuzzi. With their help, we were able to build a coalition of 11 sales & marketing leaders to help promote our contest. The influencers we chose were very specific to our core market. All of them had a wide-reaching online presence through their websites, newsletters and Twitter.

For weeks prior to the open beta launch and the contest, we made sure our committee was highly engaged. We held conference calls with the committee, gave them product updates on ShareBloc and the contest site and responded to their feedback. Each committee member had an early opportunity to nominate his or her favorite content marketing post of 2013. By the time we were ready to launch, our committee members felt a shared ownership of the contest. 

On the day of the launch, each one of our committee members tweeted their nominations out in a staggered release. By design, many of our potential users follow more than one of our influencers. This means when our committee promotes, a potential user could see ShareBloc in her Twitter feed at least two or three times in rapid succession. In the past seven days, our nominating committee has repeatedly tweeted or shared this contest with their network and the groundwork has paid off. More than 22% of our traffic is coming from social shares and 18% of overall ShareBloc traffic is going to the main page of the contest.

Make It Easy to Share Everywhere but Especially on Twitter

It’s not rocket science to put a tweet button on your site. Amongst our users, Twitter is by far the most important social network for distribution and consumption. It is so important, that the “tweet this” button is featured in every key step of our contest workflow.


A user’s first experience to the contest will likely take her to the front page. Immediately, you’ll want to click on the big “Take me to the Contest” button and you’ll see the top nominated posts, each one with a Tweet button and Share button. No one clicks on the Share button but we liked it visually because it reminds our users tweeting is sharing. 

If you decide to nominate a post, you’ll have a “nominate and tweet button.” If you join the site, you’ll see a “tweet the contest” button. Every part of the workflow has an option to tweet your action and as you can tell from our live twitter feed, people are using it.

Even the text on the tweet is deliberate. We wanted to call out the content but also emphasize the contest on ShareBloc. We added a “Please” because asking nicely works on Twitter (see #11).

Make it About the User

One of the key UI changes we made on the contest feed from the ShareBloc feed was the emphasis on the user. We recognized that the nominator was just as important as the nominee because ShareBloc and this contest are both about curation. This is why in each nominated post not only has the author of the post (if available), it also emphasizes the nominator on a separate line with their social media links. 


Unlike ShareBloc’s main feed, we made it a point to highlight the author. While this created an extra step in posting content, we believed this additional friction was important to ensure only the best content was being promoted. It also drew attention to the nominator if he/she nominated his/her own content, which we generally frown upon. Most importantly though, it gave us the opening to reach out to the authors directly. Often, the nominator will reach out to the author directly. In the times when the author wasn’t already contacted, Andrew would tweet at the author or contact him or her through other means. Most times, the nominator has a relationship with the author, which helps convert the author into another promoter of the contest.


We also put the nominator front and center. In many ways, because the nominator is called out in a separate line, the nominator is an even more important entity. One objective with ShareBloc is to uncover who can be the tastemakers in a community. This contest gives the nominators well-deserved attention as important curators in sales & marketing content. 

Set the Precedence

We have two objectives for this contest. First, we wanted to bring more users into our funnel. In this regard, we’ve been extremely successful. Since the launch, hundreds of users have voted on the site and hundreds more have viewed the content. Secondly, we wanted to demonstrate our UX and value proposition. We familiarized our new users with posting content, upvoting their favorite posts and sharing it with others. The contest ends in a few days, but ShareBloc is here every day. Will some of our users convert from the contest to repeat ShareBloc users? We certainly hope so.

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