A Photo Contest That Works

It seems like at some point, in every social media brainstorming session I have ever been a part of, the idea of a consumer photo contest comes up.  Rarely is it an idea that actually makes sense.

Domino’s Pizza has recently launched a contest asking consumers to take photos of… their pizzas?  Yes.  It seems a little weird, but I think it might actually work.

Why?  A few reasons:

  1. People like to take photos of food – myself included.  Next time you’re on Twitter, keep an eye out for how many TwitPics have something to do with food.
  2. The contest is integrated with the messaging objective – The smart element that Domino’s added into this contest is that the low-resolution photos and bad lighting of the photos is embraced and enhances the promotion.  Domino’s wanted to appeal to consumer appetites by showing them how delicious their REAL pizzas look.
  3. Realistic prizes – sure Domino’s could have offered more than $500 bucks for a prize, but then that might actually influence fewer consumers to participate.  Consumers are more cynical than ever and if the prizes are too good, I believe that it actually stimulate LESS participation.  It’s counter-intuitive, but think about it.
  4. It influences a sale – If you want to participate, you gotta buy a pizza!  Online social media is great, but it’s all about influencing the offline activity.

Here’s the video and the website.

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GPS-based Social Networking Needs Brands to Survive

Ted Wright of Fizz (a word-of-mouth marketing agency) questions all of this buzz about GPS based social networking.  His asks “WGAF” (Who Gives a F*ck).  He might be right.  Does anyone really care of you’re at Walgreen’s?  Probably not.

But just like anything else, isn’t all about content?  If you’re doing something interesting, fun or relevant to your network, wouldn’t they want to know about it?  And isn’t it more interesting if you’re posting a photo or restaurant review and using the GPS app as the vehicle?  That’s not that much different than Twitter or status updates on Twitter.

GPS social networking is a polarizing topic because it bleeds over into other networks where friends or followers haven’t opted in.  In other words, if we’re friends on Facebook, you have approved me as a contact, but you can’t optimize the level of interaction we have.  You can either turn me on or off.  You may be interested in an occasional status update or photo of my dog, but you’re probably not interested in when I take my dog to the vet.

Ted predicts, “GPS social networking will be the Second Life of 2010.”  I tend to agree with him unless one thing happens: Gowalla and Foursquare crack the code on working with brands.  Brands (and mainstream ones, at that) hold the key to making these apps relevant to the mainstream consumer by way of offering value to the user and the listener.  Wouldn’t Foursquare be more fun if check-ins unlocked offers, coupons and special deals to the people who check-in at a certain location and to the people who read that check-in?  As it stands now, very few brands are involved with either platform.  Yes, a few bars and coffee shops out there are offering deals to their “Mayor” but that excludes 99.999% of the population.  Furthermore, no one cares if their friend is getting a deal – they care if THEY’RE getting a deal.

Where will all of this go?  I agree with Ted – Foursquare and Gowalla probably won’t figure out how to work with brands and start to lose relevancy later this year and even more so in 2011.  Then Google will figure it all out and be one step closer to ruling the world.

CBS Breaks Social Media Trust

Ok, I admit it: I watched Big Brother tonight and enjoyed it.  They had these people crawl through this caramel sludge and then dig stuff out of this gigantic mound of popcorn.  It was great.

They also have borrowed a page out of another reality show’s handbook by placing a “saboteur” in the house.  This adds a new wrinkle to the show but it also facilitates a great opportunity for social media interaction.  And CBS is taking full advantage of this.  Their website is fully integrated with Twitter, MySpace and Facebook allowing viewers to submit ideas for the saboteur.  Sounds fun, right?

The only problem is that they took a little too much advantage of the situation and squeezed two tweets out of me when I was only expecting one.  I definitely submitted the top tweet (yes, my idea for the saboteur was to clog the toilet – that would be great TV!).  But I didn’t submit the bottom, or first one.

CBS, is this really worth it?  Is it really worth compromising the trust of your viewers for an extra mention Twitter.

I say it isn’t.

links for 2010-06-29

  • ABI CEO, Carlos Brito wants to revamp their marketing – and it sounds like they are focusing on the Budweiser brand in particular. Yes, the Bud brand has suffered for years because it has become an "everything brand". It has literally tried to be everything to everyone and that doesn't work.

    Along with "reinforcing the foundations of the brand" ABI also needs to strengthen Bud's positioning, key usage occasion and consumer focus. I think Brito knows all of that and he speaks to the key usage occasion in the last paragraph.

    Reading time: 1 minute

Chick-fil-A Gets Spicy

I love Chick-fil-A.  In my book, their Chicken Sandwiches are only surpassed by Turkey Sandwiches.  I also love their marketing.  Chick-fil-A has found a great mix of mass media and word-of-mouth.  Their “Eat More Chick’n” billboards have reached and almost iconic status.  Chick-fil-A has also demonstrated that they are one of the top word-of-mouth marketing practitioners as they have launched their new Spicy Chicken Sandwich.

What did they do right?

They built tension and anticipation – Chick-fil-A teased their existing consumer base for weeks by promoting a countdown to the launch of the sandwich on Facebook and on banners as consumers made their order in the drive-thru.  It would have been easy to just launch it and make it available, but instead, they were disciplined and created a simple word-of-mouth opportunity.

Company execs told consumers why they were launching the sandwich – It’s pretty simple, but when consumers know why a brand, product or line extension exists, it allows them to authentically share stories about it.

Discussion was encouraged – It’s not all that risky to launch a Spicy Chicken Sandwich, but Chick-fil-A opened up the lines of conversation and as of this post, over 1600 comments were posted on their Facebook page.

Chick-fil-A created scarcity and a VIP event – Perceived scarcity and elevating the attention to loyal/heavy users are two classic word-of-mouth marketing strategies.  Leading up to the event, Chick-fil-A accomplished both in one effort: they gave consumers the opportunity to make an appointment for their Spicy Chicken Sandwich.  It’s common for the Chick-fil-A drive thru to have a long line, but reservations for a fast food restaurant?  That’s unheard of and they did it.  The consumers who participated walked away with a great experience that they will share with others.

Chick-fil-A does a lot of other things right in their marketing.  For more information, check out my collection of articles on Chick-Fil-A marketing.