The Power of the People

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By Sophie Nettlefold

We see more and more contests and promotions launched daily on Facebook and across social platforms. Individuals and commercial brands are using the power of the public vote and contest to increase their own likes, engagement and sales. And it’s working. However, there are a few things that are important to remember when engaging with your online communities: never leave anything up to a public vote. We mean business. We mean terms and conditions.

We see more and more contests and promotions launched daily on Facebook and across social platforms. Individuals and commercial brands are using the power of the public vote and contest to increase their own likes, engagement and sales. And it’s working. However, there are a few things that are important to remember when engaging with your online communities: never leave anything up to a public vote. We mean business. We mean terms and conditions.

You must be very careful when including the internet in any decision, because 9/10 times it will over-deliver with overwhelming public responses to name a $300 million Antarctic survey vessel from the Natural Environment Research Council ‘Boaty McBoatface’.

As far as Internet virality is concerned, the polls became an overnight sensation this week, the name ‘Boaty McBoatface’ in the lead with more than 23,000 public votes. It even spurred the hashtag #BoatyMcBoatface (naturally), causing intermittent outages for its website.

The internet sensation has incited further hype, with brands and services getting involved in the shenanigans with exploits such as ‘Trainy McTrainface’.

Luckily (and importantly), the NERC reserve the right to pick their own name as stated in the terms and conditions of the competition (good work social media team). A handy idiom when considering the public space online: Everyone is the Internet.

To avoid your clever poll campaign going horribly wrong, we would like to share the following best practices for avoiding any hot-water social situations.

  • Adhere to local/state/national or international laws, because awkward.
  • Clearly state the contest sponsor: your rules should make clear that your business, and not Facebook, is the sponsor of the contest.
  • Eligibility: even though there’s only 1.1 billion people on Facebook, that includes teenagers and some cool senior citizens. Be sure to specify age and residency restrictions.
  • Include the day and time that the contest will begin and end, and when the winner(s) will be announced.
  • Actually tell fans how to enter the contest. It seems simple enough but remember, everyone is on the Internet. Entrants need to understand exactly how to enter.
  • Include additional limitations, such as disclaimers stating that your business or brand has the right to adjust or shut down the contest at any time, cheating, misconduct or the final say in the poll decision (see: Boaty McBoatface).

If you’re interested in creating an engaging poll with your community we would check out this smart little app for Facebook.

Learn more about best practices and some clever tips for writing contest rules here.

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