So you’ve entered in a contest where you are required to go through online voting as part of the contest rules. Make no mistake, companies do this for one reason only – to spread the word about them and their products.
No company wants to throw a contest and only have the entrants know about it. That’s like throwing a party and only asking the loners to show up!
They are giving away hundreds, thousands and some times hundreds of thousands of dollars. They see it as one big advertising campaign and they want to get the most bang for their buck. When it’s all said and done, they want to know that the prize they gave away pales in comparison to what they will make in return.
In comes online voting! The whole point of online voting is so that companies can get you to do their dirty work for them. It’s to get you, the entrant, to whore out as many links back to their site as possible. If the link is coming from you, then your acquaintances, friends and family are more likely to visit their link and participate.
Online voting is tough and it takes a LOT of your time. I recently entered an online voting contest, and I want to share with you what I did. I averaged between 60 – 120 votes per day, but the work required to get them was tiring and time consuming. In the end of the online voting portion, I had the most votes.
Here are the tips I used to get there:
USE THIS SITE
I have created a very active and supportive community here for those in online contests to meet with others in similar situations. You can post your request for votes and vote for others in return. Just go to the main page of this website and fill in the form to start connecting.
Have a Plan
When online voting starts you should be ready. Before the vote start date, sit down and make a small plan. It really sucks to start late in the game and always be trying to catch up. Make a list of everywhere you can look for votes and plan out who you will ask, and how often. Also have a back-up plan. If you have some people or a place to get some extra votes, but you’re not sure if you want to use it, keep it in your back pocket in case of emergencies. Just knowing where you can access your votes will ease some stress (but not much!)
Friends and Family
In my situation, I relied heavily on my friends and family both online and offline. You NEED to know people. Not a city of people, but enough people to be able to get a steady stream of votes coming in.
The truth is, if online voting is a part of your contest, and let’s say the contest is about favorite new painters. You could be the next Picasso, but if you live in a small town, don’t use the internet and can count on your two hands how many people you know, you won’t have the chance to prove yourself.
So, access your families and friends. Ask your coworkers, your teammates, your congregation, your moms group. It’s best to do it in an email. This way, you can also ask them to forward the email off to anyone that also might be able to help you.
- In your email, include the link to vote for you, and be very specific about what they need to do for their vote to count. People HATE going to vote only to find out they need to complete a 5 minute survey first, so warn them ahead of time so they can prepare and do it when they have time.
- If your online voting contest will allow one vote per day, include the suggestion of making their homepage the URL of your voting page for the duration of the contest. This way, when they log in each day, they will be sent directly to your ‘Vote for Me’ page and this will remind them to vote.
You may also have some contacts in your email address book that you don’t know personally but have emailed in the past for some reason or another. Go through and email everyone. Make sure that when you get replies from people telling you they voted that you thank them. If your contest runs long enough, you may need to send a second email to ask for another round of votes so showing your thanks to those that support you is important (and it’s just plain nice)!
I’m going to break this one down in to three categories because Facebook has a lot of features that you can use.
- Your own Facebook – email your friends through facebook (see emailing friends and family above). Also post it on your wall as needed. I posted twice each day on my wall, once in the morning and once at night.
- Facebook Applications – if you play games like FarmVille, Island Paradise, or any others where you can either send gifts or communicate with other players, then you can use this to remind them about your contest. In FarmVille, for example, you can send gifts to your neighbors. In sending these gifts, you can also include a message. You can include a friendly reminder to vote for you, and include your link in the message. Also in FarmVille, you can post messages on your farm. I had a little post on my farm and if my visitors clicked on it, I had a little ‘vote for me’ note with my link. Not sure if anyone ever clicked on it, but it was out there.
- Facebook Group – I didn’t use this tip myself, but I was impressed when I heard another entrant in my contest did. You can create a group and have your friends join it. In your group, you can share information on the giveaway and a link to vote for you. You also have access to those who have joined and can send out a reminder when ever you want.
Much like Facebook, you can use this to reach a large number of people. It does however only work if you have a large Twitter following. I posted twice a day to my status. Like Facebook, once at night and once in the morning.
Twitter will also let you send out 250 direct messages (DMs) in a 24 hour period. The down side is you can only send out 1 DM at a time if you use Twitter. At the time of the contest I was in, I had 1,800 followers – that’s a lot of time and effort.
I found a couple of sites that allowed me to significantly shorten this process. And what took me a couple of hours was shortened to a couple of minutes.
First, I exported my list of followers (you can only DM someone who is following you). To do this, I used Tweetake.com. Basically, you enter in your Twitter name, your Twitter Password, choose Followers, make sure you are exporting to the Excel-compatible option, and choose “Get ’em!”.
Your follower information will be downloaded in to an Excel spreadsheet that will include a LOT of unnecessary information. Get rid of all of the columns except for the column titled ‘screen name’, then save your document. The nice feature here is that now your followers are also numbered, so you can easily select 200 of them at once without having to count them out.
Then you will want to use a Mass DM sender to send out multiple DMs at once. I use the Twitter Mass Direct Message Sender (http://www.vibethemes.com/twittermassdm/). You go to the site, copy your first 200 followers from your excel spreadsheet (highlight the first 200, then copy) and paste them into the follower list box on the page and click on ‘add followers’. On the second page, you will enter in your Twitter Name, password and then your message. Once you are happy with the message, click on ‘Submit My Message’. Don’t navigate away or close the browser until you receive confirmation that the message is sent.
Then you are done, all of those DMs have gone out in a matter of minutes.
- Want to build your followers? You can start by following Get Online Votes on Twitter.
- When you send out your direct messages (DMs) on Twitter, use a URL shortening service such as bit.ly – this way, you can check on their website and track how many people are clicking on that specific bit.ly link and you will get an idea of how many votes are coming from Twitter.
- If you use the Mass DM sender, try not to email the same people over and over. Each time I sent a message, I deleted the people from my excel list. When I got to the end, I downloaded the list (which had more followers) and started again. Also, try not to send more than a couple of DMs to each person and leave some time in between the last message as you don’t want to alienate your follower to the point where they unfollow you.
- Even though Twitter will let you send out 250 DMs in a 24 hour period, I suggest sending between 200 – 225. This leaves those other DMs open for thanking people if they respond saying they voted and/or sending other DMs during the day.
- As a rule, I got about 5-10% ROI for my Twitter efforts (so for every 200 people I DM’d, I could expect between 10 – 20 votes).
There are a lot of forums out there for different hobbies and interests. People come together to talk about what they have in common and to gain new perspectives, learn something new and share their knowledge. I’ve met so many wonderful people through shared interests and forums are a great place to also ask for support.
First off, only join forums you have an interest in. When you first join a forum, search out their ‘welcome’ or ‘intro’ post and tell them who you are. I suggest keeping it to you specifically and leaving out the contest in the first post. Many forums will have a section for off topic posts (O/T) where you can post your plea for votes there.
As with every other venue for asking for votes, make sure you thank those people that took their time. When people comment that they voted, leave a comment in your post thanking them for doing so. It will show other readers that you appreciate your votes and it will also push your post back up to the top of the section for others to read.
You can use a little give and take on forums as well. Read to see what other people are asking. Maybe someone else entered a contest and is looking for votes. Go and vote for them and leave a post telling them you did so, then ask for them to return the favor and include your link.
- When you join a forum you can edit your profile information and add a signature line. I recommend adding a little about yourself, but the signature line is key. Make sure you include your name, then something short like “Vote for Me: I’m in XXXX Giveaway (insert your contest link here)”. Your signature appears on every post you make (until you change it) so the more you post on the forum, the more people will get the chance to see it.
If you have a blog, use it. Post your link on the main page as close to the top as you can get it. You can also post it within your blog posts or at the bottom of each post as a reminder.
If you don’t have a blog, try to use others blogs, but be nice! That’s their site and they work hard on it and you don’t want to step on any toes to get your link out.
Check a search engine for your contest name and see if there is anyone out there who blogged about it (make sure they didn’t blog about it because THEY entered too). Sometimes you can find a post where someone was just telling their readers about the contest, and sometimes they even ask for anyone who did enter to leave their link in the comments section to help with votes. If there’s an invite to post in the comments, then knock yourself out.
If there isn’t an invite to post, then you can always try to post it but be understanding if it doesn’t get published and don’t take it personally. If you do post on the site, take some time to learn about that site and what the topics are about so that you can word it appropriately. Also, you can thank the blog owner by following them or signing up for their newsletter.
I was lucky enough to have some great friends who blog as well and they did some wonderful posts for me and spread the news of my entry to their readers. So my link was in a lot of different places (THANK YOU – ya you! You know who you are).
If you have a blog or website, you should have a list of subscribers — you subscribe to my feed right? If you have access to their email, you could send out a request for votes. I am done with any type of online voting, so don’t be afraid to subscribe, you will now only get my post updates.
Tread lightly on this one though. You don’t want your subscribers to unsubscribe if you email constantly. I suggest emailing that list once, maybe twice throughout your contest and again, spread it out, make it short and be appreciative.
Hold a Giveaway
Also if you have a blog or website, you can encourage people to vote for you by holding a small giveaway. I held a giveaway for a gift card in a small amount. I cashed in some points I had to get it so there was no cost to me, and I held a giveaway where you could enter once a day for each day you voted. Read your contest rules first to make sure that this is allowed during voting or you could be disqualified.
- You don’t need to go overboard with prizes. Many people who visit your site will want to vote for you anyway. Something of low value, or free (to you) will be enough to remind most people to vote.
Other Social Media / Networking Sites
I am only really familiar with the social networking sites I spoke of above, but there are a lot more. Search around and find ones that appeal to you.
- If you are in the middle of your online voting right now it will be tough to get any votes out of social media and networking sites. As the term states, ‘networking’ takes some time. You may not get a lot of response from these avenues. It takes time to grow and nurture good relationships online and off. It’s like this, you can’t just walk in to a party where you know no one and kiss the hot looking chick across the room and expect that she’ll kiss ya back — well, unless you’re Gerard Butler…hmmmm. What? Oh yes… Where were we?
- If you haven’t started the online voting portion of your contest yet, you may want to get out there and start meeting people.
And now with one big general tip. I rarely posted asking for votes on the weekend. I updated my profiles on Facebook and Twitter, but I never sent out emails or DMs on the weekend. That is when most people are away from the computer – enjoying time with their friends and family. My site stats are always lowest on the weekends as well. There was no point in sending out perfectly good emails only to have them get lost in the piles of emails that everyone has to sift through come Sunday night or Monday morning.
And with all of these tips just remember, you get what you give. Be genuinely appreciative.
Are You in an Online Contest?
If you are and you came here for some tips then I hope you found some helpful tips you haven’t thought of yet.
Go to the main page of this site to fill out our form and start meeting others in online voting.
Original article by Sheri Landry.