MiC Picks: David Spark’s ‘Three Things You Should Know About…’

More smart media thinking from the industry's inquiring minds.

Every week MiC invites Canada’s media gurus to survey the mediascape and share the things they find most interesting and noteworthy.

Today, David Spark (@dspark) chose to show-and-tell three executions from the social media contest space. Spark’s the founder of Spark Media Solutions, specialists in building industry voice through storytelling and social media. He blogs at The Spark Minute and can be heard and seen regularly on WABC radio, and Cranky Geeks with John C. Dvorak. Here’s his observations on the brand benefits of layering in and befriending the swarm:


Traditionally, a contest can only provide some basic publicity and a mailing list for future promotions. Throw a social media layer onto that same contest (e.g. sign up by following us on Twitter or be our fan on Facebook) and a whole world of marketing and business opportunities are now possible. I’ve seen social media powered contests deliver free services such as top-notch employees, creative brainstorming, company testimonials, and crowd-sourced content. Here are three examples of innovative and strategic contests.

1. Exuve is a crowd-sourced clothing line where all the products come from winners of the site’s monthly design contest. Contestants are often design students looking for a break in the fashion industry. Winners are paid $500 and get to see their design made. Once manufactured, the clothing is sold on the site and via partner retail outlets for which the winner receives a percentage of the profits.




Exuve’s design competition serves two purposes: it brings in the designs for the company’s products plus it promotes the online clothing store. The monthly contest simultaneously markets and builds the business. Exuve does little to no traditional advertising. The social media, built into the contests, is what grows the site. Founder David Brundage claims that for every design submission, about 20 to 25 people sign up for the site.

2. Contests build audiences and AnyLuckyDay is a business built on contests. Any company willing to donate their product or service for one of AnyLuckyDay’s daily contests can gain access to the site’s growing audience. AnyLuckyDay cultivates attention by giving away products and makes money from those people who don’t win yet still want and buy the product.  


The benefit to companies is a boost in traffic and increased sales. According to founder Giancarlo Massaro, 15% of the contestants who don’t win end up purchasing the product anyway. AnyLuckyDay is yet another unique way of building a business around a contest that others can benefit from through traditional advertising and sales.


3. The Pennsylvania tourism board just wrapped up a fully integrated marketing campaign to change the perception of Pennsylvania as a tourist destination. The campaign’s keystone was a four-part serial film called Peter Arthur Stories or PA Stories (PA is the postal code for Pennsylvania), a quirky warm fictional tale of a guy on an orange scooter searching all across Pennsylvania for his long lost love, Meg. PA Stories is well produced, engaging, and looks like any film you’d see at an independent film festival.

Pennsylvania’s tourism board did an amazing array of both traditional and social media. Most notably they:
• Teased the film during independent film festivals.
• Hand-delivered locally made shoofly pies to Twitter contest winners and to influential bloggers that covered travel, web film, music, advertising, scooters, Pennsylvania, and more.
• Ran a sweepstakes for free trips to Pennsylvania
• Gave away small plaster heads of Meg to bloggers and attendees of Tennessee’s Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival. ‘The Meg heads,’ ‘reward flyers,’ and ‘Meg missing’ posters appeared all over the event. People latched on to the gag and snapped mobile cam photos which ended up all over Facebook and Twitter.


The PA Stories campaign was more than just a contest. It was a barrage of creative traditional media, promotions, and targeted social media all supported by charming and well produced content. The net result is Pennsylvania tourism has become the number one state tourism marketing firm in the U.S. according to Gammet Interactive.

For more on social media powered contests, read Spark’s articles ’10 Creative Contests Powered by Social Media’ on Mashable and ’20 Expert Tips on Running a Contest Powered by Social Media’ on Spark Minute.