A Super Social Media contest

I was reading USA Today on Monday (yes, I still get newsprint on my fingers) when I saw the headline: Super Bowl ads play to social media. It appeared that both Mercedes-Benz and Audi are giving away A BRAND NEW CAR!

I spent years in radio and not a day went by that I wasn’t trying to create a promotion for a client or to attract and engage listeners on our own behalf. And, I know from research that the top three prizes were always cash, cars and trips. So, the chance to win a new Benz or Audi certainly got my attention. They leapt the first hurdle of any promotion or contest – make the prize something people want.

The second hurdle is – make it easy to enter. This one is going to be quite the obstacle.

You see, in Mercedes case, here is what I have to do:

1) Like the Mercedes-Benz USA Facebook page. This is how you get the details to the contest.

2) Next, you have to apply via your Twitter account in order to be selected as a possible contestant. While easy to do, unless you have tens of thousands of followers it is unlikely you will be selected.

But wait, there’s more.

3) IF you are fortunate enough to be selected as one of the four finalists THEN you will go to New York, LA, Chicago or Tampa and THEN to drive to Dallas. Oh, don’t think for a minute this is some sort of Smokey & The Bandit type of deal. The rules are very clear that you have to obey all traffic laws. However, you have to do more than drive. You will also have to successfully hurdle a series of as-yet-unnamed challenges (think The Amazing Race). Oh, you’re not done yet. You also have to ‘fuel’ your drive with a constant barrage of tweets. The winner will be determined by some arcane combination of completed challenges and social media hits.

I’m already exhausted. For all this effort, the two winning team members get a new Benz.  The losers get to watch the Super Bowl. Hopefully, they get good seats.

There is no doubt that this will generate a level of social media buzz for Mercedes but by making the funnel for entry so narrow they are eliminating any sort of mass participation.

Audi, on the other hand, is taking a different approach with their Audi Inner Circle contest. While you won’t win A BRAND NEW CAR they are promising ‘glitzy’ trips and ‘other’ prizes. The hurdles for entry are much lower.

While complete details have yet (as of this writing) to be posted on Audi’s Facebook page or web site, it appears that the initial requirements for participation are relatively simple. They will award prizes to fans whose social-media posts are the most original and most numerous. So, if your thumbs are in shape and you’re feeling particularly clever – you have a chance at winning.

The contrast between these two contest is illustrative for you when you plan your social media promotions. While you’re not likely to give away A BRAND NEW CAR or a ‘glitzy’ trip – you can find prizes within your budget that your current and potential followers will find valuable.

Secondly, when constructing your contest keep it simple and the barriers for entry low. True, the prizes for the Mercedes contest are much, much better but the level of participation will be a fraction of Audi’s. Mercedes will generate more on-lookers because of the race component but Audi will have more people actually sending Audi’s message through the social media-verse.

The takeaway for those of us who compete on a much different level than these brands is simple – make your contests fun, worth your followers’ time and easy to understand and play.

Steve Allan

Social Media Specialist



About Steve Allan

I am a Social Media specialist uniquely focused on the management, messaging and marketing of social media platforms for non-profits and small businesses.
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One Response to A Super Social Media contest

  1. Dewg says:

    This is a great post, because it raises an issue that I think really plagues social media, in particular, but a lot of other advertising too these days. What benefit does Mercedes derive from this contest? Will this help sell automobiles? Will this add to their image as a luxury brand? Will it modernize their USP? From your description, it will irritate the heck out of many people — well, me, at least. I don’t know about you, but I am already completely sick of the never-ending barrage of messages from Facebook asking me to “Like” something someone else likes, and if I start getting thousands from Mercedes gamers, I’ll hate them every time I see one in the service bay.

    The idea of marketing is to engage me with the product and increase my emotional attachment to the brand.

    I thought the idea of social media was to engage in actual conversation with consumers, and brands, in an effort to (1) make the products better for those that use them; and (2) help forge an authentic bond with those who are most passionate about your products.

    How does this Mercedes contest accomplish any of that??

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