Using Contests and Giveaways to Increase Forum Traffic

JulieVA

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Update: 2013

We still do giveaways.

We do them once a month using rafflecopter.

The observations I shared before still stands:

For the parenting / family niche, there are many people who scour the Internet for contests, giveaways, free samples, coupons, etc. and they only do exactly what is needed to get what you have to offer. Some try to cheat with their contest / giveaway entries.

Traffic increases during giveaways; however, most of the traffic is transient.

A few new members do join the community & become active.

We still think that the giveaways are part of a larger PR campaign to increase our exposure to the people in our niche. The focus remains on the other site activities which go towards content creation and community building.
 

T3chn0

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... and they only do exactly what is needed to get what you have to offer.
I've found similar results in my niche as well, however like you said, it's still worthwhile in the long-run.

You can also try to engage new members during the contest period as well and that helps a bit with getting them to stay longer. And by that I'm talking about sending them a brief PM asking them what they think of the site and so forth.

Also, a misconception I had when I first did these things was that the winner would probably stick around and that's not necessarily true.
 

shawnhartwell

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If contests and giveaways aren't great for actually building the community, where is my money better spent? Advertising? Plugins? Or is sending money only useful for say hiring content creators. What about if your a small website with not much to offer in terms of pay to staff? Sorry for so many will questions.
 

T3chn0

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Well I wouldn't say they're completely ineffective as they can lead to some long term engagement but it would be rather unrealistic to expect significant results. You also don't have to spend a lot either. If you have a spare gift card you could use that as a prize and if you have a say $50 denomination, most retailers will let you buy smaller denominations with that same card. So that $50 card could turn into 5 $10 or even 10 $5 cards which means multiple contests.

You could even offer some of your services as a prize if it's relevant to your community.
 

JulieVA

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If contests and giveaways aren't great for actually building the community, where is my money better spent? Advertising? Plugins? Or is sending money only useful for say hiring content creators.
Contest and giveaways alone will not build a community, but they can help get your name out there. They are a part of all the activities you use to build your community.

You need to have a whole host of things you're doing to build a community.

What about if your a small website with not much to offer in terms of pay to staff? Sorry for so many will questions.
Lots of people here & other admin sites will work for free. I see it all the time.

I'm offering pay & people say: Well that's not enough pay for me. Others are desperate for the job. It all depends.
 

JulieVA

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Also, a misconception I had when I first did these things was that the winner would probably stick around and that's not necessarily true.
In my experience, unless the winner was already a member they do NOT stick around - and the size of the prize doesn't matter.

Contests & Giveaways are meant to make use of the concept of viral marketing to attract web traffic and feed into some other goal for a site. So a forum owner needs to really think about the goal for any event thery run.

My reasons for doing the giveaways include - (and these are not in order of importance, nor are they applicable to every giveaway I run...)
1) member rewards
2) name recognition in the niche
3) increase social media numbers
(# 2 & 3 are closely linked)
4) assist a start-up company...help spread the word about their product / service

In my experience - in general the people who enter giveaways are simply looking for freebeis, cash, and prizes on the Internet. These folks are generally not interested in info exchange, community, or the deep exploration of topics / issues which tends to occur on a forum. Some people make entering contests & giveaways a hobby and they even have separate twtter / facebook accounts dedicated to entering contests and giveaways. This could serve to negate what you hope to accomplish with your event.

Basically, your contest / giveaway is not attracting a lot of people with an interest in "community"- you're attracting people with an interest in winning cash & prizes. The word about your contest / giveaway doesn't get to their "real" friends because they don't enter your contest / giveaway with a social media account which connects to anyone else in their lives. Example: https://twitter.com/lmonte80 Look at that person's tweets. Any traffic brought in from this account would likely be more of the same - people who want to win cash & prizes.

So ... the result is - in general, for every 30 to 40 people who enter a giveaway, you may get ONE to THREE active members.

So, the giveaways do have value, but it's the useful site content and the other projects I work on for my site which really feeds into community building.
 

DirtRider

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I will always focus any price towards my established members and not try and attract one time members into this. If a person is attracted by the fact that we give back to our community they need to become part of it first. So by the time they are able to partake in any give away they are then established into the community, most times they then have ties with other members and tend to stick around.
 

JulieVA

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I will always focus any price towards my established members and not try and attract one time members into this. If a person is attracted by the fact that we give back to our community they need to become part of it first. So by the time they are able to partake in any give away they are then established into the community, most times they then have ties with other members and tend to stick around.

Yours was the mindset I began with. :)

If you're open to learning & adjusting, you'll change your philosophy over time. It all depends on how much you enjoy hitting your head against a brick wall.

Good luck.
 

JulieVA

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Update: Trying something new... A giveaway marketed only to fathers / men. This aligns with Father's Day being this month. We've also been doing a lot of Social Media messaging aimed at fathers / men. The response to the giveaway has been smaller than the others, but a few more males have joined the site. Giveaway ends in a few days. I'll post another update @ the end :)
 

nelsa1412

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Dec 17, 2013
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Well we are lunching giveways once or simetimes twice in month ,last time I give some google adwords 100$ cupons ,I'm geting few of these cupons every month and I can't use it because I'm geting it from US providers and cupons are valid only for US/Canada but I got great response at that giveway,seems every one want these cupons ,well you must already spent 25$ to use it but still i had great response.Few days ago I start another giveway,I have 5 un used com and info domains ,one is PR3 and I decide it to start giveway ,domains are valid for next 8-9 months and names are good and short so I'm expecting good response from this giveway also.
In short,there is always something to give and users love giveways even sometimes it is only few bucks worth bit still I geting good response everytime I lunch some giveway.
 

JulieVA

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Results from the giveaway aimed at males, only a small amount of activity from this.
 

JulieVA

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Update 2015:

We do giveaways once a month only using rafflecopter.

Observations
  • For the parenting / family niche, there are many people who search the Internet for contests, giveaways, free samples, coupons, etc. and MOST of THEM try to cheat with their contest / giveaway entries - They claim entries for actions they do not take.
  • Traffic increases during giveaways; however, most of the traffic is transient.
  • Giveaways can increase your site's bounce rate.
  • The percentage of people who become active members when they've joined the forum for a giveaway is low - about 3.3%...or 1 in 30 giveaway participants.
  • The winner of the giveaway typically does not become an active member if they only joined the forum for the giveaway
I still think that the giveaways are part of a larger PR campaign to increase our exposure to the people in your niche. My focus remains on the other site activities which go towards content creation and community building.
 

JulieVA

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Dec 18, 2009
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Update 2016:

I've decided to do giveaways every other month using rafflecopter. the following is still true:

Observations
  • For the parenting / family niche, there are many people who search the Internet for contests, giveaways, free samples, coupons, etc. and MOST of THEM try to cheat with their contest / giveaway entries - They claim entries for actions they do not take.
  • Traffic increases during giveaways; however, most of the traffic is transient.
  • Giveaways can increase your site's bounce rate.
  • The percentage of people who become active members when they've joined the forum for a giveaway is low - about 3.3%...or 1 in 30 giveaway participants.
  • The winner of the giveaway typically does not become an active member if they only joined the forum for the giveaway

I've found that engaging people on Twitter is still THE mot effective way for me to get new & active members. Rather than doing the giveaways each month, I'm doing them every other month & focusing more on content + Social Media outreach to interested parties. I may eventually do them every two months. It saves money.

I'm currently working on installing a package to enable registrations and log ins with Twitter FB LinkedIn & Microsoft. I'd like to see the same functionality with Instagram Pinterest & G+, but it isn't available right now.

Current Social Media stats:
  • Twitter 17,078
  • Facebook 5,973
  • Pinterest 1,586
  • G+ 161 (new account)
  • Instagram 76 (new account)
 

Digital Doctor

Tazmanian
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May 16, 2012
Messages
4,703
I've found that engaging people on Twitter is still THE mot effective way
What if you could "tweet" guests on your site ... how would you think that could work ?

What I mean is .. what if you could "message" guests reading your forum .... ie to volunteer to help them with what they are looking for.

Think that would be "high yield" ?

I'm not saying it's really possible ... but wondering if you felt it would be useful.
 

JulieVA

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I tried a mod with that functionality. People did not respond well to it.
 
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