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How to create a photo-voting contest

An image is worth a thousand words, as the saying goes. Images are among the most engaging types of online content — just look at the success of Instagram, which focuses solely on visuals. Even on more text-based social media platforms like Facebook, images tend to take center stage.

Businesses can use the power of images to their advantage by incorporating them into their marketing strategy. Hosting photo-voting contests in particular is a great way to capture an audience’s attention.

Not only can a contest help you build brand awareness, but you can also use it to help build up a library of user-generated content for your brand. In addition, you can use photo-voting contests to gain more insights about what kinds of images your audience is drawn to.

In this article, we look at how to create a photo-voting contest for your organization, with step-by-step instructions that make the process easier.

How to create a photo-voting contest

1. Clarify your goals

“This may sound obvious, but first you should decide what type of photo-voting contest you want to run,” says Noel Griffith, CMO of SupplyGem, a website that reviews digital business platforms. “There are many different types, including creative contests, themed contests, and even popularity contests. Think about what type of contest would best fit your brand and target audience.”

The key step in how to create a photo-voting contest is to identify the goals you want to achieve with this project. The goals you identify will help you make decisions about the contest, such as how to promote it and what the rules are for participation. Common goals include increasing brand awareness, building up user-generated content, finding brand ambassadors, or promoting a new offering.

While you can have multiple goals for the photo-voting contest, it’s best to stick to just one or two so you can really focus your strategy on achieving them. For example, if your organization is launching a new product such as a designer raincoat, your photo contest could ask users to send in photos of themselves dancing in the rain. The strategy for the contest should revolve around the goal you want to achieve.

2. Narrow down the target audience

This step is key. While your organization may have multiple audiences, it’s not likely that all your audience segments will want to participate in your photo-voting contest. Determine which segment of your organization’s audience the contest will appeal to — for example, women ages 18–25 who live in a major metropolitan city.

Knowing your target audience will help you determine how best to promote the contest as well as what types of photos you’ll require. If your target audience is professional photographers, for example, you’ll likely have different standards for the photo submissions than if your audience is simply a group of consumers taking pictures with their smartphones.

3. Figure out the details

“Provide incentives for people to vote,” says Griffith. “This could be anything from coupons to discounts or even a special prize. This will encourage participation and lead to more votes.”

In this stage, you’ll need to answer some important questions:

  • How will people submit their photos?
  • When will the contest take place?
  • What will the prize be for the winner?
  • How many winners will you have?
  • Will the audience pick the prize?
  • How will people vote?
  • Who owns the photos after the contest?
  • Which photo formats will be accepted?

Be sure to consider the key goal you’ve set as well as your target audience when determining these rules.

For example, if your goal is to increase brand awareness, then having users share their favorite photo on social media may be the best way to increase your reach. You might also decide that you’ll choose a winner based on the number of shares — for instance, the photo that gets the most shares on a specific platform wins the prize. This not only gets users involved, but it also helps lots of people see your contest — and, by extension, your brand.

“Make sure you have a clear plan for how the contest will be structured,” says Griffith. “This should include the length of the contest, the prizes, the rules for submission and voting, and any other guidelines. Make sure all of this information is easy to access so contestants understand what they are signing up for.”

4. Hone the marketing strategy

Figure out the best way to promote the photo contest, whether it’s through a website, social media, email newsletters, SMS marketing, or some combination of these tactics. There are many ways you can get the contest in front of your target audience, and it’s best to use a multi-pronged strategy.

“Promote your contest widely and make sure it’s visible across all your marketing channels,” says Griffith. “This will help you reach more potential participants and drive engagement.”

Keep in mind that your messaging for the contest should be connected to your overarching goals. For example, if the main goal is to gain new brand ambassadors, you could promote a separate prize for the user who shares the most photos.

5. Build the photo-voting contest

Choosing the best technology to support the photo-voting contest is essential so that you can avoid any logistical obstacles and focus on running the contest. Opt for a platform that offers features like online forms for users to register for the contest and agree to the rules and regulations.

Consider how the users will submit the photos and whether there are any limitations on formats and file sizes. You’ll also need a way for users to vote for their favorite photo and a way to track votes.

If sharing photos on social media is a big part of the contest, then you’ll need the ability to track how many times people share the photo, where they share it, and who shares it. Also, ensure the software you choose is secure, so that you don’t need to worry about data theft.

6. Promote the contest

Once the preparations are complete, it’s time to share the news of the contest with your target audience by executing your multimedia marketing strategy. Sharing updates throughout the contest is also a great way to get people involved.

For example, at the end of every day or every week, you can post an update about which photo is currently in the lead. Another idea is to share the top five photos or the most unique shot from each day.

These types of ongoing marketing tactics appeal to those who’ve already submitted a photo or voted for one. They may be interested in sharing the results with people in their social circle and encouraging them to cast more votes.

7. Hold a retrospective

“Make sure you have a plan in place to track results and measure success,” says Griffith. “This will help you understand what worked and what didn’t so that you can improve your next contest.”

Once the contest is over, don’t forget to review how it went with your team. Use key performance indicators to determine whether you reached the goals you set. For example, if the goal was to increase brand awareness, measure how many new unique visitors went to your website before, during, and after the contest.

Determine what you could have improved — was it in the strategy or the execution? Knowing how you could do things differently is important so you can apply that knowledge to your next contest.

Jotform: How to create a photo-voting contest with ease

Unsure about the logistics of creating a photo contest? Try Jotform! Jotform provides an easy way for you to create a smooth and effective photo-voting contest so you can increase brand awareness, stimulate user-generated content, build a loyal following of customers, and more.

No matter the specifics of your contest, you won’t have to create every aspect of it from the ground up — Jotform has all the bases covered. It comes with many contest registration form templates, and they’re all fully customizable. Just edit the text, design, and visuals until you have the perfect form.

You can also use Jotform as a voting tool. You’ll find many intuitive and easy-to-use voting templates available. Plus, with Jotform Report Builder, you can tabulate votes as they arrive in real time, so you can always see who’s in the lead. Give Jotform a try today and see how easy it can be to pull off a successful photo-voting contest for your business.

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