Thursday, July 23, 2009

Vote For Your Friend's Lavish Lifestyle

A common theme lately is the marketing contest that asks you to engage your social network. A couple months back it was Maserati trying to get friends and family to vote for your garage so you could win a photo shoot with Architectural Digest. This time around it is Lexus generating awareness for their new luxury hybrid the 250h. But instead of some fame in a magazine spread, Lexus' grand prize winner will get the keys to a 250h for a full year.

So what's this all about?

The new contest idea is to get one person to enter the contest and then promote their entry in the contest by socially "advertising" their entry by getting their friends to vote for them. The early adopters of this approach are the photo contests. Over the past several years I have received a mountain of vote for my kid or pet requests from those in my social network. Well now automotive brands are adopting this vote for me and I can win something tactic.

From a brand's perspective, why just do the standard sweepstakes entry form when you can now tap into someone's social media network. It's better to get out into the social media environment through sites like Facebook where people probably have a similar demographic makeup with their network. This way, as a brand, getting one entry into a contest becomes a way to get their friends to visit your site, which generates awareness for your product, to a broader audience. It's a very attractive approach for marketers who are always trying to increase views and engagement on their websites.

Lexus has decided to follow this approach to promote their new hybrid. I noticed the contest from a post a former coworker of mine had on his Facebook news feed. He had a link to his entry for him to win a Lexus.

What really caught my eye though was the first comment someone left for him. "You kiddin'? More spam for you, no lexus for me? I don't think so!" This is what has always bothered me about the vote for me giveaway contests. What's in it for the voters?

To vote for your friend you must register your name and email on the Lexus 250h site. Sure you can check the box to not receive communications from Lexus, but this still creates a barrier for many and people still don't feel that comfortable leaving their contact information when their is no benefit for them.

Also, in a time now when luxury living is becoming less socially acceptable there is a concern that vote for me to get luxury item x is a bit of a repulsive proposition when your social network may have lost a job or home to foreclosure recently.

One ploy that does lessen the luxury-pampering stigma is when users or brands tie in some kind of charitable element to the contest. One Lexus 250h contestant claims she will give half of her financial benefit if she wins to a charitable organization. This way your contest voters are now doing something beneficial for all, not just for their friend who wants a luxury car.

Charitable pleas are rare, leaving the question: What's in it for your voters? This is the one fatal flaw of the approach. That may not matter though if the social media outreach is getting your product in front of others radar. And to that point, my former co-worker’s entry into the Lexus contest definitely made me aware of the contest and the vehicle which may not have happened through the typical banner ad.

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