Forum Promotion with Contests, a case study

One of the most difficult jobs of webmaster is getting a community site off the ground. Among the most successful methods of promoting a new forum is by running a contest. I’ve been following a contest put on by Lee Dodd to promote his new site, the Earners Forum.  Lee created the Earners Forum to bring together people interested in making money from websites.  The novelty of the forum is that Lee has set up private areas where people are grouped together based on their level of income.

To build buzz about his forum, Lee came up with an idea for a contest.   Typically, contests will have one winner, perhaps a second and third prize.  To make it more interesting, Lee has set up his contest to have five winners, each to receive the same prize.  I like the idea of more than one winner.  Particularly in this case where were there only one prize, and a frontrunner could discourage others from jumping in and making an attempt at the contest.  Randomly selecting a winner perhaps would have a similar effect, but in this case Lee has the contestants working toward the prize (more on that later).

So, what to give, what to give?  Money.  Obviously.  Lee states that he’s going to take a single day’s worth of his revenue, which is rounded to $5,000.  Split that five ways, and we have an even thousand for each of the five winners.  Could someone without deep pockets successfully use a contest to help with their launch?  Sure.  Lee is offering an hour’s worth of consultation to each winner, and, five websites, one to each winner, built up and optimized for Adsense.   This could be applicable to most any niche, as Lee is taking advantage of his skill in the topic to make value here.  But, we don’t stop there either.  Lee has assembled a number of co-sponsors for his contest.  I’m not privy to the exact arrangement, but generally you’d be offering the co-sponsor free advertising in exchange for goods or services to the contest winner.

Who will win?  The sixty-four thousand dollar question.  Or, to be more precise, the $4,072 question, as this is the value placed upon each of the five prizes.  Contestants earn points for several tasks.  Each of these tasks is something that is very relevant to building a forum.  Posts.  Recruiting new members.  Writing articles.  Spreading buzz through blog postings.  Each valued at a different point level, the five contestants with the most points at the end of the month win.

How well do contests work?  In this case, it’s working out very well for Lee and Earners Forum.  Earners Forum counts 870 members, and over ten thousand posts, less than a month into the forum’s existance.  I’ve rarely seen a forum take off that quickly.  Heck, most forums don’t even make it that far ever, let alone in a few weeks.  The conclusion?  I’m off to brainstorm some contests for my own forums!  Good luck Lee!  Point of disclosure, I’m moderating for Lee at Earners Forum.

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