– and its Growth through Social Media!
In September 2008, we established the “Frame My Future” Scholarship Contest as a way to give back to college students during tough economic times. This philanthropic venture gave us the opportunity to strengthen Church Hill Classics’ exposure and establish a stronger social network with our target audience.
The entire program was supported by our use of social media – Facebook, Twitter, reaching out to bloggers, using our own blog, and even creating a custom module for our website where people could vote for their favorite contest submission.
The program was conceived and driven by a combination of our internal web marketing staff, our online marketing partner, KoMarketing Associates, and our Website development company, Synthenet Corporation.
The national scholarship contest asked students to submit a “creation” on an 8.5″ x 11″ piece of paper that expressed their personal and professional vision of life after college. The space could be used to create a photograph, essay, collage, drawing, painting, or other creative pieces to communicate: This is how I “Frame My Future.”
Early on we realized an unexpected hurdle – an overwhelming response! The amount of entries far exceeded the number we had originally anticipated. As time went on and the word spread about our unique scholarship opportunity, the number of daily entries received grew tremendously. We were receiving links from scholarship and education related sites and blogs, and a lot of traffic was driven to us from the popular scholarship search site, Scholarships.com. Their website even posted a blog about our scholarship, naming it as a Scholarship of the Week.
Throughout the entry period, we featured submissions in photo albums on our Church Hill Classics page on Facebook. Facebook fans were able to tag their entry, comment on their favorites, and it provided a fun way for students to check out the entries competing against theirs! Viewing entries online also appeared to be inspiring for others to create and submit their own.
The process and management was challenging because of this great response. We were receiving so many online submissions as well as mail-ins, which had to be scanned to post online. After a seven month entry period, over 3,300 entries were submitted from all across the country.
This led us to work with our web developers, Synthenet, to create a custom, online contest module for our website. Overall, we needed a more manageable process for contests, and desired voting capabilities, so we could have the public get involved and decide our winners! The module was created with multiple phases which will streamline the process for future contests:
• online entry period – an online entry can be submitted, and we would just need to review and approve before posting it on our site.
• public voting – a display of the finalist entries, where the public can vote for their favorite.
• feature winning entries – once the contest is over, it permanently displays the winning entries, as well as a link to display the finalists.
We had the voting capabilities for this past “Frame My Future” Scholarship, and Church Hill Classics employees selected 24 Finalists that moved onto the one month public voting phase. The public votes determined our five winners, as we awarded each a $1,000 scholarship, as well as a $1,000 donation to the school of the top vote-getter, on their behalf.
|Image © Microsoft Office|
The number of votes the finalists received had everything to do with how well they marketed themselves. The finalists were encouraged to contact their local newspapers, TV stations, school, as well as use today’s social media and networking resources such as Facebook, Twitter, My Space and Blogs to connect with people and get the vote out for their entry. Church Hill Classics also used these online social media tools to stay connected to the finalists, their friends and families, and the media.
An unexpected benefit from our scholarship contest was the amount of traffic it brought to our site, the company’s successful launch into the social media world, and overall the scholarship’s huge success! The contest buzz delivered record traffic to the diplomaframe.com website, connected nearly 900 fans on Facebook, and created a presence on Twitter to share other scholarship and education related information. We also received many valuable inbound links to our site, as bloggers talked about out scholarship, and scholarship search engines were linking to us for students to apply. Even more traffic was delivered from local press coverage about our Finalists. In fact, our Grand Prize Winner’s school sent out an email blast to their entire student body, alumni and staff to visit our site and vote for his entry.
We are excited about our new contest module, which came about from this new scholarship program. It will be utilized for future contests on our website, including our next scholarship and some other smaller scale photo contests. The “Frame My Future” Scholarship Contest will be back again and open for new entries beginning on September 30, 2009. This upcoming scholarship contest will be open to students who will be attending college for the 2010-2011 academic year! Anyone can sign up to receive more information about the program when it is available by filling out an online form at http://www.diplomaframe.com/ScholarshipInformation.cfm
We are ready to receive more inspiring entries this year!
If you are thinking about running a contest for your business or organization, check out these great resources:
- 10 Creative Contests Powered by Social Media
- 20 Expert Tips on Running a Contest Powered by Social Media