From voter fraud and security guards, to payment processors and hosting, there a few things you should know about online contests before you get started
Running a contest is a great way to create buzz around a new product, gather customer info, or even raise money. Today, there’s no better way to run a contest than doing so online. The days of paper ballots, geographic restrictions, and manual vote counting are over. Sweepstakes, contests, and competitions can all be managed online in an effective and efficient manner. If you wanted, you could open a contest and begin receiving entries from around the globe in a matter of minutes. But before you get up-and-running, it’s important to know the ins and outs of your online contest software.
At WizeHive, we get questions from people looking to run online competitions every single day – whether that be a video contest, photo contest, essay contest, or even a facebook contest. Here’s our list of the 7 questions you need to know the answer to before you get started. After reading this you’ll know what to expect and can make an informed decision that will leave you ready to run a successful contest.
1. Where will my contest entry form be hosted? What about the voting stage, where does that take place?
For some managers, choosing contest software that can be integrated on their website is ideal. Hosting the contest entry form right on your website is optimal for a few reasons: 1.) People who are visiting your site are already interested in whatever it is you do, having a contest visible to them will help increase the number of entries and shares you get from your core followers right off the bat, 2.) Directing interested participants to your site is a great way for them to learn more about your organization, 3.) You’ll have complete control over design, and how the contest will look aesthetically if it’s on your site, and 3.) You won’t have to worry about the accessibility of a third party site – if the contest is on your site, you’re in complete control. With an iframe (using just a few simple lines of code), a contest entry form can be seamlessly embed on your site; it couldn’t be easier!
The same goes for voting pages. When the entry period of your online sweepstakes or contest is over, the voting can also be conducted right on your site. If you’d prefer not to have the contest on your site, don’t worry, entry forms and voting pages can also be embedded on Facebook or a separate microsite. Ironically, we have found that users actually engage in more social sharing when the entry/voting portals are held on the website – we haven’t done any testing around this but our general feeling is that users don’t feel the need to share to Facebook when they are already viewing on the site as opposed to when they are at a separate location.
2. My program requires contestants to upload a file (or two) with their entry, what types of files are accepted on my system? Also, is there a maximum size for file uploads that my system allows?
Compatibility… compatibility… compatibility! A system that is flexible in terms of which types of files it accepts will make your and your entants’ lives easier. For instance, say you are running a photo contest. With an array of image file types that your contestants could choose to submit (from JPG’s to GIF’s to PNG’s), there are numerous file types that you’ll want to make sure that can be submitted. Leaving out any one type of file could cost you entries.
Online video contests are one of the best ways to create buzz and engagement among entrants. Using WizeHive as your contest platform, you can integrate with YouTube, however that is not where the videos are hosted. They are hosted through our servers (using the Amazon cloud), so the videos will essentially be streaming from the cloud. The videos are played using Flowplayer which accepts nearly all file types, including Flash Video (.flv), MPEG-4 (.mp4), Quicktime (.mov), Windows Media Video (.wmv). All file types are converted to a .mov file so that all files can easily be displayed, played, and exported.
Especially when requiring contestants to upload multiple files to coincide with their entry, it’s necessary to find a system that allows for either unlimited file uploads or an upload limit that will work for both parties. We typically recommend limiting the size of any file to 250MB, as anything higher than that will take some time for contestants to upload on a typical Internet connection – but bigger file sizes can certainly be uploaded.
3. Who owns the information submitted as a part of my program?
Especially when contestants are submitting information and other intellectual property as a part of your contest, the issue of who owns that information must be addressed. Some online contest software may try to take this information and use it for their own purposes. At WizeHive, the answer to this question is simple… you own the information during the entire duration of your program. You have complete ownership of any data, we just provide the platform used to submit the entry and host whatever information is submitted. This is definitely something you’ll want to research as you continue your search for online contest software.
4. Is social sharing something I should/ can take advantage of with my program?
Depending on your program, you may want to let users share their entry. Some contest management software integrates sharing capabilities right within their system. This is definitely a cool feature to look for if you’re thinking about giving users the option to share their entries or encourage others to make a submission or vote as well! At WizeHive, we use ShareThis which allows users to share with over 80 social media outlets including Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Reddit. Social sharing can be a great way to rope in extra entries, increase participation, and widen reach so be sure to look for a platform that has some type of social integration.
5. Can my contest entry form be accessed on a mobile device?
According to Marketing Forecast, more than half of the total time spent on the Internet today is done so on a mobile device. There’s a good chance that someone trying to enter your contest or vote for a submission is going to do so on their phone, tablet, or other mobile device. Choosing a platform to host your contest that can be accessed on-the-go will not only increase the number of entries you see, but should also contribute to the number of times your contest is shared. WizeHive has been designed to display properly through mobile browsers. The contest entry form can be accessed from any browser (Internet Explorer, Safari, Firefox, Chrome) on any device.
6. I want to accept paid entries, what type of payment processors are compatible with my system?
Using a pay-per-vote platform for your online contest is a great way to raise additional money for your fundraiser or to help justify the cost of a giveaway. For convenience, it is best to use contest software that is compatible with numerous payment processors, this way your contestants can choose the processor that’s best for them. The following payment processors are compatible with WizeHive:
Sterling Payment Technologies
7. What about voter fraud prevention and application security, that’s important too, right?
Absolutely; in our previous blog entry, Application Security and Reliable Uptime: A Recipe for Success, application security was discussed at length. WizeHive uses industry standard security measures to protect against the loss and misuse of information within our control, as follows:
Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encryption is used to protect names, passwords, and all other information transmitted to or from WizeHive to ensure the protection of your data.
Passwords used to access WizeHive are only stored in an encrypted form and are therefore not retrievable by WizeHive or any other third party. (In case you need a new password we will generate and send you one that you can subsequently change).
WizeHive is hosted in a secured environment with 24 X 7 monitoring, surveillance and support to prevent unauthorized access and data security. Advanced security measures including firewalls, security guards and surveillance are taken to ensure the continued service and protection of your data.
WizeHive has set extreme measures in place to help prevent voter fraud. Along with each submission, both personal information and their computer’s IP address are checked by our system to determine whether the vote is potentially fraudulent. If potential voter fraud is detected, voters will be asked for additional information in addition to having a CAPTCHA appear. We take voter fraud very serious, and do everything within our power to help prevent it.