|Screenshot of our new timeline page w/cover photo|
About the photo contest
Tomorrow's Facebook deadline to switch to the timeline format prompted all of this. We needed a 'cover photo' and I was inspired by a colleague's work to crowdsource for submissions to fill that space.
We received almost 40 entries.
Considering there was no monetary prize associated with it — just the opportunity to be featured on the front page of our paper — that's a pretty good response.
The voting process
We set up an album on Facebook and uploaded the photos as our very first board on Pinterest.
On Facebook, we had a total of 581 votes — that's more engagement on any one topic than we've ever had before.
We also saw our number of likes for the page increase by 64 over a one-week period. Average growth for the page is usually somewhere around 30 new likes a week, so that was a good boost. Plus, in the first 24 hours after the album was posted, we saw likes to our page increase by about 30 — awesome, considering that's an average week's worth of growth.
The Pinterest board generated 34 repins and when the contest was done, we'd gained 15 followers to the account.
We still have a lot of work to do on Pinterest, but it's a good first step.
Promoting the voting
Votes began adding up as soon as the album was posted to Facebook, but we took some extra steps to promote it as well.
First, I sent an email to everyone who submitted a photo. I gave them links to the Facebook album and Pinterest board and also provided bit.ly links if they wanted to Tweet or promote it in on other social networks, like Twitter.
At the end of the email, I encouraged them to browse our Facebook wall. Note that I did not ask for likes, but instead talked about why the Facebook page is important to us.
Here's the text:
ONLINELastly, I'd like to encourage everyone to take a moment after voting to browse through our Facebook wall. This page has become a great way for us to interact with our readers — we post stories and photos (though we're cautious not to overdo it!) and find great value in the feedback we get from people. A newspaper's job is not just to disseminate news and information, but to foster discussions about the important issues facing our communities. We hope you'll join those discussions. Feel free to share information of your own with us too — be it a photo, request for a story, news tip or just a question.
We wrote a story that included links to voting on both social networks. I also put all the photos into a video slideshow. Two weeks later, the video is still one of the most viewed on our website. Today, it's ranked as the ninth most viewed since the day it was uploaded and has had a total of 267 views.
It was already on Facebook and easy to reshare the link to the album. On Twitter, we Tweeted out the link to the web story so the audience could both learn about the contest, view submissions on the slideshow and get direct access to both the Facebook album and Pinterest board by links provided in the story.
The story for the web also ran in print. We included QR codes for smartphone users to go directly to the Facebook album and Pinterest link.
The bit.ly links provided in the email and used in Tweets were the same links that generated the QR code, so we can't distinguish between who clicked the link from the email I sent vs. Twitter vs. who used the QR code.
|The winning photo|
A 16-year-old high school student named Katie Musser won for her photo of a calf photographed at an educational farm. In her entry, Katie wrote: “I think this photo shows Oakland County because of all the farms and activities that people can do out in Oakland County. Everyone, nowadays, wants to be outside and enjoy life with the family. Going to a farm for a day is a great way to show the family what life was like back when everything was farm land.”
A lesson learned
We should've specified that only horizontal photos would be considered for the contest. The reason? The Facebook cover photo needs to be horizontal.
Luckily, our second place winner, Stephanie Campion, submitted a great horizontal shot of her daughter feeding two birds out her hand at a local park.
|Second place photo|
Our solution was to feature Katie's photo on the front page of our print edition, while Stephanie's picture would win the cover photo slot. Both are happy with that.
What this says about Oakland County
I really appreciate the general message expressed by not just the photos of the two winners, but by the majority of photos that were submitted — Oakland County is a place that people live in and appreciate for its natural beauty and opportunities to get outdoors and enjoy it.
Check out all the amazing photos Oakland County shutterbugs submitted: