First things first. You need to make sure that everyone you know on social media and in real life is aware that they can and should vote for you. Just be brazen and ask them to. Make sure you include the right link with your request – that way they can vote quickly and easily. Also ask people to ask their friends and social connections to vote for you. Making good use of your immediate network will help you get off to the best possible start.
You’ve asked everyone you know to vote for you, what’s next?
Achieving votes from people you’re not personally connected with can be quite a challenge. People ultimately make their decisions based on how they feel, so it’s important to get across how your idea could make a difference to their lives.
Look at it from an outsider’s perspective and ask yourself the question ‘why should they care?’.
Everyone responds better to a story than a list of reasons to vote for you, in fact, studies have shown people are far more likely to remember stories over facts. There are plenty of stories you could tell.
How did you get started? What was the inspiration for your idea? What will it mean if you win and whose lives will it change?
These are stories that could really encourage social audiences to empathise with you and ultimately give you their vote.
Finding key influencers
To increase your chances of success you need to find people who will care about your entry and identify the communities who’ll be affected by your idea. Luckily, there are a number of ways to seek out these people.
Try using a free tool like BuzzSumo, which allows you to find the most shared content and key influencers on any topic.
As an example, Access Champ, who help hotels to become more accessible for disabled people, would search for terms such as ‘hotels’ or ‘disabled access’ to find the most influential people talking about these topics. This would then give them a list of people and organisations to reach out to about their VOOM entry.
Other ways to find your key influencers include participating in Twitter chats, searching relevant hashtags on Twitter and Instagram, setting up Google alerts and even just some good old-fashioned online research. Once you’ve tracked down the right influencers, use the techniques detailed in this video to get their attention. Hopefully they’ll be willing to share your content and promote your VOOM entry.
Turning social success into votes
Here are few things to consider when campaigning for votes on the different networks.
– If you have a Facebook Page set up for your business or idea, as little as £1 can make difference to the reach of your posts. So if you’ve created a post that’s performing well and receiving plenty of interaction, consider paying to promote it to really increase the amount of potential voters you reach.
– If you’re sharing a video in the hopes of winning votes, bear in mind a lot of people watch videos on Facebook with the sound off, so you may have to be more visual. Try holding up cards with key text on it so you’re not reliant on people hearing your voice.
– Consider changing your profile and cover photos to something that will raise awareness of your VOOM entry (you can do this on other networks like Twitter too).
– Consider a Promoted Tweet which could be shown to everyone following an account relevant to your VOOM idea. As an example, Access Champ, a disabled access consultancy for the hospitality sector might choose to target their tweets at everyone following industry publication The Caterer. Alternatively, if you were in the position of last year’s finalists, Cauli Rice, you might target people following lifestyle publications.
– Tag other accounts in your tweets to ask them personally if they’ll take a look at your idea and consider voting for it or sharing with others. It’s much harder to ignore a personalised tweet like this. Tweet the people who could be impacted by your idea. In Access Champ’s case they might choose to tweet hoteliers or disability associations and charities. For 2015 VOOM entrants Appy Parking, they might have got in touch with high-profile users to ask them for support.
– Research whether there any Twitter chats relevant to your entry. These can be a great way to connect with new potential voters. It could be a Twitter chat for your local area or one with a theme like #tourismhour. Look in to what’s out there, then get involved.
– Change the link on your bio page to your VOOM voting link. This is essential because Instagram doesn’t allow links in its posts. Makes sure that you mention the link to vote for you is on your bio page in any images you post.
– Always use hashtags relevant to your VOOM entry and post content. As you type in a hashtag Instagram will tell you how popular it is. It’s best to use hashtags that are both popular, so that users who follow the hashtags interact with your posts when they see them in the feed, and relevant to your VOOM entry, so people don’t feel misled after they click through.
– Be timely with your posts, if an issue relevant to your entry makes is making headlines why not prepare a short video (15 seconds for Instagram) to address it? Use the hashtags associated with the story to help your post be found. In Access Champ’s case – they focused on the recent calls from the House of Lords to close hotels with no disabled access, to highlight their mission of helping hotels. A company like Cauli Rice might try and attach their content to news stories relating to health issues or dieting.
– Consider signing up to LinkedIn Premium (or registering for a free trial) which allows you to send InMail (direct messages) to people you’re not already connected to. You could write to people who might benefit from your idea and ask if they’d consider voting or sharing your idea. You should already have a strong idea of the kinds of jobs done by people who will be interested in your product, so take advantage of LinkedIn’s search function to track down the right people. Remember though, LinkedIn is usually at its most powerful when you can get an introduction from a mutual connection.
– You can tag people on LinkedIn just like you can with Facebook and Twitter. Try using this function to thank people for voting or ask them to share your entry.
– Make use of LinkedIn Pulse and write a persuasive blog telling your story and what winning will mean, not just to you but to the lives of others. Everyone you’re connected to on LinkedIn will get a notification informing them that you’ve published a post – so give it a powerful title.
– No doubt you’re aware of how persuasive video can be, but did you know YouTube is the second largest search engine and the third most visited website worldwide, behind only Google and Facebook respectively. This means there’s a huge audience of potential voters to reach. Just make sure you use relevant key words in your video description and title to help your video to be found.
– Subscribers to your YouTube channel will often get a smart phone notification every time you add a video, prompting them to go and watch it. This can be useful for encouraging entries at key times.
– Make sure you give the video a powerful and persuasive title such as “Why voting for Access Champ could be life changing for people living with disabilities”.
Time, effort and measurement
For a truly persuasive campaign you have to put the time into creating content for regular social posts. Create a content calendar so that posting frequently doesn’t feel like quite such daunting task. You can learn more about developing a content calendar in this guide from Econsultancy. There are also some free templates in there that you can use.
Share your updates and achievements as they happen and thank your followers to ensure they feel like part of the story. Try to ensure you keep up with and respond to any interactions to encourage conversation around your entry.
Get to know your followers on each platform and try to tailor what you’re posting – you want to be able to grow a community that will support your idea throughout the competition and beyond.
Measuring and learning what works well will really help you too. If you’ve seen an increase in votes, look at the social media posts you’ve recently created and what can be learnt from them.
Consider the time of day you posted, the amount of text used, the type of images and more – examine everything and why it worked. Both Facebook and Twitter will give you access to analytics where you can find useful insights such as how many clicks a something you’ve posted has had. From looking at these you can start to build up an idea of what sort of content is most persuasive.
Good luck with your entry and remember there’s more social media advice on the 123 Reg blog.