Social media contest lands college student his dream job

Some social media contests were all about money. This one was about helping a college student find a job.

What made this entry for the 2012 PR Daily Awards Best Executed Social Media Contest trump the competition?

Well, for starters, it resulted in a dream job for a college student. But the contest also brought a lot of new media attention to the PR firm.

Here’s how the story unfolded.

Affect is a public relations and social media firm in New York. To raise awareness about its brand and look for new employees, it launched “The New York Intern Project” in February 2011. It was a social media contest aimed at college students who wanted to start a career in public relations and social media. The contest was promoted on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Nick Stackhouse, who submitted Affect’s entry, says students were asked to submit a creative photo or video, along with a short biography and questionnaire. The contestants petitioned for votes and comments in an effort to secure placement in the next round, while using their own social media presence to drive buzz back to Affect and the contest.

Semifinalists advanced to the judging session, where they faced questions from the following people: Guy Kawasaki, founder of Alltop; Jessica Dicker, CNNMoney.com career writer; and Erica Swallow, Mashable editor. The judges narrowed down entries to three finalists, who were invited to New York for an in-person interview and to spend the day with the Affect team, Stackhouse says.

Affect had four goals throughout the contest—and was able to measure each one effectively. Stackhouse describes how:

Increase Affect’s brand awareness by creating a unique campaign and positioning the company as a thought leader:

  • Affect was featured in 13 national publications, secured three bylines and created an instructional webinar with WOMMA to educate others on “Tips and Best Practices for Running a Winning Online Contest.”
  • Affect discussed “How to Run a Winning Online Contest” in April 2012 at the PRSA Digital Impact Conference in New York.

Increase traffic to Affect’s website, blog and social media networks:

  • Affect’s website had an increase in traffic of 60 percent and page views of 56 percent.
  • Affect’s blog had a 46 percent traffic increase and 50 percent increase in page views.
  • The contest website had a total of 109,000 page views.
  • The Facebook fan page grew by 563 percent and saw a combination of 180 comments and “likes.”
  • Affect’s Twitter followers grew by 36 percent.

Expand Affect’s network of potential employees:

  • Ninety-six contestants entered and garnered 14,360 votes and 165 entry comments throughout the contest.
  • Affect has encouraged continued interaction by creating a LinkedIn group for contestants and friends.

Hire an extraordinary summer intern with professional potential:

  • Pat Gotham of Salisbury University won the contest with 795 votes and 43 comments.
  • Gotham started his internship in June 2011 while blogging about his experience on the Affect blog.
  • Gotham started as a full-time employee on Sept. 1, 2011.

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