Friday, July 08, 2011

Good Things Grow in Ontario

In a act of self-promotion (or rather, for my daughter) I'm going to blog about a social media campaign and urge you to vote for my daughter. But it is a great campaign and rather novel for Ontario.

Recently at the Canada Day celebrations at Queen's Park, Toronto the Ontario government agency, Foodland Ontario, had a booth set up. We were drawn to them as they were offering free samples. It is a truism that free food will always draw a crowd. I'd previously encountered Foodland Ontario for their TV commercials and there useful awhile Twitter account (great recipes using local produce).

So once we had our cucumbers and dip, we noticed they had a video setup for a song contest. The contest is "Sing and Win". Contestants sing the Foodland jingle and compete in an online voting contest for the chance to win free groceries. They had a mini-studio set up with a video camera, lights, and audio mixer. Videos are them uploaded to Facebook (via YouTube) where people can vote daily for their favourite. As the recordings were done so professionally, the final videos are refreshingly good technical quality.

Considering my tone deafness, I didn't feel anyone deserved having to hear me caterwaul. But my young daughter jumped at the chance to perform (I think she's the reincarnation of Ethel Merman).  Participating in the contest was a lot of fun, as was watching other people sing. But any campaign that builds upon people's narcisstic joy at seeing and sharing stuff about themselves or their kids is guaranteed to succeed.
So within a couple days of the event the video was uploaded, we eagerly watched it and voted. This campaign has such incredible viral potential - of course, everyone would want to share their videos and get their friends to vote for them. But here's the problem - it is way too difficult to direct friends to a specific video for them to vote.

The process is cumbersome and vague. I think using Facebook is great as really almost everyone who is online on Canada is on it. But to participate in this campaign one has to friend the Foodland Ontario Facebook page, then one has to select the venue (Queen's Park) then scroll through pages of videos to find the specific one. I would have liked to be able to send friends directly to the video to watch and vote.

One shouldn't have to friend a company to participate. I think if this restriction was gone it might be possible to pass on a link directly to the video and the participation levels would be much higher.  This is essential both from a contestant and company perspective. As a contestant, I want as many of my friends to vote as possible. From a marketing perspective, the more people that are aware of Foodland Ontario and engage with their brand the greater the campaign success.

To be fair, it seems like this problem is on Facebook's end, as I'm not sure one can interact with a company on Facebook unless one friends them. People may be reluctant to do this as not only is it another step (each obstacle thrown at people will entail a certain level of drop-out) but also people might be concerned that friending a company entails being spammed with their messages (as has happened to me).

Even if this barrier was removed, it would still not be possible to link directly to the video.  I'm not sure why this is the case as YouTube assigns each video a unique identifier. 

In the end though, Foodland Ontario's "Sing and Win" campaign makes excellent use of social media - but some technical obstacles really prevented it from being much more viral and effective than it could be.

Now here's my plug to vote for my daughter:

  1. Visit Foodland Ontario on Facebook and "Like" them
  2. Go to the "Sing and Win" contest page via the icon on the right
  3. Select the venue "Queen's Park Canada" on the right
  4. Go to page 6 of the videos (via the arrow on the right)
  5. Watch the "Nora F" video and click the vote button
  6. Visit every day to vote again
See what I mean?  Anyway, thanks for any votes!

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