And the winner is…

Thanks to everyone who entered to win a pair of free tickets to Batman Live. The person who designed the Batmobile for the show was Gordon Murray, legendary sportscar designer who also has the iconic McLaren F1 road car under his belt.

The winning entry, selected at random (using random.org) was from Kylee Bell.

Congratulations Kylee, I hope you enjoy the show. Commiserations to everyone else – but keep an eye out for any future competitions on the site.

What can competitions do for your blog?

Post image by European Parliament

When Geek-Speak turned two, I ran my first online competition. There were several prizes, and all people had to do was to answer a question correctly to be entered into a random draw. My main aim was to say thanks to the people who had read the blog over the last two years, but there was an unexpected side effect:

My e-mail list grew tenfold in a week.

I was stunned – I’d always believed it was hard to get people to hand over their e-mail address and here they were doing so without being specifically asked to.

The next time I ran a competition I decided to make membership of the mailing list one of the requirements for winning. After all, I figured it would be interesting to see whether there was an even bigger increase if you actually asked for people to sign up. Oddly, there wasn’t. The response was much smaller and I’m not sure whether that was because it was obvious I was after people’s e-mails this time, or because it was a smaller competition.

Still, the lesson is clear: running competitions brings short-term traffic increase and can encourage people to sign up to your mailing list if you have one. The benefits are obvious then and, assuming you can afford do it, there’s no reason for not running contests on your blog. Just be sure to have the “rules” clear in your mind so that there’s no opportunity for people to argue over the choice of winner.

Competition Hunting…

Here’s the part that I really want to tell you about, though: a large number of the people visiting your site, and signing up to your mailing list, are only interested in the competition. Some will decide to stay on your mailing list and see what pearls of wisdom you’re prepared to cast their way, but don’t be surprised if some unsubscribe straight after you announce the competition winner. After all, if they’re only there to win, why stick around afterwards? Don’t be surprised either if some unsubscribe over the next few weeks or months, or perhaps don’t open your e-mails at all.

There’s an upside and a downside to running competitions then, the traffic will die down again, some e-mail subscribers will leave, but competitions are still brilliant for getting some publicity, getting people to take a look at your site, and having that chance to grab people’s attention so that they sign up as subscribers and stay signed up.

I’ve had great fun running the few competitions I have, and I definitely plan to do more. I want to encourage you to think about whether you could run a blog contest. If you’re worried about prizes, don’t be: they don’t have to be massively expensive and you might just want to offer the latest bestseller from Amazon… but whatever you do, it’ll gain you experience and publicity. Neither of which is a bad thing, is it?

If you do decide to run a competition, leave a comment here and let us all know about it!

Supernatural Season 5 coming soon (with an alternate-reality game, no less)

Note: The game mentioned in this article is available to UK users only.

I don’t normally post on the weekends, but I wanted to get this one out quick!

Season 5 of US TV show “Supernatural” is coming to the UK in February on LIVING.   To spread the news about the new series, LIVING is launching a cross-format alternate reality game (ARG), which will offer one viewer the chance to appear in Supernatural!

Season four ended as Lucifer was freed from hell and season five follows Sam and Dean Winchester as they face their toughest battle yet; the apocalypse.

The ARG is based around collecting hidden symbols – ‘Enochian Sigils’ – which players must locate, photograph and send via MMS to a UK shortcode. Sigils have been hidden online and at real world locations throughout the UK and clues to their locations will be delivered by Castiel (Misha Collins) in specially filmed sequences on the Fight the Apocalypse website. Once located, Sigils are photographed on any mobile device and using Image recognition technology – which recognises any image taken on a mobile phone camera – are uploaded to the player’s profile.

There are two ways of succeeding in the game: locating and photographing Sigils, and building an online army of support. Players can invite friends to join their army via email and through Facebook. All the core functions of the game will be available on the website and on your mobile phone, so you can keep up to date on what’s happening while you’re out and about.

Followers of the Fight the Apocalypse Twitter feed will be given tips and additional mini challenges to win extra prizes, so if you plan to play it’s well worth following that account.

The first clue to start the hunt will be released on the 20th January. Fans can pre-register for the game now at www.luciferiscoming.com.