Trend Tuesday: Talk to me and win a shirt!

Ah, the Blog Contest. Who doesn’t love a good blog contest. You may be think from the title and first words (and perhaps the by line) that this will be a bit of biting criticism calling out the blog industry for selling it self short. Or perhaps you think it is ridiculous self promotion for our current blog contest. Well, this is neither. It is the perspective of those two people who can agree on one thing: Blog Contests work!

One of the values at Schipul is Win/Win. This means that in an interaction or agreement or business-dealing, both sides walk away feeling like they have gained something. When we do work for our clients, we earn their business, and in turn they are provided with a service they need. The Blog Contest is, on most scales, a true example of Win/Win.

The Blog owner can be seeking PR, attention, an urge for traffic, or perhaps they just have extra stuff. To accomplish their goal, they can utilize traditional advertising, but this does not always help them reach their audience in a fun and interesting way. Even online advertising can be a poor fit for the audience or the budget. The flexibility of the Blog Contest allows you to give away pretty much anything, from a Wii Fit to netbooks to cat T’s.

From the reader perspective, generally very little is asked of you. Leave a funny comment, become a fan on facebook, mention something on twitter, etc. Much of the time your odds of winning are quite good compared to a business card fishbowl or a clearing house sweepstakes. And generally there is a high amount of transparency in seeing who wins. Unless a contest gets out of hand (see Wii Fit above), then the contest is contained to the community of people who read the blog, with maybe a few outsiders who are just around for the contest.

Even after a winner is announced, many great things have happened. Either a new reader has won something, which may keep them coming back as a reader, or an old reader has won something, which rewards them for being a part of the conversation. Attention is gained at a cost (like all advertising), but in this case the readers profit, not an Ad agency. Aside from some twitter contests which can be quite annoying (i.e. planet-orbiting-berry), the old-fashioned blog contest is a Win/Win event.

In all seriousness, these contests are really good for everyone and are turning into a great advancement in online economics. The scale of costs and attention help to create a happy event for all involved. A small giveaway creates a small burst of traffic, and giving away something large can create bigger waves on the internets. As a blog creator, you control the size and expense. As a blog contestant, you can control what contests you enter, and what is worth your time/attention/info. Everyone remains in control, traffic goes up, and someone is a winner.

In the words of Michael Scott, this is Win/Win/Win. One Win for the blogger, one Win for the contestants, and a Win for me for explaining it here and encouraging you to create a blog contest. There’s another Win too if you follow me on twitter, because all of my followers are winners.

Trend Tuesday: Teen Texting Rise and New Legislation

When I was a teenager (early 2000’s), text messaging didn’t exist. Blackberries were around and could send emails, but they were expensive, and no one my age had one. Actually, most of my friends didn’t have cell phones until they were driving, and some not until college. And even then, minutes were expensive, so my group didn’t really use our phones very often. We used instant messenger.

I can remember nights of having 9 different conversation windows open on my computer screen (until the miracle of tabs) and learning to type fast solely so I could chat faster. While IM was great at allowing multiple conversations, it did have it’s limitations.   You couldn’t really use it without sitting in front of a computer (connected to the internet), and IM required that the other person was in front of a computer, also connected.   This tiny requirement usually kept IM sessions to a few hours in the evening, and not always every night.

Texts are very similar to IM’s. Short messages are sent back and forth between two people (occasionally sent in mass). Texting, however, has essentially removed the limitation of being in front of a computer and connected to the internet. And it has changed everything for teens.   Now, teens can “IM” each other at any time, day or night. You just need to have a cell phone, which many are getting at younger and younger ages (I know a 12 year-old who sports an iPhone). Those of us older than 19 may text quite a bit, but not nearly as much as the teens. I send/receive around 1,200 texts a month.   In the world of the teens, though, that is bush league.   The teens I know (friends of my younger brother) send between 5k and 10k texts a month. Rumor is one girl sends almost 20k per month. Texting that much is almost inconceivable in my mind, but carrying on conversations with friends is not.

I’m sure if my IM messages were tallied up in a similar fashion, I would have sent similar numbers. But again, my IM’s were limited to time in front of the computer.   Because these massive amount of texts are being sent at any and all times, they are creating some dangerous situations.   Car and Driver recently did a study and found texting while driving to be (much) more dangerous than drinking and driving.

Texting while driving

As a result of the growing trend of accidents caused by texting, many states (Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, North Carolina, Texas, and Virginia) are enacting legislation to make texting and emailing from mobile devices for teens (and in some cases everyone) illegal while driving. As society is adapting to new technologies, it is great to see that the lawmakers are doing their part to keep up. These types of laws are picking up steam across the country and will likely be the norm in a few more years.

Adults may not be texting up a storm as they drive, but sending emails and twittering are likely just as dangerous. These communication tools have brought communication everywhere, even places where we should be focused on other things. Let’s keep having the conversations, but make sure it is done safely.

Image from