And the winner is…

Been doing some interesting research round the web, looking for corporations who run video contests for employees. We all know about IBM’s Innovation That Matters (great) and Deloitte’s Film Fest (good, but, for me, not as good). Worth, incidentally, wondering why the difference. For me, it’s down to framing the question. IBM asked employees to respond to the new slogan “Innovation that matters”, while Deloitte asked them “What’s your Deloitte?”. The former has more room to be creative, while the latter seems to invite Wackiness, and we all know how that goes down.

Anyway, here’s the ones I found: McDonalds, Qwest, SAS (the software, not the airline), Nortel (though they cheated big time and put user-gen entries up against professional ones and – d’uh – the professional ones won). Plus a number from smaller companies which are real horrorshows. Won’t put the links up.

Question: what does success look like for an employee video contest? Is it number of entries? IBM (with 386,558 people, it says here) had 520 entries. Nortel, with 33,000, has 12. Quality of entries? On whose sayso? Views? Votes? Nortel again “this blog has had tens of thousands of pageviews.  We also received well over 1,000 votes.” Or participation? IBM videos have been forwarded 4,842 times and 3,212 comments have been left on them (I think those are internal numbers, not the YouTube ones).

Let’s try and agree on this. The purpose of such an endeavour is to engage the viewers, not the contributors. If as McKinsey et al say “between 3 to 6 percent of the membership added 75 percent of the content” (not about video in particular, but about all user-gen content), then looking at the entrants, or in fact the entries themselves, isn’t the point. The measure of success is audience engagement, or, to use SAP’s horrible phrase, their “participation equity”. Page impressions is a start, though they don’t measure whether the user watched through the video, and forwardings and comments are the real gold dust. That’s what we should be measuring.

And how to we help users to participate? We make the site intuitive, which should be a given, we make the subject close to home and spacious enough to allow for creativity, we nudge the contest along as top-downly (make the CEO make a video?) and as bottom-uply (with whatever black viral arts are available) as we can, and we make the prize worth having (B&Q used to have a staff community involvement award scheme with a top prize of a year off at full pay).

And then what?

Say it goes really, really well. Say that employees pick up UG video and it really flies. What do we do with that enthusiasm next? What do we do that actually benefits the bottom line? I’m seeing very few good answers to that question yet. Every time I read about a contest online, I email or comment and ask.

Anyone? I got some ideas (and some projects under way). Let’s talk…

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3 Responses to “And the winner is…”

  1. Bo Gowan - Nortel Says:

    Hey Martin, the employee video contest at Nortel was in my opinion a great success (of course I came up with the idea so of course I would think that).

    While “the numbers” were more than I expected, we had a couple of goals for the contest that were outside those metrics. Externally, we’ve had a lot of success with using blogs and YouTube to push our message of energy efficiency. If you look at the Nortel YouTube page (http://www.youtube.com/user/nortelvids) you’ll see a good amount of “user-generated” video that is great for YT, but not something we’d put on nortel.com. This contest originated as an idea to creatively find more of that type of video, and further the push through blogs and YT.

    But there was a second, internal goal that I think is more important for the long term. As you highlight, we have 33,000 employees and had 12 entries — not what I’d call a huge response. But blogs and user-generated video are new tools for our marketing teams and employees…so this contest was just as much about showing our employees what is possible as it was getting an external response. The internal response — both in viewership for the videos and the comments I got — show me that that message got across.

    I would expect that in a few years, user-generated video will be a regular tool for marketing teams, sales/emp comms teams, etc. — so we need to start getting them thinking about that new tool now. Our next step is to set up some internal guidelines and “how-to” tutorials to push that along, as well as things like internal forums and video repositories where our employees can collaborate on projects.

  2. Martin Ross Says:

    Hey, thanks for replying. Perhaps “cheating” was harsh!

  3. Bo Gowan - Nortel Says:

    In the online vote – the winning professional commercial edged out the top ranking employee video by only 2 percentage points — so I think they held their own pretty well. Would have been a more interesting story if an employee video had one though 🙂

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