Saturday, December 20, 2008

How Social Media Can Change Your Life

I have another guest post today. I wanted Nan (aka Rogue Puppet) to share her HP Giveaway experience. Early on in my contest, she tweeted me to let me know that she had already won another giveaway! I was so excited for her and thankful to have one less great post to consider… WHEW! She wanted to share how she came to win the fabulous prize at Chris Pirillo’s site and how you might benefit from her tactics, not just in winning contests, but in winning at networking.

When I first heard about the HP Magic contests, my mind went into overdrive. I had a list of people that I knew would be touched deeply by receiving a gift like this, and I started cruising through all the host blogs and looking at the requirements. I entered one that was a random drawing ( it went to a really nice lady in Colorado) and one that required me to make an interesting and insightful comment on the blog, along with my plan for sharing. My comment got an honorable mention, but as my daughter said "no laptop". Then i found Chris Pirillo's contest. The rules had been revealed recently: submit a blog post and the blog that got the most unique comments would win. This was a contest that I thought I might have a chance of winning. How many of the folks I knew online and offline could I convince to make a comment?

After writing an article and having it accepted and published, I started the campaign by sending an email to family and friends who were not on any other form of social media. I sent a bunch of emails explaining who I wanted the computers to do to and got a handful of comments. We were not in the lead, but we were running in about 6th place. I was willing to take this as encouragement and started plowing forward. I put the link to the post in my Facebook status and had my daughters send it to some of their friends. I tweeted the link, but did not want to flood my followers with non-valued added posts (OK, it could be argued that this happens even without contest links, but I like to think I amuse, even if I do not always inform). The comments on the post were slowly creeping up, but we remained a steady 5th or 6th place. The next day I did one or two tweets more, hoping to catch some folks I may have missed the first time. when I checked again after work, the tweeple had come through and we had climbed up to about 3rd place. I went to bed and hoped for more the of folks I had emailed to respond.

The next day was the final day of the contest and the difference between my post and the winning post was only about 40 comments. Surely I could find 40 people to respond to a request for a comment. I put in a tweet before headiing to work and then checked it off and on through the day. Our numbers clinbed but so did the leaders' and we remained in third place. By the afternoon I became more determined than ever. I suppose this is the point that other people would have given up- 8 hours to go and still behind-but I wanted this so much for the people on my list that I redoubled my efforts and dug in deep. I decided that perhaps the flow of tweets was so furious that many of my friends on twitter might not have seen my tweets at all. I thought about it long and hard, then decided to go the route of using DMs to send them the link and make a comment.

DMs have to be typed in one at a time, but after just a couple I started getting responses from friends who said they were on their way to check out the article. Chris' blog has moderated comments, so there was a delay between the comments being made and appearing, but I had no reason not to believe that these folks would be telling me they were commenting if they weren't. Encouraged, I started sendiing some more DMs. At the same time, i was monitoring DMa coming back from people and sending them thank you DMs back. I made sure i achnowledged every favor of a comment that came in. It was not long before I learned that there is a 250 DM per day limit on Twiter. Ouch. I was still getting DMs in from people, so I started @replying them instead of DM. I have to admit, I was waiting for my follower count to drop significantly as I flooded my twitterstream with contest mentiions. I did not want to alienate my friends, but had to hope that this one time event would be balanced by months of non-commercial tweets. ( luckily, they were all amazingly tolerant and the losses did not come).I tried to make it fun by setting a comment goal and counting down with every response I made. I tried not to obsess with the contest, but could not help but notice that the moderation had stalled and counts were not being updated (turned out that Chris had food poisoning and was suffering through it that night). I knew I was getting comments, but had no idea how many new comments the others were getting. Finally, 10pm CST rolled around and the contest was officially closed. It looked like comments were going to take a while to get moderated, so I finally gave up and went to bed.

The next morning, I was amazed to see that our count had gone from 45 to 96 in the last 8 hours. I held my breathe, and paged through the rest of the entries (170 in all) and was saddened to see that even though we had had an amazing response from a lot of good people, there were two other entries that appeared to have gotten more posts than us. I took a deep breathe, shook it off and went in search of another contest. That is how I began my adventure here at Sugar's contest. I dug in and took every free moment between meetings and projects that day to dig in and start exploring and building a network amongst the entrants here. I made friends with someone who I continue to Twitter with, and found a potential partner for a community project on another blog. We exchanged emails and have started fleshing out an idea (based off of the article I wrote for Chris' contest) that I think will be a cool community project. I found someone else who had been a contestant in Chris' contest as well-but I discovered him over here. We have hooked up as friends on the comunity and I look forward to more conversations. All this, before 6pm. I became so excited about all the potential in this contest. It became obvious to me that anyone who was trying hard to win was going to win an incredible network of people, even if they did not win the computers. After settling my daughter in to bed, I got back on the computer and checked my email before divng back into the networking challenge. and found a couple of odd emails from Chris, asking about a few of the people who had left comments on my post. Could this mean that they had not found a winner yet after all? The questions he was asking looked like he was checking the IP addresses of the entries. Sure enough, his amazing team spent hours and hours peeling through proxies and getting to the sources of the entries. Remember, the contest was looking at unique entries.

There was another email exchange and then the phone call. Turns out that after they eliminated the duplicates in the other entries, I had the most comments after all. I DM'd Sugar on Twitter and let her know I had won another contest and was no longer eligible for hers- but asked for permission to continue networking, because there are so many interesting people here. She was gracious enough to allow me to continue to "audit the contest" and before it is over, I hope to visit and get to know each and every one of you. I struggled in writing this post to keep from shifting to the third person "we". I finally gave up. It is not because I am thinking in some distant formal structure, but becuase I honestly saw the contest on Chris' site as a team effort. If not for the people who Dugg the article, Stumbled it, passed it on to their friends, shared it on other forums and mailing lists, and found 10 minutes in their day to help someone out I would never be sitting here in possession of tracking numbers watching an amazing stack of boxes make their way toward me. To each of you, I wish the best of luck. Most of all, I hope you connect, respond and hold onto the contacts and friends you make on this web of blogs- you never know when in the future you can help each other out.

-- Don't lose sight of the fun in life:

1 comment:

i am feathermaye said...

Congratulations on the payoff for your networking efforts! What an amazing feeling that must be!

I came across Sugar's contest on Twitter and entered on a whim, thinking I might capitalize on a good deed I'd just finished doing, lol. I never really anticipated I'd win, but I certainly enjoyed reading most of the entries and the few conversations generated.

The concept of the whole networking is still fairly new to me, but it's events like the HP giveaway (and blogs like this one) that are helping to clear the mystery for me.