Public voting, also known as People’s choice or Audience choice, is a smart way to generate recognition and increase the scale of your award programs or contests. And since we’re obsessed with all things smart, we’ve prepared a guide on how to use public voting to achieve amazing results and how the right contest voting software can help you out.
But before we get to the Hows, let’s start with the Whys.
Here are just a few reasons to go for it:
A public voting contest is one of the most powerful ways to tell your audience “Your opinion is important to us!” and to make them feel valued. That alone is reason enough.
Adding another layer to your awards program is always a good idea. This extra element will also help you hold people’s attention and interest throughout the whole campaign cycle.
There’s hardly a cheaper way to do that. A public voting round helps you to not only connect with your current community but also to attract a new audience.
A public voting contest is a marketing tactic and a smart one at that. It costs you almost nothing but has amazing results (if done right, of course).
Having difficulties engaging your social media audience? A public contest could totally change that! It will not only spark conversations but you’ll often get tagged in contestants’ and voters’ posts — so prepare to go viral.
We’re not going to elaborate on how priceless UGC is because you already know that. We’ll just say that organizing a public voting contest is a great way to gain invaluable UGC that is engaging by default. A photo contest is an obvious example, but video, short story contests, artwork awards, or similar can also result in awesome UGC.
For a contest to have a stellar reputation, transparency is crucial. A public voting contest is usually as transparent as it gets as everybody gets to have their say.
These are just some of the reasons why a people’s choice contest or at least a public voting round as part of the evaluation mix could be a great move. Check which ones apply to your program the most and push towards achieving maximum results.
You might think that there are no downsides to running a public voting contest. Well, not so fast.
Not every competition or awards program fits the concept of people’s choice. Just think of the Oscars — they will never have people’s choice awards because they’ll simply lose their value. If you organize medical awards or any kind of competition requiring the judges to have very specific knowledge or expertise, the public is simply not competent to evaluate the entries. In these cases, public voting could harm the image of your awards.
However, if that’s not the case, we highly recommend a public voting contest or at least a round.
Another public voting risk is vote rigging or fraud. You’ve seen it — an entry that gets an unrealistic amount of votes overnight. Usually, that’s due to bots or organized groups of people trying to manipulate the vote. And even though it’s almost impossible to eliminate cheating altogether (people are unbelievably creative when it comes to that), you can at least limit vote-rigging to a great extent (more on that later).
The first thing that comes to your mind is probably social media. Yup, social media can make a great voting platform (mainly visual ones like photo contests, etc.). However, there’s a better one — your own webpage.
It’s simple — you take your current audience as well as your potential customers to your online home where they can take the actions you want them to take, which lets you stay in control.
Now that you know why and where you’re doing the public voting contest, it’s time for the fun part — planning and implementing.
The rules are the pillars of every competition, so that’s your starting point. We recommend that you really think them through because altering them during the campaign could harm your image and annoy your audience.
Usually, a public voting contest has 2 phases:
Then comes the timeframe. The public voting phase is the first or latter step within the main competition’s evaluation phase. Defining that will help you set the time period for public voting.
The most common type of public voting is the Popularity voting option. It basically allows people to cast their votes for one or more applications. All votes count equally – the winner in a category is the application that gets the most votes. Popularity voting is perfect for any kind of contest that requires ordering of entries such as photo competitions, art, or other creative contests, lists, indexes, etc.
Some awards management solutions will stop here and convince you that this is the only right way to do a public voting contest. Evalato, of course, offers more.
So here are the other voting options you get with Evalato:
A quick and easy voting type where people can vote for or against applications with a single click.
Voting via a points distribution system, where the points can be limited per application, category, and round.
That’s the option for more complex score voting scenarios where different categories require different sets of criteria. With this, you can set custom scorecards, each with its own set of criteria, weights, and scale. One notable example of an awards program that uses this type of voting is Eventex Awards — the world’s leading international awards for events and experience marketing — where the winning entries are chosen on their own merit rather than in competition with the rest.
A rank-based system where a vote is initially allocated to the voter’s first preference, but may be transferred to an alternate preference. It is recommended for single and multiple-winner outcomes, rather than rankings, and is used for elections in Ireland, Australia, the UK, and some US states.
A system where voters express their preferences in rank order, while applications get points based on their rank position, and the ones with the most points overall win. Positional voting is also recommended for single and multi-winner outcomes and is used in the Eurovision song contest.
Make sure you provide clear rules and instructions, to avoid misunderstandings. It’s best if these are placed someplace they cannot be missed and are easily accessible at any time.
If there are important deadlines, also make sure people know about them. When the voting starts and ends, and when the results will be announced.
Also, as boring as T&C forms are, they’re a must. When you have public voting as part of your program, you should consider having separate T&Cs for those who wish to cast their votes.
To that end, Evalato features dedicated spaces where you can add all of these elements.
Every contest needs a prize. The more awesome the reward, the more and the better participants you’ll get.
That doesn’t mean that if you don’t have a big budget, your public voting competition won’t be a success. The reward could be awesome and even more appealing even if it’s not monetary or tangible. If, for example, your organization is an authority in your industry and you make a list of the best in that field, contestants will be more drawn by being part of your prestigious index, than any tangible prize.
On top of that, psychologists have long proven that when competing, contestants are motivated by both extrinsic and intrinsic factors — the first being winning an award and the second — the experience of personal satisfaction and approval from the public.
To attract more participants, make entering your competition as seamless as possible. That means not wasting their time in complicated and long processes, sending them to multiple web pages, or involving them in endless communication. Make their (and your) work simple and choose an intuitive solution for your public voting contest.
With Evalato and its embeddable registration form, your contestants register quickly and easily right from the contest’s webpage and get access to a personal online portal where they can submit their application whenever they want and simply click a button to do so. You approve it again with just a click and voila — it’s live on your Evalato-powered voting page.
For a public voting contest to work, make it easy to vote and minimize vote-rigging as much as possible. Both things depend on your decisions and the public voting solution you choose.
There are usually 3 popular ways to control your public voting:
While you might be tempted to forego control altogether — allow just anyone to cast their vote and then brag about the turnout — you risk compromising your entire contest. That’s why at Evalato we intentionally haven’t included such an option.
Did you know that 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual and we process visual information 60,000 times faster than text? That should be enough to convince you how much design matters.
So let’s have a word about the design of your public voting page.
What’s most important is for it to be easy to grasp. That means:
If done right, the public voting element could have a viral effect without breaking the bank. Of course, you need to do your part so here are a few quick tips on how to promote it:
There are lots of tools you can use for public voting. Some are pretty basic apps that do just that — let people vote for some options you’ve added. Other tools, like Evalato, can help you run any kind of awards or contest that requires collecting and evaluating applications by judges, a team of reviewers, or public voting. Not to mention the tons of customization and analytics options you get with a powerful and flexible solution. Our key advice here is — research and test, that’s the best way to know for sure whether an awards voting system fits your exact requirements.
Now that you know the ins and outs of public voting, it’s time to act. Sign up with Evalato for free and see how it works for you.