In Highlights, Insights, Product

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 as you probably know, we’re obsessed with things getting done the smart way! So here’s a guide on how to use public voting to achieve some amazing results.

Why use public voting in the first place?

But before we get to the Hows, it’s crucial to start with the Whys. Here are just a few reasons to go for it:

  • Show your community they matter

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’s a solid enough reason alone.

  • Add a new dimension to your program

It actually has an electrifying effect on all parties involved! Simply because people love to be in the running as well as to have their say. And with public voting, you give them both!

Moreover, those contests are very dynamic, interactive and unpredictable which holds people’s attention and interest throughout the whole campaign cycle.

  • Increase your program visibility and engagement 

There’s hardly a cheaper way to increase your program visibility and engagement. It helps you to not only connect with your current community but to also attract some new audience.

  • Boosts your marketing

A public voting contest is a marketing tactic itself and a smart one at that! It costs you almost nothing, but has amazing results (well, if done right, of course).

  • Stimulate discussion on social media channels

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.

  • Gain a great source of user-generated content

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 will moreover be super-engaging and successful. A photo contest is probably one of the easiest and most intriguing ways to do that. But you can have videos contests, short stories contest, you name it.

  • Improve transparency

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 could be a great move. Choose the ones that matter to you the most and try to push towards achieving maximum results!

What are the downsides?

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 award 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 broad audience is simply not competent to evaluate the entries. In these cases, public voting could only harm the image of your awards.

However, if that’s not the case, we highly recommend a public voting contest or round.

Another major threat when it comes to public voting 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 that are trying to manipulate the voting. 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 in the post).

Which channels are best for public voting?

The first thing that comes to your mind is probably social media. Yup, social media is a truly great platform for lots of contests (mainly visual ones like photo contests, etc.). However, there’s a better one – your own webpage.

Why?

It’s simple –  you take your current audience as well as your potential customers to your online home where they can take the further actions you want them to take. In short, you shorten their way to your final goal.

The how-to of public voting

Now that you know why and where you’re doing the public voting contest, it’s time for the fun part  – planning and implementing.

Step 1: Set the rules

The rules are the pillars of every competition, so that’s your starting point. We recommend to 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:

  1. Collecting applications for the people to vote for
  2. Public voting

Usually, the public voting phase is the first or a latter step within the main competition. Either way, including a people’s choice award or a public voting round as part of a contest, is usually an extremely successful move and many awards do it to engage their audience.

Choose your voting type

The most common type of public voting is the Popularity voting option, also commonly known as “Top Picks”, “People’s Choice”, etc. 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.

Most 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…

  • Simple review: a quick and easy voting type where people can vote for or against applications with a single click.

  • Points voting: voting via a points distribution system, where the points can be limited per application, category, and round.

  • Score voting: the option for more complex score voting scenarios. With this, you can set custom scorecards, each with its own set of criteria, weights, and scale.

Explain clearly the rules to your audience

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 moment.

If there are important deadlines, also make sure people know about them. When does voting start, end, and when will the results be announced.

Also, as boring as T&C forms are, they’re obligatory. 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. .

In Evalato, we’ve envisioned dedicated spaces where you can add all of these elements.

Step 2: Offer an awesome reward

Now, every contest needs to have 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 than 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.

Step 3: Make it easy for participants to enter the contest

Finding the right participants is not always an easy task. One thing is for sure – you need to make their entering into the competition as seamless as possible. That means not wasting their time in complicated and long processes or with endless communication. Make their (and your) work simple and choose an intuitive solution for your public voting contest.

With Evalato, your contestants register quickly and easily and get access to a personal online portal where they can submit their application whenever they want and simply click a button to submit it. You approve it again with just a click and voila – it’s live on your voting page (that is again provided by Evalato).

Step 4: Make it easy to vote, hard to cheat

For a public voting contest to work, it’s also important to 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 4 popular ways to control your public voting

  • Through email: that’s a good way with one tiny drawback – more efforts for the public to cast their votes. Voters have to enter their email, then waste even more time to click on the confirmation email and only then they’re allowed to vote. That might dissuade a lot of potential voters.

  • Through IP detection: that’s also a great option to limit vote-rigging. However, this way, you can’t collect the amount of data that some of the other options give you, like email forms and social login.
  • No control: we don’t recommend you choose that option even though some awards management solutions offer it. Allowing everybody to cast their vote without any control might seem tempting for some award organizers because of the grand number of voters they’ll boast with after the voting’s over. However, we believe that this method compromises your entire contest and highly damages its image. So at Evalato we intentionally haven’t included such an option.
  • Through social login: that’s the easiest, simplest and yet limiting vote-rigging option to control public voting. Naturally, that’s the way you do it with Evalato. Here your public voters can use Facebook, LinkedIn or Gmail to login and cast their vote. So you get both social login and email options (the latter without making the voters enter their email).

Step 5: Consider the design

Did you know that 90 percent of information transmitted to the brain is visual and we process visual information 60,000-times faster than text? That’s enough to convince you how much design matters, right…

So let’s quickly 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:

  • well structured
  • intuitive for voting: use hearts, thumbs up, star or other icons to make it as clear as possible for the audience
  • if you’re adding a CTA, keep it short and simple
  • avoiding of banners or other ads

Step 6: Promote it

If done right, a public voting element could have a viral effect without the breaking-the-bank. Of course, you need to do your part so here are a few quick tips on how to promote it:

  • Put it in your newsletter: your community should be the first to find out about the public voting contest you’re organizing, so they can choose to participate, or at least vote in it. Include it in your weekly or monthly newsletter – best as the sole topic in the email.
  • Announce it to the media– public contests are engaging and free – 2 factors that could attract media attention. So a press release announcing your contest is a must. Also, use every possibility to talk about it in interviews or other publications.

  • Use the power of social media – that’s a truly convenient and effective way to spread the word about your contest, especially if you use Evalato where the public could use social login to cast their vote.
  • Make a blog post – if you have a blog, you need to have a post about your contest there as well explaining the story behind the contest, the rules, deadlines and anything you deem important.
  • Encourage word of mouth – in all your communication with your community (whether in a newsletter, social media or emails), don’t forget to ask people to spread the word about your public contest.
  • And finally, advertise – as said before, public voting contests are bound to have success even if you don’t have any budget for advertising. However, a little boost could help your results. Even if you don’t use some expensive ad channels (such as TV ads or other traditional forms of advertising), some low-budget but highly-targeted campaigns on Google ads, Facebook or other relevant platforms could do wonders.

Step 7: Pick the right tool

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. Not to mention the tons of customization and analytics options you get with such a powerful and flexible solution. Our key advice here is – research and test, that’s the best way to know for sure whether a tool 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 launch your people’s choice contest quickly and easily.

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Launch your program in minutes

No credit card required. Unlimited free testing.