About Jim

Jim is an award-winning Internet marketing executive with over 15 years of experience creating and marketing world-class websites, applications, and promotions. Since co-founding Votigo in mid 2006, Jim has helped several leading brands, including Ford, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Sears, MTV, and Intel, as well as top-tier advertising agencies including Ogilvy, Crispin Porter + Bogusky, DraftFCB, and Arnold Worldwide develop and implement successful social media marketing solutions. He is responsible for strategic vision, sales and account management, marketing, and business development. Before founding Votigo, Jim spent nearly 7 years at United Online, Inc. where he was a key member of the executive staff helping take it from 1 million users to over 20 million. Jim has spoken on social media panels at CES, Likeable Summit, and DemoGala - Colorado Technology Association. He has also given guest lectures on social media marketing at UNC Chapel Hill, and CU Boulder. Jim holds his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Marketing Campaign Ideas for Back-to-School

Running a Back-To-School contest or sweepstakes is a great way to engage your social media audience during a peak retail window. As students and parents rush to prepare for the new school year, they’re looking for inspiration and offers that will help them make purchase decisions. And with so many brands competing for their attention, giving this audience a reason to engage with your brand early on gives you a better chance of building a relationship that will last well beyond the Fall. The point is, Back-To-School is Around-The-Corner so it’s time to jump on it.

Here are some Live examples to get your creative juices flowing!


The good news is there are a lot of ways to break into the back-to-school conversation, no matter what your brand’s product or service offering is. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Visual Marketing Campaigns. Even though attention is starting to focus forward into the school year, there’s still a great opportunity to invite users to share their summer fun with your brand’s community for a chance to win a relevant back-to-school prize. Run a photo or video contest where people can submit their content for a chance to win. Registration will be required for entry, allowing you to continue to grow your marketing communications database.

Screenshot 2016-07-06 10.24.58

  • Instant Win or Hashtag Promo with a Discount Code. Drive traffic to both eComm and Brick & Mortar purchase settings by running an instant win or hashtag campaign where all winners receive a discount code towards the purchase of a product or service that fits into the back-to-school landscape.

Screenshot 2016-07-06 12.01.18

Unsure of where to run your promotion? Facebook Contests are a great way to reach a wide range of customers, while Instagram or Twitter will each reach a different demographic. Maybe you want to capture customers who are already visiting your site – in which case a contest microsite would be more relevant.

Struggling to figure out how to insert your brand into the Back-To-School conversation? Our Customer Success team will help you strategize on the best way to leverage this energetic shopping window in a way that makes the most sense for your brand. Contact Us to learn more or to schedule a demo with an Account Representative.


Great Valentine’s Day Promotions Ideas from Air Canada and Blue Buffalo

Share the love!  Here are a couple of great Valentine’s Day Promotions ideas to reward your loyal customers as well as attract new ones.
Love is in the Air Contest from Air Canada
Love is in the air, officially. To celebrate Valentine’s Day, Air Canada is kicking off a special book to win contest for travel agents. From Feb. 8 to 14, when you book your clients a flight within Canada or between Canada and the US for travel up to and including June 22, 2016, you’ll have a chance to win great prizes.

Has Your Furry Friend Captured Your Heart?  Run a Valentine’s Promotion!

Blue Buffalo has launched a very creative Valentine’s Day Card Maker sweepstakes site. Create a special Valentine’s Day card featuring your furry friend and spread the love to your family and friends on social media!

Share the card with #BluesBesties on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and you’ll be eligible to receive a FREE bag of BLUE Be Mine Bars® – Cupid’s own tasty baked treats no pup can resist – or tasty BLUE cat treats.

They’ll randomly select winners to receive treats for their furry friend leading up to Valentine’s Day!  Entry period begins on February 10th, 2016 and ends on February 14th, 2016 – Valentine’s Day!

After you’ve created your own card be sure to browse the gallery to see everybody’s favorite Valentines.


The Top 10 Content Curation Tools You Should Be Using

Curating content is a great way to position you and your business as the go-to expert in a certain industry by sharing the best-of-the-best content with your readers.

If you’re just using Google right now and struggling to find top content, never fear! There are plenty of tools out there to help you collect relevant and interesting content to share.

Without further ado, here are The Top 10 Content Curation Tools You Should Be Using:


Pocket: Pocket is a great tool to start getting in the habit of curating content. Store interesting articles, videos and images in one place.

Pro tip: Install the Pocket browser extension to easily save content on the web.


Post Planner: Discover data-driven shareable content suggestions for social media and watch your engagement grow.


Feedly: Aggregate and browse feeds from your favorite sources on mobile or desktop within a beautifully simple user interface.


Digg Reader: A great minimal RSS reader to help you stay up-to-the-minute on the latest content from some of the top sources.


Twitter Lists: Curate subsets of users that you follow on Twitter related to specific topics. This is a great way to cut through the clutter and find the Tweets that really matter. Learn how to set up a list here.

Pro Tip: Check out these already curated 101 Best Twitter Lists to Follow by PostPlanner.


Content Gems: Quickly find and share the most valuable content in one easy-to-use platform. This one gets bonus points for such a beautifully designed site!


Flipboard: Flipboard is my personal favorite content curation tool. It allows you to create your own personalized magazine with all the topics you care about (and none that you don’t.) Flipboard is a fantastic tool for finding and organizing  content – but be warned, you may spend hours on Flipboard without even realizing it!


Learnist: Use a format similar to Pinterest with boards to search content from industry leaders by topic. Learnist is very user-friendly and full of brilliant content on endless topics.


Evernote: Easily clip web articles, add your own notes and communicate with your team in real-time using this comprehensive workspace tool.


Readability: Similar to Pocket and Evernote, Readability gives you the means to collect and save interesting content from the web in an organized way. It also cleans up articles to present them in a more readable, simple format – making your life easier as you’re browsing content.

Pro Tip: Check out the “Top Reads” section to see the most read content that hour, day or week.

Over to You!

If you haven’t experimented with content curation yet, there’s no better time than now to get started. Curating relevant content is one of the best ways to build trust and become the go-to expert for your audience. Regardless of the size of your team, I hope you’ll find one of the above tools to work for you.

Would you add any tools to this list? What tools have worked best for your content curation?

This post was originally written by Christina Sullivan for the Heyo Blog.


Votigo Overview Video

Votigo Overview from jim risner on Vimeo.

Nothing generates more leads and more engagement than cross-channel social promotions and engagement apps. Votigo’s easy-to-use and highly customizable platform allows brands and agencies of all sizes to create contests, sweepstakes, landing pages, and engagement campaigns quickly and affordably. All promotions can published to your Facebook Page, Website, Microsite, and Mobile. Integrate with Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. No coding skills required!

For larger brands and agencies looking for custom solutions Votigo offers full services including design, development, rules, winner admin, moderation, and prize fulfillment.

With over 20 different Campaign templates and over 14 supported languages Votigo provides solutions for Small Businesses to Global Enterprises.

Come join the thousands of companies already using Votigo to generate leads and engagement.


30 Simple Social Media Conversation Starters

Now that you’ve worked hard on getting people to ‘like’ your Facebook page, Follow you on Twitter and Instagram through some exciting Facebook contests, social sweepstakes, a couple of interesting guest posts and other branding exercise, you may wake up realizing that you’re not quite sure how to keep all the fans that you now have. And this is just the beginning; the next road is a long one where you’ll need to keep talking to your audience while keeping them interested and engaged with your page.

Some say that social media is like your first date. You may be good at getting dates, but once you’ve actually get them, you’ll need to keep them from leaving… you..

There are many ways of keeping someone engaged with you, but one thing’s for sure – if you want to start a conversation, you’ll need to ask the question. Questions are great to get your audience to comment and contribute to the topic. That is why I’ve come up with a list of questions that you can ask your fans.

There are many different types of conversation starters. Here are a few conversation starters and how some great examples of using them.

Types of conversation starters. 

1. Related to your industry

If you’ve targeted your fans correctly, then it is likely that your fans had liked your page to keep in touch with your industry.  Keep your audience listening by sparking conversations about your main industry.

2. Random Questions 

It’s the element of surprise – that brilliant randomness, those silly questions, and that Gangnam Style. Surprise your audience and spark their interest with some out of the world questions.

3. Personal Interest

Got an interest? A hobby? A game of football? A bite to eat? A pint to drink? Share personal interests by asking your audience what they do when they’re off-duty. Get up close and personal and build stronger relations with your audience by listening to they’re up to.

4. Helping others

Help your fellow community member by asking frequently asked questions and helping a fan out. Present questions to the rest of the audience and help solve their problems. It’s all about community spirit! Alternatively, you can help others by putting the spotlight on them and allowing them to share their page, blog post for others to check. Here is an example by Social @ Blogging Tracker

 Below are 30 conversation starters for your social media accounts. 

  1. What’s your biggest question about ______. Our experts will answer them.
  2. What’s your #1 goal to achieve in ______ this month/year?
  3. What books are you reading this week?
  4. What is your favorite _______ blogs?
  5. What do you usually share on social media?
  6. What is your biggest challenge in ________
  7. What excites you every day?
  8. What’s the best article you read today/ this week?
  9. If you could be anywhere right now, where would you be?
  10. My favorite thing about ____ is _____
  11. What are your plans for the weekends?
  12. What’s in your book list that everyone should read?
  13. Where do you usually blog / tweet?
  14. What are your biggest mistakes in ___ when you started?
  15. If you could have dinner with anyone, who would it be?
  16. What Facebook page would you like to share with us?
  17. What song / quote describes YOU?
  18. What’s number #1 on your to-do list today?
  19. How often do you check your email / Facebook / Twitter?
  20. How many times do you log into Facebook a day?
  21. Who’s your biggest role model?
  22. What is the first book that you read that changed your life?
  23. Coffee or tea?
  24. Chocolate or cheese cake? (one of my most responded questions, best answer was … chocolate cheese cake)
  25. If you could re-invent something, what would it be?
  26. What do you love most about _______ ?
  27. When was the last time you were really nervous?
  28. Whose life do you wish you could live for a day?
  29. What film have you most enjoyed this year?
  30. What’s the thing/page/ would you consider yourself a “number one fan” of?

Hope you like the list and don’t hesitate to share it out if you do. If this is something you would like more of, then I’ll come up with 30 questions every month in the hope that it will inspire you to post more questions and get your fans to engage with you.

What would you add to the list? Share them below and it will be in our next post.
Original post by Adam.


Halloween: A Time for UGC Photo Contests (and Candy)!

I know it seems so far away, but NOW is the time to start planning your upcoming Halloween Promotion.

Few holidays have such a strong visual component as Halloween, making it the perfect opportunity for brands to engage their fans with a UGC Photo Contest or Video Contest. Leverage #hashtag submissions via Instagram and Twitter as well as allowing contestants to upload photos or videos from their computer, smartphones, and Facebook.  Consider if your brand would benefit from a fun holiday promotion (Halloween Costume contest). Do your customers participate in Halloween? Do your fans like to dress-up?  If you answered yes to either of these questions your company can benefit from UGC Photo & Video Contests!

hanesGet creative and consider how your business is relevant to the ghoulish season. Maybe you have a seasonal product that you’d like to promote for Halloween, or maybe a simple online costume contest would get your customers engaged. A UGC Contest can even provide you with visuals to use in future marketing efforts…so if you’d like to have some fun photos for a Halloween campaign next year, get those fan photos from a contest this year.

Chipotle Mexican Grill2Need help getting started? Check out our Resource Center.


Votigo Social Marketing & Promotions Platform Updates – August 2015

Votigo Social Marketing & Promotions Platform Updates
We are pleased to announce the latest and greatest features and functionality added to our Social Marketing & Promotions Platform!  Thanks to the excellent feedback and feature requests from our customers we have released the following items to our Professional and Enterprise levels of the Platform.  Please let us know if you have any questions or would like to request a demo.
Votigo Platform Updates – August 2015
  • New Sweepstakes Templates
  • Updated Gallery View for UGC Contest and Social Content Hub
  • New WYSIWYG Design Editor
  • New Head-to-Head Voting Application
  • App Geo-Targeting
  • Multi-upload in Photo Contests
  • Gallery Search Functionality

New Sweepstakes Template:

  • More control over look & feel
  • Ability to hide header image; control if registration form displays directly on landing page
  • Customization through new WYSIWYG Design Editor

New Contest Gallery and Social Content Hub Template:

  • More control over look & feel
  • Mosaic or Classic Gallery View
  • Mobile Optimized
  • Interface in overlays
New WYSIWYG Design Editor:
  • More control over look & feel
  • Ability to utilize a WYSIWYG to modify copy, images, buttons and layout
  • Multiple view points (ie Desktop, Smartphone, and Tablet)
  • Intuitive interface

New Head-to-Head Voting Application:

  • Ability to set in backend specific photo vs. photo or video vs. video
  • Control over voting mechanics
  • Ability to run as FB App, standalone Microsite and/or embed as an iFrame
  • Intuitive interface


  • Ability to select Eligible Countries to view the application
  • Ability to restrict participation to select countries
  • Assign default language by country
  • NOTE: this will not restrict submissions from Twitter or Instagram, only restrict access to the application

Gallery Search Functionality:

  • Ability for users to search the gallery by user name, title of entry, and description of entry
  • Backend admin can either enable or disable search functionality
  • Ability to filter gallery by media type (ie photo or video or text)

New Contest & Sweepstakes: Live Nation, Florida OJ & Marvel Avengers, Red Roof Inn, Eau Thermale Avene

Liven Nation – Rise Against Flyaway Sweepstakes – Viral Refer-a-friend Sweepstakes on Facebook

You and a guest could FLYAWAY to meet RISE AGAINST and see them play their hometown of Chicago, IL.  PLUS a pair of custom, limited edition RISE AGAISNT VANS® sneakers – straight from the vault!  Five lucky FIRST PLACE winners will also receive a pair of custom, limited edition RISE AGAINST VANS®!

Florida OJ & Marvel’s Smart Choices Sweepstakes – Refer-a-friend Sweepstakes on Facebook

Enter for your chance to have your child’s likeness drawn into the Marvel Avengers Assemble animated series. Make smart choices every day, drink 100% Florida Orange Juice and the AMAZING 5! Your child can have his/her likeness drawn in one episode of Avengers Assemble on Disney XD, trip to Los Angeles to record the voiceover and a tour of Marvel Studios.

Red Roof Inn – Instagram Photo Sweepstakes #GoMoreGoBetter

Follow @RedRoofInn on Instagram and show us how you #GoMoreGoBetter on your travels for a chance to win free nights at Red Roof and gift cards!

Eau Thermale Avène Every day is SUNday Sweepstakes – Refer-a-friend Sweepstakes on Facebook

Protect your skin everyday, throughout every season. Enter for a chance to win our NEW Hydrating Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50+, Ultra-Light Hydrating Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50+, and a beach tote.


New Contests & Sweepstakes Examples – GoPro / Fast & Furious 7, AccuWeather, Electra Bikes, & New Holland

GoPro with Fast & Furious 7 – “7 Seconds with Furious7” – Video Contest (Web & Mobile Responsive)

Stunt junkies of the world, it’s time to get furious. What we’ve got is a click back from absolute mayhem, and a GoPro contest like never before, where thrill-happy contestants can take a GoPro Edit Template featuring :07 seconds of BTS footage from the filming of Furious 7, insert their own GoPro content, and create a movie trailer that can keep pace with this unstoppable franchise built on speed.

AccuWeather “20 Days of Giveaways” – Refer-a-Friend Sweepstakes (Facebook App & Mobile Responsive)

Enter the AccuWeather 20 Days of Giveaways for your chance to win great prizes including $100 gift cards, Cooper Tires and iPad Air 2.

Electra Bikes “My City. My Loft.” – Video Contest (Web & Mobile Responsive)

Electra Bikes is giving away bikes to city dwellers around the world. Not just any bike. The new Electra LoftTM. All you have to do is submit a video explaining why you deserve a Loft and we’ll pick our favorites for the public to vote on later. The top-rated submissions will get a brand new Loft and a GoPro camera and mount to go with it. If selected, all we ask is that you shoot some footage of you, your new ride and your city, then send it back to us.

New Holland “1st Cut Competition” – Photo Contest (Web & Mobile Responsive)

TAKE A 1ST CUT PHOTO IN YOUR FIELD.  WIN THE GOLD STANDARD OF BALERS.  New Holland is proud to introduce the 1st Cut Competition. Submit your #NH1stCut photo and you could win the Roll-BeltTM 450 Silage Special Round Baler*.



New Live Campaigns – Blue Buffalo, Walmart, AARP, Ovation TV, Florida OJ, and FujiFilm (photo contest, video contest, facebook contest, facebook sweepstakes)

Blue Buffalo Shelter Stars – UGC Photo Contest Microsite

This is the place to show off your buddy and share your pet adoption success story photo contest. With so many homeless pets across the country, it’s pet parents like you who are making all the difference in the lives of the animals that deserve a second chance. Open your heart, open your home, and share the love at BLUE Shelter Stars.

Walmart Associate Talent Search – Video Contest Microsite

We’re looking for all kinds of talent in this video contest: dancers, musicians, comedians, magicians and more-any performance-based talent that showcases the amazing talent and unique abilities of Walmart associates. So be thinking about how you will highlight your talent in a fun video that isn’t longer than two minutes. Feel free to perform your talent to a cover song.

AARP Superstart Contest 2015 – Video Contest Microsite

AARP wants to help you achieve your dreams! We’re looking for the next American singing sensation – and no kids allowed to enter this video contest! Contestants must be age 50 or over at the time of contest conclusion on May 15, 2015 and possess a voice that will make crowds jump to their feet with excitement.

Ovation TV American Canvas Travel Sweepstakes – Facebook Sweepstakes

For its all-new series American Canvas Ovation TV is asking you to enter the Facebook Sweepstakes for your chance to win the ultimate art adventure in San Francisco, Austin or Miami!

Enter this facebook sweepstakes for your chance to enjoy flavorful 100% Florida Orange Juice while you discover our state’s sun, fun and family attractions. This exciting Spring Break family getaway includes a stay in an Orlando hotel, roundtrip transportation for four and a $1,000 gift card to make the most of what the area has to offer.

Enter this photo contest and show us your most impressive landscape photo for a chance to win an Adventure Canada Mighty Saint Lawrence voyage for 2 (www.adventurecanada.com/trip/mighty-saint-lawrence/) and a Fujifilm X-T1 camera kit with XF18-135mmF3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR lens. X Photographers Dan Bailey and Patrice Halley will be on board as well! Contest runs from February 13 to March 31, 2015. North American entries only (excluding Quebec and Hawaii, see rules for details. Trip must be taken on dates specified).