Introducing Votigo’s Newest Blog Series: Learn From the Pros


To add to the list of information we share with you that’s designed to help inspire you as you plan your next promotion, we’re happy to announce Votigo’s latest blog series: Learn From the Pros. The series is designed to promote the sharing of information across our customer base so that we can all learn from each other as we navigate the various ways Social Marketing can be leveraged for brand success.

Today we’re chatting with Paulina Dudzinska and Katie Dance from Canadian insurance and investment company The Co-operators. We’ve been working with Paulina and Katie for over 2 years now and are excited to share their thoughts on how contests & sweepstakes have helped them achieve their brand objectives. We hope you enjoy!


Votigo: How long have you been with The Co-operators?

Paulina: 9 years this year! 8 years with MarCom and 4 years in Social Media.
Katie – I just hit my 6 years this past December. 4.5 years with Public Affairs and 1.5 years with Social Media.

Votigo: What are your roles there? How did you get started? What were you doing before that?

Paulina: Currently, I am the Manager of the Social Media department. My previous role was a Social Media Consultant for 2 years and prior to that was a subject matter expert in advertising with a focus on digital which catapulted my interest and passion for social media.
Katie –I am currently the Social Media Specialist on our small, but mighty, team.

Votigo: What are your biggest goals & initiatives for The Co-operators in 2017?

Paulina & Katie: Our team’s priorities are:

– Operationalize Social Customer Care and align it to our Omni-Channel approach and distribution model. Connect this service offering with our agencies, contact centres and web presence.

– Focus on long-term story arcs that discuss topics of mutual interest with our Canadian audiences like; climate change, community resiliency, Canada’s 150th anniversary etc.

– Integration, integration and more integration! Social is not a stand-alone channel and cannot be successful without strategic alignment and integration into all facets of the business.

– Crisis communication planning. We all know that emergencies or high-risk stories happen online more than on traditional channels. We need to be prepared with a well thought out plan.

– Robust tracking and analytics – our focus will be to truly understand the brand equity and ROI impact of our social media efforts.

– Equip our 500+ producers with adequate support on social media through content, lead signaling and ease of use.

And more…!

Votigo: How often do you run contests or sweepstakes currently? And what platforms do you run them on?

Paulina & Katie: When appropriate to the project or initiative. We don’t like to overdo it with this tactic by trying to entice our social communities only to engage with us because there’s a golden carrot dangling in from of them (a prize). Contests and sweepstakes are decided based on strategic alignment to the overarching goals and objectives and designed to be meaningful and valuable to our audiences. For example, last year we ran a voting contest to announce the launch of our new brand campaign. We gave Canadian audiences the opportunity to vote on character names, have a voice in our brand and help us continue developing ongoing story arcs to support the awareness of our new TV and digital commercials. This proved to be quite successful; we received over 1,000 votes and increased our YouTube video views to 600,000+!

Integration is key here as well but we often rely on tried and true platforms like Facebook (to embed apps) or microsites. Other channels act as supporting mechanisms for content distribution and driving traffic to the final destination for increased reach and participation. Social advertising is another key ingredient in the success of each campaign – it’s no longer a free lunch out there.

Votigo: Can you share your thoughts on these social platforms in regards to your business? Do you tend to engage with one more than the others?

Paulina & Katie: For the Financial Services industry, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Instagram (new) seem to be the most successful for engagement. Our core audiences and key prospects (millennials) are most active on these platforms and respond well to a blend of content and campaigns provided the mix is authentic and valuable. We could try our hand at Snapchat or other hot-right-now channels but we apply a strategic mindset to where we believe we should be present based on research and brand alignment. We could be everywhere but that would only dilute our efforts and stretch us too thin to be successful in engaging with the right audiences.

We’ve seen the most success around topics on Distracted Driving, lifestyle content, Mental Health and our support for Kids Help Phone (BroTalk) and other hot button topics that are of mutual interest to our communities. It’s not always about Product. Test and optimize every chance you get to better understand your audience. The Co-operators uses Personas (client segmentations) to ensure we reach the right audience at the right time with the right message – it’s not a ‘spray and pray’ approach that leaves you hoping for the best!

Votigo: Is there a type of campaign that you would like to run but haven’t yet? Why not?

Paulina & Katie: Good question! We’ve tried many tactics like voting, Myth vs. Fact, sweepstakes and traditional contests to drive engagement and increase brand equity.

Right now, we’re planning to launch a campaign with Votigo to promote Canadian family pride and celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary with a photo modifying app. Think snapchat filters and user generated content! We’re pretty excited about this new initiative and the outcomes through 2017!


Votigo: What solution do you use for your contests & sweepstakes? Do you prefer a full-service offering or a self-service platform?

Paulina & Katie: A blend of both! Find a vendor that gives you and your brand the autonomy through self-serve options for cost efficiencies but also partners with you on high profile strategic initiatives through a full-service offering model. We love working with Votigo because of their flexibility, expertise and high degree of service and account management- we consider them a strategic partner and look forward to collaborating on many more initiatives in the future!

Votigo: What piece of advice would you share with someone who is just starting out with social contests & sweepstakes?

Paulina & Katie: No matter where your social promotion will be hosted, ask yourself these questions to ensure that you’re setting your team and brand up for success:

  • Do you have the time and resources to devote to the planning, management, and engagement that will be required?
  • Do you have the budget to give a prize to incentivize participation?
  • Is the contest part of a larger integrated marketing campaign?
  • Do you have clear goals for this contest?

Here’s a high-level framework that we follow at The Co-operators:

  • Set clear goals/objectives
  • Select the social network you will launch on and learn the rules of that site!
  • Define details (tactics)
  • Integrate between online and offline channels
  • Get legal and compliant not only with your internal processes but understand that each social network has its own nuances. Understand them before you start your campaign to avoid unpleasant setbacks.
  • Prepare to promote and converse
  • Launch!
  • Manage the campaign
  • Analyze the result
  • Continue to engage with your community afterwards

Votigo:  What are your favorite blogs or books on Marketing or your other interests?

Paulina: My go-to blogs & websites are: Mashable eMarketer Daily, Strategy Daily, CEB Global (Marketing edition), Social Media Examiner, LinkedIn Newsfeed (anything and everything is valuable), Marketing Profs, Forbes, Economist, Globe & Mail (anything business-related)
Katie – Marketing Blogs and Newsletters: Marketing Dive, CEB Global (Marketing edition), Harvard Business Review, SmartBrief, Mashable, Canadian Marketing Association Blog, LinkedIn Newsfeed and Pulse, UnMarketing. Marketing Books: Seth Godin, Simon Sinek, Guy Kawasaki, Joe Pulizzi, Jay Baer. Non-marketing related my favourite blog is Kottke – a true delve into the beauty and amazingness of the internet and the stories and interesting things that can be found!

Votigo:  Is there anything else you’d like to share with the Votigo blog audience?

Paulina & Katie: Social is fast-moving, ever-changing and so much in real-time that it can be exhausting to keep up. Prioritize what your brand wants to achieve, align it to strategic objectives and set your plan. Be flexible and agile because you’ll be modifying as you go along, just don’t stray away from your vision too much.

Don’t forget that social is just like a conversation, except it’s happening online. Successful businesses listen first and sell second. Going out there guns a blazin’ with hard sales-focused content and campaigns won’t bode well. Use social to humanize your brand and your business. Oh, and grow some thick skin! Not every conversation is sugar and spice, everything nice. Have fun!


Thanks for participating in the first installment of our “Learn From the Pros” blog series, Paulina & Katie!

-The Votigo Team


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