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.

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).


The Benefits of User Voting in UGC Contests

Running an online UGC contest can help you engage fans and allow them to interact with your company, brand, and/or product.  It is always important to use techniques that will encourage your fans to stay engaged with the contest even after they enter.  One way to do this is to allow fans to vote on entries.  For most businesses this is a great idea because people are prompted to spread their entry to get more friends to vote, creating a viral effect. Voting can promote more word-of-mouth marketing for your brand because entrants will spread the word to gather votes. This will in turn create more awareness of the promotion and your brand or product.  Voting also gives the incentive for fans to continue to visit the promotion page and acts as another step in the online UGC contest.  It is a fun way for fans to take an active role in the outcome of the contest.
When considering if your contest should be 100% decided by public vote, it is important to understand what this means for the contest and to be prepared to hand over control of the outcome to your fans.  Another way to incorporate public voting in your contest while still maintaining some control over the outcome is to create a round of voting to narrow down the entries that are in the running to win. After allowing this period of voting you can then create a panel of judges who will decide the winner.  This will still encourage fans to stay engaged and to share their entries virally, while also allowing your brand to maintain some control.

Some businesses may prefer not to allow fans to vote and instead rely on complete brand control.  This means that your brand or business will be in charge of the entire voting process.  A fun way to do this while keeping your fans interested is to incorporate a panel of expert judges that appeal to your target audience.  This will give your fans the incentive to stay tuned to the contest and to continue to visit the promotion site.

Each option above provides a great way for entrants to stay interested in your contest. It depends on what your particular brand goals are  concerning the promotion and it is important to consider which strategy will fit best with your company.

For more information on UGC Voting Contests and fun ways to keep customers engaged contact us today!


New Live Examples – #UGC Contests and Sweepstakes

We love sharing new live examples with you!  We hope you feel the same way :)

Parents / American Baby Bumb of the Month Photo Contest

Parents American Baby have a great strategy around user-generated photo content and their subscribers lover to participate.  In this contest they ask for creative and fun photos during pregnancy.  The contest is embedded as an iFrame within their site.

Roman Meal Baked Fresh Sweepstakes

Roman Meal is running this Enter-to-win Sweepstakes on its Facebook Page to grow their fan base, user data, and email opt-ins.  It’s a nicely designed sweepstakes and very easy to enter.

 The Perfume Shop #ILoveOnika Photo Contest

The Perfume Shop photo contest using hashtag #ILOVEONIKA is only one week long and only a couple of days into it they already have over 100 submissions!  Excellent execution of a user generated photo contest with hashtag integration.

Go here for more live examples of contests, sweepstakes, and social content hubs and galleries. http://www.votigo.com/live-examples.php


Halloween Contests – It’s that time of year again!

It’s that time of the year again!  Get ready for your Halloween Contest.

Today we take a look back at one of our best Halloween Contests we’ve ever run.

The Chipotle Boorito Halloween Costume Contest promotion had a fun title and a great Halloween design that was eye catching and relevant to the Halloween theme of the promotion.  Chipotle asked fans to enter the contest by submitting a picture of them in costume in front of a Chipotle restaurant.  This fun idea encouraged fans to visit Chipotle and participate in the Halloween festivities.   The promotion created a great way for fans to stay engaged by incorporating a voting process where fans can vote for entries and easily share their favorite photos. The lucky grand prize winner won $2,500, five runner up winners received $1,000, and 20 entrants received the honorable mention prize which consists of a sponsor-specified burrito party at the winner’s select Chipotle Mexican Grill location for up to 10 people.  The contest did a great job incorporating a holiday theme into their contest and keeps fans thinking about Chipotle.

Find out how to run your own UGC Photo Contest


The Definitive Guide to UGC Contests and Sweepstakes

The Definitive Guide to UGC Contests and Sweepstakes

If you’re looking for a way to acquire more customers, grow your email database, and engage consumers, a UGC contest or sweepstakes that can live on social media platforms, your website or microsite, and mobile / tablet is the perfect way to accomplish your goals. Running a promotion doesn’t have to be complicated – in fact, with the right tools and a little bit of planning, it can be fairly straightforward, but there are some necessary steps to consider.  Follow these 8 steps below and you’ll have the perfect guide to UGC Contests and Sweepstakes.

Step 1: Determine Your Objectives

Clearly understanding your objectives will help determine if a UGC contest or sweepstakes is right for you and also what format will suit your needs best. If a high number of participants is your goal, a sweepstakes is most likely going to receive the largest number of entries.  This is because sweepstakes are easy to enter – for the most part all you need is an email address and basic information.  If you’re looking to really engage your audience, a UGC (user-generated content) contest is going to be a better choice for you.

There are many different contest format options to consider. You can allow fans to enter photos, videos, audio files, essays, or a combination of any of those four options. Giving fans the option of entering your promotion in their chosen format will increase your odds of getting more entries.

You’ll also need to determine what features will help you meet your objectives. If expanding your social reach is one of your objectives, you’ll want to make sure you use the best and latest social sharing features.  Also consider what other types of campaigns will complement your promotion and help increase awareness of your contest or sweepstakes – such as a sponsored story or Facebook ad.

Step 2: Outline The Details

Once you’ve decided on a format, you’ll need to decide what type of prize you’ll be offering in your UGC contest or sweepstakes. You’ll want to decide this early on and make sure it is a strategic prize. A prize can make or break a promotion. It needs to be worthwhile for the participant to enter, and it needs to be even more worthwhile for them to share your promotion with their friends. Remember, sometimes the best prizes are not the most expensive, but instead are exclusive or limited products and opportunities.

You’ll also need to decide how your winner will be selected. If it is a contest, you can let your audience vote for the winner, or you can select a winner yourself. You can allow for multiple rounds of voting with finalists and semi-finalists or you can have one round of voting. Think about how long  you want your promotion to run and what will produce the best results for you based on your objectives.

Lastly, decide what user information you’ll be collecting. One of your motivations for running a promotion will likely be to collect participant info for later marketing efforts. Decide what information you’ll need to administer the contest and ask for other information sparingly. Again, the more you require of the user, the less likely they are going to be to participate, so keep it simple.

Step 3: Follow the Rules

When running any UGC contest or sweepstakes, it’s important to follow Federal, State, and Local promotional laws as well as any social media platform promotion guidelines.  You will need to provide Official Rules for consumers to be able to read and know their rights.  Consult your legal team to ensure your promotion is following legal guidelines.  Or contact Votigo for help with Rules.

Step 4: Design Graphics

Once you’ve worked out all the details, it’s time to design your UGC promotion! Depending on your promotion and what type of app and features you are using this can vary from a simple header graphic to advanced design and customization.

The type of promotion app you use will determine the size and layout of your main graphics. This can include a simple header graphic, or a more detailed and custom design and layout. When designing your graphic, it’s important to consider a few elements:

Design above the fold: Above “the fold” simply refers to the space that is visible without having to scroll down a page. This is the most critical part of any webpage design, and is also important to consider with your promotion graphic. Keep any calls-to-action or critical information above the fold so that a user can quickly assess what is required of them.

Outline your steps: Using strong visuals to give a basic outline of what is required to enter your promotion is a great way to utilize your graphic. This allows users to understand the steps required, without having to read detailed descriptions or copy that is included elsewhere on your app.

Showcase your prize: Show users what they’ll be getting if they win! This helps reinforce your incentive for getting a user to enter your promotion.

Use a clear call to action: – This is very important because you want to clearly outline what is required of the user to enter your promotion. If you simply have a beautiful graphic and no call to action, the user may be confused and possibly not like your page, or enter your promotion.

Step 5: Launch!

Once your promotion has been outlined and designed, it’s time to launch! Make sure to do any user-flow testing prior to launch to ensure that your promotion is as simple and straightforward for users to participate in as possible. Once all of the pieces are in place, it time to publish your promotion to your Facebook page or Web and Mobile and start acquiring and engaging new and existing customers.

Step 6: Promote Your Promotion

You need to actively promote your promotion in order to garner entries and votes. This doesn’t need to be costly or complicated, in fact – one of the best ways to promote your promotion is by simply posting about it on your Facebook wall. Timely reminders and updates to your existing audience will help ensure that your promotion is a success. Email reminders, social media posts and website mentions are all opportunities to promote your promotion.  You can also promote your promotion directly on Facebook through sponsored stories or Facebook ads.

Step 7: Moderate and Manage

After your promotion has been launched, you need to continue to manage the promotion.  How you manage your promotion will depend upon what details and format you’ve decided upon and also what your ongoing promotional plans are. If you’ve chosen a photo contest and you are going to pre-screen submissions – you’ll need to actively approve and reject submissions throughout each day, or at least once per day. You’ll also need to select and notify a winner once your promotion has ended.

Step 8: Use The Results

Running a promotion is a great way to get leads and quality user-generated content, so make sure you use your results. Nurture your new leads with an email campaign or another promotion. You’ll also want to find ways to use your entries. Often times when a contest is over the marketer fails to capitalize on the great photos, videos, essays, comments and relationships acquired during the campaign. Instead, create a photo or video gallery of the entries on your website or mix a few quotes into your advertising campaigns. Any of these will strengthen the relationship you’ve built with your customers and make your marketing more authentic.

Once your promotion has come to a close, you’ll want to analyze the results and measure success. Take a look at the promotion as a whole, there may be benefits or successes that you had not anticipated. Perhaps your promotion revealed a new market for your product, or an existing perception of your brand or offering that you were unaware of.

Take a look at what content you received from entrants and see if you can glean new insights about your customers. Try and learn as much as you can from the promotion. Find out what worked, and what fell short. Take these lessons with you the next time you run a promotion and build upon your successes, while learning where you can improve your strategy.

Contact us at www.votigo.com today for help with your upcoming promotion.  Sales:  800.519.1850



Which Social Media Platform is Right for Your Business?

Originally appeared on Mediabistro’s AllTwitter.  Infographic courtesy of QuickSprout.com

Looking to use social media to power your business? Smart play. Collectively, platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest have billions of users. But which social network is best for you, and your brand?

Just because a channel is popular doesn’t necessarily make it the right choice for your products and services. Each of the major social networks have different strengths and appeal to different kinds of users – accordingly, some will be a better fit for your industry than others.

Twitter, for example, can work very well for business to business (B2B) companies, whereas Facebook lends itself to brands that are visually-oriented (i.e., have a lot of great image content to share).

YouTube, of course, is great fit for organizations that are create a lot of high-quality video, while Pinterest is extremely valuable for fashion and other retail brands with strong product shots.

And of course, Promotions like Contests and Sweepstakes are great across all of these social channels.

Check the visual below for more information, stats and tips, which comes courtesy of Quick Sprout.

What is the Best Social Media Platform for YOUR Business?