There is a disturbing formula that a lot of companies and brands- both large and small- are using to drive awareness and ostensibly loyalty.  It’s one that I hope dies because it’s both insulting and largely ineffective in its ultimate goals. And that’s the faux-award that’s given based on user votes. 

If you aren’t familiar with the formula, it goes something like this:

-Some company/brand/blog asks you to apply for an award or to nominate others for an award.

-Then they choose the top entries (or sometimes everyone who submitted is entered as a finalist).

-Now here’s the “catch”- they then ask you, the “nominee” to get your friends and family members to vote for you and the person with the highest votes wins.

-The award turns into a popularity contest at best or goes to those with friends and family that have a lot of free time on their hands.

Now, ostensibly the companies do this to create awareness for whatever it is they are doing, but this “awareness” does not translate into loyalty.  Why?

-Because people- even those with little shame- hate bothering other people to vote for them.  You can’t create loyalty when you are making your customers feel like shit.

-Those who are voting are often annoyed too and are visiting the site as fast as they can to help out their friend and then jet- not exactly the pinnacle of customer conversion.

-And frankly, the award becomes a farce, because it isn’t based on merit, which doesn’t create lots of loyalty either.

If you are going to take submissions for an award, then give the awards on merit and then post the winning submissions.  Put a positive intention behind people pimping themselves out to their friends.  Customers (or potential customers) want to tell their friends, “Hey, look how cool what I won from this awesome company is”.  That is so much more inviting than “Hey, this annoying company is making me pander for votes”. 

If you want to involve your community, have them submit nominations and then, have some criteria to judge it against.  But using an award as a lame ploy to get awareness to your site is a short-sighted strategy, which will not provide a strong return- and might just backfire.