Why ULI <3s Facebook

If you are considering running a Facebook contest or competition, take a look at how the Urban Land Institute (ULI) factored the viral nature of social media into their contest rules and drummed up more than 3000 “likes,” and shareable content with little post-set-up effort. ULI is approaching a year-long celebration of the 75th year and the festivities are set to begin at the Fall Meeting.  Instead of waiting for the conference to start the buzz, the organization took advantage of its typically slow summertime, and structured the “Why I Love ULI” competition -- with a high-value grand prize of an annual ULI membership, Fall Meeting registration and an all-expenses paid trip to LA for the conference.  Using Facebook as the primary communications channel, ULI started a contest page and invited members and non members alike to post a short video (30-90 seconds) on why they love ULI.  The rules are simple; the video with the most likes wins -- which puts the responsibility of promoting the video on its creator.

This grassroots campaign launched with announcements in their email newsletter and on each of their social channels that are open to non-members: YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.  Then four weeks later, they tallied the results.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJDdyacobj8&w=560&h=315]

“We were really surprised by the production quality and creativity of some of the videos,” said ULI’s Manager of Social Media Outreach and Communications Robert Krueger. “One even featured a city mayor.” In the end there were 21 submittals (which are all available on ULITV on YouTube.) Using the unique timestamp from the Facebook post, participants marketed their video through their own social networks, mostly within their company, on Facebook, Twitter and Linked In, but also on trade-specific networks and Google+.   One participant went to the expense of sending out a press release over PRNewswire and got it picked up by the Miami Herald.

If you are heading to the Fall Meeting next week, take notice.  The winning video and the five honorable mentions will be part of ambiance.