Less than a year after the first issue was created as a one-off special edition supplement to Acoustic Guitar, the decision was made to begin publishing Ukulele magazine on a quarterly basis.

We needed some way to immediately generate buzz around subscriptions and to drive traffic to our new website. During a Wednesday afternoon brainstorm in October, a few of us here at Stringletter came up with a plan for hosting a holiday-themed video contest on the site and using social media to promote it.

How it worked…

Ukulele Golden Tiki StatuesWe created a video of our own to announce the Holly, Jolly, Ukulele Video Contest and to direct people to our site to submit their videos. Considering that the incentive to win was bragging rights and a Golden Tiki statue, we were (pleasantly!) surprised at the number of entries we received.

After receiving all the submissions, the Ukulele staff got together for a viewing party, rated the videos (using a rubric that placed the most value on fun and holiday spirit), and came up with a shortlist of 5 videos in each of two categories (Solo and Ensemble). Click here to check out the videos.

Public voting began on November 15th and was closed on December 6th.


5,735 individuals voted in the contest. The landing page for the contest, which showed the results of voting in real time, was viewed 21,405 times during the 3-week public voting period.

Just over 5% of voters signed up to receive the Ukulele Unlimited e-newsletter upon reaching the voting confirmation page – which resulted in an 11% increase in the newsletter list size overall. Following the contest, all of these new opt ins began receiving marketing messages from us via e-mail and many of them gave subscriptions as gifts during December.

The number of unique visitors to the site increased by 215% during the month the contest ran and we also saw a nice boost in the pages per visit and average time spent on the site per visit.

Excitement and enthusiasm is harder to quantify, but we definitely saw a lot of it. Within an hour of posting about voting in the contest on our Facebook page, we received our first comment – “That was so fun, want to enter next year” – Jack Dermody.

[pullquote width=”200″ float=”left”]“That was so fun, want to enter next year” – Jack Dermody[/pullquote]People shared the link to our website with friends and family, contestants e-mailed with questions about best practices for sharing the contest page link, the Tree Town Ukes wrote and recorded an awesome original song just for the contest – and several of their fellow Michigan-based ukulele clubs encouraged members and friends to show their support. The contest was even featured on TV – check out out this local news story from Fox 26 KMPH.

With virtually no expense and limited resources, we ran a successful campaign that performed exactly as we had hoped – generated leads, increased traffic to the website, and fostered good-will, support, and a feeling of community around our new brand.

Have you run a contest based around user-generated content? Was it a success? Please share your own story, ask a question, or make a suggestion in the comments below!