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A Winning SEO Plan To Create Buzz, Traffic, Links

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How do you engage users, create buzz and generate links all at the same time? As a case study, let's explore how the independent film "Reservation Road" can accomplish this.

In my last column, we established the need for Focus Features to modify their site architecture to take full advantage of link development and search rankings. My fellow SEW Experts also have looked at how the site could grab attention from a few different angles. Sage Lewis looked at Link Building and Brainstorming Content; Debby Richman and Carrie Hill showed us how to Get Search-Worthy in Three Days or Less; and Carrie Hill explained why this is A Study in How Not to Launch a Movie on the 'net.

Now we'll discover how Focus Features can generate traffic, buzz, and links with a contest based on the film's content. Utilizing the film's content would make the contest more engaging, raise awareness, and give a deeper insight into the movie

Contest Idea

Here's an easy contest idea to plan and execute. Audiences love movie lines, so call the contest: "Top Quotes -- The Audience Decides." Quotes are irresistible, especially for avid readers. The studio would select a limited number of quotes from key scenes in the movie (without giving away the end). Basing the contest around quotes would allow Focus Features to tap into the book and author's fan base, a following that has developed over years.

This is where it gets exciting -- especially from the link and traffic perspective.

Many are probably thinking, "Sure, put up a survey form for people to vote." While that's one option, there are better opportunities that will engage fans, promote the movie, and develop quality links.

Keep in mind: anytime link development can be integrated into marketing and promotions, it's a "win-win."

The Spin

Contest winners are based off the traffic generated to the winning quotes. The concept is pretty simple. Allow people to promote their favorite quote on their Web site. Set it up so only one vote per IP address is counted. Final winners are judged based on the amount of unique traffic sent to the winning quotes. Let's say quote five was voted number one, then examine which sites sent the highest amount of unique traffic to quote one.

Prizes go to the top referring sites based on traffic. This would reward the sites providing the most exposure for the movie. Of course, it can be made more complex by having the winners be the sites that sent the most traffic that voted for the quote.

Focus Features first needs to survey fans for the top quotes from the movie. This is an excellent opportunity to start promoting the contest. Then have fans, bloggers, entertainment sites, and others promote -- with a direct link -- their favorite quote on their Web site. Offer some tips to encouraging their users to vote. Let them know they can use any promotional vehicle at their disposable (e-mail, instant messaging, social networks, PPC, newsletters, etc.).

While some sites might be higher-traffic, others will be better at utilizing social media to drive traffic. Some sites might be better at engaging users or utilizing offline social networks.

The Incentive

Provide a range of prizes from starter to grand prizes to help create more buzz. Everyone likes to be a winner. This could be as simple as small signed prints, DVDs, other movie memorabilia, or perhaps screening passes to future movie releases from Focus Features. Think of this as community building.

Offer a grand prize to spice up the contest. This will get more people involved and help gain media attention. This could range from behind-the-scenes access, to the filming of an upcoming movie, to dinner with an actor, producer or writer. Focus on prizes related to the movie or studio that can generate additional buzz and media attention.

Grand Prize: Utilize Top Asset

The results of the campaign can be maximized by developing an SEO (define) public relations strategy around two keys facts: the novel was a bestseller when first published; now on bookstore shelves again as a film tie-in. Offer dinner with the author of "Reservation Road," John Burnham Schwartz, as the grand prize. This simple strategy will tap into the book's strong fan base to further drive promotion and buzz. Loyal readers will work extremely hard for the opportunity to have dinner with the author. Capitalize on that.

Results: SEO's Virtuous Cycle

For a well-executed contest, the results are self-evident. The contest, promotion, or sweepstakes will generate links, buzz, and traffic. With the right (SEO) public relations the campaign could easily generate mainstream media attention, in turn creating even more buzz, exposure, and traffic that will generate even more links.

The contest idea can be applied to other movie content, including video clips, photos, and music. It's all about getting fans involved with the promotion and providing an incentive. That's why SEO experts will be in high demand for the foreseeable future. With the advent of universal search or blended multimedia search results, SEOs are responding to what consumers want, when they want it, and the way they want it.

Isn't that what marketing's all about?

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