So, I’m listening to my local Sports radio station today and I hear a commercial for a baseball contest from Head & Shoulders. As the announcer went through the hoops I would need to jump I was struck by how awful this contest is.

It is called the “Twitter Hats Off Movement – tip your hat to awesome on the field moments”. Well, that pretty much explains it.

To play – here’s all you have to do:

1. Go to the Head & Shoulders For Men Facebook page

2. Find the specific hash tag Head & Shoulders has created for your favorite MLB team. (Since I’m a Yankees fan that would be #HatsoffNYY)

3. Catch a “hats off worthy” moment in one of your team’s games.

4. Tweet that “awesome action”, along with the specified team hash tag.

5. Do it as often as you’d like!

Your reward for all this effort? Head & Shoulders will donate $50,000 to the MLB RBI Program to the city that gets the most tweets.

Are you motivated yet?

As I wrote here, the keys to a successful Social Media contest are value and simplicity. Neither applies here. Now, I’m not saying that a $50K donation is a bad thing. But, what is my motivation as a contest participant to do this? In other words – what’s in it for me?!

Think about it. I’m watching the Yankees play the Mets and Curtis Granderson makes an amazing catch. What’s the first thing I’m going to do? Why, tweet this “hats off moment” to my followers. Woo-hoo.

I’m not going to explore how a “hats off moment” relates to dandruff prevention. It seems I wear a hat when my dandruff is bad. But, I leave that logic to their advertising agency.

Will this contest generate participation? Absolutely. ANY contest will get entries. I worked in the radio industry for a long time and conducted hundreds of contests – some good, some that sucked. People tried to win every single one. Unfortunately, too often someone would be “caller number ten” and have no idea what they were winning. They were playing for the thrill of the game.

Sorry, Head & Shoulders, there is no thrill here.

Hey, I could be wrong. There might be some other marketing imperative at work that I am not privy to. Though, as I write this the scoreboard on the Head & Shoulders for Men Facebook page is one long string of goose eggs.

To be fair- since this is a new contest – I searched for #HatsoffNYY. You would think with a fan base as large as the Yankees’ there would be at least ONE tweet. Nope. Three strikes and yer out.

I love watching how big brands attack social media – especially in contesting. They have the budgets to succeed or fail – on a grand scale. We can learn from their victories and defeats.

What can you learn here?

1. Head & Shoulders is marketing their contest outside the social media channels. That is very smart. When you are planning a contest you need to alert the people who are not already involved with you on social media. After all, the idea is to attract new followers.

2. The title doesn’t explain the contest. Keep it simple! Much like the headline on a blog post or the subject line of an e-mail – grab my attention and compel me to action.

3. Make it easy to enter. Sure, tweeting is easy. but – I have to find a specifically created hash tag in order to participate.

4. Make it worth my while. That would mean – give me a prize.

5. Whenever possible – make it fun. The more entertaining the concept the more likely your are that people will share the experience.

When you conduct your next contest – think like a fan. If you wouldn’t take the time or effort to participate why should they?

Your thoughts?

Steve Allan, Social Media Specialist