Facebook Competitions

I entered a Facebook competition this week, something I hadn’t done before, but had certainly witnessed. The premise of the contest was simple – each person puts up an idea, and everyone votes on which idea they think is best. You encourage your friends to vote as well, and at the end of a specified period of time, the votes are tallied and the idea with the most votes wins.

This contest was being sponsored by Funding Universe, a site which helps pair investors and businesses. The rules were as stated above, with the addition that people could give up to 5 “stars” to each idea, and could vote for each idea once per day. The length of the contest was 2 weeks, so that meant someone voting every day could contribute up to 70 votes for their favorite idea.

The prize? $2,000 cash, plus the opportunity to have your idea presented to a bunch of investors, if you want them to.

At first, the concept of the contest sounds good – see a bunch of business ideas, and then the best idea gets voted to the top, and therefore wins.

In reality, this is just a popularity contest.

Take my idea, for example. The idea is actually a project I’m working on, called Casual Wine Reviews. I submitted it to the contest on Monday, and have been getting about 120 votes per day. That translates into about 25 or so people voting for my idea. The catch, of course, is that I know most of the people voting for the idea, they’re my friends who want to help me win. The person with the most friends is the one who will win this contest.

OK, maybe not the most popular person, but certainly the person with the most influence is going to win. The reason is simple – people are more likely to go onto this site and vote every day because they know one of the contestants than because they care about the contest itself.

Naturally, I’m going to ask you to vote for my idea – vote early, and vote often – but the whole concept of this contest is fundamentally flawed. What really needs to happen is that the people eligible to vote need to be stated before-hand, and then once the ideas are in, they decide which idea they think is best. Trying to figure out what the public thinks is best is just looking to see who can influence the most voters.

So, if you can, visit http://apps.facebook.com/idea-pitch/ and add the application. Then vote for Casual Wine Reviews and give it 5 stars. Then go back the next day and repeat, and so on, until the contest is over. I would really appreciate it! (If you want to tell your friends, that would be helpful as well.)