Saturday, January 14, 2012

USAT | Contest debuting tagline hits an obstacle

[Updated at 11:58 p.m. ET.] USA Today says the contest form is working again.

My original post: Gannett Blog wasn't the only site experiencing technical snafus this week.

USA Today's launch of a sweepstakes on Facebook three days ago has been delayed because of an unexplained software problem, according to a note the paper just posted to readers.

The contest, a bid to draw more fans to the paper's Facebook page, had unveiled what appears to be a new branding tagline: "News that's real."

But not long after the sweepstakes was announced, readers discovered the contest form wouldn't load correctly. Responding to queries, USAT posted the following this morning on this comment thread:

"We are having a technical problem with the form. We’re working with our vendors on fixing the issue. We’ll alert you when it’s back up."

Assuming the form gets fixed, it will be interesting to see whether the contest to win an iPad 2 draws a significant number of new fans to USAT's Facebook page. As I post this, the paper has 86,975.

For context, The New York Times has 1.9 million fans. (And Gannett Blog has 197!)


  1. The iPad 2 sweepstakes was ill-conceived from the beginning. iPad 2 give-aways are all over Facebook, and normally, it's just spam. So when USA TODAY uses the same offer, some people could be afraid that by entering, it will spam all of their friends.

    What about a luxury trip to the Caribbean, trip to the Super Bowl, or a ski trip or something that better aligns with the brand?

  2. Gannett Mission: To lead the transformation of the media and marketing solutions industries.

    Yet, Gannett struggles with simple internet forms. Sad.

  3. iPad 2? Boy, that's thinking outside the box.

  4. Wow, really worth a Gannett Blog headline. A true public service showing this technical snafu!


  5. "We're working with our vendors?" WTF? We can't do it ourselves, or make it happen NOW? If I were a real customer I'd think, what a bunch of assclown losers.

  6. The sweepstakes shows a few things though.

    1. The team there doesn't understand the current Facebook audience and how to drive fan growth.

    2. They don't understand that it is against Facebook's rules to operate a sweepstakes that requires a page "Like"

    3. They couldn't sell in a partnership to a sponsor for a better prize.

    It's amateur hour since USA TODAY's entire social media team all quit.

  7. Has anyone been able to access content on USA Today's new Facebook newspaper app?

  8. 10:20 I don't know whether this sweepstakes violates Facebook's rules.

    But at the very least, it skews the "like" numbers higher in a way that is misleading. The message to anyone who knows is: USAT's Facebook page can't compete on its own content alone.

    Plus, the sweepstakes doesn't even seem to be terribly effective. Since I first checked yesterday, after the entry form was fixed, the paper has added only 150 more fans, for a current total of 87,125.

    Mind you, this is for a paper with 1.8 million in circulation.

  9. It's amateur hour at USAToday marketing. With all the digital and social talent in the marketplace, we hire a bunch of TV people to run marketing at a newspaper?

    1. Facts please. What specifically is amateur hour. Can you name three campaig s you liked last year before the new team arrived? Other than the work from home four days a week with no supervision or accountability program.

  10. All I hear is crickets chirping.


Jim says: "Proceed with caution; this is a free-for-all comment zone. I try to correct or clarify incorrect information. But I can't catch everything. Please keep your posts focused on Gannett and media-related subjects. Note that I occasionally review comments in advance, to reject inappropriate ones. And I ignore hostile posters, and recommend you do, too."

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.