About.me – How to run a great awareness and user acquisition campaign

I’m a big fan of about.me, as I have said before.

The site, which allows you to create a free profile, is running a new campaign and competition – which I want to win, but that’s by the bye – and I think it’s a great marketing idea.

To take part, users can opt in on their profile and then encourage visitors to vote for them. The three profiles that receive the most votes will be featured in an advertising campaign that includes a billboard in Times Square in New York, and will also win a trip to go and see themselves up in lights.

I like it for a number of reasons.

Firstly, about.me is using its already engaged, already loyal customer base to do the promotion for them. It’s a “user get user” kind of promotion, but not in an overt way. I’m unsure how many users they currently have, but it was obviously enough for AOL to buy the company for $1.3m eight months ago, and leave it un-monetised (is that a word?) still. So that’s no doubt thousands of people now promoting the site on their other social media profiles like Facebook and Twitter.

Another reason why it’s bound to be successful is that it plays to people’s vanity and egotism. People love to win things, so the hook to get involved is already there, but more than that, people love to be popular and also to prove they’re popular. So it appeals to all the right vanity and greed receptors! (And yes, I’m obviously an egotist who desperately wants to go to New York, because I too have been touting for votes like crazy!  You can vote here: about.me/clairekerr, hint, hint!!)

The kind of people already on the site are those that would want to encourage their friends and acquaintances to vote for them, so it’s a perfect campaign.

Once you vote, you’re offered the option of adding a profile yourself and also joining in the competition. The site is getting dozens of links every hour posted on Twitter and Facebook, so prospective users will be visiting the site all the time. They may never have heard of about.me until a friend sends them a link, but once they’ve voted, a good number of them may be inclined to sign up too.

I would be really interested to see the results of this campaign, especially the return on investment (ROI).  The cost of the billboards will probably be extortionate, but they will have their own pull effect anyway, and there’s also the cost of a trip for the three winners to New York. While the site doesn’t yet have a revenue-based business model, I can’t help but think this campaign might be coming before some sort of change whereby the site does become monetised, and that this is a way of acquiring more users before that. Whatever the motivation, I wish them good luck and I remain a big fan of about.me, not least because of this marketing campaign.