After 5 years of shredding the product shelves, the skier on our BRODA PRO-TEK-TOR wood stain can was tired. He had done remarkably well on those old-school skinny skis, especially for a royalty-free image sourced online. But we knew he needed a break.

The whole idea of using west-coast mountain imagery on BRODA labels came from their roots as a Whistler company. The product is designed for that harsh environment, and people who live the mountain lifestyle are a major target customer group. So who better to ask for help in finding a new image? And what better way of reaching them than with social media?

Thus the BRODA Photo Contest web page was launched, with a $500 first prize. We researched as many photographers, bloggers, and mountain types as we could and began sending out emails. So far, response has been great. We already have more than one image that could easily be a winner. What’s more interesting, we have discovered two of our trades customers who are also avid outdoorspeople and photographers. And we’re only three days into the contest.
Thinking about running a customer content contest? Here are a few things to think about:
1. Make sure the prize is worth it. In our case, we could maybe get a royalty-free image for less, but $500 (while low for high-end pro shots) is an amount at least worth looking through the archives for. And we have some awesome Whistler pros sending in images, too.
2. Be clear about the rights you expect for usage. If you want full and unresrticted ownership of the content, say so. In our case we opted for 5 years non-exclusive use (the photog can still sell the image for other uses)
3. Have fun and be appreciative. We plan on sending something out to all the finalists, and we acknowledge every entry.
So if you need some content, consider a customer contest.
4. Pay it forward. Look to amateur sites such as Flickr, as well as pro communities. Make comments on their blogs, shots and sites and help be a social media connector for them, too.

Above all, make sure you enjoy the process. See it as an opportunity to make new connections and social media friends. The brand, and the customers will thank you for it.

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