With an application and review process that automates a public gallery, having a public vote component in your award, grant, or scholarship program has never been easier. But do you need a public vote component added to your program, and what kind of added benefits can you expect from opening up the review process to the general public?
What kind of Programs need a public vote?
There are often three different types of programs that want or require a public vote component: 1) if the outcome of the vote is relevant to the community at large, 2) if it is important that the outcome of the vote is crowdsourced by a mass audience, and 3) if the organization or the program want an opportunity to get some extra publicity.
Let’s take an example. Client X uses the public vote component in OpenWater for an architecture challenge that seeks to find the most aesthetically-pleasing piece of architecture in the Washington area.
Having a public vote component in a program like this is crucial because not only does it allow the program to pool the opinion of actual residents of the community who can toss in their own vote, but it also serves as a great opportunity for some free publicity. By increasing traffic to the gallery of finalists, the architects have an opportunity to get their name and their creations out in the public eye. The organization who runs this award annually also increases the name value of their award for future cycles.
Can a Public vote really make me go viral?
Yes it can! Having a public vote component can make you go viral due to the following three reasons:
1) Increased Word-of-Mouth = Increased traffic
OpenWater recently worked with a client who wanted to run a public vote program to name and design an icon for an app they were launching. The program had two rounds: In the first round all submissions were received, recorded, and scored; in the second round the administrator selected the top few entries that were to be scored on a public vote.
Having a public vote on something like this gives the organization the benefit of crowdsourcing from the public on what kind of icon or name would get the best response. It also provides the organization the added benefit of increasing exposure to the public about the app that’s currently under development, and the other projects and programs the organization may be running and housing in the OpenWater system.
2) Increased stakes = Increased interest
One of the most important things about running a successful program is to have a set of reviewers on the other end who are experts in the field that can provide the program with the legitimacy and prestige it deserves. It’s interesting to know that having a public vote component alongside a panel of experts or reviewers may provide an even bigger boost than having the most renowned panel of experts on your board of reviewers. It’s simple enough – increased stakes = increased interest – and because the public have a say in who gets chosen, there’s bound to be more interest in the outcome of the vote.
3) Public Vote = Boosted Community Interest
The public vote component makes it more likely for the program to get picked up by the local media or the press. Often times, when there is a public vote feature, associations help finalists promote their projects through press releases and other marketing materials that can be used to promote their submissions within their own communities. Applicants can share their submissions with friends and colleagues, potentially driving more traffic to your gallery – that might even catch the eye of a local reporter or journalist who might want to write a story on your program.
Having a public vote component to your program can definitely make you go viral, but it’s something worth pursuing even if your program doesn’t make the headlines of Buzzfeed the next morning. Some basic perks like increased publicity, traffic to your program and website, and better crowdsourced opinions are things that you can expect as an admin from a program with a public vote. With a software partner like OpenWater that can facilitate a public gallery and a public vote that serves to run an effective and accurate publicly sourced review platform without putting the integrity of the results at risk, exploring a public vote component for your next program is something your admin should consider!