Thanks to Mashable, I took a look at the contest that Guitar Center is running - The King of the Blues: The Search for the Next, Great, Undiscovered Blues Guitar Player. They are running this in a way that aligns with their local stores and drives traffic there. Essentially it works like this:
"Each contestant will perform live to 1 of 20+ original backing tracks, produced by Grammy Award winning producer, Pete Anderson and us here at Guitar Center. Contestants may bring and use any 6, 7, or 12 string acoustic or electric guitar, any audio pedal effects that can be set-up in 5 minutes all which will be plugged into a selection of amplifiers provided by Guitar Center. ...If you’re good enough to make it to the finals, you’ll receive an additional 2 minutes to solo on a brand new Gibson Acoustic guitar... you’ll be fronting a live backing band!
All contestants will be judges by a panel of 3 independent and credible judges on the following criteria, ORGINALITY, SKILLS/TECHNQUE, STYLE, STAGE PRESENCE, OVERALL PERFORMANCE...."
Contestants or other members to the Social Network (SNS) have My Space-like profile pages. Eddie Van Halen has a poorly populated page. I am guesssing that someone the Guitar Center organization got him onboard but now they are finding it difficult to get him to participate on any level. That happens with celebs. Still, it was the first profile I clicked on.
I am not a big fan of message boards but aside from an ordering problem (the forums starts with the earliest post vs. the most recent which would make more sense), their forum is pretty good. If you dip into the Hot Rod or Stock conversation you'll see some pretty lucid postings about preferred gear. Each post features the thumbnail which my dude, jesse, assures me is the future of how we will identify ourselves online.
The sponsors include: Gibson, Guitar World, Sobe, Levis and Little Dog Records. I am guessing that Ford is also a sponsor as they feature the main prize: a sweet Mustang. It runs from now through June which is a nice long run for a contest. I have no doubt that this will earn a lot of relevant word-of-mouth online and offline. I want to know how Guitar Center is measuring success. Beyond site traffic, registrants and performers, is each store trying to break out some additional sales reporting. ROI is huge now with our clients. they are no longer satisfied with deploying social media-related programs on a try-and-learn basis, they want a simple and clear measurement approach. Given that this is largely a traditional contest, that shouldn't be rocket science but how do they value the WOM and the profiles? And what will they do with all of these profile pages post-contest. I presume this is a long-term SNS in the making.