Increase Audience Engagement with a Design Contest for Digital Signs

Reinvigorate your digital signage system by launching a design contest for digital signs. Give your audience a chance to try their hand at creating messages, images, video and more to unleash their creativity and get them personally invested in your digital signs. You’ll probably be surprised by how creative some of your audience can be.

Today people are not only used to consuming media though digital devices – phones, digital signs, etc. – they’re also used to creating a lot of it. There’s a thing called the Knowledge Doubling Curve that Buckminster Fuller talked about back in 1982, that says rate at which the total amount of information in the world doubles has been increasing exponentially: about every century until 1900, then it was every 25 years in 1945, and every 12 months by 1982. IBM and other companies now estimate that it now doubles every 12 hours or so. An article by Forbes says that we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data, that’s 2.5 million terabytes, every day (we won’t even go into what is created every minute). To put this in perspective, think that 90% of the information currently in the world was all created in just the past two years.

A lot of that information comes directly from individuals – people taking pictures and posting them, writing Facebook statuses and Tweets, bloggers, YouTubers and more. It’s been argued that we are already out of the Information Age and into the Participation Age, which will define the 21st century. The word “selfie” was given Oxford Word of the Year in 2013. There have already been some successful large-scale crowdsourced content projects, like the 2006 Beastie Boys concert film “Awesome; I F*****n’ Shot That!” made up of edited footage from 50 camcorders given to members of the crowd at a show in Madison Square Garden. People are already creating and sharing content every day, so why not get them to do the same for your digital signs?

When someone sees their own creation up on digital signs, how can they not be engaged? And making it a contest with tangible rewards as well as organization-wide kudos ups the stakes and increases interest. Draw the contest out for a month or so, choosing a winner every week, with winning entries displayed the following week. Individuals or departments that win will certainly talk about their prizes, which will make others also want to participate.

This is really a targeted form of gamification, so think about gamified solutions when considering prizes to award. Gift cards and certificates are great, but so are other things like extra paid time off, donations to charities, casual dress days, food truck lunches and so on. Award the prizes immediately, so people talk about what they won and generate more buzz for subsequent weeks. And make sure to give credit on each winning item you put into your digital signage playlists.

You’ll want to make some basic design guidelines available as part of the contest rules, so people don’t submit things that have no chance of being chosen. Also, remind them of any company policies on what’s appropriate and what’s not.

Make sure to remind them about the top six design tips for digital signs:

  • Contrast and legibility – if the message can’t be seen easily then it won’t be effective
  • Text styles – simple, legible fonts are always preferable, and larger text can be more easily read at a distance
  • The 3×5 rule – reduce clutter by using 3 lines of five words each, or five lines of three words each
  • Color and perception – contrasting colors help make important things stand out, and it’s important to understand what the viewer’s eye is drawn to in a design
  • Quality – images and videos must be in focus and high-resolution for large screens
  • Previewing – contest hopefuls should preview their creations on screens from at least five feet away and adjust elements accordingly before submitting

If you have an overwhelming amount of high-quality submissions, consider making the contest a permanent part of your digital signage communications strategy. You then have a steady supply of high-quality digital signage content that your team doesn’t have to create – just evaluate and schedule. Naturally, your team will have the final say on winners, ensuring that everything meets all your submission guidelines and fits with the overall look and feel you present on your digital signs.

With the opportunity to contribute, your audience will always be excited and participating in their own communications. That means they’re engaged, which means they pay more attention to your visual communications and are happier in their jobs. This creates a sense of community and playful fun that benefits not only the participants, but your organization as a whole.