Israeli photo contests show brave use of social media.

We’re always on the lookout for interesting uses of social media by companies and organizations, and right now there are two groups on Facebook using photos as part of extensive social media campaigns. One is the Inbal Hotel, which is holding a contest whereby the person with the best photos of Jerusalem wins a night for two at the hotel (pick me, pick me!). The second is Nefesh b’Nefesh, with their “This is my Israel” photo contest. Read on to learn more about how each of these organizations is using photos and social media to engage people with their brands.

Inbal Hotel – the first in their field

Inbal Hotel Facebook photo contest
Inbal Hotel Facebook photo contest

It’s easy to jump on the social media bandwagon once it’s already moving, but to be the first to get the bandwagon going in your field can feel a little daunting. As far as I know, the Inbal, a hotel in Jerusalem, is the first Israeli hotel to really go all the way, social media speaking. From their gung-ho presence “all over” Facebook and Twitter, it’s easily apparent that Ruth Waiman, the enthusiastic Executive Assistant along with Online Marketing Manager Pinny Orzach, the SEO/SEM person, have been given the OK to really give social media a try.

It really is a risk when a company decides to put a substantial amount of employee hours towards a social media presence. There could be growing pains when a conventional company puts itself out there in the world of social media. Often there is a slight image change as the company shows itself to be more hip and young through their social media presence.

You’ve got to be at least a little creative and really quite proactive to keep your social media presence alive and well. It’s not just about posting, “The chef is now cooking duck for dinner.” It’s about being cool, fun and interactive.

The Inbal Hotel’s latest photograph competition is exactly that – cool, fun and interactive. Actually, the beauty of their competition is that it isn’t about the Inbal. It’s about Jerusalem. You can enter the competition by posting up to three photographs you’ve taken of Jerusalem on their Facebook wall. At the end of October the best photograph will be chosen and the winner will get a night for two at the hotel.

When I wrote to Ruth about their latest contest, she explained:

To further boost our interactions on Facebook on both English and Hebrew walls, the photo competition was launched and has been receiving enthusiastic feedback from the outset.

Having now received close to 80 photos on the combined pages, we’ve definitely noticed an increase of fans and interactions and are hoping to involve external photography professionals for the judging due to take place early next month.

Ruth also mentioned all the events they’ve been hosting at the hotel, including the WordCamp afterparty (which we, as the WordCamp organizers, are really grateful for) at the beginning of September.

Nefesh B’Nefesh’s “This is my Israel” Campaign

This is my Israel
Nefesh B'Nefesh This is My Israel campaign

Slightly before the Inbal’s competition commenced, Nefesh B’Nefesh (NBN), the organization that supports Jews who move to Israel, started a photo contest on their facebook page. To participate in this competition, people were requested to take a picture of themselves holding a sign that says “This is my ISRAEL” somewhere in Israel. The place where they are photographed should be one that they see as truly representing Israel for them.

Also, a fun campaign that is not about the actual organization behind the campaign, but instead about “you” and Israel.

What a wonderful use of social media to get people involved in an organization and, of course, more connected to each other and Israel.

It is currently voting time on the NBN campaign so you can go to the album and click “like” on your favourites. The winning photographer will receive a Flip video camera. Sweet.

Goals and drawbacks

The main goals of campaigns of this kind are exposure and building a certain image and relationship with your followers. As long as your campaign really is, as I said, fun, cool and interactive, and not all about you, the image and relationship aspects will probably be fine. The only problem with these types of contests is that if you want to participate in the contest, you might hesitate telling others about it since the last thing you need is more competition!

(Of course that brings up the question, why am I writing about it here if I plan on entering the Inbal contest? I suppose my blogging addiction is stronger than my “I need to win” attitude.)

Otherwise, both of these contests are a great and fun use of Facebook.

And here are my pictures

So yes, I plan to enter three of my pictures in the Inbal competition. Here are the photographs I’m considering. Which ones do you think could be winners? Help me choose! I really could use a night in a fancy hotel.

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