Update July 30: I don't know if it was me or YouTube's search function (probably the former), but I missed at least six other entrants into the Lending Club contest. While I'm still surprised there are so few — as of 11 AM Pacific today, there are 10 total entrants here — that's MUCH better than three. What's more important: several are approriate and relatively clever. The current leader here, and probable winner, has nearly 5,000 views and will be hard to catch. Another thing I missed, the company DID put the contest in its blog here. I apologize for the errors.
Start-up, P2P lender Lending Club is sponsoring a user-generated video contest on YouTube. The most popular video wins $5,000, and in addition to its blog, the contest is also discussed in the lender's Facebook Group (screenshot below). Despite this exposure, the contest doesn't seem to be widely known. We read about it last week on a P2P lending blog called Prosper Lending Review.
Right now, it looks like someone's going to make off with an easy $5k. The contest, which began July 17, and ends on Aug. 10, has only two entrants posted on YouTube, at least using the correct tab "Lending Club." One is recorded so softly, you cannot understand a word of it, another features a guy reading website copy on his couch, and the last one is a dubbed-over 1-minute clip from the Hound of the Baskervilles. I don't want to skew the results by linking to them. Trust me, you don't need to watch them.
And since the winner is the video with the most cumulative plays on Aug. 10, new entrants have less than 2 weeks to rack up more than the 2,000 views of the current leader.
A few lessons from this effort:
Lesson #1: While the contest is a great idea to generate low-cost buzz, and perfect for a Facebook-based app like Lending Club, the lesson here is that you need to run it longer so the contest can create its own viral momentum. Three and a half-weeks just isn't enough time for the word to get out to enough creative types and for them to get something interesting recorded, uploaded, and for it to catch on with YouTube viewers. In contrast, see our coverage of Intuit's TurboTax Rap which generated more than one million YouTube views (previous coverage here).
Lesson #2: Lending Club was apparently testing the power of FaceBook groups, creating a special one just for the contest called, "Lending Club Contest — Win $5,000." The lender did not mention the contest (see update above) on its website. But unfortunately, the Facebook club has only 57 members after two weeks and doesn't appear to have the horsepower to spike enough word-of-mouth buzz on its own. I'm sure they will do it differently next time.
Lesson #3: You might want to include a clause in the contest rules stating that videos containing pirated content or profanity, are unintelligible or not understandable, are not allowed. That would eliminate all three current entrants. Here's the official rules posted at Facebook.