Promotion cuts both ways. Just ask MyCotorra.com -- a small Groupon-esque website in Miami. In order to promote both its website and one of its deal sponsors, MyCotorra teamed up with a Coral Gables-based bridal shop to offer a free custom-designed wedding gown.
The lucky bride-to-be simply had to get as many people as possible to "like" her photo on the contest's Facebook page.
Social networking and social coupons were made for one another given their viral nature. MyCotorra figured that folks would tell their family and friends to vote for them, increasing local brand awareness. Well, the site got more than it bargained for, as it saw many votes coming in outside of its South Florida market and it began to suspect that some entrants were fraudulently purchasing "likes" to game the contest.
It's all explained here, but the story ends with the contest closing early. The prizes were awarded -- and a party with prizes for all contest participants was also held last week.
I'm not sure if I buy the "likes" purchase theory. I think MyCotorra simply underestimated that Facebook is a global site and nearly everyone on the site has friends outside of their home cities. Perhaps more importantly, once the call goes out for a "like" it's common for friends and family members to rebroadcast the request, further exposing the contest to those outside of a certain geographic area.
The moral of the story, as anyone that has seen the Filene's Basement "running of the brides" for marked down dresses, you don't underestimate how far a bride-to-be will go for a free or nearly free gown.