As VOACambodia.com contest came to an end last week after a 27-year-old Voice of America (VOA) Khmer listener collected an Apple iPad (the contest grand prize), I have a few things to mention in this blog post.
I began working on VOACambodia.com contest since late last year. Primarily designed to promote and enhance VOA Khmer’s online presence and visibility, the contest’s main aim is to reach out and build a new group of VOA Khmer’s audience, some of the 194,282 Internet users in Cambodia (according to a 2010-data from Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications and Posts of Ministry). VOA Khmer has been on air since 1955, the Khmer Service’s radio broadcast and its twice daily broadcast reaches Cambodian homes throughout the country, making it easier to publicize this Internet contest.
Aimed at getting Cambodian Internet users to visit VOA Khmer’s news site (in Khmer and English language), the contest announcement was first broadcast on the air wave. However, while it’s easy to get first-time visitors to the site, it’s more important to keep them coming to consume the news content on VOA Khmer website.
From January to April, the contest called for the radio listeners to join the contest via email. More than six thousand email messages were submitted from the audience from most parts of Cambodia. There are seven, among several thousand contestants, who won a prize each from this question & answer competition and luck draw. The gadget prizes included 3 digital video cameras, 3 iPods, and an iPad. At first, I was worried that all the winners are from the Cambodian capital city, but it turned out there are winners from various provinces.
One morning on the way to his workplace, Hoy Meng Leang heard about VOACambodia.com contest through his car radio. Although he didn’t have Internet connection at home. “It’s just my luck. I don’t think it has anything to do with hard work. So I hope that other contestants won’t get disappointed,” said Hoy Meng Leang, who’s a long-time listener of VOA Khmer.
Hoy Meng Leang won the grand prize at his high time. The young VOA Khmer listener collected the iPad from me on his very first day at work for a new company in Phnom Penh. He previously worked in Kandal province. “I’m very excited. Everyone at my home are talking about my winning,” said Hoy Meng Leang after the grand prize winner was informed about the lucky draw. The grand prize winner added that, “We should listen to news, specially Cambodian affairs.”
As VOA Khmer has leveraged the potential of social media to build and engage audience online, the contest’s questions aims to introduce Cambodian Internet users to VOA Khmer’s YouTube channel, Facebook, and mobile sites. VOA Khmer’s Facebook Page now has nearly 8000 users who stay connected with the main news site, which publishes daily news about Cambodian politics, Khmer Rouges, human rights, economy, and social issues. The Facebook Page was launched by the Khmer Service in November 2009. But the past six months saw the rising number of people who like the Page.
2011 and the next couple of years will be important for VOA Khmer to deliver reliable, original and quality news and information to Cambodian audience through Internet-based platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
Essentially, it’s now possible for the VOA Khmer audience to communicate conveniently with invited guests of the bi-weekly Hello VOA talk show. The program is usually open to questions from the radio listener through phone call. Facebook users leave comments on the Page before the start of the show and the talk show host reads the question for the guest. This online activity enables the radio broadcast more interactivity thanks to the growing Internet-based audience. This is why the contest was run across platforms, radio and the Internet.
Media lecturer and researcher Peou Chivoin says, “The number of facebook users is generally anywhere between 1/3 and 1/4 of that of internet users. The number of internet users in Cambodia is a bit over 100,000”. The figure makes it more reasonable for digital strategists to do more work to engage with the audience through the popular social networking site.
According Google Analytics used by VOA Khmer to track visitors to the site, over 80% are ‘Returning Visitors’. This means the contest contributed to building a loyal online audience. The statistic monitor service also says Facebook is among the top ten sites that send traffic to the VOA Khmer news site. Nearly 40% of the Facebook Page fans are aged between 18-24.