21 Ways to Use Voting Brackets as Content

by Julia Miller Second Street

Food and Drink

If there’s one thing people are passionate about, it’s what they eat and drink. Voting brackets themed around local restaurants, top bars, best drinks, or even regional food favorites will all spark a debate with your audience. You can focus on topics like cultural or regional food favorites, favorites of a certain cuisine, or best local restaurants or bars.

Vote For Your Favorite Classic Cocktail

WLML-FM | West Palm Beach, Florida

This cocktail bracket from WLML-FM was designed to promote an upcoming ‘virtual cocktail party’ live show on Facebook. It was a unique way to identify listeners who’d be interested in their virtual event and collect opt-ins to reach out to them about more info as the event drew closer.

WLML-FM Vote For Your Favorite Classic Cocktail

Local Doughnut Bracket

Nashville Scene | Nashville, TN

This magazine added a bracket of local doughnut shops to compliment a piece about eight competing shops in Nashville. This doughnut bracket is a great example of using promotions as content to align with your editorial calendar. It was a great success with 2,300+ votes and 350+ email opt-ins for the magazine.

Local Doughnut Bracket Nashville Scene

Best Fish Fry Bracket

St. Louis Magazine | St. Louis, MO

Capitalizing on local passions, St. Louis Magazine called attention to St. Louis’ local passion for fish frys. They took the top entrants in a top fish fry ballot to seed this bracket. This unique ballot was perfect for connecting with the community and added more than 250 opt-ins to the magazine’s newsletters.

Best Fish Fry Bracket St. Louis Magazine

Taco Madness Bracket

Austin Monthly | Austin, TX

This bracket highlighted 32 tacos from local restaurants and asked users to vote for their favorites round after round. Pictures and descriptions of each taco made this promotion highly engaging and caught readers’ attention. There were more than 17,000 votes and 1,000+ opt-ins for the magazine from this bracket.

Taco Madness Bracket Austin Monthly

Stadium Food Faceoff

St. Louis Post-Dispatch | St. Louis, MO

This bracket around favorite foods from sports stadiums created content to engage their sports audience while sports events were cancelled. Think about brackets to run around each sports season involving more than just the sport itself.

Stadium Food Faceoff St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Snack Battle

Northwest Herald | Crystal Lake, IL

During the time of COVID, this Illinois paper ran a snack food bracket to engage their audience. This was a perfect opportunity to pitch some lighthearted content while also collecting 200+ opt-ins for their Northwest Herald Daily Update newsletter to keep their readers informed.

Snack Battle Northwest Herald

Thanksgiving Food Fight

WROR-FM | Dorchester, MA

This simple Thanksgiving bracket had favorite side dishes go head to head to engage their audience around the holiday. Pair a bracket with any holiday to enhance your current content and to gather votes and opt-ins.

Thanksgiving Food Fight WROR-FM

Events

While in-person events might not be the most popular activity right now, events still make great bracket content. There are still plenty of events to work with, they just may have gone from in-person to virtual.

Mardi Gras Bracket

KPLC-TV | Lake Charles, LA

This bracket from KPLC highlighted all the best parts of their local Mardi Gras events and drove people to other Mardi Gras content on the station’s website. It was a great way to enhance current coverage and add a more engaging element into their content mix.

Mardi Gras Bracket KPLC-TV

Promote Programming

Voting brackets are a fun way to promote and repurpose your content. Let your audience choose their favorite breaking news stories, local celebrity interviews, or memorable moments with a bracket challenge. This is a great way to drive time-on-site, gather audience feedback, grow your email database, and make your content more engaging.

Best Country Song of The Decade

WKML-FM | Fayetteville, NC
Fayetteville station WKML ran this bracket challenge to spur conversation between their on-air talent and their listeners. In addition to giving fans a chance to vote for their favorites, the bracket also promoted the stations’ Top Songs of the Decade Marathon on New Year’s Day. The bracket ended with 2,500 votes and collected 150 opt-ins for the station’s All Access Club E-Update newsletter.

WKML song of the decade bracket

Billy Bracket

WFWI-FM | Fort Wayne, IN
WFWI-FM created this fun bracket campaign to promote an upcoming Billy Joel concert. Not only did the bracket promote the event in a unique way, but it also engaged the station’s Billy Joel fans with a fun song-by-song fight for the title of ‘best song.’ There were an astounding 19,000+ votes and 1,000+ opt-ins for station newsletters.

Billy Bracket WFWI-FM

Music to My Beers – Beer Bracketology

WRBR-FM | South Bend, IN

This station podcast, Music to My Beers, created the Beer Bracketology bracket as a creative way to involve their audience in the podcast’s weekly content. Not only did they promote their own programming, but they added nearly 100 excited audience members to their database. You can read more about this bracket in a case study here.

Music to My Beers – Beer Bracketology WRBR-FM

Sports

While COVID-19 placed unexpected limitations on our favorite sporting events, voting brackets provided a great opportunity to engage passionate fans. Voting brackets are also great for sports in general. Ask fans to vote on their favorite team colors, big wins, coaches, and more. Utilize a bracket to showcase your local sports scene and let your audience vote for their favorites.

Chicago Madness

WGN-TV | Chicago, IL
The WGN team dug into their archives to find the best moments in Chicago sports history and turned those moments into a bracket. Not only did this provide great sports footage to talk about on-air, but the bracket also drove in fantastic results: 21,700 votes, 1,400+ birthday club opt-ins, and 670+ opt-ins for Daily News list.

Chicago Madness WGN-TV

Mascots Contest

Lima News | Lima, OH

This Ohio paper made a creative contest for readers to vote on the top 16 local high school mascots. This local audience is passionate about their schools, so they were excited to vote in each round. In addition to great engagement, the winners and nominees provided great content for the paper to write about in print and online.

Mascots Contest Lima News

The Fan QuaranTourney Brackets

KKFN-FM | Denver, CO
This sports station took a hit with content when COVID halted most, if not all, sports seasons. The team at KKFN came up with a creative bracket strategy to fill the void. They wrapped several creative brackets into a QuaranTourney campaign and covered each round with talent breaking down matchups, upsets, etc. They had topics such as Athletes Turned Actors, Greatest Broncos All-Time Draft Pick, Best Breakfast Cereal, and more!

The Fan QuaranTourney Brackets KKFN-FM

Best of All Time Bracket

The Herald | Jasper, IN

Another great way to create a bracket is to leverage all of the content and photos from your archive. This newspaper used content from their sports archives to create a bracket of local high school basketball moments dating back to 1949. This was a clever solution to engage their sports audience in lieu of a basketball tournament this year.

Best of All Time Bracket The Herald

COVID-19

With COVID-19, you have an increased audience looking to you for information and entertainment. Brackets are a perfect solution to educate and connect with your audience.

Games Night Showdown

Avenue Magazine | Calgary, AB
This bracket was created as a response to quarantine measures mid-March 2020. The magazine used this fun board game bracket to connect with their audience and give them ideas for indoor games. With over 1,200 votes, this bracket was also a fantastic way to grow their database and create content to include in their Weekender newsletter, which was in need of content to replace what was canceled.

Games Night Showdown Avenue Magazine

What Should You Do At Home? Bracket

WRAL-TV | Raleigh, NC

WRAL-TV ran this bracket to include in their Go Ask Mom newsletter. Not only did it give local parents engaging content and ideas for kid-friendly activities, but it also leveraged the registration form to gather data on how the audience is spending time at home.

What Should You Do At Home? Bracket WRAL-TV

Stay At Home Entertainment Showdown

Lakeland Broadcasting | Willmar, MN

This broadcasting group used this bracket as a way to connect with listeners during the stay-at-home order. When creating a voting bracket, you and your team get to seed the bracket with items you think are best. This radio group decided on items to match up on the bracket by polling their team and other employees at the station. It got 2,260+ votes and 1,000+ opt-ins for their newsletters.

Stay At Home Entertainment Showdown Lakeland Broadcasting

Engaging Specific-Audience Passions

Brackets are a prime opportunity to grow your targeted email lists of enthusiasts. Those who engage with a model train bracket are highly likely to also be interested in opt-ing in for a model train newsletter.

Card of the Month Bracket

Creative Scrapbooker | Calgary, AB
To engage their niche audience, this scrapbooking magazine asked for reader submissions of their own card creations. Readers submitted images of cards, and the magazine seeded them into a bracket. In the first month, 1,300+ people participated, it had 13,000+ votes, and 2,200+ opt-ins for two magazine newsletters. Check out the full case study here!

Card of the Month Bracket Creative Scrapbooker

National Park Week Bracket Challenge

Travel Awaits
This niche travel site was looking for opportunities to continue producing content during the stay-at-home order. As their readers travel frequently and the National Parks are a popular travel destination, they created this Best Park Bracket Challenge campaign to engage their audience. The bracket asked users to vote for their favorite parks, round after round, until Glacier National Park was declared the winner (although I think the Grand Tetons should have won!)

ational Park Week Bracket Challenge TravelAwaits

Best Outdoor Recreation in Tahoe

Tahoe Daily Tribune | South Lake Tahoe, CATahoe Daily Tribune created a bracket showcasing the best of local outdoor recreation. This both encouraged their audience to explore these great local recreation spots and also strengthened the paper’s relationship to this audience.

Best Outdoor Recreation in Tahoe Tahoe Daily Tribune

Want even more ideas for voting brackets? We’ve put together a month-by-month list of 103 bracket ideas to fill your promotions calendar!

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