Dear People Who Enter Dozens of Competitions Online…
Hello! I hope you’re having a good day and an even better year so far. I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to write you this letter! But I’m happy I’m getting to it now.
I wanted to write you a letter as I feel there is a lot of miscommunication in the world, which often leads to resentment and poor behaviour – quite unjustly. So instead of assuming you understand me and the way I do things, I thought I would make it clear in the hopes of understanding, respecting and appreciating one another better. So let’s talk blogging competitions…
Two Kinds of People in the World
In my opinion, there are two kinds of people in the world. Those who enter competitions and those who run competitions. Most of us start out entering competitions, with some of us eventually running competitions. I feel, once you’ve run a competition you can never look at the world the same again.
People Who Run Competitions
People who run competitions immediately separate themselves once they start facilitating a give away. Competitions take A LOT of time. You have to co-ordinate winners, create mechanisms, create the posts, manage entries, draw them fairly, play go between between the brand and winners, to cut a long story short, it’s a MISSION. But, it’s also important to look at why people online (or brands) run competitions.
Corporations are notorious for being profit driven who care little for their consumers. But, with the world of social media now in play, it gives brands an opportunity to be a little more human, to share, communicate, answer your queries, advise you and entertain you, among other things.
There are 5 main reasons for brands to run competitions. They are:
- To build their social media communities.
- To engage with their audience.
- To reward loyal followers.
- To give brand exposure and educate followers.
- To attract new followers.
So any time a brand is running a competition, one of these points will be their objective. They want to reward those who support them (this competition is exclusive to those who like this page), they want to make new shoppers aware of their services (win our new fragrance that launches today), they want to engage with their social media communities with two way communication (tell us how you get red wine out of your white carpets), they want to attract new followers (share this post please), and so on.
People Who Enter Competitions
Now let’s talk about those who love to enter competitions.
You’re casually scrolling down your Facebook timeline when you see a sponsored Facebook post advertising a new vacuum cleaner. You think to yourself,
“Hm! I actually wouldn’t mind a new vacuum cleaner. Actually, come to think of it, mine’s on its last ‘legs’ and this would be a great competition to enter.”
So you click on the website link, you see it’s an easy way to enter – usually you just leave your e-mail address on the website or blog. You stop, just for a moment and think,
“Arg…but are they going to spam me with newsletters and promotions? Those are quite a pain but, hey, let me just enter anyway.”
And you do.
There’s nothing wrong with entering competitions. And there’s definitely nothing wrong with winning them! Until you start getting carried away and begin making a hobby
career out of it.
Enter competition enthusiasts (as I call them)…
I Say No Thank You
Because I have run competitions on my blog as well as for my day job, I see how these competition enthusiasts destroy ALL engagement and objectives of competitions. Some people have nearly HALF A MILLION TWEETS, ALL FOR COMPETITIONS! And the people who are following them are also competition enthusiasts so it just goes around and around and around. Now you tell me how that helps ANYONE other than themselves?
(These are actual examples take from Twitter. The person with 465 000 tweets / 4 368 followers means they have to tweet nearly 11 times to get one follower! Can anyone be this irrelevant? No and yes. No because he’s only tweeting about competitions and most normal people don’t want that spam in their timeline and yes…for the same reason!)
A few weeks back I ran a competition for my readers to win a hamper. I ran this competition as it’s a great way to engage with my audience and to give back (I had tickets to the event either way and was not being paid for my post.). My goal was to engage with people who care about my brand so that I can care about them in return, to spread the joy, to allow others to benefit through blogging without having to start their own blog and to reward loyal readers. Because these are my goals for every competition, I include in my T’s and C’s that serial competition enthusiasts would not qualify for this, or any of my competitions.
After a number of entries, I reminded everyone to please ensure they have read my terms and conditions and reiterated that those who entered too many competitions would be disqualified. Well! What was to follow was nothing less than a spiteful, rude and unkind:
**They then formally contacted the event in an attempt to stop me being paid for my work. Except I wasn’t being paid for my work!!! In reality, it is me who pays to blog!
Now I want to be calm and not write this post without a tone of resentment, but the truth is I find it hard to do! Because the very reason why I as a blogger, just like brands, run competitions is denied by the people who enter millions of competitions.
My Only Mistake
While I had (and always) clearly request people read my T’s and C’s, the only mistake I made in this instant was TELLING THE TRUTH! By being honest, transparent and upfront, I invited a world of hate into my life. I find it so sad that in an attempt to do something nice for others; I was battered and bruised by people who sit behind their keyboard and spew hate. How it is possible for me to get so much backlash over a competition that I was doing out of the kindness of my heart?!!?
Who Deserves the Prize?
If you’re a competition winner, how often do you then go to the shop and buy those brands again? How often do you engage with the product’s Facebook page? Leave a review? Tweet them a picture or share some of their posts? For many of you who win competitions, the answer will be 1/10 times. Why? Because you don’t care about the brand, you only care about getting free things.
If that wasn’t true, then why do you feel the need to enter every competition that comes your way? Surely you would only enter the odd competition here and there in the hopes of winning and spoiling yourself? Your actions totally defeat the purpose of brands trying to build communities through social media. And what about the people who genuinely would love a reward for their brand loyalty? YOU ARE STEALING FROM THEM.
So you can bad mouth bloggers online, you can call us names and insult our work/hobbies, but those of us who care about our communities will take the heat of your unkind words because ETHICALLY we believe in what we’re doing and we don’t agree with your behaviour.[SIDENOTE] Last month I was offered a R3000 watch for a blog post. I said no because it wasn’t my style. Taking that watch, doing a post, pretending I like it just to influence others and then selling it for money is SHADY. I have scruples and I REFUSE to be opportunistic. Why can’t others do the same? Don’t we all consider ourselves good and honest people?
What You Don’t Know Won’t Hurt You
After this incident I consulted 2 lawyers to ensure that I wasn’t breaking any South African sweepstake laws. I wanted to know if I was being ‘unfair’, ‘shit’ and ‘pathetic’ as accused? It turns out I’m perfectly within my rights to have these terms and conditions.
What competition enthusiasts don’t know is that their names are in “Little Black Blogger Books”. Bloggers don’t only write. They talk. A lot. And any time they’re attacked or they find someone being rude and ungrateful, they let all the other bloggers know. So many of these competition enthusiasts are being disqualified ALL THE TIME! The bloggers/websites just aren’t being open about it as they’re not prepared to deal with the indignant backlash that follows.
Where I Went Wrong
The only difference between them and me, was that I was upfront about it. And while I got a whole lot of flack, I’m so proud that I’m transparent. I was called arrogant, what a joke! Would an arrogant person be honest?! NO! They wouldn’t waste their time on bad attitudes and mean people – so many of which are competition enthusiasts.
Bloggers & Brands: Should We Give Up?
After all the drama I ask myself, “Do I really want to continue with competitions? Do I really want to spend time, energy and emotion on work that invites hate and negativity into my life? I’ll still get freebies, who cares if no one else does! But the problem with me is that I do care. I am not arrogant. I am not mean. I am not selfish. And so I answer, yes. Yes, I do still run competitions because I REFUSE to walk as slow as the world’s slowest walker. Why must we suffer because others are cruel and unkind?
Final Message to All Who Enter Competitions…
So to all of you who enter competitions because you genuinely care about a brand. GOOD FOR YOU! Please do! Engage! Give feedback! Have fun! In return, expect decent customer service.
To all of you who enter for freebies, please stop. You are not helping anyone except yourself. You are not making the world a better place, you are filling it with greedy behaviour and taking away opportunities from people who may need the prize a lot more than you do.
And if you are someone online who thinks it’s ok to insult, abuse and harass people, YOU ARE WRONG. Your behaviour is unacceptable and you should have more self respect than being mean and unkind to others. If you don’t like the way someone is behaving, address them kindly, lead by example.
To the bloggers – Thanks to everyone who has read this. Good luck with your competitions and if you don’t bother with them anymore, I understand why! But let’s try to not let a few bad apples ruin the fun for everyone. Best wishes, Meg