rss feed facebook  pinterest twitter

Why vote-begging blogger contests always suck

iStock_000018427341XSmallIn February of 2009, when I’d been blogging for less than a year, I was approached by a large company (or, more accurately, the company they hired to do their pr) to be part of a contest. One blogger would win $5k for a local food bank. $5K? Of course I was in! Who wouldn’t want to be able to give that much money to charity?

I was incredibly flattered. I had a tiny blog, and yet they were picking me! I was seriously excited…and pretty stupid. I mean, duh, they were coming to me because anybody with any sense had already turned them down.

Of course the contest was a disaster. I ended up annoying pretty much everyone I knew, and I didn’t even win. But it was a wake-up call, and I was glad that I’d gotten it before anybody really knew who I was.

I just heard about something similar that unfolded in the past few days, involving a blogger contest from Chrysler, run (badly) by a company called Ignite Social Media. I won’t bother telling you what happened, because it’s all summed up so very nicely here. And if you want the perspective of the blogger who was actually thrown out of the contest, she writes about it here. I would love to link to the other side of the story, but I checked the website of the other blogger knee deep in this mess, and she hasn’t addressed it yet.

There are three clear things for bloggers to take away from this mess.

1. Any time a blogger is offered an “opportunity” to participate in a vote-getting contest where readers can vote day after day, she should say no. Loudly. What’s really going to happen is she will help another (bigger) site get crazy traffic, and annoy her own readers and followers. I don’t care what the prize is. Run the other way.

This doesn’t just go for contests with tangible prizes like trips or iPads, but also for awards. About a year ago I was informed that I had been nominated for a big blogging award. I was flattered for half a second, until I got to the part of the email where it said the winner would be determined by votes, and I should encourage my readers and friends to go to the sponsoring company’s site and vote, often.

I’d seen people with badges on their blogs touting that very award. I had no idea they’d “won” the award by harassing people. I don’t want an award that I can get by begging.

2. Any time a company asks you to do something with requirements, deadlines, rules, etc. they should be compensating you. As far as I can tell, only the winning blogger was supposed to get anything of value (a trip for four to NYC, and an iPad to give away). So right from the beginning, all of the participants knew that they would be promoting Chrysler, and the best case scenario would be that only one of them would get “paid” (in quotes because a “free” trip to NYC will cost you money in the end, not pay your bills).

3. (And I think this is the most important one) If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. The kicked-out blogger even said in her post about the mess, “I don’t get asked to participate in this type of thing, like, at all.” The mistake that I made three years ago was thinking that I was being asked to participate because I was awesome, when in truth, everyone who was awesome had already said no. So, if you get an opportunity that seems “bigger” than where you think you are, your Spidey sense should be tingling, and you should proceed with extreme caution.

Originally posted on Behind the Screen. All opinions expressed on this website come straight from Amy unless otherwise noted. This post has a Compensation Level of 0. Please visit Amy’s Full Disclosure page for more information.