It’s all about the followers, and other uglies…

K. First, blog giveaways is very much just a chance game. And to even your odds, make your chances of winning high. That means twitter. And blogging about giveaways. And finding smaller blogs with fewer entries. If you want higher chances of winning, don’t follow big blogs with millions of followers. The downside to this is that you’re not entering to win a trampoline or a camcorder. 😛

Second, once you’ve been following giveaway blogs for a month or more… or less, you are going to start thinking, “Why don’t I do this? I keep trying to win a fill-in-the-blank. I could just start my own giveaway blog and get it that way. And other cool stuff. That would be awesome.” Just from the few months I’ve been here, it seems giveaway blogs have. hm. quadrupled? … you know you’re an old hand whenever you see a UPrinting review/giveaway and go, “yup, they’re trying to become a giveaway blog”.

Giveaways are an instant ticket to getting your blog noticed. And you have to get your blog noticed to get giveaways. So it becomes a fun, or vicious, cycle.

I guess over in the blog PR world, there must be something about “how many google friends do you have?”. It’s what every blog wants.  A leveling game. A status symbol, too. Either that or it’s a fuzzy-feeling widget.

Then there’s captcha. I swear. Every blogger who has multiple entries should try out their blog themselves. My pet peeve in giveaways is when you fill out the form, press enter, and then the whole page reloads (with all those hyperlinks) then asks you to fill in the captcha. It’s not as bad now, but when we were on a weaker connection, wherever my hubby was playing something online, I could only load one page at a time lest I kill his character…So….

enter “google friend and i like this item best. [email addy]”

click submit.

wait for page to reload.

enter captcha.

click submit.

wait for page to reload.

enter “email subscriber entry #1 [email addy]”

click submit.

wait for page to reload.

enter captcha.

click submit.

wait for page to reload.

mmk… they have 3 extra entries for email subscribers, an extra entry for rss readers, another for networked blogs. another for twitter follower. another for following the sponsor’s twitter. two for liking the sponsor on facebook. three for liking them on facebook. five for having their button on your blog. and a tweet. At least.

It gets old. Fast.

If you have to do captcha, either have it on the same page, or do a pop-up window for comments. Please. (And for those who have changed it…. Thank you!)

And while I’m complaining about giveaway entries… are they really serious that you’ll be disqualified if you enter your email address “emailaddy at yahoo dot com” instead of “emailaddy at yahoo.com” … um, seriously? at/dot is the standard. Be nice.

And talking about entering your email address…. I didn’t like entering mine at first, but soon I didn’t care anymore as long as I had it in the at/dot format, but I know it bugs some people. So kudos to those who are sensitive to that and have done google docs, disqus, or moved to wordpress.

But if you move to wordpress, don’t keep your multiple entries. It gets even more agonizing over there with the “You are commenting too fast, please slow down.” page.

And don’t you dare say, “I’m not going to email the winners, I just don’t have time. I’ll just put up a post with the winners and they have 48 hours to claim their prize.”  If you don’t have time to email winners, don’t run a giveaway blog. Or do less giveaways. Or whatever.

And if you extend a giveaway, post a blogpost explaining why. Not enough entries? That’s ok. Going on vacation? Sure! But tell people. No one likes an extended giveaway without notice. And one cut short even less.

Which comes into a big issue. Is it about you and your blog, or about your followers and your sponsors? It shows more than you realize.

And then there’s the ethical issue… What do you do with all that stuff that you end up not wanting? Give it away? Donate it? Do a giveaway (haven’t seen that yet, but it would rock)? Or sell it?  There’s this one blog I once followed… ran a diaper event. Towards the end of it they said they found their favorite diaper. So they decided to sell the diapers they reviewed at a reasonable price (lower end of used, $8-12) to their readers via email, first come, first served. Someone bought the whole lot just before I emailed (I had just started cloth diapering and needed diapers). The deal fell through and then they sold them a different way, directly on their blog at a higher price ($12-18, if I recall). Now they’re planning to do another diaper event. Including reviewing some of the diapers they reviewed, then sold, the first time around. What the heck? At the same time they were pushing to, what was it, 1000 followers? That’s the type of blog that needs to go on a thumbs-down giveaway blog list.

But there is no such list. Wish there was. It would benefit followers and sponsors. And be so much more valuable to bloggers than being #1 on Top Mommy Blogs.

Then there’s that whole no-contact or no-show deal. I’ve just not bothered stressing over it, even though I’ve never seen many of the prizes I “won”…

Then there’s the other side of the fence. The entrants. Yes, I was one of the fly-by giveaway followers. I wouldn’t look at your Wordless Wednesday post. I won’t comment on your personal posts. Why? Straight up, I was there for the giveaways. Is that selfish of me? Sometimes. But at the same time, if you write well, I’m going to start noticing and reading and following- not for the giveaways but for your blog. So if you want blog readers, write good! If you want giveaway followers, do great giveaways. If you want both, do both well and kudos if you do. If you don’t, it’s your fault – do one or the other.

Oh, and if someone comments or queries on a blog comment… don’t answer there and assume they’ll see it. Email them back. Or answer in another blogpost.

“You may tweet once daily” is pretty common and very nice. “You may tweet once per hour” is fun, but time-consuming. “You may twice twice a day”, “three times”, “up to five times”… is frankly kinda frustrating, because I’m going to forget which blog giveaway is which. Unless you are running a large event with several giveaways at a time. Then it’s fun. 😉

“Please vote for me at Top Mommy Blogs” — please state whether this is a one-time entry, or once per day. And it helps to assure people that one vote will give an entry into each giveaway on your blog, not just one. Unless you’re stingy and say so.

And don’t do giveaways for something you haven’t reviewed. That’s just scary and stingy. I’ll be afraid of the sponsor if you’ve had no personal experience with their product.

Speaking of reviews… do one! C’mon, you’re getting “paid” to do it, so do it. Tell me about the product, not just that you liked it, or repeating what the sponsor has on their own website. And 5 out of 5 stars for every review is unhelpful. You are a reviewer. Be one.

And finally, if a winner doesn’t get a prize, help them. At the very least, communicate! Don’t avoid their emails and tweets and direct messages and facebook comments.  Word gets around… and it won’t be long before there is some kind of giveaway blog rating system. So focus on making a *good* giveaway blog, not just a mega big one. Because I think that’ll come back to bite you.

It’s an interesting, new, and rapidly growing world, giveaway blogs, and something I’m intrigued to watch unfold.

From a distance.

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. The Jacobsen Family
    Jul 23, 2010 @ 07:43:45

    Amen sistah!

    Reply

  2. tiffany
    Jul 30, 2010 @ 18:34:09

    Great post! You captured some of my own frustrations, and I am a review/giveaway blogger!

    I’m constantly agonizing over extra entries. I think that they are annoying (I don’t enjoy doing them myself). But…the sponsors want as much exposure as possible, so they want twitter followers and facebook fans and people to follow their company blog.
    And then there’s your own personal interest: the fact is, if you don’t have followers, companies don’t want to work with you. period. So you need followers and offer extra entries in order to get them. I don’t like it, but I haven’t yet figured out how to get around it. I don’t do the “one tweet per day” thing, because I think that just causes twitter spam. But it probably costs me some followers. Oh well, that’s a trade I feel at peace with.

    For me, I try not to review anything that I don’t think I’ll like. I don’t want to clutter up my house with junk, and I definitely don’t want to mislead my readers and make them think a product is cool when it just isn’t. I’ve had to write back a few companies over time and tell them why their products didn’t work for me. It stinks, but it happens.

    When Darah has outgrown something I have reviewed, and it is something I don’t need/want to squirrel away for baby #2, I either donate it to charity or give it to a friend.

    Once again, good post; glad I read it! 🙂

    Reply

  3. Nicolle B.
    Aug 01, 2010 @ 00:22:19

    I agree! Except I’m guilty of a few of the smaller ones.

    Reply

  4. amanda
    Aug 03, 2010 @ 19:31:02

    i agree with this as well. and i’m not ‘big’ enough to get ‘sponsors’ on my blog. i just email them in hopes i’m ‘good’ enough. one company you had to send your analytics to. i thought that was lame. i mean seriously it’s ‘free’ advertising for the review. oh well.

    Reply

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