More Guidelines For Giveaways, For Those Of You Silly People Who Still Insist Upon Running Them
A few weeks ago, I had the audacity to suggest that people who ran giveaways on their blogs should be paid to do so. I still think this is true because, so often, giveaways result in a free content column ad placement, and I think that this is being exploited by some of the PR and ad people at present. As always, you are free to disagree with me and continue to run giveaways — compensated or otherwise — on your blog, but if you do, here are some other things to take into consideration when you do.
1. Giveaways promote whomever purchased and/or manufactured the thing being given away.
There’s a reason that Pioneer Woman’s giveaways are all purchased by Pioneer Woman and run by Pioneer Woman: they are a promotional tool for ThePioneerWoman.com that Ree Drummond has been using since the early days of her blog. She chooses to give away high quality products that she uses herself, in her own home and, as such, they are extensions of her own brand. In essence, she is endorsing them by giving them away on her blog, and this is fine, because she has purchased them herself as a means of promoting her own brand.
When you run a giveaway on your blog for a third party, your relationship to the branding and promotion of the giveaway is more complicated. The promotion will be more connected to the product being given away — either the person who manufactured it or the person who procured it for the giveaway, and not as much for you. The positive side of the giveaway is lessened when you bring in a third party.
2. . . . Until the thing being given away craps out or starts sucking, in which case they reflect back on everyone involved in the giveaway.
Even though the positive aspects of a giveaway are lessened by bringing in a third party giveaway, the negative aspects are not necessarily lessened. If something goes wrong with the giveaway — the brand fails to deliver or the product shows up damaged or defective, you are likely to be grouped in with the manufacturer when blame is cast. This is just kind of how things work. It’s not fair, but that’s the risk you take, and it’s another reason why you should think about being compensated if you’re planning on doing a giveaway on your blog, unless the traffic surge you get is so considerable that it is worth doing even without compensation.
3. The villagers are smarter than you think.
There is nothing that annoys readers more than when you say you are going to announce winners of a giveaway at a certain time, but then that time comes and goes, and you don’t announce the winner. Maybe you are doing it on purpose, maybe you aren’t [cough], but don’t be the douche who underestimates their audience’s intelligence. Choose a time for when the winner of a giveaway is going to be announced and then stick to it. And if you can’t do that, then don’t give a specific time. Nothing is worse than playing your readers for cheap pageviews.
4. Don’t require too much of your entrants.
It’s tempting to make entries for a giveaway more elaborate in order to wade through some of the masses that you get with a giveaway, particularly for something like an Xbox Kinect. But if you go too far to this end, you might end up with too few entries, as was the case with Dooce’s recent Xbox giveaway, for which she asked entrants to submit a video in order to be considered. Whereas her previous Xbox giveaways had thousands of entries, the last one in the series only had six total entries, presumably because the video submission requirement took too much time and effort to deal with, and people forgot or got distracted before coming back to the site enter. As with all things in the blogosphere, if it doesn’t work for Il Duce, it’s definitely not going to work for you.
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