When internet competitions first started to take off one of the entry methods employed by promoters was refer a friend. “Tell as many friends as you can” was the requirement and whoever had the most mates usually won. The fact that these competitions quickly became “spam a friend” tells their own story. Fast forward to 2010 and social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
Competitions on these social media sites have grown rapidly. Promoters are keen to get entrants to get their brand name out there by any means possible. It could be tell a friend, get a vote or pass the parcel as Comet are doing with their Tweety Uppy game. In theory all these competition mechanics are good, but are they getting out of control? And is enough being done to make sure all is fair for everyone?
The problem with tell your friend competitions via Facebook is that there are numerous competitions. There are also numerous compers and if you happen to be friends with a few who are regular “tell a mate” fans you soon get bombarded. In fact a number of Loquax users have already mentioned their frustrations with Facebook competitions.
Spam is the keyword here and eventually it’s something Facebook are going to have to look into. Sadly there’s nothing about over sharing or spamming in their terms of service but many competitions being run on Facebook are in breach of these terms.
For example, some competitions ask a user to post to their wall, but “You cannot condition entry in the promotion upon a user providing content on Facebook, such as making a post on a profile or Page, status comment or photo upload”. Other promoters offer prizes if people “like” them yet “you cannot dminister a promotion that users automatically enter by becoming a fan of your Page”.
Back in August 2009 digital marketing magazine The NMA asked if competitions on twitter are spam. Whilst the number of competitions on Twitter has grown, most competitions seem to be ok. However, Misco’s World Cup Competition isn’t so good.
Here entrants are asked to predict football scores, but on every entry a tweet goes out. If you’re following a few people entering this competition that’s a lot of unnecessary tweets appearing in the timeline. Whilst it’s understandable that Misco want the word to get out about the promotion, the tweet per match is bordering on spamming.
However, spamming tends not to be the main issue on Twitter. One thing we’re concerned about at Loquax is how competitions are managed. For example Comet’s Tweety Uppy, where users pass a virtual ball to each other, has caused a few disgruntled comments from compers. Are people setting up extra accounts to play? Are people deliberately not passing the ball? It makes for unpleasantness in comping circles.
Whilst it’s hard to say it’s the fault of the promoter, it’d be nice to know fair play was the winner and that, in this case, Comet were keeping a close eye on all activity. It may well be there are no issues but there’s enough comments on Twitter for us to think that perhaps they should be making appropriate noises to quash any concerns.
We’d love to be able to ask Comet directly, but their @cometdeals doesn’t except direct messages!
One type of competition causes problems more than any other – and that’s voting competitions. In short an entrant submits their entry (photo, video etc) and then has to get friends, family and anyone else to vote for them. The best entrant usually doesn’t win as it’s the person with the most votes who gets the prize.
Collecting votes and doing what’s fair is a highly emotive subject. People are bandying together in groups to help each other win whilst there are even people offering prizes in return for people to vote for them. In one sense you could say this is initiative, but on the other you have to question the fairness of it all.
The problem is not the people entering. After all, they’re just trying to play the game and using all means at their disposal to win a competition. Even if that means spamming via Facebook or Twitter, running prize draws for votes or even going as far as setting up extra accounts or developing software ways and means to cheat. In some competitions where you can do multiple votes it’s not unheard of that people will downmark a rival.
Sat in the midst of all this is the promoter and more often than not they don’t care. They’re getting social media attention and people interested in their brand. The fact that some people are at each others throats, complaining, bitching and wondering if others are cheating seems to be totally overlooked.
We’d much rather see the best entry winning vote competitions – not the person who’s simply managed to pick up the most friends.
So What’s the Solution?
Voting comps, spamming to enter and comps that involve working as a group seem to bring out the worst in people. It’s probably just human nature, but it’s sad to see and disappointing.
The key to sorting this out does not fall on the comper.
To ask everyone to act fairly and with decorum is perhaps a pipe dream, so the responsibility of competitions is on the promoter. They need to figure our fairer ways for voting competitions to run, they need to start looking at alternatives to spam a friend and they need to make sure group related competitions are run fairly and with good nature.
Unfortunately we doubt anything will change. Perhaps the only way things will change if compers stopped doing these kind of competitions and started using their energies to tell promoters why they dislike them!