Problems With Running Competitions!
You'd think that running a prize promotion would be a fairly painless marketing strategy, however there are issues that you should know exist. The majority of these problems can be avoided by taking appropriate steps in advance of your promotion, others can be dealt with by better understanding the fact that people like to enter competitions and help each other win prizes.
1. Cheating In Competitions
Unfortunately people do cheat. Whether it's using shared answers, multiple accounts, stealing photos to enter photo contests, finding ways to circumvent your trivia quiz or using programs to get high scores on prize games, if they can do it, they'll do it. The key to this is think how you can stop the cheats. Reviewing entries on a regular basis, changing the questions, checking who's taking part etc are all worthwhile actions. Listening to entrants who flag issues is also a good idea.
Sharing answers is sometimes a problem. People like to help each other win stuff, and that means answers may well be shared on forums and websites. This might mean people don't click through to your sponsor to find an answer or visit a certain area of your website. It can also mean that your cleverly crafted quiz or treasure hunt in essence becomes a free prize draw as the "competition" element is lost. Either make the competition better or just enjoy the extra publicity sharing answers brings.
2. Compers Like Competitions
Bears like the woods, compers love competitions! Surprise there are people who like to enter competitions - lots of them too! It's their hobby and they frequent Loquax to seek out places to visit. On one hand most of these entrants can be good for your competition but some promoters get really antsy with them. Aria London for example recently ran an Instagram contest to "attract leads" but compers were attracted with the #competiton tag they used. Instead of embracing their error of judgement they had a hissy fit about compers. People who enter competitions weren't the kind of people they wanted entering their competition! How snooty is that!
We actively encourage our users to stop and think about their comping, but some will still enter anything and everything online. They perhaps just like the thrill of winning or want to win stuff to sell. However people who like to win stuff also like to buy stuff and could be a future customer. Accept that if you're running a giveaway then someone who likes winning stuff is going to enter and probably tell their friends too. It's also worth noting compers do talk - a lot - and being rude about them doesn't win you too many friends.
3. Automated Entry Services
If you're running a competition and you want people to visit your site, then you need to be aware that automated competition services exist. Basically people pay subscriptions to sites like Win24 and WeWin4U so that a bot submits their details on their behalf. In short you could be giving out your prizes to someone who has never ever seen your site. Back in 2012 we blogged about the problem of Automated Entry Services and provided useful information for promoters including IP addresses to look out for.
Back then there were more services active, but thankfully the likes of Prizewise, Prize500 and PrizeDrawCentre have closed their doors. We're not even sure if Win24 are still running either. Social media as a platform for competitions has definitely played a role in curtailing these services which is excellent news. That said it still pays to be vigilant if you're running a website based promo. Are you getting 100s of entries from similar IP addresses, strange entry patterns or something just doesn't seem right in terms of entries to traffic?
4. Using Email For Entries
If you use an online entry form then you can easily track your entrants but if you ask visitors to enter your promotion via email then this can become a problem. This method of entry is a particular favourite of autoentry services and spammers and other than a deluge of emails you'll not able to track where entries stem from. The Coronation Street Blog used to use an email route for their prize draws but banned visitors from MSE and Loquax from entering. To this day we still haven't figured out how they were able to track this!
Basically we advise promoters to not resort to asking for entries via email. At the bare minimum - if you're doing something web based - get a form on the site and use it to collect relevant data plus the entrants IP address. This could be the difference between letting cheats prosper and running a fair giveaway to genuine visitors to your site.
5. Voting Competitions
A few years ago voting competitions hit the headlines as people discovered how easy they could cheat them. Sites like GetOnlineVotes.com appeared so that entrants could quickly game the systems to win prizes. This site still exists by the way. The problem with voting contests is that the person with the most friends wins or a cheat wins. Rarely does the best entry win when it comes down to voting by the public. Voting competitions are rarely fair and our advice to promoters is avoid them if at all possible!
However if run properly voting competitions can be useful viral tools and there are apps and services which help monitor voting activity. If you do choose to run a voting promotion then do watch for cheating and take swift action if it occurs. Include a judged element for the biggest prize and award it to the best entry. Make the vote canvassing element a secondary part of your promotion.
6. Social Media Issues
Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have helped making and running giveaways so much quicker and easier. However they do also bring with them a few issues. Initially entrants with multiple accounts were the only problem but things have escalated in recent years. Fake accounts have been created to claim prizes when promoters have posted a winner's name and asked them to get in touch. This can be avoided by not asking winners to claim their prize.
A more serious problem, especially on Facebook, are cloned pages. These are set-up to look like a promoter's page and entrants are then contacted via Messenger saying they're a winner. Believing they've won from a genuine brand entrants then send details - including in some cases bank details - to what is actually a scam account. Whilst this issue is something Facebook needs to deal with urgently it has stopped a number of brands running contests on the platform.