I was a bit hesitant about sharing this, as it was not my finest moment in life – but I want to prevent you from making the mistakes that I made and share the rules and guidelines to running a competitions to those that are as oblivious to them as I was.
A Blog Lesson Learnt the Hard Way.
On my most recent competition I wrote a disclaimer. The disclaimer said ‘Any entries from competition accounts will be disqualified’. The competition was live for a week or so, with loads of promotion on Twitter and Facebook.
Ya’ll were loving it and I was enjoying promoting this item. The products were fab and gave me plenty of ideas to blog about! The brand were lovely even wanted to work with me in future. It was a win for all! I was feeling confident about blogging and very excited and motivated.
One evening, I noticed I was getting a lot of traffic from a particular website. That website was one that was dedicated to people that seek out competitions and offers. I saw this traffic and these entries as ‘spam’ and lumped all these people together in a giant ugly box of greedy people wanting free things.
Without even thinking that people from this site that had entered my competition probably followed on Twitter account, I tweeted out about how I was annoyed that my link had been posted on these sites.
I then proceeded to have a good old chin wag with some of my twitter/blogger friends who very much shared the same opinion as me. These spammers, and had no right to join my competition.
I had no idea that this would probably turn into my most frustrating/hardest day as a blogger.
I joined the sites and requested that the posts be removed from their forums. Once the posts were removed, I instantly started receiving some nasty tweets from a few users that referred to themselves as ‘compers’. These tweets were retweeted, spreading the word faster and inviting others to join in. And the did.
I’m an adult and I can take a bit of negativity across twitter, but the most frustrating thing was when they started tweeting the company that were working with me on the giveaway, saying things like ‘this is not the best site to advertise your product’ and ‘she doesn’t like people entering your giveaways’.
That morning, I had received a message from Sarah of Life in a Breakdown, and a tweet from another blogger explaining that the disclaimer around disqualifying ‘competition accounts’, or limited a competition as such as against ASA regulations.
Against WHAT???? I know. I had never heard of it either.
Apparently there are a whole set of rules you should adhere to when hosting a competition. And as insane as it sounds, even if you buy something out of your own pocket and want to hold a competition on your blog – you cannot disqualify a certain ‘group’ of people.
Anyway, more about that in a bit. Let’s get back on track.
So yes, Sarah and I started chatting about the whole thing and I discovered that she was a ‘comper’ as well as a blogger, as were tonnes of other people. I discovered that a lot of compers were regulars to blogs, some used their partners twitter accounts to enter as they didn’t have their own, some compers even became regulars to blogs that they have found through competitions. It then reminded me that my friend who influenced me to start this blog. She only created hers after becoming a addicted to some blogs she found by searching for competitions. I enjoyed reading hers, then skinnedcartree was born.
I slowly found my opinion on the whole matter changing – I honestly thought I was doing the right thing but not allowing ‘comp’ accounts in my giveaway and was protecting my site from spam and fake accounts, as well as the company running the giveaway. I formed this opinion after seeing the same disclaimer on other blogs.
I also discovered that most compers were just people too – just me, like you, like your Mum and Dad and enjoy having a cheeky chance at winning something. Yes, there are a select few that can be mean, rude, abusive and outspoken. But there are bloggers that can be like that, too. In fact, I’d be willing to bet my bottom dollar that within every community, nationality, group and race etc – there will be a few bad eggs.
Let’s look at some of the pros for letting ‘comper’s enter your competitions:
Backlinks from sites with high page ranks.
More entries to your giveaways.
More followers to your blog and social networks.
More engagement on your blog and social networks.
Potential for regular readers.
Increase in traffic.
Increase in unique views.
More traffic to the brands site.
More social network followers/engagement to the brand.
Winners are likely to boast that have won via Twitter/forums.
A few hours after my posts were removed by the admins, they appeared again. I had decided to not contact them this time and let them enter.
I have noticed that I’ve gotten more likes on Facebook posts, more liked posts on bloglovin and favourites/retweets on twitter since doing so! So it can be beneficial to the growth of your blog.
The legal stuff.
Who knew that if you wanted to give something away on your blog, you had to follow rules? It may be obvious to some – but others, like me, it was something that never occurred to me.
1. You cannot exclude somebody for being a comper, it is against the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority)/CAP code and you could be reported to the IPM (Institute of Promotional Marketing). Apparently they are getting a lot stricter on bloggers and as compers and bloggers are becoming more aware of this, more blogs are being reported.
2. Please refer to CAP 8.2 which can be found here for rules regarding comping. The whole CAP can be found following that link for any blogger/comper to read.
3. You must include when the competition finishes by giving a date and time. You cannot extend or cut this time short.
4. Describe what the prize is and how many of them they are. If you are in the US, you need to include a retail value.
5. Mention any exclusions – such as locations if it is not an international giveaway and age restrictions.
6. You must allow at least 28 days from the time you announce the winner for them to respond. This is deemed as a fair timescale according to the ASA.
7. Explain how to enter, describing which entries are mandatory and which are compulsory.
8. Explain how many times each person can enter, for example : one entry per household, or one entry per person.
9. State how the winner is picked – at random, voting or judging.
10. State when the winner will be informed and do not announce it on social media etc until the winner has been contacted via e-mail, giving them the time in which they have to respond. If you don’t get a response, try a DM, Facebook message or an @mention.
11. State when the price will be delivered.
12. You should state who the promoter (you) and who the sponsor is (a company).
13. Finally – if you are going to announce the winners name, you also should state that in your terms and conditions. Quick note! It’s against Facebook’s TOS to have an entry that asks people to share something on their personal timeline, or on their friends and can get your page banned for a set amount of time or completely removed if reported..
Not convinced? If you still do not want you competitions posted on these sites, there is usually an admin on the site, or a person on twitter that you can contact to be added to a list that insures your site will not be linked to in the future.
I still have a lot of learn about blogging.
Don’t judge people as a whole.
Do your research.
Social networks such as twitter is a powerful (and public) site.
Sarah and I both decided to write our opinions and thoughts on this matter as a way to make bloggers more aware of the rules.