Are Blog Giveaways Spinning Out of Control?

This probably won’t be a very popular post with some bloggers. I hesitate to even publish this, but it’s really bugging me. Blog giveaways are out of control.

Require people to leave a comment on your blog to enter, sure. Offer a handful of optional, additional entries — subscribe to you, follow you on Twitter, like you on Facebook — no problem. But when the amount of optional entries gets past 10, come on! And when there are 100 different bloggers co-hosting the same giveaway, and they want people to like all their Facebook pages to enter? Seriously?

When I started blogging back in 2007 the Blog Giveaway was a relatively new phenomenon. Bloggers gave away prizes they’d purchased or made themselves just for fun. Driving traffic factored into it a bit, but often it was just about giving back to the readers.

Brands were just starting to work with bloggers, and occasionally you came across a blogger hosting a giveaway for a prize supplied by a company in exchange for promotion. I remember being impressed by bloggers who worked with brands, and wondering how they managed to get the gigs.

Entering blog giveaways back then was pretty simple too. Most of the time you just left a comment on the giveaway post. One comment, one entry for everyone. There weren’t even options to earn extra entries by subscribing, following on Twitter or liking a page on Facebook.

I get that you want to drive traffic to your blog, because traffic adds up to money. I get that you want to increase your social media following, because large numbers look great to PR people and brands. What I don’t get are the mafias of bloggers who pool their cash to giveaway a Kindle Fire and post a Rafflecopter widget with 650 possible entry options.

No one is impressed that 100 bloggers donated $2 each toward a Kindle. Sometimes bloggers even pay extra for the privilege of participating in these group giveaways. They’re not doing it to give back to their readers, or because they think the item they’re promoting is helpful or relevant to their readers. They’re just collecting likes and follows.

Brands and PR people see right through these tactics. They’re looking for bloggers with influence and/or talent. These massive group giveaways require neither. Brands and PR reps are also looking for bloggers who are authentic, because authenticity is what makes a reader want to go out and buy the mop a blogger promotes. There’s nothing authentic about these pay-to-play group giveaways.

I know there are people who say blog giveaways of any kind are a waste. I disagree as long as they’re done thoughtfully.

As a bloggers you should ask yourself these questions:

1. Is this item relevant to my topic and my readers?

2. Is this item something that would benefit my readers?

3. Is this an item that I would recommend and use? (Even if you’re not reviewing it, you’re endorsing it by giving it away.)

Your giveaway should be about your readers first and your traffic and social media numbers second. Then it’s authentic. Then you’re authentic.


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14 Responses to Are Blog Giveaways Spinning Out of Control?

  1. I am so glad to read this! I am not a blogger. I am a reader and fan. I read blogs because they are about things I am interested in personally. I enter giveaways as a great fun hobby. I am exactly the out-in-the-world reader/consumer with a big family spanning every age group with various wants and needs that most bloggers and companies claim to be aiming for. I don’t like these bandwagon of blogs giveaways. At first it meant “liking” one or two additional blogs that might be in keeping with things that already interest me. Now, it has blown way past that. I am now in the process of “unfollowing” a lot of blogs that entered my feed through a giveaway, but have nothing to do with me personally. Frankly, it makes the bloggers irritating and makes the company/sponsor look to cheap.

  2. And one more thing–authentic blogger reviews are an excellent way to introduce new products or reintroduce old favorites. Even when a blogger admits that an item did not work well with her own family, it might still work well for me in my different situation. Just this last Spring I spent a great deal of money for graduation gifts from companies I had never heard of before reading blog reviews.

  3. I have pretty much stopped running giveaways because of the hoops some PR folks want readers to jump through to enter. Heck, I’ve come across giveaways for $20 items that required 10+ steps to enter! NOT worth my time. A comment and a like? Sure. 15 steps and Rafflecopter? Nope.

  4. I agree, with the addendum that liking you on Facebook should NEVER be an option. It’s against Facebook’s terms of service, and it’s one of my biggest pet peeves. The group giveaways are just getting a little ridiculous.

  5. I’m really glad you said this. I feel the same way, but then started wondering if I was doing something wrong for not hosting a billion giveaways and participating in those huge ones.

    thanks for the encouragement and for keeping my head on straight 🙂

  6. Exactly! I’m really choosy about what brands I work with on my blog. If it is a product I know and love or a company that I value, no problem. And I get paid to do so, not just in free products. Occasionally, I’ll also put together a giveaway that I host myself {also all stuff I would love and use} just to give back to my readers and let them know I appreciate that they are the reason I’m able to do what I do. Save all the spammy crap or things that are not an obvious fit for someone else’s blog… I guarantee someone is desperate enough to promote your crap for a freebie.

    Great post.

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