Organic growth. Real following. Engaged audience. All terms banded about in the blogosphere every day. Now, this one is a post that has sat in my drafts for about 10 months. The reason being that I really, really didn’t want it to cause offence, or feel like its my strong opinion or make anyone feel a bit crappy. I have no strong opinion on it as I go back and forth! It is just a subject that I myself deliberate and ponder over, and when I saw YouTuber Lily Pebbles say similar to how I was feeling, it made me think that maybe people do feel the same way? My question is about “giveaways”, and whether we are actually bribing people/buying followers by hosting them. I would really love to know what my non-blogger readers think about giveaways too, not just my fellow bloggers. A bit of a different subject for this series, but, grab your cuppa, lets discuss.
Are bloggers bribing people?
When I hit my one year birthday on my blog. I hosted a giveaway (you can see it in this post – Blog Anniversary Giveaway) because I was so thrilled at the support I was being shown, and wanted to give something back. I chose and bought the products that I offered in the giveaway myself, and felt like it was a nice little package for one of my readers to receive. The entrance to the lucky dip draw was by following me on twitter or facebook. That was it. When I launched the giveaway, I was messaged by a well meaning fellow blogger, to tell me that as I was a new blogger, I should be careful about hosting giveaways that required someone to follow etc, as it was like buying followers. She went on to say that I was basically bribing people to follow me and it wasn’t looked upon as organic growth by the blogging community. Well one thing I am incredibly precious about is my integrity and authenticity, so, as you can imagine, I was absolutely horrified and upset that I had broken some rule. I was really, really worried about it and felt so bad. I have never hosted a giveaway like that since.
I have done two more giveaways, but the products were given to me by brands, so, if its something I was given for free, should I really be trying to cash in on it by saying people had to follow me for a chance to win something that has cost me nothing? I genuinely want to give people a chance to get/win something nice, so should there be an underlying motive? I have really debated with myself over this! I am such a worrier. The two giveaways that I have done since involved only following the brand that had gifted the item, and leaving a comment so I knew that someone wanted to enter. That was it. No tagging a million friends, no follow me to win, no retweet this, no sharing that. I tried to do it so that there was nothing that could be considered a bribe involved. I was scarred for life by the message I’d got a year ago! Its such a tricky one!
I don’t enter competitions on social media, that require me to jump through hoops. I have seen some that you have to tag a gazillion friends, follow six other companies etc, Nah, not for me. If my friends want to enter thats fine, and I have absolutely no issue with them tagging me, I always wish them luck, but I don’t want to be hassling them myself! Now, I know this is detrimental to myself and my own growth, as I see lots of people doing these giveaways to increase their own following, but I think what I was told in those early days makes me feel like its considered distasteful. I could kind of see what she was saying in that it isn’t organic growth, it is kind of like offering a bribe. I also wonder if these people that follow purely to enter a giveaway, actually end up being an engaged audience? Again, in my opinion, I am not interested in having thousands of followers if very few are actually interested. I want to be “social” on my social media! Id love to hear of your experiences with this.
Im toying with another giveaway at the moment as I always wanted to do one when my socials hit a certain number. I really, really appreciate people supporting me and just want them to know it. I have started buying bits and bobs, and putting together a package. It will be my own money that I spend on this, but that could be considered buying followers couldn’t it! Do you think that its more acceptable to have a “follow to enter” type requirement if its our own cash that has gone into the prize?? Where not cashing in on a brand that has generously given us something, so is it more palatable? One of the messages I received when I asked about this on stories, told me that in some network groups, (Tots100 for example) you could be given a warning as they can view giveaways where you have purchased a prize, as buying followers. Its such a grey area. Although I do want to give people a chance to win something nice, I also want an engaged, organic following, not a flurry of people just after a freebie, so are these giveaways even of any value to our own growth? You can see, I am in a dilemma haha!
I did a little poll on Instagram Stories, and was surprised by the results of it. The many messages I got of people telling me their thoughts and experiences were also quite an eye opener. It was so useful! The over riding out come was No, people dont feel like its buying followers (80% voted this way). However, it would seem, that non-bloggers do feel like it is buying/bribing a following, and bloggers don’t. I feel like this could be another indication of how bloggers are viewed! It also showed that a lot of people felt that it was not engaged followers that entered these “giveaways’ which is something I suspected. Another thing I learnt though, which if I am honest, shocked me a little, was the amount of schemes, scams and tactics I have been told about, that are employed on Instagram to gain a following. Let that sink in. People scheme and scam to gain followers on an app. An app on our phones. What. Have. We. Become……..!
Id love to know your thoughts? I know that lots of bloggers offer giveaways, so this is in no way judgement, I am just interested in what people think, and looking for honest views on how giveaways are seen. Id love to know what my non-blogger readers opinion on this is too? It would be so interesting to find out. If you are a blogger, have you done giveaways to boost your following? Did it worry you? Am I worrying about something and nothing? As ever, be as honest and open as you like! We are all friends here xx