I want to talk about Facebook for a moment.
I’ve always had a bit of a love/hate relationship with Facebook. Actually, I don’t really like it, to be honest. I’m 28, so I’m old enough to remember when people didn’t have Facebook. It wasn’t a requirement like it seems to be today. For example, I have a diary, and I write down my friends and families birthdays in it. Recently, I messaged a friend to say Happy Birthday and all that. And she replied ‘Thanks Em! But how did you know it’s my birthday without Facebook?!’ I mean….what?!
I didn’t have Facebook for a long time, but once I got into entering competitions I realised it was a necessity and signed up. It remains something I use as a tool to enter competitions rather than a social network for me.
Most Facebook competitions simply require a like and a share to enter them (although it’s worth bearing in mind that requiring a participant to share a competition post to validate their entry is not allowed – but many promoters will require this regardless. And also why share when you don’t need to – all it means is that more people will see the competition and enter it)! The majority of people that like and share will also write a comment on the post, whether it’s required or not, for visibility’s sake.
But say a company gave away a car in a Facebook post – imagine how many people are going to be liking and sharing that?! If a company only makes one Facebook post promoting their competition, they could end up with tens of thousands of likes and shares. If they make the competition international, even more. And say if they use more than one post to promote the competition – how are they going to tally up all those likes and shares? How can they ensure they pick a winner fairly? Is there a person whose job it is to put all of those likes and shares into a spreadsheet? More to the point, is there a person who would be willing to do that for a job?!
The answer is – unless you run your Facebook giveaway using an app, or you receive very few entries, then picking a winner is not an exact science. Promoters may try and be un-biased, but the reality is that they may just pick one of the more recent people who have commented on the post, someone whose comment they deem to be the wittiest or most appropriate, or a profile that catches their eye.
It’s not right and it’s not okay. Some people boycott Facebook competitions because of this. Others choose to call out promoters who are clearly biased or ask entrants to share their promotion. Me? I’m a no-drama sort of person so I just carry on entering. (Sorry bout it).
With all this being said – I’ve been having a think about the type of comments you can might see on a competition post. Here’s a couple of examples of the type of comments you might see around the Facebook world. I mean no harm by copying and pasting some of these – it’s all in fun – plus anything on Facebook is in the public domain, so it’s fair game:
I’m pro-oversharing in real life. I love telling all and sundry about my various health problems etc. But on competition posts? Please don’t. I’ve read things about hysterectomies, infections and saggy skin complications through losing weight that coupled with a less than enchanting profile picture – I never want to read again. I guess you might get a win through sheer lack of self respect, plus get the promoter rolling with laughter – but you have to bear in mind that a large company will want to pick a winner with an appropriate comment. Boden won’t want to treat someone to a new £1,000 wardrobe if their comment is about having Gout and a secondary infection caused by surgery that’s got really nasty and the only thing that will make them feel better is a new pair of gorgeous wellies. Right?
The Sob Stories
This sort of thing gets a lot of comments on competition chat forums, because it’s just so tasteless. If it’s appropriate, I might mention my close family in a competition. Or if they specifically ask about some personal difficulty you might have recently experienced (although hopefully most promoters keep things more positive than that) then I could be persuaded to talk about a problem that has affected me specifically.
But read the comments under any giveaway nowadays and you’ll find people talking about how their dog has recently died so they desperately need a new widescreen TV to take their mind off of it, how their grandma has recently gone into care and they so need a new dishwasher so they have more time to visit her in her care home, or how their child has cancer and so they need to win a tube of strawberry toothpaste to cheer said child up as they are having chemotherapy AS WE SPEAK.
Personally I value my friends and family too much to whore them out on the off chance I might win some piece of tat. I think I’ve heard to it referred to as ‘grief porn’ which is quite a good term for it. And whether half of those stories are even true, who knows?
With the most blatant, horrific horror sob stories, usually involving the word cancer, you’ll often see other commenters on the post ‘bowing out’ of the competition and commenting things like ‘Poster above me deserves to win, promoter you should give the prize to her, she deserves it’. I don’t understand this weird form of Facebook martyrism and it’s my cynical belief that the only reason people do this is because they think the promoter will be saying ‘Oh – that person is so kind! They’ve SACRFICED their entry so that person whose kid has cancer can win! Wow – give them a prize too! And make it an amazing one’!
I know I’m awful, but still.
Promoters will probably be ready to top themselves by the time they’ve read through a couple of those – so try and keep your comments positive. And if you’re mentioning a friend of family member in your comment just take a second to think – would they like their situation to be used in that way? Sob stories can win prizes – but try to keep entries like this few and far between, and in an online form shared between you and the promoter, rather than in a public forum like Facebook.
Correct me if I’m wrong here but it seems to me that old-school compers love a rhyme. I do too – nothing beats the joy of coming up with a brilliant rhyming couplet and thinking yep, this competition is IN THE BAG. However, I don’t believe they hold as much weight with promoters anymore and they’re seen as a bit twee. Nevertheless, you’ll still find some Facebook compers commenting with their four liners in the hopes of winning.
I have no complaints about this, I think it’s cute and I love it. But I’m not sure how many prizes it’s going to win.
The Over Enthusiasts
Want to win a cheese string? Sure you do.
Want to win a pack of straws? Naturally!
Want to bag yourself a 20% discount at a restaurant in Aberdeen? It’s all I’ve ever wanted.
The competitive aspect of competition seems to turn some people a bit mad, and they’ll enter for literally any freebie going. We’ve all done it – I entered to win a Troll Doll with the Plenty kitchen roll promotion because I got caught up in the whirlwind of it all, and when I did eventually win one and it arrived I thought – why did I do this? I don’t have kids, don’t really know that many people with kids, don’t know if those few kids in question like Troll dolls…so yeah. Waste of time.
Sometimes I’ll see a prize like ‘Win a 20 pack of crisps’. And I’m thinking, yeah that would be useful. But lets get it into perspective – I’m not going to spend 4 hours crafting a hilarious, thoughtful and tailored Facebook comment to win them. At most I’m going to write ‘Would be great to win, thanks!’ and that’s pushing it.
Don’t become like one of these people, who are desperate to win a cushion:
The Above and Beyonders
Sometimes Facebook competition posts specify what comment they would like you to make. For example, ‘Comment WIN! To be in with a chance of winning some hair straighteners’.
I know this is just the pedant in me, but I absolutely HATE it when people comment with more than what is asked. Jokes on me because promoters probably don’t care and won’t be quite as anal as me, but I feel like some people try so hard to get the promoter to love them…I can’t deal with it. Yeuk.
We’ve all been in the place where we want to complain to a company, but we can’t seem to get hold of anyone. People love to use competition posts as a place to vent their frustration about this, and I suppose that’s fair enough. British Gas is a prime example of a promoter whose competition posts are always over run by complaints, and their poor social media person, like a lamb to the slaughter, has to wade in and tease out the complaints from the likes and shares. Not fun.
The I Didn’t Read the Competition Post
Liking and sharing, liking and sharing, liking and sharing, drinking tea, liking and sharing, watching youtube video of someone popping spots, liking and sharing. We’re all guilty of sometimes going into autopilot when browsing the internet, but it’s obvious when compers do so and it invalidates their entry. For example, a promoter might request a certain type of comment which requires a little bit of creativity on the part of the entrant. A promoter might say ‘We’re giving away a Love to Shop voucher so you can shop til you drop this weekend! For a chance to win, like this post and let us know your weekend plans. They’ll still be overrun with responses that are simply ‘Thanks for the chance’ or ‘Thanks for the comp’ with no mention of weekend plans. Embarassing.
The Emoticon Lovers
Some people just seem to love emoticons. I thought they kind of went out with the MSN era apart from the odd passive aggressive smiley face, but they are alive and well on Facebook posts, believe you me.
The Copy and Pasters
You might get to recognise some people who comment on every single Facebook post out there. And that’s fine. But these people seem to use the same comment for every single post, just copying and pasting as they go. They’ve usually put a lot of thought into their single comment, making it pretty conspicuous by the second or third time you’ve seen it.
The I Never Winners
Self explanatory, this one. If you’re going to make the effort to comment, make it a good comment, not just a complaint that you probably won’t win!
I’m not saying any of the above comment styles are wrong – you keep doing you guys. There must be some masochistic promoters out there who enjoy reading endless sob stories, or even some bored social media officers who just can’t get enough of emoticons arranged in different formations. Everyone’s brains work in different ways and free speech is a beautiful thing. And they’re good for a giggle, too.
Personally, I try to just do what the promoter has asked for, maybe add a little witty (in my mind) comment, and hope for the best. I think keeping your comment short, appropriate and funny is the best way forward for Facebook and that one day regulations around competitions and sweepstakes will be tightened up to make it fairer and more fun for all.
Until then XO FiNgErS CrOsSeD fOr A wIN eVeRyOnE! XO