What You May Not Know About Social Media Contest Posts 2018-03-01
I really didn't want to get sucked in to using Facebook, but it is so heavily used that it kind of becomes a defacto standard in communication. So I joined a few groups that were related to my interests, including the Ontario homesteaders, preppers, foragers and off the grid living group. There has been some good content in there including discussions about trade skills for women in rural areas, cleaning and sealing log cabin lumber, vermi composting, tapping trees for making syrup, and beginner beekeeping. However, lately there have been a number of posts about free giveaway contests. On the surface this may seem like related content, and when the person posting says "Good luck everyone!" it sure sounds like you'd have a chance eh?
Well, good luck with that. Here's an example of a contest post that got me all bent out of shape.
This looks like some helpful fellow is being nice by letting others know about this wonderful contest that may get them a free shotgun. But is it? I followed the link and entered the contest. During the process it was never clear or obvious to the casual observer that this was a referrer link. At the end of the signup process I was given my own referrer link to share with my friends and family... and it said I have ONE entry in the contest. It went on to say that if someone uses my referral link, I will get FIVE more entries. The confirmation email they sent also gave me a link to check how many entries I currently have.
So I got to thinkin' about it... how many entries does the guy who posted the link have? Well, by going back to Facebook and following his link I was able to figure out that he currently has almost 900 entries. WTF? I have a hard time believing he really wishes me good luck in the contest. I might be a little skeptical, but it sure seems like he's just sharing his referrer link so he can pump up his number of entries and increase HIS luck! Want to see how many entries he has? Sure, that can be found right here. As of March 1st he has 876 entries, and the contest doesn't close until the end of April.
I can see why this happens. The folks running the contest get a lot of free publicity. The guy posting the links gets a good chance at actually winning the gun (assuming the contest is real). And people who follow the link to sign up get the idea that they may have a hope in hell of winning too. Don't get me wrong, the link clickers also get to learn about the actual content of the site running the contest... I just think they could do that without the slimey referrer links too. You know, if the people posting these links would just be honest enough to say "I get extra contest entries if you use my link" or even provide a separate link that doesn't give them a leg up, then I wouldn't be half as annoyed.
In the meantime, if you are signing up for a contest via social media, stop and think about whether the link might actually giving way more advantage to the person who posted the link.