Momma Told Me: Who's Responsible When Both Parties Claim Ignorance?

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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Who's Responsible When Both Parties Claim Ignorance?


Momma Told Me: Following is great, but even a Lemming needs to think now and then.

I've been a blogger for near 4 years now; it feels like my first post was just yesterday. Before blogging I was an avid blog reader, a mystery shopper (which I still do), product evaluator, and think tank panelist. While I do not feel the need to clarify these things, it seems us bloggers constantly feel as though we should justify the validity of our voice. The point being, I am young, but I have made it my business to have an opinion for almost 10 years.

The second point, is yet another that gets drilled into our readers' heads from time to time; blogging is work, whether it's for a profit or not. Good bloggers most likely do not just wake up in the morning, slam out an awesome post and head off on their merry way about the day. Blogging anything from a simple daily recap entry to a product review takes research, photographing/photo sourcing, thought, and plenty of time. Everyday I hit my reader, just before bed, and scan the hundreds of blogs I follow. I scan because I genuinely enjoy reading many of them, and keeping up with their families and lives, and because the best way to improve oneself is to emulate greatness. That is to say I learn about good photography, storytelling, and review techniques from my fellow bloggers.

Where are we going with this? Well, I have a little bit of an ax to grind. A rant, if you will.

I am NOT perfect. I am sure there are typos and grammar errors, and I do not always source correctly, or follow the millions of guidelines and technicalities. (When you blog for product or host a giveaway it is extremely technical, despite the thousands of blogs jumping on board to do so.) To incorporate reviews for product, or hosted giveaways into a personal website is much more complicated than one would think. I have grown tremendously, and still learn little caveats here and there I need to acknowledge or improve on. You may notice that I have dropped from a blog with daily giveaways to a blog that is selective about product/service values and hosted giveaways. I have also dropped all 'mandatory' entries on my giveaway form, and am constantly striving to present my promotions, and opinions in the most genuine and honest manner.


For the past few months of so I have noticed that a company I work with, which runs a blogger program, has been encouraging their bloggers to solicit for a comment on their Facebook page, in exchange for a giveaway entry. While the brand suggests this as one of many entry options, there are hundreds of bloggers out there following the brand's lead and making this their mandatory, and secondary entry options. Per Section E of the Facebook Page Terms Document:

Rule iii. You must not condition registration or entry upon the user taking any action using any Facebook features or functionality other than liking a Page, checking in to a Place, or connecting to your app. For example, you must not condition registration or entry upon the user liking a Wall post, or commenting or uploading a photo on a Wall.

 

That is to say that an individual, company, or blogger CANNOT exchange an entry into a giveaway or sweepstakes for a COMMENT (generation of new content) on their personal or brand Facebook page. While one might argue how this phrasing works into secondary or additional entries, though I think it incorporates any and all entries, the above is fairly clear. My issue is not so much with the hundreds of bloggers in this company's program; after all, I was ignorant of this at one time as well- but the fact that the company has built a very large program for bloggers and doesn't seem to have a grasp on basic giveaway promotion, and Facebook, guidelines themselves. Again, everyone is ignorant until they are told/learn, but I have tried to note this to said company for over a month with no acknowledgement from said company. Their help button for bloggers is an email that bounces back undeliverable, and the 2 email contacts on their site do nothing but spit out generic promotional emails.

   

Why do I care? Well, if a company has gone through the trouble of building a promotional program that incorporates bloggers they should have the care and organization to know the rules of blogger promotions. Furthermore, they should have an open line of communication that responds to these bloggers questions and concerns in a timely manner (less than a month, or at all). Finally, this company is repeatedly telling their bloggers, ney suggesting, they have their readers comment on the brand Facebook page as a condition of entry. Who cares if some silly Facebook rule is being broken? I can cite 3 bloggers who've had their Facebook pages locked and deleted overnight, with NO warning, for hosting promotions that fall outside the Facebook guidelines. Now, there are billions of pages and profiles on Facebook, so the odds every single page, or even a generous number, of the violators will be shut down are small- but it happens. And Facebook is such a large brand they don't have time to send 'warnings,' they simply shut pages down. If it is a promotion involving a brand and a blog, both are up for deletion. 

Fellow bloggers know just how hard it is to grow those Facebook numbers, and starting over from scratch can be devastating, even to an established blog. It is NOT acceptable for any company or brand running a blogger program to lead bloggers to scenarios that may jeopardize their personal and fan pages, let alone the brands'. Furthermore, it is not acceptable for said brand to have such poor infrastructure that they cannot process warnings regarding these infractions and educate their own team members and the blogs. Read more about Facebook giveaway guidelines in this easy to follow Rafflecopter article. Don't believe pages get shut down? Read this article from this month about a very big giveaway fan page, related to blogger promotions, that was taken down.

 

Have you heard of these Facebook policies regarding giveaways and entries? Do you know someone who has been shut down or warned by Facebook?

 

 

Note: I received an email today from said company simply responding:  

"Thanks for the concern. I will see that the suggestions to post on Facebook are addressed.

Also, please know that you do not have to set any requirements for your readers to enter you contests. It is up to you! :)"
I do NOT feel this is an adequate response to the information, and await a formal notice of this information to the blogger group. This, 'you don't have to follow the wrong path we suggest for you' approach is not an appropriate handling of the situation.

30 comments:

  1. Companies really need to start doing their homework or at least listen to the voice of the person in the field in a situation like this. I wonder how much they actually care about the bloggers who work with them in this promotions? If they show this little concern regarding those who help promote the product it makes me wonder if how much they really give a damn when it comes to their customers...

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  2. Actually I just read a blog post last week about this very topic. I couldn't tell you how many contests I have entered that have the like this post and share this picture to enter options. I had no clue it wasn't allowed on Facebook. After reading about it I did a little more research, Facebook hasn't closed any pages that I know of due to this because lets face it that would be extremely unpopular but that isn't to say they can't and I agree it would be better to not take the chance.

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  3. Hi Madonna, As said, I know 3 sources in my blogging circles that have had their Facebook pages shut down overnight, 2 cited a direct quote (as shown above) about giveaway practices, the words and reasoning direct from the Facebook representative addressing both cases. These were very active bigger blogs (I say bigger as in about twice my size), and this was about 9 months back. As a side note, if anyone has an issue with their blog or business page you can immediately contact facebook regarding possible reinstatement or the offense via the 'My Facebook Page Was Disabled' link in the Help center. Read more about the rules, direct from Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/page_guidelines.php#promotionsguidelines

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  4. It pays to be informed and I've never known ignorance of the phrase "but they said" to reprieve anyone. I try and keep up dated on the rules and if a company suggest things against policies I write them back and tell them the TOS of that site. If they insist then I don't do it as there are lots of companies that want to do it right. I have found though that most companies tell me it is fine not to do it and continue with the review or giveaway.

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  5. Yes hello I have heard from bloggers that company,s are ruining blogging by taking so long with prize fulfillment and just not giving the blogger enough for having the giveaway no pay or reward. Wonderful Review Great, Art I pinned it. Thank you. Jerri Davis

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  6. I have read about some of this in fact. I heard that is why most bloggers now have separate entries for liking pages. From what I was gathering, this was ok as long as it was separate entries.
    I do realize to some extent how this must be quite the job to be a blogger which was one reason I didn't want to consider it...lol. Seriously though, I read through many blogs posting, enter giveaways and I know I just couldn't be a blogger. It is great to be informed of all of this so glad you shared all of this with us. Your blog is awesome and so are the giveaways you have.

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  7. I agree and wonder if these companies don't know or simply don't care! I've seen blogger friends get their pages disabled for this and they were devastated! I'm not a huge fan of Facebook but it's such a big part of blogging at the moment and I won't risk losing my page for any giveaway!

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  8. I agree! I have also been blogging for 4 years and I can honestly say that this is one of the hardest jobs I have ever had. I even did taxes for a few years and they are nothing compared to this! I wish that companies as well as readers would understand that it is not as easy as we make it look.

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  9. Definitely one of the hardest job I have had. Companies do need to do their homework. I agree with this!

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  10. Whenever I have worked with a company that suggest a comment on a facebook page as a giveaway entry, I let them know in no uncertain terms that I am not doing that. Or I choose to ignore it. I actually contacted a company once, and they got back to me a long time afterwards. They said they didn't contact me because it was clear I knew what I was doing and didn't need their advice or help. What? That makes absolutely no sense? Is it a compliment or a criticism? I don't really know.

    By the way, I began following your blog way back when--it was always one of the blogs I would come to. Then I got so busy that I didn't keep up with your blog. And now that I am back keeping up with you again (thanks to the Fashion Fashionista group), I notice how much it has grown! And you were a great blogger, but you have somehow gotten better. This was a fantastic post, and I thank you for taking the time to write it!

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  11. Great post Jenna. I love your style of writing! This has been a huge topic in the world of blogging! I have not made anything mandatory in a long, long time. I'm not a big fan of it to begin with. I've heard of several major bloggers having their Facebook page closed down. It seems that Facebook has been rather tough on the blogging community lately. Definitely not worth getting shut down though. You are right, those number take a very long time to build!

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  12. Fantastic post! You laid out all my frustrations in this article. It drives me batty when the brand knowingly tries to get thou to break terms of service rules. T pays to be up to date on these things.

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  13. I don't even have a blog and I have heard of these rules and have heard of bloggers working really hard and being careful not to break them. Companies should take the time to make sure things are being done right.

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  14. I have heard of one or two bloggers getting their pages shut down or having fan numbers reduced. This is really great information to be aware of. I typically only have entrants like my page, but I'd better read all of the details. Thanks for sharing.

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  15. Yes, I read about that page being shut down, and they had like 22000 followers. It is better to not take the chance on it if there any questions.

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  16. Hello Jenna! I am not a blogger but I enter a lot of giveaways! I did not even know anything about Facebook, twitter, or pinterest or emailing until about a year ago... and then about two months ago I found blogs! So how do these facebook rules apply to someone like me? .... my facebook page is filled with likes and shares and posts all related to giveaways... what should I be doing or not doing so that I am in compliance with the Facebook terms of service? About two weeks ago I found I was logged out of Facebook... with a message that there was information that my account was fraudulent YIKES! I had to do a captcha code and a telephone verification... I would love any advise you could give me! Everytime I 'like' a new page or post or share I am so worried I am breaking rules!

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  17. I am NOT an expert, but I do not believe you can be penalized for performing these actions in exchange for giveaway entries, etc. However, it is good to be aware that, if a blog is asking you to comment on a post or share a page in exchange for an entry is against Facebook regulations. Such entries could be invalidated should this become an issue for the host; as a rule of thumb I do not do these entries when blogs offer them or request them.

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  18. Great post! I had no idea about how complicated some of the behind the scenes of blogging can be...!
    Ttrockwood
    Ttrockwood(at)yahoo(.) com

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  19. I dont think I could be a good blogger, it takes a lot of time and work and thought to be a really good blogger!

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  20. I love this post! It really seems to aggrivate me when companies don't keep up on the policies or seem to think a blogger is just trying to be difficult. I seem to run into similar logic regarding paid links and that they have to be "nofollow". I have had several companies say that I didn't know what I was talking about.

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  21. This can be the most frustrating portion of giveaways. You and I have discussed this issue extensively. You know how strongly I feel.

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  22. I Have Heard Of These Policies, I Have Never Heard Of Anyone Being Warned Or Shutdown By Facebook - Heather Hayes Panjon

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  23. Not a blogger, but have followed you and many others for almost as long as you have been blogging. I also enter contests so see some of the good bad and downright ugly.

    Even as a non blogger I knew about this rule and see it skirted around all the time- people want numbers nummbers numbers and will do almost anything to get them

    It doesnt surprise me- actuaally noting much does anymore.

    BTW pardon typos getting over a broken hand and typin g wonky.

    I do want to add- quality blogs and those who have integrity play by the rules- and I see your post as being one of a leader that some of the newer bloggers shoukd take heed.

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  24. great post and i agree although it can be hard to keep up with all of the rules its better to be safe than sorry

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  25. Very insightful post. I think a lot of large companies, corporations- even gov't- don't really care too much about some of the finer details that affect the lives of the small fish. They are too busy looking at the bottom line $$$! Their philosophy is make money now, worry about that later (if at all).

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  26. I purposely keep my FB fairly private. I hate when a blog requires you to follow or comment on a FB post just to win something. I didn't realize that it was actually against FB policy to do so.

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  27. Good for you for taking the time to research and understand the rules. And good for you for continuing to try to get the company in question to acknowledge that they are placing themselves and bloggers in danger of violating Facebook rules.

    I am not a blogger, but I do read a lot of blogs and enter a lot of giveaways. I've had my Facebook account frozen and certain privileges taken away because I did certain things to enter giveaways. So I, too, am learning the boundaries.

    Thanks for this post. I learned a lot.

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  28. I have heard of these Facebook policies and know about several blog fan pages that were shut down recently.

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  29. Very well said, i really appreciate the way you present your giveaways!!

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  30. You're exactly right Jenna it takes alot of time and much more effort than I would have thought when I started. I would hate to get shut down on facebook after all the time I've spend building readership but as you said knowing the rules & regulations is the responsible thing that business' should do.


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