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.