Do Bloggers Hate Competitions?
Why brands should work closely with bloggers, crowdsource opinions and use Twitter to formulate and improve campaign strategies.
With the sudden boom in the time spent by consumers online and on social media, we have also witnessed the birth of the ‘blog’ and an ever growing 'blogosphere'. As brands integrate their traditional and digital marketing activities, they have identified the marketing potential of bloggers, specifically factoring them into their digital strategies. Bloggers that are identified as very influential or as key opinion leaders are now often approached for ‘word of mouth’ or SEO opportunities.
It’s fair to say that fashion as a subject or 'niche' makes up a large section of the blogging demographic, with many blogs that have extremely large followings. As well as maintaining their own blogs, fashion bloggers also tend to be very social. They most regularly use Twitter as their primary social platform, which each day has an average of 58 million tweets sent globally.
In wanting to find out more about their opinions on blogger competitions, I figured; why not speak to them in their own environment? Being social myself and having worked with them for a while, I have gained some very interesting insights into blogger behaviour and the types of branded activities they like to take part in.
Bloggers want tangible rewards
Fashion brands regularly use blogger competitions as an incentive to participate in branded activities. On the surface it’s a great and simple way to encourage bloggers to write posts about their brand or products to be in with a chance to win a prize. However, certain sections of the blogosphere are starting to steer clear of competitions for various reasons.
Last year, whilst developing a competition idea for a Christmas campaign with one of our clients called ‘Red Carpet Christmas’, based on a similar competition from the previous year, I asked bloggers what they thought about competitions in terms of their likes and dislikes.
Some of the main feedback that I received over Twitter revealed that many bloggers thought that:
- The likelihood of winning was slim
- There is little or no evidence of a winner being chosen
- Brands do not tweet their posts
- There is hardly any talk of the competition on social media
Based on this information, we understood the importance of both transparency and social community. By entering a competition, bloggers wanted to build on their relationship with the brand (have their entry tweeted) but also participate in a popular competition that would grant them exposure and provide them with a realistic chance of winning. All of the factors identified pointed to the need for a tangible reason to enter being a necessity. Taking this into account, we increased the number of prizes to five, involved the brands social media team to tweet all entries and also announced winners on the client's Blog.
The results showed a slight improvement in comparison to the brands previous Christmas competition, with a 10% increase in the number of blog entries and also an increase in social shares. However, we still hit various barriers. Certain bloggers still refused to get involved as not enough people were talking about it on Twitter via the hashtag used for the competition. This highlights the importance of synchronising blogger campaigns with targeted social media campaigns that will spark online discussion.
Negative attitudes to blogger competitions
Recently I decided to ask bloggers once again about their thoughts. Let’s see what some of them said:
One particular blogger has won a large number of the competitions that she has entered. Here is what she had to say:
A blogger called Kellie Hill who blogs at Big Fashionista has written three separate posts detailing why she hates blogger competitions so much.
Her article highlights some interesting points about how these competitions can be perceived by bloggers. Here is a snippet of what she initially said and some of her comments in this particular article which can be read here:
So the important points raised from all this are that if competitions are not managed properly, there is a big risk that the same bloggers that brands are trying to target, will simply view their competition as a form of exploitative free advertising. Bloggers are understandably protective of their readers and are wary of where they direct people. If a competition is perceived as simply a way to drive the blogger's traffic to the brands website and improve their search engine rankings via link building, then brands will always struggle to secure large scale participation.
What should brands do?
A key point that one blogger highlighted when I questioned this issue on Twitter was “I only enter competitions that are hosted by blogs I actually follow”, which was also reiterated by others in their responses. Having learned the importance of working closely with blogger communities, this comment had interesting implications.
A competition that was then hosted by a blogger on behalf of a client received 607 competition entries. This blew our previous competition, hosted on the client’s own blog out of the water in comparison. This could be for a number of reasons. Bloggers tend to trust other bloggers and their opinions, they are part of the same community and were likely originally identified exactly because of their large following.
Another key finding was the importance that perceived ease of entry to a competition has on the number of entrants. All the competition entrants had to do was put a link to the item that they would like from the clients website in a comment, without having to spend the time writing a complete blog post.
This leaves us with a couple of questions; should we scrap blogger competitions altogether? Or keep competitions to social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook? Social media platforms give us valuable insights into what bloggers love and what they hate, which can be used to then refine campaign ideas and strategies. By working more closely with bloggers and learning what they like and dislike about competitions, brands can avoid the pitfalls of their competition being viewed cynically.
I’m currently looking into male engagement of fashion related content online and I have found Twitter to be most insightful on this - once again proving the important role that social media and understanding the market can play in campaign strategy.
- Bloggers may not be enthusiastic to partake in competitions for various reasons; competitions can be perceived to be a cunning way to get bloggers to link to the brand for SEO purposes. It might also be viewed as a form of free advertising and a way to get free posts out of bloggers without properly compensating them for their time. But there are many different ways brands can counteract this, such as offering a range of tangible rewards such as social media mentions if the brand social account has a high following, and generally greater exposure for their work.
- Working more closely with influential bloggers themselves and having them host competitions on your behalf can prove very successful.
- Blogger campaigns should always be integrated with other channels such as social media to add credibility, exposure and 'buzz' around the campaign and competition.
- If you cannot create a popular conversation around the competition on social media, the number of entrants is likely to be low.
- Branded competitions should be avoided due to saturation, and the increasing demands of bloggers in regards to payment for what they increasingly perceive as advertising.
- Competitions hosted on social media platforms such as Twitter are often more successful as it’s a simpler method of entering and the barriers to entry in terms of time and commitment are so much lower.