Why I don't enter voting competitions
Di Coke is famous for her prize winning techniques, but you won't catch her entering a voting comp. Here's why.
Back in 2009 when I started blogging at SuperLucky, I entered voting competitions regularly. I won some fantastic prizes, ranging from a weekend in Paris to £1000 Tesco vouchers. I was successful because I had established a large network of friends and followers on social media - I also had a knack of finding voting competitions that I thought would be low entry as the entries took time to do. I had a methodical approach of sending individual emails and messages to my family and friends politely asking them to vote, rather than spamming my Facebook profile and Twitter feed with requests. My strategy was to keep it low key - I didn’t want to annoy my friends too much.
One of my best prizes was a trip to Copenhagen with dinner at Noma (at the time, the world’s best restaurant). This was on my wish list and such an unusual prize that I couldn’t resist entering. My recipe for beetroot risotto was nothing special, but I had done my research on the other entries and knew I only needed 100 likes for my recipe to win. When I won, I felt a little embarrassed. I didn’t deserve it - the other recipes were much more exciting and inventive. But in a voting competition, the best entry rarely wins - it’s more about the number of friends you have, or your ability to cheat the system. How many times have you been asked to vote for an entry which is terrible, but you’ve voted anyway just because it’s your friend? When the winner is announced, there may be bad feedback on the promoter’s Facebook page, particularly from friends or relatives of other entrants - some of the comments I’ve seen on children’s voting competitions have been unbelievably cruel. For the winner, any sense of pride at their win will be lost when they get accused of cheating.
I once entered a cutest baby competition. I must have been mad! From the ten shortlisted photos the one with the most Facebook likes won. As the closing date approached, I noticed some rather odd comments appearing on the photos: "I’ve voted your baby, now you vote mine”, along with a link. I clicked to find another baby photo competition in Malaysia. From there I clicked another link to find one in the Philippines, then Canada. Each link I clicked took me to another baby photo that needed a like. And while I struggled to reach 200 likes on my own photo, can you believe some of the Malaysian mums had amassed more than 20,000! I started to wonder who was looking after their babies while they were busy canvassing for votes…
The beginning of a voting competition can be fun of course. The votes start rolling in from friends and family, and you feel pleased with yourself - you might even make it to the top spot! But as the competition deadline looms ever nearer, you see the entry in 8th place has jumped to 1st place overnight. So you start to panic, and frantically post desperate vote requests anywhere you can. You post on Mumsnet, on the Millwall FC fan forum, in every Facebook group you’re a member of. You become an annoying and selfish spammer in the hope of gaining a handful of extra votes.
Next, you’ll desperately search Google for options - Getonlinevotes.com is pretty straightforward, where people help each other out with votes in worldwide contests. And of course, there’s cheating! Search Google for instructions on hiding your IP address, or how to create thousands of aliases for your email account, enabling you to vote multiple times. Look for vote swap groups on Facebook and you’ll find dodgy folk who own bundles of fake Facebook accounts - they will sell you passwords so you can log in and vote from each of the 100 accounts. You could also buy votes at Buycontestvotes.com - or on many ‘black hat’ forums online. Astonishingly, many promoters forget to cover voting in their Terms and Conditions, making the difference between valid and invalid votes a grey area.
Entrants involved in a voting competition can devote hours daily to their campaign - it’s a stressful experience. By the final few hours of the campaign, desperate begging posts and messages are going out to family, friends and strangers. Some of those friends may well have clicked ‘Unfriend’ by the time the competition is over. When I look back at my own experiences, I’m embarrassed about all those ‘please vote' messages I sent to people. There was one competition where I actually burst into tears at midnight realising someone had pipped me to the post. All that wasted time spent asking for votes, when I could have used it to enter lots of judged competitions instead!
The cheating and the stress is why four years ago, I made a decision to stop entering voting competitions completely. I refused to promote or share them on my blog or social media - and said that I would never vote for anyone in a competition again.
Now I watch voting competitions go wrong from afar. I’ve seen various underhand tactics at play - some hilarious, some ingenious, some shocking. There was the lady who voted with multiple identities (including Facebook accounts for her cats), the comper who offered a £100 prize incentive for voters, and the saboteurs who deliberately posted fake vote requests online to get their closest competitors kicked out. Some of these techniques worked, some didn’t - but in every case, the promoter’s Facebook page was an entertaining and controversial read for the duration of the competition.
I still heave a mighty sigh when I see my favourite brands launch voting competitions, but thankfully it’s a rare occurrence these days. Maybe the message is finally getting through?
What are your experiences of voting competitions? Leave a comment below!
You can follow Di's winning tips and adventures @superluckydi and SuperLucky.
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Category: Intelligence & Insights
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