Reasons Why Those Voting Contests (Still) Suck! And My Pledge To Not Support Them!

SOCIAL MEDIA | | April 11, 2011 at 8:23 am

When I originally wrote the 7 Ways To Annoy Your Friends in Social Media I skimmed over one of the points and it became obvious in the comments it was the most popular item. Most agreed but some still decided to try to justify its salient points. So I decided my explanation was too brief and maybe needed some elaboration.

They give (others) good traffic!

Did you ever see where you could vote on your own site? No, all our links to votes are steered to the hosting parties website or their pages. So guess who is really winning the popularity contest? This all started as some (lazy) person’s way to increase traffic of brands and sadly it stuck. Notice any brands says constantly “Go vote for your favorite”? No? That’s because they have you doing it FOR FREE!

They ignore your (hard) work.

Have you noticed that it does not matter all the creativity, time, effort, and more you pour into your entry it all boils down to who has more friends (who can click for you too). Content is not even in their vocabulary! So why bother? It is pretty insulting to see your hard word reduced to “I got more friends than you” level.

They make us fight!

No matter how much you may want to exude good sportsmanship, it would be really difficult to remain blas√© about your “competitors” especially as the prize increases in value (or importance). Stop pretending that it doesn’t and frankly I don’t want to be pitted against my friends, and yes we are friends – don’t try to change that.

It is annoying. Really!

Seriously now go read my post again about how you are killing your friend’s (and the social media) streams with that that constant nauseating request. Any self-respecting campaign should find another way.

It is contagious!

Not only brands, but blogs are doing it. “Top 25 bloggers!” They ask you to slap that badge on YOUR site to vote for you. Oh, come on – seriously? I was once told that I was chosen to to blogger of XX but needed to stick the badge on my site. Are you kidding me? Does anyone tell the winner of the Oscar Award you have to be present to win the award? So I kept my site my way and they could keep their freaking award. If someone deems you worthy enough they will give it to you anyway.

It is so time consuming!

When I fell into the trap a few years ago to the voting thing, it sucked my time, all my time. I recall being  relieved that it was done. Time you spend soliciting votes is time you could be making a kick-ass blog (instead of asking blessings to be called one).

So today I decided to make my stand a little more public so I can reference it if ever pitched by anyone (and it looks too awesome). Also it will serve as a reminder lest the temptation for that pot of gold to engage in a voting contest become too much to resist. So I won’t remove or squabble if anyone has me on a list for anything being voted but I WON’T have a link in my sidebar to vote or email my friends or tweet about it. If you choose to do it I will not think any less of you (and you will still be my friend) but I won’t be part of this venture to promote this voting anymore. I vote for no more voting (except in elections of course)!

The world according to Mommy Niri.

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74 Comments

  1. 1

    Niri, I would be so ashamed to ever ask anyone to vote for me for anything. I don’t even bother with entering those types of contests and dare not bother any of my friends in the process. Great post!

    • 1.1
      Yakini says:

      Ditto!!!

      I would feel like such a nuisance asking people to vote for me – and I would feel like I’m irritating my friends. So I tend to shy away from such contests. However, if someone asks me to vote, or I see it posted on their FB/Twitter page, and they are someone whom I respect and feel is deserving… I do try and take the time to vote for them. But only if the process is simple and straight-forward! I hate the drama that’s usually involved.

      And I agree… it’s often a (very transparent) ploy to drive more traffic to the site hosting the contest (on the part of the contest host).

      • 1.1.1

        I felt like such a pain when I was asking people to vote for me for Mamavation last year. I will never do it again. Besides, popularity has never been my strong suit. I could never appease the masses enough!

        Great post Niri!

  2. 2
    Sheila says:

    I agree Niri. I try not to do voting contests. I did for Wilton because I really wanted the kit they provided. I didn’t make it in the top ten though. I did another one that wasn’t blog related and even though I did have the most votes that was only part of it. I have always despised voting contests because I think that not everyone has the most friends or the in the blogging world the same reach. I think that they do put people against each other. I also makes me feel like I have to pick and choose who to vote for. Normally I don’t even vote when it comes to contests where I have more than one friend in them. I have been voting in the Mom Central grant contest but that is because my really good friend is in it. This is someone I text with everyday for the last year, usually all day and night. I agree I hate voting contests too. Just pick a winner, we aren’t in high school voting for homecoming or prom queen.

    • 2.1
      Mommy Niri says:

      The issue is Sheila – I know for a fact that several entrants in most contests pour their heart and soul into their pitches but the one who has most friends (who will also click) wins.

      • 2.1.1
        MommaCupcake says:

        Sheila, I was part of that contest and was in the top 10. I barely asked for votes. The thing was I didn’t know the winner was going to be decided by popularity otherwise I would have never entered. However at the same time…even though I didn’t win I got noticed by Wilton and I’m working with them now. So sometimes there is a silver lining. I truly did pour everything into my entry. I’m just a little ole food blog. I don’t have the number that mommy bloggers do. :)

        • 2.1.1.1
          Sheila says:

          And you think I didn’t pour my heart out in my entry? Cause I did. I spent a ton of money and spent a lot of time doing it. I worked really hard on my entry. Good for you.

          • 2.1.1.1.1
            MommaCupcake says:

            Huh? I’m confused. There could only be 10 in the top ten. Someone wasn’t going to win..AND I didn’t win and a lot of people who I thought had poured their hearts out into their cake pops never made it in the top ten. We all tried our best. I’m just saying it wasn’t entirely based on talent here and that I don’t have the numbers so once I found out it was a voting contest I knew I wouldn’t win. ALL I WAS SAYING is that sometimes events like that have a silver lining. A lot of times we will figure “What’s the point?” but they have unforetold POSITIVE consequences.

            As I understand it you may have “not liked me from the beginning” so that may have skewed your perception on what I said but I assure you…that’s not what I intended. I was actually agreeing with you.

            That Momma Cupcake Witch

  3. 3
    Jessica says:

    Getting “please vote for me” requests over and over is pretty darn annoying! I am taking your stance and saying no. Besides, these types of contests are time consuming (as you mentioned above) and just waste precious time that could be focused on something way more important!

  4. 4
    Sky says:

    Spot on! I detest voting contests!

  5. 5

    I tend not to enter ‘voting’ contests — although, I have been guilty in the past.
    I agree with you about the pitting us against our friends. I’m not a typically competitive person and I don’t like asking people to “choose”.

    I have gotten the same (a couple of similar) e-mails, you’ve been chosen as one of our xxxx top bloggers – in order to maintain this status, post this badge in your sidebar.

    Full Disclosure – I have a post today about my biggest kitchen disaster and how I’m trying to win a $3500 shopping spree to pampered chef (hello dream). But, all it takes is a comment, I’m not asking for votes, nor would I ask anyone to NOT comment on another blogger’s post if they’re doing the same thing. That’s just tacky.

    (I don’t think that makes me hypocritical — but, it’s subjective I guess)

    Great post, Niri.

    • 5.1
      Mommy Niri says:

      Not judging – seriously and wishing you luck too.

      I personally feel bloggers are pawns (or victims) in the voting game – and though there are many fun ways to do the voting thing – it has been done to death and been abused.

      What it makes you Rachel is honest and awesome. I judge no fellow blogger for doing what they think they need to.

  6. 6
    Natalie W says:

    I agree! A lot of affiliate programs seem to want more money and more traffic to give the bloggers who work hard nothing! Its SPAM for bloggers! ha!

  7. 7

    I NEVER enter voting contests, and I tend to ignore requests for votes, even from very good online friends. There have been two times I’ve broken that rule, but only because the outcome would have meant a LOT to that person. And yet, neither of them “won.” It all pretty much drives me nuts.

  8. 8
    Jennifer says:

    I too am up for the Mom Central contest and I dislike asking for votes, I hate being that person. Isn’t the first time but I am thinking it will be my last, because I agree those things pit us against each other.

  9. 9

    Yay! I never enter or respond to voting contests (grow up people, so HS) and if anybody posts a link on my FB wall requesting a vote, I unfriend.

  10. 10

    BRAVO! BRAVO! BRAVO!

  11. 11
  12. 12
    Fadra says:

    I’ve entered some voting contests foolishly thinking, if someone like my writing the best, I’ll win! Soon after, I realized it’s nothing more than a popularity contest.

    I’ve heard pretty hideous stories of people demanding votes from their readers. I also got accused (indirectly) of cheating during one of these contests last year.

    If I was the most popular blogger out there, sure I would enter but since I’m not, they just aren’t fair ;)

  13. 13
    robin says:

    YESSSSSS!!!

    In fact I’ve been quietly hiding people on FB and unfollowing on twitter if they are continually asking for votes. I absolutely agree that the time could be better spent working on your blog, rather than driving traffic to another site.

  14. 14

    Thank you for writing this! You are so right – it is a link bait and a popularity contest, nothing else. Plus there are too many of these Top 25 or whatever lists anyway so it kind of takes away from it.

  15. 15
    Angie says:

    I hate these too, thanks for talking about this and getting a conversation going. I just vented to some marketer the other day about how this isn’t my hobby, it’s a job, I need money, not the possibility of getting paid.

  16. 16
    Kate Hayes says:

    I couldn’t agree more!! I hate when companies do this too…especially when you are selected to be a finalist based on the content you provided. Last year, I was a finalist in Parenting Magazine’s Family Road Trip contest, based on what I felt was a well written entry and a good fit for what the editors were looking for. But the way the finalist voting was set up (anyone could go to Parenting’s website to vote all day long if they wanted), it soon became clear that the results of the contest had nothing to do with merit and everything to do with who could sit on Parenting’s website and vote the longest. I found that to be misleading and disappointing. I won’t enter again.

  17. 17
    QuatroMama says:

    I really really hope brands are reading this and getting the message! Awesome post, Niri!

  18. 18

    I’ve gotten into a few voting situations… not for a prize, but for the shorty’s, babble and Oprah. And I can’t say I’ll never ask for support in another one… but it’s too all gotten to be too much. I was recently chosen as a nominee for a Babble Mom’s with Clout… it requires voting. I just couldn’t get behind it or ask my followers, so I may lose my “clout” and as you said, spend my time and energy building a better blog and writing useful content.
    Thank you for posting this, because I’ve noticed the use is expanding… print magazine’s are having people vote for best online resources, online magazine’s, companies to give away everything from toilet paper to ipads.
    It’s all too much.

  19. 19
    Tonya Staab says:

    Have I professed my love for you recently, cause if I haven’t, I now am. These are not contests based on your work, your abilities, or your credibility, they are contests based purely on popularity.

    I refuse to be a part of these popularity contests. I much prefer those where independent judges make the decision on who should or should not be on the top lists or be the winner of a contest.

    And yes I add ‘top lists’ to this post because the ‘top 50′ lists where people have to vote are just as bad. Take for example the current Circle of Moms bloggers ‘list’ currently circulating. {eye roll}. Where are the independent judges who have no affiliation to those nominated? Ack.

  20. 20
    Barb says:

    Niri, this post gets my vote for being DEAD ON RIGHT!

    It’s funny because I never, ever vote in these things but I have a friend really wanting to do something that she considers important so over the last week I have clicked over to help her out.
    But 99.9% of the time, I am totally with you.

    • 20.1
      Mommy Niri says:

      And I bet it would have been nicer for her to convey that passion in a post which a panel could have chosen her on.

  21. 21

    Great post! It is tough because sometimes there are just great opportunities you don’t want to pass up but both asking for votes and constantly being asked gets exhausting and takes away from the “point” of making real connections and producing interesting content.

    I’m not fond of these contests in general–for bloggers, non-profits, etc. It is a zero-sum mentality that I don’t like to see in what is supposed to be a community.

    That said, I can see why the entrants often feel they can’t pass up the opportunity.

  22. 22
    marla says:

    I rarely participate in voting contests for many of these reasons.

  23. 23
    MommaCupcake says:

    I can understand it to a point. I mean I have friends who enter and its not too big of a deal. If I have time I vote..if I don’t I don’t. We all have this unspoken agreement about that. But yes it is a popularity contest. I guess I pretty much just ignore stuff like crap opps or free jpegs lol. Also a case by case scenario is needed. I have thousands of spam emails a week. I’ve been around this blogging block a while now its been 4 years I think. Everyone learns eventually. Not worth the calories getting upset over.

  24. 24
    Cindy says:

    I entered one of these things recently. I knew I was doing something pointless, but I had to try anyway. Just had this pie-eyed optimistic idea that maybe the votes would be objective for once instead of bought with the promise of extra entries. It wasn’t a blog contest thing, but a photo contest. Naturally, lacking the means with which to bribe others to vote for me, I lost. Lesson learned. Ugh.

  25. 25

    I, too hope that brands are listening. I fear this same type of contest is going to rear its ugly head again since BlogHer is coming up.

    There is so much creativity out there, someone should be able to come up with a better way.

  26. 26
    jeannett says:

    ohmygoodness. will you marry me???
    i spent about 30 minutes crafting up this great entry…only to find out after the fact that it was not only a voting thing after all, but it was VOTE EVERY DAY…for..wait for it…SIX WEEKS. i can’t stand begging for votes to begin with, but i can *maybe* handle a week. maybe. but a month and a half???!!! crazyness. keep your prize and your dumb badge. it’s no longer about who deserves to win, it’s about how many people will click. and that doesn’t even really determine readership either. quit creating false traffic numbers for your sponsors and focus on the great work going on in blog land!!!

    ::stepping off soapbox::

    • 26.1
      Mommy Niri says:

      As long as I don’t have to fold laundry you have a deal. Seriously though – that is what I have been trying to say and people actually believe a temporary spike in traffic is “awareness”??

  27. 27
    Kristy says:

    Niri, I couldn’t agree with you more! These “popularity contests” are such a turn off as well as the ones begging for the votes! Great post! :)

  28. 28

    AGREED! I only did a voting type contest once. Each vote was for a good cause so I tried, but I just don’t have the time or the desire to harass enough people to have a chance of winning. Now, I don’t even bother.

  29. 29
    mamikaze says:

    I hate having to choose which friend to vote for! I have only done one popularity contest. I felt vulnerable and the result was not gratifying.

  30. 30
    Chrysa says:

    I totally agree with you! I admit I have also been sucked into these in the past, but NO MORE! Why should I direct my friends and readers to some other site just to give them free traffic with no benefit to me or my readers? I’m glad to hear so many others feeling the same way.

  31. 31

    Well, you know where I stand on this one Niri. My recent experience was awful, and I have vowed to never, ever, NEVER do these again. I am with you!!

  32. 32

    Amen. Will not do it in this house. Will not do it with a mouse. When I ask for votes I feel like a louse.

  33. 33
    marty says:

    I guess it’s ironic that you are one of the few bloggers for whom I would ever vote.

    I’m still rooting for you to be President of the Mommybloggers ;)

  34. 34

    I couldn’t agree more. Contest are destructive and a sad reality of the online world. If you care about a community you wont destroy it.

  35. 35
    Fiona says:

    Amen Sista! The private FB emails got so old I just started blocking them.I also think the contests are useless and mean absolutely nothing of value. I hate to say it but the ones that ask you to RT on twitter every day as often as possible make the person look ridiculous, like a clown in the town center shamelessly putting themselves out to be gawked at. I vote your post #1 blog post of the year :p

  36. 36
    P Michele says:

    I agree. I can’t stand voting contest. They are over taking Facebook. There is so much cheating and back stabbing in a lot of these contest. Half the time the sponsor doesn’t seem to enforce their own rules. There was a recent one for a cruise on Facebook. One of my friends clearly was the winner yet they awarded it to the person in 8th place. They went on to claim the others hadn’t followed the rules yet would not say what rules they broke. The winner seemed to know well before the announcement was made. Then she felt compelled to post that she didn’t know anyone in the company even though no one had said she did. Very suspicious.

    They’re unfair and nothing but a popularity contest. If the contestant has a popular blog and is giving out entries for votes or if the contestant is the member of a large forum or sweepstake site, then it’s really unfair.

    They even have sites where you can trade votes and sites where you can buy votes. Not to mention the people with multiple emails and Facebook accounts that vote for themselves or people who set up computer bots to vote. I wish people would stop entering them so sponsors would stop holding them.

    • 36.1
      Mommy Niri says:

      I totally forgot about that site about trading votes. I remember someone did that against me (and that was how I found out people do that) and they wanted their friend to win. I was pretty disgusted this existed.

  37. 37

    I also am not a fan of voting contests and I don’t think I’ve ever entered one and asked my followers or friends for votes.

    In the past, we had done the occasional photo contest where readers submit entries and we posted a set of finalists and asked people to vote for their favorite photo. We had intended for people to look at the photos and sincerely vote. But the contests did seem to end up turning into a competition of who could get the most friends to vote, so we have stopped doing such photo contests.

    I agree that it is important for brands and bloggers to understand that most people are tired of voting contests.

    • 37.1
      Mommy Niri says:

      The thing is voting works in theory. Vote on the favorite recipe or photo and it seems plausible. People like and will vote – a fair way, except some people support people whether they like the “thing” or not so those with more people always win – no matter what they do.

  38. 38

    SO well said. This post couldn’t have arrived at a better time! I was nominated to be on a list for Most Inspiring Families. And, yes, I put the badge on my site. And while I didn’t post about it on the blog, I asked Facebook friends to vote. And I really, really hated doing that. It’s been bugging me and bugging me. I just read your post and took it down.

    In the end, as you and many others note, these voting contests say nothing about the quality of your blog or its effect on readers.

    Bravo, Niri.

    • 38.1
      Mommy Niri says:

      Ellen, I love you dearly and would not think anything of you continuing to keep the vote thing on. I hope you realize button, or not, you write one of the most compelling blogs ever. It warms my heart for reasons you understand. Thank you Ellen!

  39. 39

    Thank you! And I might add that requesting a Vote on FB, is NOT an Event!

  40. 40

    Thank you for posting this. I, too, am really tired of these. I get instant messages on Facebook from people who don’t give me the time of day otherwise, as well as private messages on FB, and regular emails. Really? I might vote occasionally, but I try to steer clear of it for the most part. It is just becoming too much!

    • 40.1
      P Michele says:

      I had to hide myself on Facebook. I got tired of chat messages from people asking for votes. It got to be annoying.

      I had one friend make a huge deal about quitting FB. She deactivated her account only to reappear a couple of days ago in order to ask for votes in a contest.

  41. 41
    Sandra Foyt says:

    So glad you’re expressing what I feel! I don’t regret entering the Mom Central contest because the self-reflection it required was something I needed to do anyway for myself. But, there is no way that I’m going to beg for votes. It just feels dirty.

    I can’t win this way, so be it. I won what I really needed to win out of the experience anyway.

  42. 42

    SING IT!!!!!! I agree- and after my one and only voting contest I would NEVER EVER do it again… for EVERY SINGLE REASON you so articulately stated.

  43. 43

    So many people I talk to who are involved in voting contests talk about how miserable they feel. I am in a startup nation one which says that the voting meter showing votes does not necessarily make you win, that they supposedly judge your entry too! I still feel like a pain and can’t wait until it is over. I saw one contest that if you referred a friend and they won, you would win too. That seems a bit different because you could win and they could win, so it was okay to build each other up. I am going to be doing a contest with a brand, but there will be no public voting. We are going to judge the winners based on their content submissions. Until the startup nation one is over, I can’t take the pledge yet :)

  44. 44

    My daughter got me sucked into one of these contest put on by DOVE at Christmas for a singing contest to get to sing in New York.

    Not only did you have to allow a Facebook ap, but to go and vote took about 4 clicks no matter how easy I tried to make it and in the end the group with 8 members won over her group of 4 duh.. more friends.

    It caused enormous hard feelings with her friends at college… and for all I know half of my FB friends probably hid me at that point. HATE hate those things.

  45. 45
    Gina says:

    And at the end of the day, what do they really mean?

    Seems like a bad marketing tactic if you ask me.

  46. 46
    Jendi says:

    I don’t like them either! I totally understand how anyone can get sucked into trying. I know the feeling of being asked by 2 people to vote in the same contest and not knowing which one should get my vote. Sometimes I go so far as to rebel and actually read the entries before I choose who to vote for – no matter who asked me!

  47. 47

    I will ONLY participate in a campaign where I have to get votes if they pay me really well as their brand ambassador. I’m not saying $30 I’m saying hundreds of dollars or more. You have some valid points – if I am going to get tons of publicity for you, then pay me well!

  48. 48
    duong says:

    Niri,
    You have some very good points! I’ve entered one contest and asked votes discretely to friends. It was a photography contest w/a brand and you probably saw it. At the end of the day I realized it was a popularity contest and not really “photography” as I had to scratch my head about the the photo that actually won. There were so many photos from other contestants but it was all about most votes. WOW, that was an eye opener.

    Also, Voting will never go away. There are always going to be contests and some are valid and I will continue to vote for my friends who ask me to “only” if I feel they valid contests that are deserving and not for “popularity” type.

    Thanks for sharing!

  49. 49

    OMG I hate those voting contests – it is like companies having giant proms and then pitting the guests against each other to fight for the coveted sash and crown while the rest of us slouch against the walls hoping to be asked to dance.

  50. 50

    I agree with you, as you know. I realize that others feel more strongly that it’s important to have the chance to be recognized, which I understand. Still, I don’t plan to ask for votes anymore. I just don’t feel comfortable doing it.
    - K

  51. 51
    JoeyfromSC says:

    OMG SO agree!! thanks for posting this!! I hate the cheaters..someone always finds a way to cheat:( so sad!

  52. 52
    Helen says:

    I suspect my response will not be a popular one, but there are hundreds of different contests out there. If you don’t like the voting contests, don’t enter. Simple.
    There are many, like myself, in the voting world who for one reason or another are housebound or isolated. I wouldn’t be doing this all day if I were well, but reality is, I’m not, so I found another outlet. It is as valid a hobby as any other. I love voting for people and I love cheering them on. My voting friends do the same for me. I don’t ask my personal friends for votes, I ask my voting friends. That is only sensible. When my car breaks, I don’t take it to my accountant either. Don’t penalize me for the connections I have made, just because you relied on your pre-existing friends.
    I use vote trading walls when contests allow it, and many sponsors do. I enjoy them. We tease, we joke around, and we have fun. Trading walls are very different from exchange walls. On a trading wall I post my contest, you vote for it, then I vote for yours. On an exchange wall people post that they have a certain number of fake accounts and will vote in exchange for money or an equal amount of fake votes in return.
    I resent the global statements about successful contesters all being cheaters. I don’t cheat, but I have been successful. I have been key in the winning of $165,000 this year for charity. I’m proud of that.

    • 52.1
      Mommy Niri says:

      Helen, no matter what I really appreciate you stopping by. Congratulations on your winnings and as I mentioned in my post I do not look down anyone entering them or promoting them. This post was targeted at bloggers and voting built amongst bloggers. If you find it works for you then go for it. It is wonderful what you have done for charity – that is amazing. The bulk of this post is about brands trying to come up with more creative ways to engage brands rather than make them vote against each other.

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