Is Requiring “Follows” or “Likes” to Enter a Contest a Good Idea?

I’ve recently developed a new pet peeve. Blogs that host drawings and require entrants to either “follow” the blog or “like” the Facebook page in order to enter. If the blog is interesting to me, it’s not a big deal. If it’s not a blog that interests me, I do one of two things:
If it’s a low-value prize, I click out and move on.
If it’s something like a $25+ gift card to Amazon (or a Kindle!), I’ll go ahead and follow, but I’ll probably never go back to read the blog. And hiding pages on my Facebook newsfeed works really well.

I have two goals for my book giveaways. 1) Get rid of the books that are accumulating in the corner of the room, and 2) bring more readers to my blog. Readers, not just followers. I would rather grow my blog slowly (or top out somewhere below one million followers if necessary) than have 10,000 Facebook fans, but only 1,000 readers. Numbers are great, and it’s awesome to see those numbers rise, but I’d rather have repeat visitors, and visitors who land here for one post and stick around to read one or two more.

That’s why following my blog or liking my Facebook page are not requirements for entering my drawings. Or subscribing to my RSS Feed, or posting the contest to your Facebook page. I think sometimes, the promotion aspect can go too far. Also, I can’t verify if someone has subscribed via RSS or posted on a private fb page. Since I can’t verify it, it doesn’t seem fair to my other readers to allow those as entries. I wonder if other some of these other bloggers have considered that?

I really would like some input on this one. Is it just me that finds this too pushy? If you enter blog drawings, do these requirements bother you at all? I’d like to hear from any bloggers who host drawings, as well. Do you think enough of the people who follow you because of drawings stick around, to make it worthwhile? I’m not trying to be mean. I’m really curious.

33 thoughts on “Is Requiring “Follows” or “Likes” to Enter a Contest a Good Idea?

  1. Personally I don’t have a twitter or facebook account, so having that as a required entry is incredibly annoying. As an optional entry though, I don’t truly mind too much. Sometimes I’ll GFC someone, but I never bother to do anything else with it, so… it doesn’t even really benefit the blogger. All the blogs I actively read go to my inbox, because then I’ll actually remember. Heh. Plus when I’m on a blog hop I like to move faster, so easy entry is a plus. 🙂

    Anyway, back to the Clear Your Shelf hop. I just saw this post and had to respond. 😀

  2. Pingback: Should I Join The Dark Side? | Living, Learning, and Loving Life

  3. Here are my thoughts on this. I was a reader first, then a blogger. I don’t mind the mandatory entry of following because if I want to win something from this person, shouldn’t I be interested in what they say? If I’m not, I’m not going to enter. I have gone through giveaway hops and left without entering because I didn’t like the blog and knew I wouldn’t be back. If I am supplying a prize out of my own pocket/bookshelf, I don’t think a follow is a lot to ask. I hope that you will only follow if you are interested in reading what I write though. I think it’s pretty rude to follow someone or like their page and then unfollow or unlike after the contest is over. *shrug* that’s just my opinion.

  4. The Facebook TOS apply to any contest/giveaway – on FB or off. Once you require someone to do something on FB, you're entering their "turf" and have to play by their rules. 😉 The way the TOS is written can be a little confusing, but it applies to ANY use of FB for a contest/giveaway.

  5. I'll follow a blog, no problem. But I probably never look back at it. The blogs I really like, I subscribe to the RSS feed – but then I'm a follower as well. If I'm hosting like a 100 follower giveaway, I'll ask that entrants be followers, otherwise I count them as extra entries.

  6. I do not do become a follower as a mandatory entry, unless my sponsor specifically states it. I do all mandatory entries for the sponsor, so if they specify then I go with theirs. I find those giveaways are always the hardest to get any one to enter. It's funny, if it's a mandatory entry, I usually won't enter, but for the bonus entries I will always do the follow! LOL Not sure why, but I figure, I came once for the giveaway I will probably want to enter another. Also not sure about the rss feed, (as I don't have that as one of my entries), but as for posting to facebook, I require the link left to the post. Thus I can check it, and it is is fair. If you don't leave the link, entry doesn't count.

  7. Personally, if following is mandatory I won't do it if I'm not interested in the blog, and that's not to say it's not a good blog, but perhaps it's just something I'm not interested in…and that's fine. I never huff about it-I simply move on. I will like and follow on twitter, that doesn't bother me…
    and though I'm not a review/giveaway blog myself I've had a few, and following me for entry was always an extra-because I don't want just numbers, I want readers…but I would never think anyone is doing it wrong, we all have our own opinions…

  8. I'm with you on this one. Best option in my opinion is to offer several ways to follow with an entry for each way that they choose. The more ways they follow, the more entries with no extra pressure.

  9. @Shairbearg Since you've specifically said you do the facebook post entry, maybe you can tell me how you can see their post if the page is private? That's what confuses me. Are you able to pull up the post with the link? I guess that's a stupid question, but I don't get it.

  10. I am with Karen on a lot she said. I have been blogging since 2005 and never even thought about putting up GFC when it came out, I have never been big on entering someones community type thingy on their sidebar.

    When I decided to get into doing "Reviews and Giveaways" that is when I discovered the power of having "followers" So my blog is truly two-fold. I write content for my readers and do videos for my YouTube channel, I try to build my blog so my readers return….

    I have to build up GFC followers and RSS or Subscribe followers because that is what Sponsors and companies are looking at. I try to make my requirements pretty easy having the link right there etc. I don't over emphasize what has to be done in Big Bold letters because that pisses me off and I bolt.

    It's all about perception if your looking for Sponsors, they want to see followers and that your blog is cohesive with your niche.. 🙂 Hope I did not go over board.. I just started doing Giveaways in April so I had to put my thinking cap on and play catch up..

  11. Okay, I thought someone had mentioned the Facebook TOS, but I don't see it now. A friend did mention it elsewhere, though. I found it on the Promotions Guidelines page, which seems to be specifically about promotions that are run on Facebook, not on a blog. But since it was mentioned, I thought I'd throw it out here. http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/promotions_guidelines.php

    "3.You must not use Facebook features or functionality as a promotion’s registration or entry mechanism. For example, the act of liking a Page or checking in to a Place cannot automatically register or enter a promotion participant.

    4.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."

    Again, this is for promotions that are actually run ON Facebook, so I don't think using Likes as entries on a blog is actually against the TOS.

  12. here's the thing. My giveaways are either self sponsored or sponsored by a host that requires certian things. In my opinion, doing a few simple likes and follows to get something for free isn't too much to ask, especially now with the ease of rafflecopter. From that, it's my job to keep them reading to turn into "readers" not just "followers", but its give and take.

  13. I usuay don't mind following or liking bit won't subscribe via email for mandatory.

    I try to only have name/email be main entry for my giveaways with rest optional. I've seen some eventually follow so that's cool.

    I get a little surprised at the unfollows sometimes since they were only extra.

    I think for some it's a psychological thing – no one likes being demanded to do things especially if the blogger repeatedly says you can't win if you dont follow

  14. It depends. For me as an entrant, I often don't follow blogs that require it, I simply click off that giveaway. I already follow a bunch.
    I have used following as a mandatory entry in my own giveaways, but I may reconsider this. If it's being sponsored by someone else, well, I suppose it's their choice if they want that option.
    I guess it will just mean determining a better, more original, mandatory entry. I'll probably still leave following as an extra entry, if people want to go that far.

  15. @Karen After I wrote this, I found out how to check RSS subscriptions through feedburner, but if they subscribed through Google, there is no way to see that list. I suppose the answer to that would be to remove the Blogger/Google RSS sub link…

  16. @Simply Stacie Thank you for not only sharing your opinion (which was all I expected), but for sharing this with your followers! (Which may sound oddly hypocritical considering the subject of this post, but I still appreciate it.)

    @Everyone Thanks for all the great comments! I can see how, depending on your goals for your blog, you may need higher numbers for PR people. (Doesn't mean I have to like it. Just that I understand.;-) ) That aspect hadn't occurred to me. That's why I was curious about what other bloggers had to say about it. 🙂

  17. I think there is a difference between blogs that do a lot of giveaways (they need to show the sponsors how many followers they have, whether these people actually ever come back doesn't seem to matter) and blogs that do the occasional giveaway and don't need/have sponsors.

    Fair enough that the first group want more followers, and I don't think they even mind if I don't ever read their blog again.

    I'm a book blogger and with regard to publishers, I do get review books, and I'm in the position that I can ask for specific books that I'm interested in and I often get send them, and that's with 300 subscribers (that were never required to subscribe). Most of my dealings are with american publishers but I live in Europe (which is an extra hurdle for some publishers). So I think for me (and most book bloggers?) the whole followers things is much less important. Just keep your blog interesting and the readers will follow.

  18. I don't mind entering if the follows or retweets/blog promos are optional, but if it's a must I don't bother unless I'm already following of my own accord.

    I've only ever specified one of my giveaways as followers only, and that's because it was a celebration of my birthday and blogoversary, with some of my favourite books as prizes, which felt a bit more personal. It wasn't really to get more followers – more to thank my current followers by giving them a better chance of winning without passers-by taking the prize!

    Normally though, I prefer to leave it open to all. It's nicer and more inclusive that way. If they like what they read and want to follow that's nice, obviously, but I don't like forcing people into it…

  19. If I am paying for the giveaway, then I expect it's not too much effort for someone to follow my blog. Whether you like to or not, the fact is publishers (which since I'm a book blog is important to me) care about the number of followers I have. It's just the way things work, so I'm going to take advantage of that if I can.

    If I am doing a giveaway for a blog tour or author, I do not require it though. Those are not for my gain, so I want to make it as easy as possible. I guess it may seem rude to require it, but the fact is number of followers is important, so you do what you can.

  20. I don't mind. I am a blogger, but only recently I started giveaways and prior to that point I was an entrant.

    If the blog didn't interest me, it didn't both me to follow via GFC because I don't use that as my feed reader, so I never had to look at it again. If I followed via FB or Twitter and didn't care to "hear' from them again, I can just hide the FB feed and I just make search lists on Twitter of the people/things I actually want to hear from. Not a big deal to me personally.

    I have a fairly narrow niche, so the giveaways I've done for items specific to my niche have all been well-received. Most of the entrants follow me anyway, and new ones generally don't mind following.

    If I'm participating in a giveaway hop with items that are more general {but valued at at least $50} and especially the ones for hundreds of dollars cash, then I go in with the understanding that many of the entrants will never be back to my blog, but I rarely have anyone unfollow. If they do, it doesn't bother me.

    I, like you, love having readers, not just followers. I have a great group of people that are repeats at my blog and I enjoy providing them with great content. I also know that to work with bigger companies and to receive nicer items to giveaway, I have to have numbers to show to PR. It's unfortunate, but it's the way it is. I always wonder if they even consider the fact that many blogs {mine included} generally don't have as many active readers as I do followers, but it doesn't really seem to matter.

    All that said, I prefer to keep my entries simple. My mandatory is almost always to just follow via GFC, with all other entry methods being extra. Great discussion!

  21. Amanda, I've found my alter ego in this issue! I think exactly the same way as you! For that reason, I will subscribe and "see how it goes" (that means I'll read your blog until too many things come by that don't have my interest – if it ever happens!).

    I started my blog in April 2010 and have 300 followers NONE of which were ever required to subscribe. I want readers, not just subscribers!

    With regards to entering other people's giveaways I do the same as you – I follow but don't read. Sometimes of course I do discover an interesting blog and then I follow and DO read! 🙂

  22. Doesn't bother me to do any of it because the blogger who is doing the giveaway doesn't have to do it and I for one am happy to give them a GFC follow or Twitter Follow or Facebook Like to help them out because it time to do all that giveaway stuff. I appreciate you all. I love entering giveaways & winning is even better. Like a lot of people said, if you don't like the blog just do not go back and hide them on facebook and your done. They are giving you a chance to win something free and most times they do not get paid to do it. Sometimes yes, but a lot of times no. I do not mind it at all!

  23. I agree with Beth, I don't mind it. If I as a blogger am hosting a giveaway that I self sponsor, with something like a gift card, etc I don't think it's too much to ask someone to follow one method required, other methods optional. I am hosting it to grow my readers, and a lot of times sponsors want the numbers to work with you, so you have to work at growing your followers. I think I have many repeat entrants, and once they follow once, it makes entering again really easy, and over time, I usually see them stopping by to see what I have going on. If it's something like a book I purchased or am passing on, I don't usually require a follow because it's not a high value item. I'll only request it if it's a giveaway from a publisher or a PR firm that requests it.

    I usually only get 5-6 out of hundreds of people that unfollow. Some though will unfollow too soon before I've drawn an winner, and when I go to verify the entry is valid, I don't find them there. You can check the RSS and such by going through the service you use, and facebook by having them post the link when they shared it. Many bloggers violate FB rules about giveaways, and I don't enter those because I think it hurts all bloggers when people don't play nice.

    Also, if a giveaway is sponsored by a company, sometimes they have requirements for entries. The bloggers have to agree to those requirements in order to host the giveaway. Companies expect traffic to their site or growing their FB/Twitter pages in return for giving away a prize. Liking on FB is nice because often they later have their own giveaways, promotions, or coupons that I might use, and I can always hide it in my feed if it's too spammy.

  24. I don't mind following on facebook because i can just hide everything if i need to, but doing the tweeting thing and gfc thing drives me nuts because there are many people who don't have those accounts. Honestly what got me to this blog was the question. it was interesting and captured my attention. i would subscribe to a blog if they post things that capture my attention, even if they only have one article a week that does.,

  25. As an entrant of giveaways, if I want to enter the contest, I will do what the give requires. I don't mind following a blog; I understand that people are trying to bring folks to their blog. The idea is, I think, that once I get there, I will poke around and find that I want to read more. If I don't want the prize, I won't enter. There have been a few giveaways lately that have been too complicated – like requiring that I enter *another* giveaway on the same blog with multiple steps for entering – bleah. I don't mind sharing on FB or re-tweeting, but there have been a few lately I've just given up. If I want something for free, I do expect to have to do a little work for it, and if it means following a blog, I'm OK with that. 🙂

  26. I have entered contests that I've had to like/follow blogs or pages and like you said, I've NEVER gone back to look at that blog/page……and the hide button does come in handy. What amazes me is that the people who hold these contests act surprised when people unlike their page after the contest is over, well…..if you were wanting them JUST for the contest then what made you think they were sticking around when it was over???

  27. It really depends. If I'm sponsoring the giveaway myself and paying for it out of pocket, I will do the follow/like entry. As for sponsors, I leave it up to them for the main entry. I do know that Facebook entries get less people entering. Its up to readers if they want to enter if they want and there's never any hard feelings if they decide to pass.

  28. To each their own, but for me, giveaways are to get traffic to my site or to promote an author or their book. If they subscribe to my blog or like something it's a bonus, not a requirement.

  29. fivealarmbookreviews, I agree. I'm certainly thrilled when someone does subscribe, but I don't want them to feel forced. I know a few people subscribe just for extra drawing entries, but I hope that most people who subscribe do so because they enjoy the blog.

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