Online sweepstakes, contests and giveaways have become popular marketing tactics for companies and brands. Some of these are designed simply to drive more traffic to Facebook and Twitter pages — “low-value likes,” as my Ketchum colleague Ben Foster likes to say. The best of these promotions drive greater dialogue and deepen relationships with a company’s product or services.
Whatever the goal, any intended goodwill can quickly erode when online promotions don’t meet expectations. Increasingly, prize-rigging is becoming one of the underlying causes for these problems.
Prize-rigging (my term, first time I’m sharing it) is the manipulation of an individual’s chance of winning an online sweepstakes, contest or giveaway.
There seems to be a growing cottage-industry of prize-rigging techniques that are being shared online by self-defined “hobbyists” of online promotions. To highlight a few of these sites, check out: www.contestmob.com, www.sweepsadvantage.com and http://forums.online-sweepstakes.com/.
These communities may not be doing anything illegal. It’s debatable if their approaches are unethical. However, once exposed, prize-riggers can certainly leave a bad taste in the mouths of the majority of entrants who enter normally and individually, and thus have much less of a chance of winning.