Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sunday Salon: Random Thoughts

Sunday Salon
This week has been a slow one, blogging-wise, for me.  I haven't blogged much, nor have I spent much time catching up on other people's blogs.  Or chatting with other people in general.  I feel a bit out of the loop!  Hopefully, you all still remember me :-)

It is the Thanksgiving weekend here in the US, so I can see why I'm a bit slow and not as much on the computer.  Hopefully I'll be back on track with everything soon.  I am excited to do my joint review of Fingersmith with Kelly soon!  Fingersmith is the first book on my reading list for the Women Unbound challenge, so I'm glad to have gotten cracking on that one.  I'm a little (ok, a lot) worried that I have signed up to lead two challenges, and may not actually complete either of them.  That's why I'm sort of not signing up officially for many challenges at all, because I usually shoot myself in the foot by signing up for them and then losing all interest in reading the books I put on my list.  So my idea now is to just kind of read along with other people and see what happens as the year continues.  For example, Fingersmith would also qualify for the GLBT challenge... but I am not officially signed up for that challenge.

I am currently reading and will hopefully review in a couple of days The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind.  It's a story about a teenager in Malawi who tries to bring electricity to his impoverished village by building windmills.  I'm more than halfway through the book, however, and he has yet to mention anything about windmills, so I'm not sure exactly when that will pick up.  Hopefully, I find out soon!

A random question I have for those who participate in or host book giveaways on their blogs, just for interest.  I have only run a few giveaways, so I am by no means an expert.  For a couple of them, I gave extra points to people who followed me, but I never gave extra points for tweets or for reposts or anything because I felt a little uncomfortable doing so.  I would post about the giveaways myself on sites and such, but I never really feel comfortable asking other people to do that for me.  And then I even got rid of the extra points for followers thing because that seemed a lot like bribery to me.

However, seeing all the contests and giveaways hosted on other people's blogs, I feel that I'm overthinking or being some sort of stick in the mud.  I no longer enter any giveaways in which people get extra entries for following or tweeting, etc., because, I admit, I don't really like to make the extra effort.  Also, I'm not really sure how people are able to track all that stuff!  Is it an honor system?  Do you actually check?  How can you be sure that you are giving people the exact correct number of points and entries?  It makes me nervous.

And, the part that annoys me more, is that it really artifically boosts up your follower numbers.  I have before, and I doubt I'm the only one, just started following a blog in hopes of getting an extra entry in a drawing for a book I wanted.  I would rarely return to the site again.  But I'm still listed as a follower (at least, unless I clear our my Google Reader some time soon).  And if people host several contests and keep giving points for followers, either on the blog or on Twitter or wherever... then there is the potential for a lot of blogs to have a really high number of followers but not that many people who actually read them.  Isn't that a bit misleading?  I don't think it's very honest.

Granted, saying this, I'm not really sure how someone else's follower numbers really impact me.  So I should, perhaps, mind my own business.  But it does bother me. And I'd just like to know- what are others' thoughts on this subject?  I hope I did not offend anyone with my comments above; I just really want to know if it's just me that feels this way.

Thanks!

22 comments:

  1. I did it once cos everyone was doing it, but not since. And sometimes I might tweet if I meant to anyway but I no longer enter contests where you must be a follower to enter, and I do not do anything more than I have too. Yes I could, but you do have a point in what you are saying.

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  2. This summer I held some giveaways and used all the normal extra point things, but I found that it DID artificially inflate my numbers, which I hated, and then I started getting spam entries. I decided instead to only award extra points to those people who I know have been following me and/or interacting with me prior to the contest. No other extra points. That worked better for me.

    I never enter contests anymore that require you to be a follower. If you can get one entry for just commenting, I might enter, and sometimes I win even though I only have one point going for me, but I never do all the posting and stuff for extra points.

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  3. I don't enter giveaways where one of the rules is that you have to be a follower. I have recently entered some giveaways where that was an option (I didn't use it because they wanted specific ways to follow and they weren't ways I already follow).

    Because so few giveaways are international I sometimes will go through the "extra effort" to tweet and/or blog about them.

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  4. I hear you. Here's my take on the extra points. I run a community blog. My primary aim is to gain readers. More readers mean more potential reviewers promoting the writers we support. We host giveaways to promote the writers so asking entrants to promote the giveaway isn't about stats but promotion. I DO want readers to learn about new reads and authors.

    I normally don't ask entrants to follow. I don't follow solely to earn an extra entry but there are plenty of blogs I have opted to follow because I first discovered them through a giveaway.

    I think the only people who obessess over our stats are us. I'm not any less impressed by low stats. If the blogger writes well and writes about what I'm interested in, I visit. I could be wrong, but I highly doubt that most readers visit a site simply because the stats are high. So if the stats are inflated at one time or another it's of little consequence. Frankly, I have visited some blogs that have incredible stats but I don't read them and rarely visit. I don't follow the popular, I follow what I like.

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  5. I used to offer extra points for following, but like the other commenters, decided that doesn't produce "real" followers. I think extra points for tweeting is worthwhile since everyone has a different set of tweet followers who might like to enter your contest.

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  6. You are absolutely right. I never really thought about the nitty gritty of your conclusions. I did/will use contests to promote my blog. And have used all the methods you mention, to increase my 'followers'.
    And yes: I now have probably about 285 of my 292 followers that will not 'read' my blog after entering for giveaways. It bothers me... Now. It didn't a few months ago, but recently your revelations have also crossed my mind.
    I have my one year blogoversary coming in December. What I started this week was a giveaway to the 20-ish 'faithful' people who have subscribed to my weekly newsletter. Those are my true readers. I did not fo a bunch if promoting for the newsletter incentive ecxcept for mentioning it in Sunday posts & that was all.And using no 'promo tactics' I will use responses from the newsletter subcribers to choose the winners.
    As a thank you to that small group, the true followers.. They will be privy to a month long group of several short giveaways, sponsored by me... Used books, new books, bookmarks.. & then depending on previous response, a gift card. I am a small fish in the book blog world .. & it has been made clear my large #s fo not equate with quality.
    A well timed post for me, & I am glad u brought it up.

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  7. I've been thinking about how to respond to this post for a while now, but I think Color Online said it better than I could say it.
    If I ask people to post about my giveaway, it's to promote it, to give people access to it that might otherwise have not known about it. After that, chances are, you're giving away books that you like. So the people that want to enter your giveaway will most likely be people that are interested in what you have to say.
    I've never made it obligatory for someone to follow my blog in order to enter a giveaway, although I will give them extra points if they do. Not so that I get more followers, but as a way to reward people that actually do want to look at my blog. Because if I'm giving something away, it's for my readers. Not for some random person that happens upon my blog once and never looks at it again (though it's totally okay for those random people to enter). I therefore want to give my readers more of an opportunity to win.
    So really I think it's an okay thing to give people entering extra points for following. Or for promoting it so that other people can find out about it.
    to make it mandatory, though, might be a bit too much.
    And that's my somewhat convoluted and possibly unclear say.

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  8. Sorry! We can talk about Fingersmith this week. I have been a bit distracted lately, but I did finish it. :)

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  9. I am not a fan of extra point comments, following (as I much prefer to use RSS feeds rather than Google follower), or other methods. I do occasionally tweet really unique contests, but for the most part, I think people read the same blogs and know about things.

    I prefer to gain readers and book friends the "old-fashioned way", that leads to meaningful interactions: tweeting and reading/commenting on their blogs. That way, you connect with similar readers rather than people who hold contests. I find it to be more meaningful and lead to better book discussions and suggestions.

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  10. I don't enter contests that want anything more than a comment from me and I don't ask anything more than a comment on any of my giveaways.

    I think that giveaways should be based on someone's interest in the book I'm giving away, not which technologies they've adopted. I don't want to punish people that aren't on Twitter or maybe don't even have a blog.

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  11. Thank you all for your comments. Color Online and Brizmus, I can see where you're coming from and thank you for the other side. I'd be interested to know how you manage to tally up all the points and ensure you're doing it correctly, too- that part always worries me!

    Color Online, I think yours may be a slightly different situation as you are trying to promote certain authors on your blog. I actually try to do something of the opposite on my blog. I really don't want to do things that make it seem like I'm promoting one book over another or one author over another, or advertising for a book in any way. Whereas you are really trying to get word out about your authors- so that is a difference in perspective, certainly.

    Blodeuedd & Amanda- I did the same thing. I just do straight giveaways now.

    Zee- I think a lot of people are upset by the lack of international giveaways. I'm sorry :-(

    Rhapsody- I never thought about the Twitter thing like that. Good point! Though I don't know how people track that...

    Marie- I am POSITIVE you have more than seven people actively following your blog! Don't sell yourself short :-)

    Nomad & Kristen- I agree completely with everything you both said. I also do RSS feeds, and I only got on Twitter about a month ago.

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  12. When I enter giveaways, unless it's something I'm DYING to win (and it rarely is) I don't bother retweeting or linking or whatever- I'm just too lazy! I do give extra chances for it when I run giveaways, because i do want to encourage people to publicize the giveaway (and my blog in the process) but I would never make it a requirement. I entered a giveaway once where it was required to link to the blog- and I didn't! I ended up getting a snippy email from the blogger, which I probably deserved, and linked to it in the end.Oy. Too much trouble sometimes!

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  13. I look forward to reading about yours and Kelly's thoughts on Fingersmith. That's one I've been wanting to read.

    Early on when I would host a giveaway, I allowed for extra entries, but nowadays I don't. I prefer to keep things simple. It's easier on me in the long run as it got to be very tiresome counting all those extra points and verifying the extra entries. When I enter giveaways, I tend not to jump through many of the hoops. I'll comment and let the person know I'm following them, if in fact I am, but I won't follow someone just because it'll get me an extra entry in the giveaway. That's just me though.

    I think you have to do what feels right for you.

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  14. I'm doing a giveaway now where the only criteria is to leave contact info. No extra points, no need to be a follower. I'd rather someone just follow my blog b/c they like it, not to win.

    When I tweet about my giveaway I have asked people to RT, just to get the word out. But those aren't necessarily anyone entering the giveaway. I do the same for contests I don't enter.

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  15. When it comes to challenges, I'm the same way. I love making lists but never follow through. I always lose interest.

    I never participate in giveaways that have give extra entries. It's too much work. I've hosted a few giveaways in the past but would never ask people to blog or retweet about them. I agree bloggers who want people to follow their blogs as a way to gain extra entries is bribing. I don't really look at my blogger follow feature, so unless I'm subscribed to someone's blog through Google Reader, I'm really not following that blog.

    If someone is hosting a giveaway about a book I love and think more people should read, I definitely retweet and blog about it.

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  16. I used to hold giveaways when I had more money, lol, and I would give an extra entry for people blogging about it in order to get the word out. I still understand why people hosting giveaways would want to do that. But the whole 'here's ways to earn 20 extra entries by following me and promising my your first born' seems excessive. I think it's partly related to how book blogging has changed, though-there didn't used to be that many publisher giveaways so if you were giving away a book it was because you wanted to, and the book was more in your mind that promoting your blog. I don't enter that many giveaways, and I never do more than comment, but I have won several books that way. But I agree w/ your feelings on giveaway formats in general! :)

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  17. Aarti,
    I agree with your opinions on contests. Whenever I host one I usually only require that entrants leave an e-mail address to contact them with. I think it's a bit silly to make people become followers just to enter contests on a blog. 9 times out of 10 the new followers that you will get will not end up being loyal readers of the blog in the end anyway. I agree also with the other poster who says that the only people who probably obsess over our stats are ourselves, but I think to some extent, everybody does. Very interesting post.

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  18. I don't do the extra points thing...too much work. ;-) Besides, I like my giveaways to be for regular readers.
    I will occasionally tweet about something for an extra entry, but I no longer do the followers thing. Unless they are already in my google reader.

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  19. I don't use Google Reader at all, I just use my own RSS Reader to subscribe to my feeds, pretty much the only reason I was forced to sign up for a Google account was so that I could comment on certain blogs and "follow" others. I'm self hosted and could see no other way other than signing up with SOME hosted service to post a comment on certain blogs. Very annoying!

    As far as the "followers" thing goes, since it's no skin off my back I just go ahead and follow them if they say to for a giveaway. If I actually want to follow them I will do so manually with my own reader, something they might never know about. If they seem like a newer blog and have low follower numbers I might play along and "follow" them publically as well, like I said, it's not like it makes a difference to me. I never check it.

    As far as I'm concerned it's just a vanity thing for the blogger. More power to them for that, if that's what they want out of their blog. It bothers me, but I also feel like I'm not one to judge.

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  20. This is a whole new world to me - I don't tweet and the publishers in the UK don't do giveaways. Sometimes I've done a giveaway on my site when I've had doubles of a book, or something to celebrate, but I just put the names of my commenters in a hat and make the draw, sometimes excluding people who have turned up on the site only because a competition is going on.

    Traffic is an odd one, isn't it? The quality of the writing and creativity on a blog are the things that really matter - that and the kind of discussion that takes place in the comments. I do think it's a good idea for you to raise this - the blogging community is fabulous because (certainly as far as book bloggers are concerned) it tends to be very ethical, and intent on doing the right thing, and your post here is perfectly in line with that.

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  21. I have to confess I'm not at all a fan of giveaways that make you jump through hoops. Asking people to answer a simple question to enter is my preferred method - just because it makes comments more interesting than just "enter me please!". But the rest...like several other people have pointed out, it just inflates your numbers artificially. I wouldn't want to have a thousand followers/subscribers/whatever that only followed me to get a freebie, not because they care about me or my blog.

    Can't wait to hear your thoughts (and Kelly's) on Fingersmith :D

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  22. Thank you all for your thoughts. I think most of yours align with mine, so I'm going to stick with my method of just requiring people to answer a question to enter the giveaway and leave a way to contact them. But considering all the trolling that has been going on through comments these days, I think I'd prefer people not to leave their email addresses in the comments, and just check back to see if they've won.

    I agree, Nymeth, that the question makes the comments more interesting. It also ensures people actually read the post before just going to the comments and entering!

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