Contest criminals: Social media's dirty little secret

I recently wrote about things on Twitter that need to stop ("7 Twitter Crimes That Need to be Outlawed"). Number Four was "Questionable Contests". Today, I'm so freakin' disgusted that good ole' number four is gonna get its very own rant. Let's get started.

Early last month, I visited the blog of a Twitter connection who was hosting a contest and giving away a book. Leave a comment to enter, easy enough. In black and white it said the winner would be selected on Monday (which was only five days away). I left a comment, a wonderfully witty one at that, and then went about living my glamorous life. Today, I was catching up on some stuff and remembered the contest. I went back to the site to see who the winner was, but the post hadn't been updated. I then tweeted the blogger to ask who won the contest.

Now, the plus side is that the person did respond to my question. The flip side was this response: "Haven't picked a winner yet. I am gonna promote it to my list tomorrow and pick one by Monday!" Let's keep in mind I inquired more than a month after the winner should have been selected.

I'm sick of this bad behavior. It's at epidemic proportions online. These people who sponsor shady contests should be ashamed of themselves. Heck, there are state and federal laws in place to ensure that contests are conducted in a fair and honest manner. Unfortunately, enforcement is non-existent when it comes to the small potato stuff like this. But, it shouldn't take a government agency to make you keep your word! You say you're gonna do something; do it. That's how my mama raised me; I'm sure yours did, too.

The sad thing is, this is not just the action of a misfit living in his family's basement getting a cheap laugh from spitting in the face of the establishment. This example comes from someone who appears to have worked very hard to create an online presence, to reinvent his career, and who also makes a decent amount of money promoting his "knowledge" of the social media space. Although he's not an A-lister, he's someone who gets to hang out with the big name people and has a Twitter handle that many people know. And, please don't try to tell me the guy's busy and forgot. I'm not buying it. Be accountable. That's the first rule in business.

This should probably be the point where I tell you who the guy is and get the linch mob all riled up. But, professionalism dictates that I don't. What I will tell you is this:
Trust your gut
If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck and looks like a duck; it's a duck. Someone who exhibits questionable behavior probably has questionable character.
Don't promote shysters
When you see someone online exhibiting behavior that doesn't earn your respect, don't engage with them just because you see other people doing it. Lots of folks will support others with the goal of getting noticed. But, do you really want to be noticed by a charlatan? I don't.

You are judged by the company you keep
I have now unfollowed this person on Twitter. I take great efforts to surround myself with people who hold themselves to a certain standard. Those who live their lives with integrity, honesty, and moral fortitude. This guy comes up short and isn't someone I want to be associated with. I'm done.

Protect your reputation
When you talk with someone online, you're implying to some degree that you think they're alright. If you take that further and retweet their blog post, share their contest, or promote their event, you're telling your network that you approve of this person. It's essentially vouching for them. The reputation you've established may sway people to participate, enroll, or otherwise support the person in question. Your reputation is at stake with every bit of information you share.

Yes, all of us who have a blog want good traffic. Me included. However, trying to increase traffic to a site by sponsoring a contest and then not awarding the prize? That's sleezy.

As for this blogger, I am truly honored that you've taken time out of your busy lives to visit my site. I am humbled that you're here and I don't take your readership for granted. I would never betray you, mislead you, or lie to you. That is my oath. That is my word. You can count on it--and me.

Thanks for reading. Now, let's get out there and clean up the Web, eh?


  1. Don't like it one bit either, but I take issue with one point made and will rebut elsewhere...

  2. Don't keep us in suspense, Todd. What is it?

  3. Thank you, Amber, for bringing this to light. I so agree about not following people who do not represent who you want the world to see. I find that I frequently have to block folks on twitter primarily because they clearly are trying to promote their business and have no intention at all of being engaged in a conversation with me.

  4. Thank for chiming in, Jean. You're right. Way too many people out there using megaphones instead of listening ears.

    Curious, though, as to why you block them instead of just unfollow?

  5. Excellent post and so true. We often discuss engagement, but the rules of engagement (honesty, do what you say etc...) are so important! I am certain there are several list that provide these rules....thinking this may be a future post! I am ok with being sold something and can make a decision to buy/not buy, but please engage me past a link to being a millionaire!

  6. Thanks for stopping by and adding your thoughts to the discussion, Alex. Good points!

    All this stuff really boils down to integrity, doesn't it? Who you are and how you act. With a digital footprint of everything we do online, you'd think people who are in social media would be more cognizant of protecting their name, brand, and legacy.

    When I see this kind of behavior, it's generally all I need to know about the person and his/her character. As the saying goes: fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.

  7. All I can say is that that's totally so unfortunate. I've experienced this once or twice, (we may or may not be relating to the same experience) and well, it's unfortunate (I already said that huh). But there's nothing else I can say other than that it makes me sad :-/

  8. Thanks for commenting, Ricardo. Yeah, it is unfortunate. Bad behavior can have a ripple effect and make those of us who are reputable appear guilty by association. That's how industries get a bad name.

    I would hate to see this kind of conduct proliferate so that honest bloggers start to be questioned about their ethics. As the saying goes, one bad apple can spoil the bunch!

  9. Baby I agree with you. I see this happens almost everywhere. It seems that less than honest has become an accepted way of life in all areas of life and everyone simply looks the other way. There seems to be a prevalent aptitude of apathy rather than an attitude of gratitude in existence in our society and it is shown by our churches,our police, our military,our government officials and our entertainers which is the reason why I think it has become socially acceptable to be "a little less than completely honest."

  10. More apathy than gratitude? You said it, my friend. Sad, but very true!

    Personally, I love to see good citizenship class taught in schools (and perhaps a refresher for adults when they renew their driver's license?). Something that teaches or reminds us all how to be a contributing member of society, who makes his or her community a better place. Wow, wouldn't that be a wonderful thing?

    Thanks for stopping by and adding your thoughts to the discussion, John!


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