How to Lose Customers and Alienate People

Have you ever entered a competition or giveaway online? Probably. Well, why not? You might win; someone has to, right? Wrong.

When you enter and don’t get that notification or ‘tag’, you assume you haven’t won and someone else bagged that takeaway or voucher. Lucky son of a gun. Disappointing, isn’t it? Well, would it make you feel any better if I told you that maybe no one actually won it? Yeah, thought it might.

Recently, a lot of brands have started doing “giveaways” and competitions on social media sites like Facebook and Instagram. “Simply ‘like’ and ‘share’ or ‘tag your friend that you’d share it with’ for your chance to win”. Now, it’s not exactly a news flash that this is just to increase engagement, activity and interest among consumers. It doesn’t just promote the “prize” product, but the brand and all of its products. Pages you don’t follow come up on your feed because your friends or followers have commented, shared or tagged you in posts (I’m flattered you’d take to me to the spa with you, Amber – much appreciated). And why shouldn’t they? There’s no harm in it. It’s a win-win, really. Brand gets publicity, attention and sales; consumer gets free goodies. Sounds pretty g to me.

I see these competitions and giveaways all the time. I personally don’t enter them because I don’t want a “munch box” that clogs your arteries just by looking at it, and sadly, I don’t exactly have good luck (or any luck for that matter) when it comes to these things. So I just keep scrolling and don’t think anything of it. But the other day, I noticed something th.at annoyed me a wee bit: companies do these “giveaways” but without the whole, ya know, “giving away” part. Basically, there is no winner. Hmm, maybe I’m not unlucky after all.

Over the past week, online retailer Missguided launched several “giveaways” – how to win? Simply comment an emoji representing your favourite of the two items shown. One came up on my newsfeed, so I thought “eh, may as well enter and see”, so commented (the pink was definitely nicer, I can’t pull off baby blue). “Enter by midnight.. Winner announced [the next day]”. So the next day, I checked their profile to see who the winner was, or if they’d been announced yet. Nope, nothing yet. So I checked a few hours later, but still nothing. By 10pm, still no joy. The next morning, they posted another one. “Winner announced tomorrow”. “Maybe I’ll win this one” (grey was a better option, I’d just get the white one boggin’). Tomorrow came and went and still no winner. But they continued to post about other products and memes, as well as launching ANOTHER competition. You see where this is going. Didn’t even bother entering this one, not just because I wouldn’t suit either outfit, but because I caught on to what they were doing and so was huffing on them a wee bit.

I was right, I didn’t win the competition. But no one did. So, why did Missguided do it? Why choose to misguide consumers? *pause for laughter*. Well, this is a shot in the dark, but the 10,000 comments, thousands of likes and hundreds of shares might have something to do with it. Show people a product – one they wouldn’t have otherwise seen, because they weren’t on or going to go on your website and see it there. Now that they’ve seen it, they like it. If they don’t win it, they might decide it’s worth the £25 anyway and buy it. May as well. Just because they didn’t win it, doesn’t mean they can’t have it.

How many of these items did Missguided give away? 0. Now, how many do you think they sold? How many people saw the items? And how many would’ve seen them otherwise? How many new followers did get as a result? You sort of have to follow the page to find out the winner, like. Then, there’s the people like me who went on the page specifically to see who won, and ended up seeing other items being promoted. Their new Playboy range launched in the meantime (yeah, I didn’t know it was still a thing either). Chances are, some of these people clicked links on the posts to see these items. So, chances are, some people ended up buying something. It was payday week after all. Yeo.

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I really hope the collection’s not like this

Now, I’m not just singling out Missguided – I’m guessing they’re not the only ones who have used or are using this promotional ploy. They’re just the only ones I’ve actually seen. Lucky duckies.

These fake giveaways are a great way to boost user engagement and activity. They’re a great way to increase sales of individual items. They’re also a great way to have a blog post written about them. But they’re not a great way to build a reputation. Lies, unfulfilled promises and unmet expectations – what a fab way to portray the brand!!

If someone wins a product and likes it, they’ll probably buy from that company again. Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but that won’t happen if no one wins the product. Just another slight flaw to the plan. Apart from people actually catching on to what they’re doing.

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So, hats off to the social media and marketing teams out there who do this (especially the ones who don’t get caught). Credit where credit’s due, gaining sales without losing merch seems pretty smart. But, gaining a bad rep and losing trust – and potentially customers, seems less smart.

If consumers don’t trust you, they won’t buy from you. And something tells me that’s a bigger price to pay than giving away a free playsuit.

So, chapeau to the companies who actually give away products. You deserve your likes.

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