Oh, Giveaways!

By May 1, 2012Social Media

I had an old boss who said you should never have to pay people to read our newspaper.

We didn’t want those kinds of readers. We worked at a small market newsweekly and the radio station (like a LOT of radio stations) would constantly offer “on-air giveaways to the 14th caller”. Actual cash! They gave away actual cash. My boss raged on about the value of news media. We had investigative reporting, great restaurant reviews and we often scooped the daily on local news. Still, advertising dollars were spent all over town. Radio was often the competition.¬† That’s OK. It was the bad radio that killed us. He hated it. I hated it. The on-air giveaways made our skin crawl.

Flash forward to my life in social media. I am now a website junkie. I’m trolling Twitter and LinkedIn and watching what companies are posting everyday. When was the blog updated last? Who else are they referencing? What kind of value does this offer? I love to see great websites. They are mini universes dedicated to companies. I could wax poetic all day!

But stumble upon a full on giveaway, and I find myself in disgust. I know I shouldn’t be so judgmental. Marketing is a new thing for a lot of companies out there. WordPress and Facebook in particular have given a voice to owners who had not previously been able to afford the ear of the public.

Giving away something seems like a great way to get attention. But it’s like the Skittles my toddler has happily gobbled up at every trip to the potty. The candy may get him there, but he’s not sold on the whole idea. That is a decision he’s going to have to make on his own. (Side note: I bet you never thought you could relate marketing to potty training. Welcome to my world!)

Am I wrong? Do you hate giveaways too? Is it just me? Be honest.


  • JenniferMarley says:

    I hear you on this. Working for a non-profit community news website has certainly made me value content much more than I had before! My feeling on giveaways is that they are good when they are a way of rewarding and providing value to your loyal readers/listeners/whatever. Where they get dangerous, in my opinion, is when they attract the kind of people who are only interested in the free stuff – not in the content you are already providing!

  • ErikaGennari1 says:

    ¬†@JenniferMarley¬†Totally! I was an intern at @kmox a sports/news radio station in St. Louis, and we had “prize pigs” that were out of control. It is never a coincidence when the same person wins twice. Rewarding the loyal readers/listeners for input and engagement is a different thing. But it’s a fine line, isn’t it?