22 May 2011

Country Life Magazine Facebook Contest Is A Bust!

The Urban Dictionary's definition of a "bust":

I interrupt the program to air a sentiment over an "unfortunate situation". This entry has nothing to do with Television, but please indulge me...

Online Contests Can Easily Turn To Scams (Or How I Won Country Life Magazine's Facebook Contest But Never Got My Prize)

Other than TV, I spend my 24 hours doing a balancing act among family, friends, work and our seven dogs. I dote on the 7 as if I've given birth to them. I'm not ashamed to admit that, yes, I am one of those dog mommas who would sometimes willingly join contests just to show off our furbabies. A simple thrill, I'm aware, only some people can appreciate.

So when I saw how easy it was to join one of these contests on Facebook...

I quickly sent Country Life Magazine, through BCMedia PH, this entry via email:

And they confirmed:
from BC Media info@bcmedia.ph
to MM
date Tue, Apr 12, 2011 at 10:56 PM
subject Re: Pet Photo Submission

Congratulations! Your photo has been chosen as one of the finalists! You can share this link to friends and family so they can vote for your pet: [removed link]


They confirmed twice. Their email is working.

from BC Media info@bcmedia.ph
to MM
date Mon, Apr 18, 2011 at 10:32 AM
subject Re: Pet Photo Submission

Congratulations! Your photo has been chosen as a finalist in the
Most Likes Pet Contest!
Step 1: Share this link with your family and friends,
[removed link] and click "Like"

Step 2: Go to the Most Likes Pet Contest photo album or this link:

[removed link]
and click "Like" on the photo of your choice

And all would've been peachy, because this photo DID WIN against about more than ten entries. Here was the official announcement:

Because the announcement was done after regular business hours, I thought I should email them that I was aware I'd won, before actually calling:

from MM mindymore2005@gmail.com
to BC Media
date Wed, May 4, 2011 at 6:52 AM subject Re: Pet Photo Winner mailed-by gmail.com
I read the result of the Photo Contest and gladly found out our submission was the winner. I'll be calling within the day, as per your instructions.

My real name is +++++++++++++.


The email also served as a verification, I thought. Because the contest's rules were straightforward and simple, and because the announcement was made public, anyone could come forward and claim they've won.

It did seem peculiar to me that I never got the confirmation I've won via email, where they can privately tell me what I must do next to get the prize, or ask me to prove:
1) the photo's really mine.
2) the dogs are mine.
3) my identity.

But I set those thoughts aside and doing what they said, I called up the their office the next morning and was able to talk to the first person who answered that phone number posted online.

She sounded nice and was accommodating when I asked questions. I've forgotten to jot down her name (which I should've done!) but she did get my details and told me to wait for the text message, where further instructions to claiming the prize would be given. The prize is not with them. I have to claim it from, what I guess, is a sister company.

Days passed and no text message beeped on my phone. Calling their office again didn't achieve anything. Understandably, people working in a publication/media office are busy. I should know.

So, I left this message on their Facebook Page and shot the same via email:

Email detail:
From MM mindymore2005@gmail.com
to BC Media
date Mon, May 16, 2011 at 7:03 PM
subject Pet Photo Winner - I've yet to receive the GC's
mailed-by gmail.com

Screen cap of the email:

But how busy must their office be to reply to at least one of my messages? Country life news and on-goings must be bustling with events the magazine had to cover. Because they never got back to me.

Another week was over and I still have not heard from anyone.

And so, I gave up waiting.

Here's what I think went wrong:
  • Country Life Magazine / BCMedia Ph was only looking to gain from the contest. The actual execution? Pfft. Who cares?? 
  • They suck at communication. For a media outfit, you would expect so much more, right?

Here's what I've realized: Facebook "Like"contests can go two ways:

It can be potentially fun, if handled right. From the launch, to the actual contest, to the announcement of the winners and the awarding of the prizes, if the contest was managed properly, it would be a win-win situation. Page owners would get the audience they needed and participants would be encouraged to join more of the gimmicks and promotions next time. No one walks away complaining.

If handled poorly? It's a potential scam. Country Life Magazine / BCMedia Ph isn't the first one to do this, of course. But the lack of planning and foresight (not to mention the lack of communication!) is misleading.
  • The contest does achieve something successfully. And that is, to pad the number of people who've "liked" the page and increase its fan base. That worked to Country Life Magazine's advantage. When I entered the photo, their membership was something between 150-250 Likers only. With the contest done, they were able to double that. 
  • Expectedly, there's no real challenge when joining such contest. It's gauged based on popularity.  It's all relative. And easy to manipulate.
  • The rules aren't explicit. As I've written above, they didn't even verify if I was truly the winner and the pet-owner. I would willingly bring the dogs with me to their office, if they asked. :P

I've been suckered.

I've been suckered into asking my friends/family on Facebook to like their page. My friends/family have been suckered, too.  Because they granted my request and did press "Like". (My apologies, friends!)

That's not a complaint. That's a realization. Of how easily fooled we all are.

And in exchange for the 150+ people I gave their page? I got ignored. That's the thanks I get for helping them pad their page with fans. :P Nice one, media people! :P

So...never again. No more contests for us.  I'm dialing down on showing off our furbabies in Facebook contests and relieve the people in my contact list of my pestering.

And you companies and entities with Pages would have get your "Likes"  more creatively from our contact lists. Or at least really have the enthusiasm to run a proper contest.

Coz you know what Country Life Magazine? You took the fun out of it. :P

Here's their reply, as of 6:03 am:

I have a Page and I know how notifications work. It cannot be missed. Unless you have a few admins reading and one of them did read and forgot to delegate. Poor execution and handling.

So no more, thank you.