No, I Won’t Vote For You…And Here’s Why
I want to start this post with a story about an experience I had some time ago. I was invited by a reputable travel brand, one that I have enjoyed in the past and still do, to enter a contest that if I won, would make me their official blogger for the duration of a trip where upon arrival I would tweet, Facebook, blog, photograph, and spread the word about.
When I read the invite, I fixated on the part where it read “official blogger for major travel brand”.
Cue El Ego.
El Ego saw potential there. It saw how cool it would be to be recognized by said brand as their official blogger. Oh, how the world would love me!
That. Would. Be. Rad.
Except the problem with El Ego is that, aside from being a bit of an arrogant jerk, it is short-sighted. It didn’t really think about all the
free labor involved, just the title. What El Ego also failed to think through was what I would even need to get there, much of which involved a lot of begging for votes. From everyone and anyone on a daily basis.
It is safe to say that El Ego started feeling deflated almost immediately, except I was a finalist among other bloggers who were competing against me for the same gig. This somehow convinced El Ego that maybe it was worth it. Until it wasn’t. Until the system failed and me and a few others started accumulated thousands of votes by the minute. Impossible and highly improbable.
Yeah, I saw it happen and yeah, it made me nervous, but I comforted myself in thinking it would all figure itself out and be made right. I mean, somebody was behind the wheel on this thing, right? Except nobody was, because the only wheel that mattered was the promotional one, and it was working beautifully. As the other bloggers continued to beg for votes, daily, on the hour, every hour, me and a few others became targets. I was insulted, attacked, and my integrity questioned by bloggers who were falling behind in numbers, who then later sent their fans after me. Actually, it was one blogger, but whatever.
Hurt and angry, I bowed out of the competition before it was over and since then have never participated in a ‘Vote for Me’ campaign.
But the lessons from that experience were more valuable to me then any prize I could have won. To this day, I can’t hear about that brand or see its logo on my stream and not remember that ugly episode.
When I see fellow bloggers participating in the Vote for Me scams, I get that sick feeling in my stomach that I did once El Ego was crushed and I realized that I had just been bombarding my community, my peers, my readers, and my friends with marketing messages while link baiting them under the guise of how special, and noticed, and honored, and perfect I was for the “job”. I took advantage of and appealed to their fondness for my writing, and my blog, and me and exposed them to promotional campaign messages and another brand’s website, under the idea that it meant something for me and somehow them.
I annoyed them and tired them not only of me, but of the brand. They soon knew to block anything associated with that brand and campaign so as to not have their social media feeds bogged by my pleading. Some of them even blocked me altogether.
I wasn’t building a community or reader loyalty, and though I was loyal to the idea of being the best blogger I could be for this brand, I received no such consideration in turn from the group for whom I was doing so much work already.
Vote for Me campaigns are wrong and require the bloggers to take advantage of their reach and influence while giving the brand (or other site) free access to their audience with no guarantee of reward or payment in turn. It’s called free marketing labor, and though from a brand’s perspective the approach is true genius (if quality community building isn’t really their thing), for the blogger and the readers they harass, it is hell.
Competition is good. Competition can even be a wonderful motivator that pushes us to be better and do better. But Vote for Me campaigns are not about good competition. They have nothing to do with the quality or value of the blogger or the blogger’s work, because if that was the requirement then they would just be chosen. Period.
And we never do forget the brands who put us, as bloggers or online community members, through this humiliating display. A lot of us don’t appreciate seeing our friends, many of whom never win anyway in these things, reduce themselves to online paupers begging for votes. We don’t like being used as inexpensive branding and marketing channels, and we don’t like seeing our friends going through it either.
Brands and sites won’t stop trying to stroke El Ego as long as bloggers continue to believe that they have to give up so much in exchange for the promise of so little. It could be that in reality you are The Best Blogger, that you are worthy of being The Official Blogger title and that you are deserving of that shiny little badge that tells the world of your awesomeness. But I promise you, that badge, title, and accolade means so much more when it comes to you for your work. No begging needed.
It could also be no one will ever notice, but at least you have your dignity. Dammit.
So no, I won’t vote for you, not because you aren’t awesome, but because you are and you deserve better than to be forced into a situation where you have to beg me or anyone to convince someone else of that.