advertising

If you don't know what a multi-blog giveaway is, here's a brief rundown of how they work: blogger A decides to have a giveaway to get more attention to her site. She invites bloggers B, C, D, E, F and G to contribute to the cost of something cool (like a Kindle) and get in on the giveaway action. Readers then see a post like this: “A bunch of us are giving away a Kindle! Get entries to win by following me and bloggers B, C, D, E, F and G on Twitter / Facebook / Google+ / Pinterest / RSS!”

More followers. Happy bloggers. Excited readers. Good feelings abound.

But then, uninvolved bloggers call foul play. They say that these giveaways are “buying followers” and “inflating numbers.” They throw around terms like “annoying” and “unfair” and claim that these bloggers are wasting their money on giveaway fanatics who will never read the “real” content.

I get it. I see both sides. I've personally pitched in for a few of these giveaways. I've enjoyed the follower interaction and the camaraderie with other bloggers. But I've also been aggravated to see my Facebook stream filled at times with nothing but giveaways.

I was sitting awake pondering all of this at some ridiculous hour the other day when it dawned on me…

Multi-blog giveaways are like late-night infomercials.

For one thing, they're both ideal for businesses/bloggers with smaller budgets. Do you see Pioneer Woman pitching in with a bunch of her bloggy friends to treat her readers to a KitchenAid? No. She does giveaways, but she just buys the whole dang appliance herself and pays out of her own pocket to ship it off to the lucky winner. Ahem, I can't afford a new KitchenAid for myself, let alone anyone else. And do you see Apple pitching their latest iPhone at 3am with some slick, fast-talking salesman? No. They buy the prime spot in the middle of the SuperBowl.

If you're a company that wants to engage in SOME form of advertising but doesn't have a SuperBowl budget, you might turn to infomercials.

If you're a blogger dabbling in marketing, you might turn to multi-blog giveaways.

We all have to start somewhere. Multi-blog giveaways are these bloggers' attempts at creating the best marketing strategy they can with the resources they have.

Yes, your product would be better-served with a larger budget and a more structured advertising plan. Yes, you will get some crazy, discount-addled insomniacs coming around. But in the end, multi-blog giveaways are EXPOSURE. There are bound to be some valuable readers drawn in, just like there are some perfectly normal people who wind up entranced by Chuck Norris' display of Total Gym glute prowess in the wee hours. And who here hasn't been tempted to buy the SlapChop or Magic Bullet? Yeah. I own both of those. And I love them.

Personally, I occasionally get caught up entering multi-blog giveaways. And I've found some downright fantastic blogs that way.

Multi-blog giveaways are just a marketing tool. One of many. Whether bloggers are handing out flyers at the library, commenting on other sites, or begging visits off of random people from the phone book…that's THEIR investment and it's up to them to decide if that effort is worth the time and money they put into it.

TV ad execs don't sit around bashing another ad manager's choice to place their product in late-night infomercials. They have bigger fish to fry. They have their own campaigns to deal with. They spend their time focusing on themselves.

I boldly suggest that we all suck it up and do the same.