Trending: Facebook Pranksters Hijack Contests

With the popularity of contests on Facebook, some pranksters are taking them to an unintended level.

Trending: Facebook Pranksters Hijack Contests

A public contest can be a great promotional tactic to drive fans to your Facebook page. Fans love to interact on a public and social level with their favorite companies, brands or celebrities. Competing for a prize, a chance to meet a celebrity or contributing to a cause keep customers interacting on Facebook. However, not all fans are good fans. Recent reports on new trends of Facebook “pranking” indicate some Facebook followers are not taking part in contests to win, but to simply hijack the power.

Pitbull Sent to Perform to Alaska Wal-Mart

Wal-Mart recently promoted a product using American rapper, Pitbull. The plan was to ask fans to vote for their favorite Wal-Mart store, after which Pitbull would perform at the winning location. Sounds simple, right? Well, leave it to online pranksters to ruin a little friendly competition. An online army of 71,000 Pitbull non-fans voted for the rapper to perform at the most remote Wal-Mart location in Alaska, essentially banishing him from the spotlight. In other words, the Facebook contest took an ugly turn thanks to Facebook pranksters.

Taylor Swift Voted To Sing For Students With Hearing Problems

Similarly, textbook rental company Chegg orchestrated an online contest to promote a performance by pop/country superstar, Taylor Swift. Fans of the singer and textbook company alike voted for their school or university to win the sought-after performance accompanied by a $10,000 prize. In a comedic attempt to seize the contest, a group of online voters elected Horace Mann School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Boston to win the prize – Another seemingly innocent fan-based contest gone awry.

Fans Not Taking Mountain Dew Seriously

In an effort to name a new beverage from Mountain Dew, the company turned to the online community to gain ideas from fans. The naming contest turned somewhat ridiculous when the entries became anything but serious. The Mountain Dew competition became flooded with names like, “Most Nugget” and “DickButt,” which are obviously unrelated to the product at hand. Consequently, the goal of the contest is jeopardized when such outrageous posts are more prevalent than serious suggestions.

While online pranks are nothing new and are more than likely here to stay, contest hijackers can create an unwanted distraction from the intent of the campaign. Companies can receive a surplus of superfluous data when pranksters take over, but they can also receive a lot of free publicity when the prank goes viral. In the end, Pitbull decided to go to Alaska after all, making the most out of a joke, for himself, Walmart and the people of Kodiak, Alaska, who may not, otherwise, have had this opportunity. Pitbull is even excited to go to Kodiak, and invited the people who turned the contest into a joke to join him in the rural Alaska town.

Listen To Your Fans

There isn’t a lot that companies can do to avoid the pranksters, apart from strict Terms and Conditions regarding their contests, but these may also serve to reduce rather than increase engagement. Companies shouldn’t run competitions unless they are prepared to dedicate sufficient resources to encourage and maintain interest throughout the contest period. They need to be moderated with constant ‘listening’. Socialbaker tools like Listening Pro and the upcoming Builder 2.0 are perfect for this kind of monitoring and publishing. As the actual point of any social media contest is to increase brand awareness and engagement and build a larger, more dedicated fan base, even pranksters can help rather than hinder that effort, as was the case with Pitbull and Walmart. So, the lesson is, if your contest gets hijacked, be a good sport about it: the only bad publicity is no publicity.

Staff Writer

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