Give randomly or selectively? That is the question.
One of the funnest things about being a part of the online community is the ability to host giveaways and win things as well. The predominant way hosts choose winners is randomized, likely for “fairness” sake and also so that the host doesn't have to choose. I can see the merits of randomization, but I do not agree with the process.
Some of the ways to improve your chances of winning a giveaway include linking back, commenting, subscribing, and tweeting. The goal is to publicize the host's site as much possible, which sounds good to me. It's a mutually beneficial exercise because you can win too.
Hence, if you have someone who is better able to better publicize your site, shouldn't they not get stronger consideration? What if a contestant said he could get you mentioned on Oprah, wouldn't you rather give that prize to him?
What About A Meritocracy?
I also believe in meritocracy, hence if someone writes a long comment addressing a question with a thorough solution, she definitely is higher on the consideration chain than someone who leaves a one-liner with little thought. Have you seen some of the comments on this site? They are like novels and I'm blown away at times! There's no way I cannot respond. To give randomly would not seem fair.
Finally, imagine if there was a scholarship contest where all you have to do is enter to win instead of write an essay. Your essay could just consist of the words, “Boomshakala, gimme, gimme, gimme, badabada, ding dong!”
The effort put into the scholarship is not through writing something fantastic, but through submitting to as many scholarships with random selection processes as possible. In essence, you are matching the selection process numbers game with your own numbers game. It's all good, but the result is that the host won't have the quality following for the long term that she seeks.
Better To Give Than To Receive?
I love winning prizes probably because I hardly win anything at all. Yes, I could go to the Apple store and buy an iPad 2 as a business expense, and so can you, but that's not as fun as winning one. Who doesn't love the feeling of winning?
If ever I win anything, I feel a deep sense of gratitude, and I will undoubtedly give back at least double the amount of love in return. A couple years ago I won an $500 essay contest sponsored by Joel from Credit Card Chaser called “Are Credit Cards Weapons Of Mass Financial Destruction?“. That contest led to a very fruitful relationship. Joel received a decent amount of traffic from my site, as well as other traffic due to his Yakezie Network list which he created and I sanctioned. I'm happy to help Joel with any projects he has!
You know the saying, “It's always better to give than to receive“? It's there because some people go to great lengths to give back much more because they are so appreciative. There are those who fight to pay the bill vs. those who give up easily, suddenly see their arms shrink into their pockets or strategically go to the bathroom before the bill? You'll never be able to pay the bill if we're going out for the first time I promise!
Here are two giveaways I've entered from sites I visit and owners I know:
* Derek from Life and My Finances is hosting an iPad 2 giveaway.
* Bob from Christian PF wrote a good post called “How To Escape The Rat Race” is also hosting an iPad 2 giveaway.
The chances of me winning an iPad 2 from either Derek or Bob is slim-to-none because everybody comes out of the woodwork when there is a giveaway. He will give randomly.
It's like all your long lost friends who start pinging you, “Heeeeeyahh!” after you win the lottery or come into a position of importance. As soon as they find out you don't have money, you can't give anything, or that someone else wins, they go back into the woodwork and patiently wait.
Related: The Secret To Your Success
Focus On Long-Term Relationships
Given this natural phenomenon, I really try and focus on choosing those participants who have shown consistency in participation. They don't necessarily have to be site-owners or big kahunas, they just have to be people I know who will still be here tomorrow and not forget my name as soon as they win. In other words, focus on the quality of the relationship not the quantity of relationships.
This is one of the main reasons why it takes 6 months to even be considered a Yakezie Member. Six months weeds out those who don't have the endurance to stick around for the long run.
If they do make it past the six month Challenge, not only will they develop plenty of rewarding relationships, they will probably make thousands of extra dollars a year. The act of helping another out is immensely gratifying and something we plan to do for as long as possible.
The great thing as readers of Financial Samurai is that you can click on the giveaway links above, tweet their posts and win too! Forget about writing a 900 word post like I have here which argues for the merits of being more selective. And if you win an iPad 2, I'm sure you will break it in two and give me half!
Readers, what do you think is better, selective or random selection? This can apply to charities, contests, and promotions. Should we give randomly or selectively?
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