Thursday, August 18, 2011

Silicone Bitch: Big Media Companies Shouldn't Do Blogging Contests

I almost didn't want to waste my time writing about this, but I write about social media and blogging, and because I'm passionate about South Florida's social media and blogging community, I kinda gotta do it.

CBS Miami wants you to vote for Miami's most valuable blogger and that's all fine and well, but you have to wonder about the method behind the madness. It's like me putting a contest together for Miami's best brain surgeon. If pushed to do that -- because I'd refuse at first, not being an expert in the field -- I would consult with ... guess what? Brain surgeons and other medical professionals!

I just spent some time looking at the blogs that were nominated for voting -- a rather sanitized selection, by the way, with blogs that are "inappropriate for the community" kicked out of the PG party. Obviously that's the CBS community, not the community-at-large.

Some of the blogs are top-notch and listed on the South Florida Daily Blog blog roll, not surprisingly. Find them here.

Others are rather amateur by comparison.

Don't get me wrong and don't give my shit for saying that. I'm not trying to sound like a snob. I am a champion of encouraging anyone to blog about anything, whether they are professional writers or people who just like to post pictures of kittens. I practice what I preach and teach blogging workshops for newbies, for pete's sake.

But at the end of the day, it's another non-curated popularity contest with no regard for quality. It's a social media whoring platform.

And more importantly, it's a big media company portraying the blogosphere to its non-blogging audience in a short-sighted way.

You want to really highlight the local blogging community to your audience in a fair, well-researched way? Here are some tips:

  • Why not interview them once a month in a regular column, for example?
  • Or have one of your staff do a link roundup every week of relevant posts from local blogs? (I don't mean republish their content so you can make money off of it. I mean just link to blog posts.)
  • Why don't you do tweetups and engage the blogging community socially? (Sun Sentinel has a similar contest, but at least they throw a party. As far as I know, they are the only media company engaging bloggers socially. Miami Herald doesn't do blogger meetups anymore.)
  • Why not let people submit their blogs for review, so you can highlight them in the future and create a list of active local blogs? (Oh wait, South Florida Daily Blog already does that.)
These contests make it look like you really don't take the blogging community seriously. You use contests like this to make the public think "oh look, we're cool, we care about bloggers."

It's just like when I receive a pitch from a PR person who says they've read my blog and are selling me on some mommy blogger bullshit. Clearly, they haven't done their homework.

But it's not all bad. This is a good start and you can do more. At least you're trying.

As far as I'm concerned, every single blog listed at South Florida Daily Blog should be in ANY competition involving local blogs. This is the best, curated source for quality, active blogs and represents a tremendously creative and diverse cross section of Miami. If you are a big local media company that wants to research blogs, you should make that your daily read.

As well, any big local media company that wants to do a blog contest should really consult bloggers when they are designing these contests. And I know a good group of editors who can help with that, by the way.

Big media companies, do your homework.


Mike said...

I'm afraid to read this. Just letting you know in advance.

mike lamonica said...

OK, I read it. But before I read it, I went back and looked at the promo on the local CBS4 news. Good bloggers and journalists do their legwork. I know they have good intentions, but...

It declared "blogs have become an extremely important part of people's lives!" Breaking! The personal computer is about to be all the rage!

And they claim that they want to give our "favorite blog a big break". Well thanks, but I bet that all SFDB blogs might get more hits than they get maybe we could give them their big break.

Like I said, their intentions are good, but it comes off as faux engaging. My list of what they can do to engage the blogging community is way longer than yours and I bet your list is way longer than yours.

Oh well, good luck! Wait, you didn't make the cut. You must have said shit or something.

C.L.J. said...


swampthing said...

Our Fourth Estate needs to be reminded of its critical role in society, that is to inform the public on government corruption and waste. Instead they focus on feel-good popularity contests. Today certain bloggers are the ones doing the 'heavy lifting' with little or no funding. Message for CBS "you can be the status quo or the avant-garde, but you can't be both at the same time".

Maria de los Angeles said...

Excellent points, everyone. Thanks for adding your thoughts.

Mike, I didn't make the cut. I didn't mention it in my post because I personally don't care. This post wasn't about sour grapes, it was my beef was with msm not properly representing the blogosphere and as swampthing points out, they do have bigger fish to fry.

But yes, they have a very "sanitized" listing of blogs up there, which is another issue.

Carlos Miller said...

The first time the Sun-Sentinel promoted a contest it was fun because it was an attempt by the mainstream media to recognize blogs.

But it was also an obvious attempt to pimp themselves out. Why else would they require people to vote once a day?

But still, I annoyed my readers about voting because PINAC was running a heated battle with a few other blogs.

The second year they ran the contest it wasn't so much fun anymore because it still required us to harass our readers but this time, you couldn't even see where you were ranking.

So I didn't pester my readers on my blog about it, but I did pester them some on Twitter and on FB.

But then shortly after that contest, I decided to swear off these contests for good.

I told myself that I wouldn't nominate myself. That I wouldn't bring it up on FB, Twitter or my blog.

And that I wouldn't even worry about it because it really doesn't measure the success of your blog.

The real success is sticking with your blog day in and day out, even though there are times you just don't want to bother with it anymore.

Speaking of which, I've let the Social Media Puto blog collect dust while I've focused on re-energizing PINAC, which is my bread and butter.

But my last post on SMP was about me swearing off these contests.

And I've stuck to that promise with this contest.