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Blogger Meetups, Twitter Hashtags and Contests

This is a long pending post I’ve been wanting to write for a long time now and it’ll be a rant. You have been warned.

Being from Bangalore, we bloggers don’t get to attend as many press conferences and product launches as our friends from Delhi (and to a certain extent, Mumbai) do. So the companies and their PR agencies usually decide to have ‘blogger meetups’ to ‘engage’ with the city based bloggers. Usually, these meetups are nothing but pitches and promotions of the brand or the products, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. What’s bad, or I must say, what bothers me is what happens during these events.

Twitter Hashtags & Contests

Over the past couple of years, blogger engagement has become synonymous with social media engagement. Rather than pitching the products or the brand to the bloggers, the PR agencies aim to get trending on twitter. Being a compulsive tweeter, I do tweet about the happenings and the product in focus most of the times, usually appended with a hashtag. The whole purpose of using hashtags on twitter is to provide quick access to all tweets from tweeple attending an event to those who missed out, but interested in knowing what’s happening.

Problem arises when these agencies announce a contest associated with twitter & hashtags. More often than not, the contest is to tweet as much as possible by including the official hashtag. As you’d expect, it ends up being spammed left and right, without adding any value whatsoever. Below is a snapshot of one such contest. I’ve deliberately removed the hashtag, twitter handles and display pics, as my issue is not against a particular brand or a PR agency or a person.

hashtags

The hashtag might end up trending for a short while, but I don’t think it will ever help the company in a positive way. Anyone and anything getting associated with spamming cannot help a brand in the long run.

Blogger meetups vs Tweetups

From what I’ve seen, at least in Bangalore, there is no clear cut distinction between bloggers and social media enthusiasts. Yes, there are cases where the two overlap, but as a host, you should clearly know whom you are inviting. I’ve been to many ‘blogger meetups’ over the past 5 years, but sadly (and I’m sorry to say this), most of them are dominated by those who aren’t active in the blogosphere, but only turn up for those stupid twitter spamming contests, free food, free booze and free gifts.

Yes, some of them, in PR terms, are ‘influential’, but in what way? Why not simply call it a tweetup? At least it will help someone like me to decide if I should bother to attend the event or not.

Last evening, I attended a couple of these events. One was called a bloggers meet and another claimed to be an interaction event in the backdrop of a launch which happened earlier this week. The bloggers meet was the usual twitter spamming contest driven event, while the other one was truly an interaction event devoid of hashtags and contests. No need to say which one I enjoyed to be part with. Though both the events had the same set of attendees, the same people were so much more fun, engaging and knowledgable in the latter event.

The brand and products in both these events were truly worth talking about, but sadly one ended up being associated with spam.

Comments

  1. Please check the 4th line of screenshot ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Avinash says:

    Just the most boring and bad part of these events.

    Btw, I can guess the meet up in the screenshot but yes most are like that with few good exceptions

  3. Frustrated Guy says:

    Dear Raju,

    You balanced the article very well, talking about the positives and negatives but don’t expect this comment to be the same.

    These PR idiots think differently. For them, a blogger’s meet is where the audience (bloggers) must attend the event, go home, and write a positive article about them.

    And a Tweetup is where the attendees must tweet during the event.

    In short, they want value for us. There are often exceptions, but this is where the social media folks of Bangalore come into play.

    You know these guys. They have a day job, and with a lot of free time in their hands, they get in touch with PR agency to organize events. This is how they do it.

    And these PR idiots only care for exposure of their clients. I was stunned when this lady told me exactly this, after attending an event: “Listen, you should write the article by xx time because our clients want them soon.”

    Wait a minute.

    She tells me to “listen” to her. **** YOU!

    She invites me via email. I say I’ll see. I get a phone call next day. Uh, okay! Then another phone call before the event starts.

    I invest my energy and, more importantly, my time to attend the place they have booked. Then I listen to there 1-2 hours of bullshit pitch. Few hours later I receive a phone call where she demands me to “LISTEN” to her. **** YOU!

    All these PR folks suck! One more lady asked me to meet some NRI idiot who started his company here, in Bangalore. I was really hesitant but said let’s do it. Day before the event, she asks me to write two lines about this company. **** YOU!

    I did not attend that event.

    There was this another lady, very nice to talk to, invited me another event that turned out to be completely different from what I expected. Still, I wrote about them. Next day I get a call from their Mumbai office asking me to remove my opinion from that post. I did, but still, **** YOU!

    Then there’s a bunch of freeloaders (you know who) licking these PR folks from top to bottom. **** THEM.

    After all this, I don’t even know what to do anymore. If I don’t attend the events, I miss networking with companies. If I do, I SELL myself to these PR agency.

    There is a clear mismatch here.

    This is why my friend and a mentor told me to STOP attending these events. They are ruining me. I cannot agree more.

    I think it’s the right time to stop attending all these useless events (easier said than done because, as a blogger, we often crave for something out of our comfort zone). But here’s another way: start our own Brand Marketing company, call real bloggers and have a sensible discussion with real companies. In short, eliminate the PR agencies.

    • You’re clearly frustrated. I don’t completely blame the PR folks really. They are under pressure from their clients who value ‘engagement’ in terms of number of tweets and number of people attending the event. That’s sad. I just hope things change for the better very soon.

      PS: I’d have appreciated more if you commented with your original name.
      PS 2: Let’s not generalize here, please.

      • Preeti Nair says:

        Hi Raju,
        I appreciate what you replied to the frustrated guy and good to hear that you understand PR job

        @Frustrated Guy
        You seem really ‘frustrated’ but there’s a certain way as to every profession works and there are certain aspects which a professional needs to do, because there work demands that. And the term ‘PR Idiots’ is a very unethical term you have used.because every profession has a respect attached to it. As you cited an example If you dint want to attend any event you should not have. You should have clearly said ‘i am not interested’- PR guys know how to take a no.try not to generalize. Afterall, its a symbiotic relation ship between PR & Journalists/Bloggers

  4. Monetize something and it usually ends up being a little spammy. That is a simple fact. Lets take a look at links – link spam was never an issue until AdSense came along – same for Tweets.

    Connect a prize with a hashtag and we have a recipe for short burst of spam. The problem is the cycle is vicious – PR folks might get the rap for such stunts but it happens because many of their clients pay them based on X number of mentions and likes and whatnot.

    Also I hope (not very hopeful) that Bloggers will stop being part of such hopeless PR stunts. At the end of the day, its disrespectful to your audience that just to win a freebie you spam their timeline.

  5. BTW nice to see this blog see some action after so long ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. I couldn’t have agreed more. A few months back, I tweeted almost the same thing.

  7. Sreejesh says:

    I was part of this event you are talking about, yes it was just twitter spamming. And I didn’t send a single tweet during the event.

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