LearnTwitter Competition: Why we were wrong

Ryan Carson
writes on January 21, 2009

Our recent Twitter competition caused quite an uproar. So much in fact, that it made me think that we might’ve made a mistake. After taking time to reflect, I believe the competition was a bad idea. And here’s why.

The concept was simple enough. We’d give people an incentive to tweet a link like this:

“Please retweet this to help me go to http://bit.ly/10Sgh
or http://bit.ly/4w7t (Rules: https://blog.teamtreehouse.com/uncategorized/win-a-free-pass-to-any-carsonified-event/”

If they were re-tweeted 20 times, then they would enter a draw to win a free seat to any Carsonified event of their choice.

The problem

We started getting comments from some of you, accusing us of “spamming” Twitter. I really had a tough time understanding where you were coming from. Twitter is an opt-in platform. If you don’t like what you read then stop following that person. Where’s the harm?

The harm isn’t in the one or two tweets that you might receive, the harm is that this kind of marketing strategy could snowball into something that could potentially ruin Twitter. And we don’t want that.

What if Virgin came along and said “If you tweet a link to VirginAtlantic.com, and you get re-tweeted 20 times, you might win a holiday to Hawaii” or if Apple said the same thing, but for a chance to win a shiny new MacBook? I would do it and you probably would as well. Chance to win a free MacBook? Sign me up!

If that happened, Twitter would quickly be filled with meaningless marketing messages and it would become impossible to discern the signal from the noise. Since you can’t filter out certain messages from the people you follow then your only choice is to stop following them, which defeats the whole purpose of Twitter. The experience would be ruined.

Twitter is different

What’s interesting about the negative reaction to our re-tweet competition is that the competition is almost exactly the same as our Golden Ticket competition. The only difference is that we asked people to blog about the Golden Ticket, instead of Tweet about it.

I think there are two reasons why some of you felt spammed by the re-tweet competition:

1. Twitter is perceived as a very personal and non-commercial communication channel. We expect people to be a bit spammy on their blogs – but not on Twitter.

2. Since you are limited to 140 characters, there is no room to explain why you’re re-tweeting something. The entire tweet is taken up with the re-tweet marketing message, with no context or personality. On a blog, you have unlimited space to explain why you’re blogging about something.

Lesson learned!

As I’ve said, I now think the competition was a bad idea. I take full responsibility for it and I’m sorry. I’ve learned we need to wield our Twitter ‘power’ carefully and protect the Twitter experience.

In order to be fair to the people who’ve already entered the competition, we will let the competition finish. However, we won’t be asking people to do anything like this in the future.

0 Responses to “Twitter Competition: Why we were wrong”

  1. Some people love them and some people hate them that is just the way it is

  2. “Please retweet this to help me go to ??? or ??? (Rules: ???)”

    This is at best meaningless noise and at worst deliberately obscure.

    I wonder how much better people would feel if it was immediately obvious what this was about?

  3. Interesting perspective, though not all twitter competitions are as ‘viral’ as the marketing campaign you outline above. There’s plenty of space on twitter for competitions/contests/giveaways etc, but starting a ‘viral’ campaign aimed to saturate twitter to promote a brand is a fail whale in my opinion.
    Kudos for putting your hands up to this one and explaining why it’s a no go.

  4. I think it is important that when a mistake is made it is admitted rather than ‘hidden under the rug’ – for that I say bravo.

    On the other hand I would have thought it to be rather obvious from the start that such a competition idea would not be a wise decision. The fact you wanted it re-tweeted as much as possible makes it virtually the same as chain emails that fill my spam box (and I would have thought yours).

    Maybe more consideration should be done in the future – for a company such as Carsonified who I view as very much on the front row of internet understanding these sort of things shouldn’t really be occurring.

  5. A timely article indeed.

    I’m just about to announce a competition associated to a 7-part blog series, and was considering asking Twitter followers to re-tweet – but only once. A condition of entry was to tweet something similar to “I just read xyz blog series. Check it out and enter the comp. Cool prizes” – that kinda thing.

    We think the blog series itself will be really beneficial to our niche, and the competition was added to get the word out about the series and to hopefully boost our profile a little.

    In this context, will we be stepping on toes?

  6. @Dad – You’re awesome! I love you too 🙂

    @George – Love that While loop.

    @AJ – Thanks again for the support – I appreciate you.

    @Brian

    “Too many people are too afraid to actually see the true colours of Carsonified”

    First – When you comment, please link up your site and use your last name. If you’re going to take a shot at our company, please identify yourself.

    Second – Please tell me what you’re referring to in regards to our “true colours”. If you’re talking about the fact we’re a company and we need to make a profit then I’ve never hid that fact. If it’s something else, please let everyone know what you’re talking about so we can have a proper discussion.

  7. This is what I get confused about. I understand debate and disagreement on the Twitter competition issue. But when someone chimes in with:

    “I’m not suggesting their in anyway evil just they ain’t as good as they’d like you to think they are.”

    -Brian

    a) What the hell are you talking about?
    b) How from a Twitter competition gone wrong (oh, and by the way Ryan apologized for that, if you scroll up a bit you might see that), can anyone possibly extrapolate out to this nebulous statement that Carsonified is not “as good as they’d like you to think they are”?

    I mean seriously, if you are going to post a dictum on a person/company’s character like that please, for the love of God, be clear. Don’t hide behind some ambiguous and anonymous jab because it forces any half-witted person to assume that you actually reached this idea that Ryan and/or Carsonified is not a good company (or not a good enough company), that you have measured their moral compass as contrived somehow because THEY POSTED AN OFF BEAT TWITTER CONTEST ONE DAY!

    Surely, that can’t be the case, so what is it? Did Ryan steal your lunch money when you were a kid? Did the Carsonified team steal your pet bunny?

    He made a mistake and almost immediately “manned up” and apologized, which is much more than I have come to expect from the vast majority of business people I meet. Most people would just ignore “the haters”, Carsonified invites them to debate and in the midst of an onslaught, course corrects immediately, and comes out and apologizing, stipulating the reasons why they were wrong. Come on, you have to have a modicum of respect for that.

  8. “I take full responsibility for it and I’m sorry.”

    That is a perfectly clear message of apology and good enough for me. Lesson learned. I can’t see the point in making ‘the apology’ an issue. What next, a thread about the apology for ‘the apology’?

    while(SomePeopleAreNeverSatisfied==true)
    {
    apologise();
    SomePeopleAreNeverSatisfied==true;
    }

  9. Ryan,
    Just remember Abraham Lincoln’s famous words: ” You can please some of the people some of the time, but never all of the people all of the time.” In an era where transparency is so lacking, you are a shining light. Never let your detractors discourage you from being genuine, honest and open. The occasional disagreements, even if harsh, are a chance for you to increasingly perfect your practices and your character.

    Adversity as painful as it sometimes feels, is a valuable teacher. Never stop learning. Always be fair, humble and, above all, honest …just as you are today! Great job, son! I am so very proud of you as a man of integrity, a wonderful husband and father and, especially, as a man of unwavering integrity.

    You are indeed, Ryan, a man of Steel and Velvet.

    I love you, Dad

  10. Ben, I’m with you on this. Too many people are too afraid to actually see the true colours of Carsonified. I’m not suggesting their in anyway evil just they ain’t as good as they’d like you to think they are.

  11. Real Ben Darlow knows how to spell “apologise” in British English.

    🙂

  12. “Opt” is either -in or -out. If you, as a guru, think it’s a “choice”, we’re in trouble. If one of ten links in a blog is spam and the other nine links are useful, that’s ok (10% garbage is an acceptable cost). If spam is 100% of a tweet, it’s not acceptable. One player out of tune in an orchestra is ok, but a lone piano out of tune is not ok. If your tweet takes me to a url which is 90% useful and 10% garbage, that’s ok. “Choice” is a 2-step process.
    Hell we all know what is spam and what ain’t, c’mon. Experimenting with our garbage tolerance is Russian roulette for a web-guru – the day we opt out we’re gone. However if each of your tweets is useful but contains one asterisked letter, and when you add up the letters from 5 tweets you get a url with a prize, that’s ok. We all know you guys have to monetize somewhere. We’re back to collecting bottle-tops and yogurt labels I guess. Cheers, @harropmike

  13. Sorry Carson, I apologize.

  14. I’ve met Ryan a couple of times at conferences in the past. I attended the first FOWA Summit in London back in 2006. I would have no qualms with repeating every single thing I’ve written here to Ryan’s face, because they are the words of my own convictions.

    But really, this is straying way off-topic. If others are pleased to have had an apology of any sort then I guess that’s all they needed. For myself, I take a little more convincing.

  15. Melissa and everyone else who chimed in to support – thanks.

  16. @Ben Darlow

    Very harsh! Perhaps you have a very pure apology-filter, but I think Ryan’s post comes across as pretty genuine and heartfelt, and it seems most of us do.

    Props to Ryan for his honest analysis.

  17. I sooo wonder if people like Ben Darlow would be able to talk like they do if they were speaking in person instead of posting a comment on a blog. Interesting how this technological world makes us more brave when we only have to type “send” on a computer.

  18. Melissa Leon on January 22, 2009 at 7:05 pm said:

    That’s what integrity (or the lack of) is about, not simply being “honest and open”. This is what I am talking about when I reference attacks on character. I agree that this Twitter idea wasn’t the best. And I can see how some people would see it as a little shady (even though I don’t agree with them). However, I don’t think that is any reason to make statements about someone lack of integrity.

    Here’s my issue. Someone is actually open enough to talk about contracts with employees, selling price of their app, business policies, etc. that person (aka:Ryan) is giving us an inside look at the inner workings of Carsonified. I don’t think people have to take such low blows. I you disagree then fine, but lets not get petty and say that a man’s apology was not sincere or his integrity is lacking.

    I don’t think Carson was wrong in this instance and that is why I am defending him. The day I do disagree that is what I will do – Disagree not make attacks his character and intentions.

  19. “We all make mistakes – it’s the next step that defines us.”
    (A twitt by @elliottkember)

    Carsonified definition = good. 🙂

  20. It’s great when someone apologizes and it’s STILL not enough. Give the guy a break. He was giving reasons – that doesn’t make it half hearted.

    I fail to see how this was a bad move. It was a good idea to spread the contest and it only affects you if someone you’re following retweets it. If they do and you think they’re an idiot for doing it – then unfollow them. If you don’t agree with Carsonified posting that then unfollow them too. I don’t think this ruins Twitter. You choose who you follow. Otherwise, it doesn’t impact you so why do you care so much? You can’t punish someone for pulling out an idea because someone in the future might misuse it (re: large companies trying to do the same).

    There are obviously a lot of companies using Twitter right now and many people have no problem with this. No one can claim Twitter is for non-commercial use and I hate to break it to you all, but when something is ONLINE it’s opened up for anyone to use – however they choose. That’s part of how the ol’ internet and social apps work.

  21. I have only recently started my own company and can completely understand someone trying to market themselves in this manner, can we all just chill out! There are certain people who seem to have taken this as a chance to personally attack the individuals responsible for this whole saga, I don’t feel that to be necessary at all.

    Ben if you didn’t like the apology, close the web page and have a beer, life is too short!

  22. Melissa, I’m confused; where did I make any attack on Ryan’s character? The apology was half-hearted. One of the earliest lessons my mother taught me was that if you make an apology, you don’t hang a load of caveats or excuses off the end of it; it undermines the sincerity of the apology and people will notice. I, and several others did, and that’s why I felt it necessary to comment. I would have given Ryan a lot more credit had he simply apologised and admitted that he’d made a mistake, but this apology felt distinctly loaded.

    I’m not quite sure how my mentioning that the door swings both ways with regards to attention on twitter is in any way a threat, or indeed childish, but if that’s how you interpret it — so be it. My comments about how it seems Ryan is out of touch with the social web aren’t based merely on this incident, however. This is just the latest in a series of gaffes. I’m thinking about that article offering advice on how to operate a recession-proof business days after making staff redundant in particular. Episodes like this undermine the reputation of Carsonified.

    I appreciate that a lot of people get a lot of value out of Carsonified’s conferences, and the company has probably inspired a lot of people to do great things. That shouldn’t blind us into mindlessly defending everything they do. Holding people to good values is what keeps them on the straight and narrow and doing good things.

  23. It didn’t effect me since I follow relatively few people, so I am not that bothered by it, however I am just going to provide a couple of points in case it helps.

    I think the main problem is Twitter for many is like email or PM – in that the messages arrive on their computers through clients. This is different to blogs because people usually visit blogs via a web browser and then proceed to skim past topics they aren’t interested in.

    If some of your friends who you enjoy reading about send out a message like that, it’s not really an option to stop following them because you can no longer see what they are saying. If it happened to me, I would set up a filter on TweetDeck or something similar to attempt to block the messages.

    Nice to see the above blog post though. 🙂

  24. Well, I think your contest was innovative, and that’s always interesting to try out new marketing approaches – there is still a lot of things to do with Twitter I guess.

    I understand your concerns about noise vs signal which could be a potential “Twitter killer”. Though the guys between the app can easily track someone who sends x times the same tweet – there’s barely no danger you started to kill Twitter 🙂

  25. Melissa Leon on January 22, 2009 at 3:17 pm said:

    Sorry for that last line in my previous comment. That was obviously meant to be erased.

    And one more thing how is writing an apology blog evasive? Well thanks Ryan for your openness and apology.

  26. Interesting read, although was this part of the plan from the beginning.
    i Quote Gene: Did you do it just to get an increase in traffic? Did you get that increase?
    Perhaps this was part of the plan, first you “unintentionally” spam twitter and now you apologize for you mistake (so now its all ok?), all the while you are getting more exposure.
    Either a silly mistake on your part or a very cunning plan to gain exposure.
    I wonder whether people might use this underhanded technique again? lets hope not!

  27. Melissa Leon on January 22, 2009 at 3:06 pm said:

    Once again more useless attacks on Ryan’s character. “What a pathetic, half-hearted apology.” So Ben let me get this straight. You think that because you have access to the internet you have the right to make judgments on other people’s character and intentions. If you thought the twitter idea was wrong – cool. But your empty threats at “thats why I stopped following you” are childish and unwarranted.

    “I’m more and more convinced that you just don’t get what it is that makes the social web work, based on what you’ve written here.” And now you are trying to say that Ryan and the Carsonified team “don’t understand the social web”. The Carsonified team exemplify social web daily by being open and honest and sharing their knowledge with us. You apparently don’t appreciate what they do, but there are many of us out here that do. So you can have your personal opinions about whether the Twitter idea was good or bad, however that does not mean that you should be attacking someone’s motives or personal character (especially when they admit that the Twitter idea wasn’t that great).

    with Hold on so you tell me how does the social web work?

  28. Quoting Natasha Acres

    In this case, Ryan tried something, then thought better about it – fairplay I say, we all make mistakes and from them we get experience and learn. Those that keep giving Carsonified a hard time can vote with their fingers – use the unfollow button.

    Nicely put, I completely agree I have voted with my finger and started following Ryan again.

    David

  29. For me Twitter is an opt in, opt out app, as is following someone, if you don’t like what they are saying, don’t follow them.

    The use of twitter is different for everyone, I’ve read so many posts recently (as twitter has become more and more mainstream) that complain of users not using it correctly. These blogs complain of people just saying hello, or updating what it is they are doing, and then telling people that they need to be more inventive. I think it’s awful that there are a group of people that think they are the ‘twitter elite’, who have to police the twitterverse giving stick to anyone who doesn’t comply. It’s not like that, the best part about it is that you find your own community. It is after all a free service in a free world.

    In this case, Ryan tried something, then thought better about it – fairplay I say, we all make mistakes and from them we get experience and learn. Those that keep giving Carsonified a hard time can vote with their fingers – use the unfollow button.

    Easy, sorted, no arguments.

  30. Live and learn. Thats what we are all doing.

    The whole point of people following is that you may have something they find interesting. The opportunity to win a prize may be just that – you use your own judgement as a potential re-poster.

    The ability to verify that its not simply the age-old chain-letter makes this a bit different than the frequent spam that populates my inbox.

    Whilst I didn’t retweet myself, I see nothing wrong with it. Its a verifiable offer, passed willingly to those who have opted-in to read what the poster says.

    In itself, its reminiscent of multi-level marketing, which stinks – but its certainly no different than twitter asking you to automatically “recommend” people to use their service when you first sign up.

    No apology needed ryan – those of us who thought our followers would be interested tweeted – those who didn’t did not. No harm done.

  31. I am totally agree, Twitter is more for personal use… this tool can be used for viral voluntary marketing.

  32. Good post.
    I didn’t retweet because it felt a bit spammy (mostly because I follow such an incestuous group of designers but also because I couldn’t be bothered to force them to help me), but I’m mostly sad that you were trying to do this at the same time as the video entry for workshops competition.

    I had a brilliant idea to do for it, but alas, ran out of time. I’m sorry that all this controversy has overshadowed the fun contests you guys run. I loved the blog one, and seeing if I was going to be chosen out of the hat on live broadcast. It was brilliant!

    I guess contests either work or don’t, but often you don’t know until you try. I used to run a “take the cake” contest at the office (a review-writing website), where the best review won a cake (and usually shared it with the rest of us). Then they asked me to push it out to all the users of our site, and the whole thing got convoluted and eventually I was told to stop. All the good intentions in the world, just the wrong group of people.

    You got in a lot of crap here, but I’m glad you’re willing to try out things. It would be a much boring-er place out there if everyone only did things they guarranteed would work.

  33. Ryan: If you’re sorry, you’re sorry. There’s no need to act evasively and pretend that it was only some people who didn’t like it, or that under slightly different circumstances it would have been acceptable. An apology shouldn’t begin “I’m sorry, but…”

  34. Let’s be honest, there’s a whole bus load of marketing folk out there who would have jumped on this idea if it had turned out to be a success. I seriously doubt many of them would have been as forthcoming in handling complaints as Ryan was.

    Twitter is a new medium and obviously people are going to experiment with it as a marketing tool. My hat is off to Ryan and the team for attempting this, admitting it didn’t work and then telling the rest of us about it. I’d much rather the marketing community learns from other people’s mistakes. Being open and honest about what was a bad idea might just help them to do that (although cynical me suspects not, otherwise they would have quite spending so much on TV adverts a long time ago).

  35. @Ben Darlow

    “Ryan; you screwed up.”

    That’s why I wrote the post.

  36. Well done Ryan.

    As someone who has been critical of your promotional tactics, and specifically this one, it’s refreshing to see you admit it was a mistake – that’s never easy.

    Promoting via Twitter is a bit of a double edged sword, and with no “rules” or accepted norms there are going to be mishaps as we all get to grips with how it works.

    Well done for seeing this wasn’t working, and nipping it in the bud.

    David

  37. Well done for having the balls to openly blog even when you are wrong.

    Lets hope Twitter doesn’t become a spam-fest, eh?

  38. Tweeting is a joy that will diaf as soon as it gets full of adverts. Glad you decided that it was a bad idea. Shame you didn’t before you did it though.

  39. Fairly naive in the first place, but good you’ve seen sense. Something to think about when you have an idea: compare “What would happen if everyone did this?” with “What would happen if noone did this?” and see if you still think it’s a good idea.

  40. I only saw one instance of this retweet and didn’t realise what it was. In hindsight, I think its major mistake was not making it clear that it was a Carsonified promotion – if it had, I would probably have clicked instead of ignored…

    Twitter is fairly new territory and people are bound to use it for a spot of self-promotion. I feel that when I follow someone I have implicitly opted-in for a little bit of that.

    The boundaries of what is acceptable have to be experimented with and that is all that has happened here. Ryan et al have stated that they don’t intend to do this again – I’m not convinced that an apology is even required.

    …Twitter would quickly be filled with meaningless marketing messages…

    A look at all the SEOs and marketers in my follower list says that’s already happening 🙂

  41. Thanks for this. It’s appreciated.

  42. I’m shocked that you couldn’t see why it was spam and why it would be a bad thing.

    I really had a tough time understanding where you were coming from. Twitter is an opt-in platform. If you don’t like what you read then stop following that person. Where’s the harm?

    Sure, twitter is opt-in and yes you can unfollow someone, but by saying that you’re admitting that people would find such messages annoying and would see them as spam.

    What if Virgin came along and said “If you tweet a link to VirginAtlantic.com, and you get re-tweeted 20 times, you might win a holiday to Hawaii” or if Apple said the same thing, but for a chance to win a shiny new MacBook? I would do it and you probably would as well. Chance to win a free MacBook? Sign me up!

    I think you’re wrong here too. That would still be spam. We’d get just as pissed off about that, but the only difference might be that we’d call it out a bit sooner – I think people expect better of companies like Carsonified that act as part of the web *community* and claim to understand it (hence the uproar now, perhaps).

    You don’t expect advertising (which all of those examples above, and your competition, are) to occur in a situation where you’re having personal conversations with your friends.

  43. What a pathetic, half-hearted apology. It’s not bad enough that you made a mistake, but you have to keep on attempting to assert that this isn’t as big an issue as it really is. Ryan; you screwed up. Stop adding caveats to your retractal and admit it.

    I’m more and more convinced that you just don’t get what it is that makes the social web work, based on what you’ve written here.

  44. Glad you’ve seen the error of your ways. The way you ran the Golden Ticket comp last time was much better than this twitter spamming method. I think you guys should stick with that format next time.

    Dan

  45. We expect people to be a bit spammy on their blogs…

    Speak for yourself, Ryan – I don’t expect spam, on Twitter or blogs. Witness the backlash whenever blog readers believe a blogger has ulterior motives in posting an article (I remember Veerle posting a review of a product that attracted criticism not too long ago).

    Perhaps “You expect us to be a bit spammy on our blog” might have been a little more accurate…

  46. Good decision! I hope there will be loads of new and exciting ideas flying around the Carsonified office!

    Blow us out the water with a new way to engage the users. 🙂

  47. I don’t understand how to retweet. Twitted is still kind of confusing to me. When I first signed up it was so buggy that I didn’t use it. Now there are some amazing tweete that some people I follow make (zeldman’s latest for example is truly profound) and I’d love to resend it to people so they “hear” it but it is just so complicated via an iPhone. I thought your competition was intended to get folks to learn how to retweet but I couldn’t figure it out so I gave up.

  48. I think not doing this again is a good idea, I’m sure you can think of some better ways of promoting the Carsonified events and workshops than this.

    This approach to unsolicited advertisement would be just as undesirable if not more so if it were done other communications media such as email, text message or snail mail (and possibly more than just undesirable in the latter case, given there is legislation to restrict this kind of marketing activity when it comes to established communications methods, particularly of the chain letter variety where you are instructed you will need to get other people to forward your message in order to qualify to receive a prize).

    That aside, adding more bulk unsolicited & untargeted advertising to a communications platform is never a good thing. I am on do not call lists but I still get so many (illegal) auto dialed tape recorded sales pitches and repeat calls from the same group of companies that I no longer have a ringer on my land line (and exclusively rely on my mobile to receive calls instead). ((Don’t get me started on email or irrelevant snail mail…))

    I would also note technically you can ‘opt out’ and ‘ignore’ unsolicited messages on those platforms too, but in practice marketers still do not have carte blanche to promote on them any way they like – advertising on those platforms tends to be quite heavily regulated across Europe and the US (and I’m sure in most developed countries).

    Where things get blurry with Twitter is that it’s both relatively new (compared even to email, which I have been using for the best part of 20 years) and that it’s a hybrid between a traditional personal messaging system – like email or SMS – and something like an RSS feed for a blog where you are a subscriber.

    I am sure some would argue that it’s simple it’s “X” or it’s “Y” in their opinion, and I can see how that could be argued (for example “it’s like RSS feed to a blog, or it’s like reading someone’s Finger .plan file”) but by virtue of the fact a great deal of the users are bound to disagree about how they perceive it, I don’t think it is so simple.

    In particular, by requiring people to not only to mention the events but also to get people they know to forward on the same message in order for the original poster to qualify for the competition it’s definitely treating Twitter like a messaging platform, and would argue that as such the same rules that apply to other communications platforms (email, SMS, snail mail) ought to apply.

    Anyway, good call on reacting positively and fairly quickly to feedback and pulling back on this one. I think you are safe with the blog based Golden Ticket approach, people don’t see that as a personal messaging platform (though some may still not take kindly to having adverts by stealth pushed at them).

    I would steer clear of any schemes that require you get ‘X friends to participate’ in order to qualify for anything, lots of people hate that (and I do mean they get very hostile towards it – for example, as on Facebook).

    Maybe you could come up with something based on more more transparent advertising – like on page adverts with click through, where people can put banners on the blogs and you can track views/clicks. That could provide multiple ways to qualify for a free ticket (or at least a discount if you have driven enough people to purchase tickets).

  49. Yeah – you’re right. I jumped straight in – hey,it was free Carsonified workshops! But I should have thought more about it. Sorry and well done Ryan for coming clean.

  50. Well, what can you do… at least you let it finish, if you hadn’t I could see further complications.

  51. Thanks for the thoughtful remarks everyone. Please always feel free to let us know what you think.

  52. Firstly, I like the personal nature of the apology. Not trying to hide behind a company name or a company collective. I have been trying to do that more after reading an article by David on 37signals’ blog.

    I don’t think the apology is necessarily needed though. I think that there is a growing apathy towards the user’s responsibilities with social apps. Users seem very quick to complain and point fingers when things don’t work out.

    I can see the point raised about the potential for the use of twitter as an advertising medium, but I think this is where the community is responsible. Sure if everyone wants a chance to get a flight or a free computer then they choose to tweet and re-tweet, but I think very quickly they will find themselves separated from the community. The other option is that people actively say no to the advertising and actually take ownership for the community that they are part of.

    Twitter is only a tool that is supplied to us, as users we make it a community and we should take some responsibility for that.

    Whether or not this particular competition was a good idea or not, I don’t know. I do think the discussions that it could start about the responsibilities of users to their online communities are priceless.

    Anyway, my rant over. I mean no offense to anyone, just my thoughts after a long day.

  53. I saw this post and immediately re-tweeted out of excitement, but quickly realized my followers may question the msg without an explanation. I enjoy reading your blog and think opportunities to attend any of these fantastic conferences should continue…just appear less spam-ish. 🙂

  54. I have to say, props for taking a moment to step back and re-evaluate the whole thing. Especially for issuing this statement and explaining why you think you were wrong. That sense of honesty and transparency is refreshing to find in a company these days, well done Carsonified.

  55. First off, it’s awesome that you’ve been quick to act of the apology. But i’d seriously consider restarting the competition with a different form of entry (with equal difficulty and transferring the old entrants).

    Secondly, just a note; what I’ve loved about Carsonified is the total transparency, and you all seem to have your head on straight; I’ve talked to a lot of you guys (mainly on a customer support basis) and I’ve gotten nothing but absolutely wonderful service.

    But lately this stuff seems gimmicky (I can count off a couple posts that have followed this ), and I don’t know if your trying to be controversial, but from my perspective it’s in your best interest to keep with a slightly less controversial light. You guys have been known for being the good guys and although it gave you 46 comments in one day, there is such thing as bad press, regardless of popular belief.

    Anyways, I say that only with a vested interest in Carsonified. You guys rock, and should continue to do so 🙂

  56. After I tweeted it did look vague and quite spammy. The potential snowball effect is quite worrying and would certainly spoil twitter.

  57. I retweeted this, but softened the RT by starting it with “I need the help of my awesome followers, please retweet…” No harm done, this time…

  58. The problem I had with the whole concept is that only people with a good few hundred followers will even get a chance of competing!

  59. Glad to see this post, I thought twice about retweeting.

    The way twitter is so personal, polite, and rewarding is what makes it so special. Spammers generally don’t get anywhere, because the community (communities?) wont let them. And hopefully, it will stay this way for a long time!

  60. I couldn’t help thinking that it was twitter spam when I saw you announce it earlier. Did you do it just to get an increase in traffic? Did you get that increase?

  61. I see what you are saying about companies jumping on the bandwagon, but I don’t see the harm. Maybe it was because I thought ‘superb, I still might be able to get a ticket’. 😛 Oh well.

    Nice of you to be upfront though and admit a mistake if you believe it was one. That takes a big man, and you gotta be at least 6ft 4 😛

  62. I jumped in straight away and tweeted the message, and after doing so thought that maybe I shouldn’t have.
    I think that you have hit the nail on the head there Ryan, yet again. And big thumbs up for admitting your mistake.

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