Every time I run a contest using PromoSimple, I get a few emails asking questions about why it needs access to your Twitter and/or Facebook account. Starting next week there will be a series of weekly contests, so I would like to get the issue out of the way if possible. There is also still time to enter Bengali Miles Guru’s three giveaways linked to his Emirates A380 First Class trip report (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3).
The reason for the app is two-fold:
Sometimes a contest will be very popular, and there will be too many entries to easily track on my own. In one case there were over 1,600 unique individuals with more than 4,000 different entires (through more than one entry method). Other times it’s a few dozen, but I don’t always know which it will be. PromoSimple makes it easier to track entries, will randomly select a winner, and by collecting an email address from everyone will make it easier to contact the winner. This is really valuable to me, and I pay for this service.
Running a contest or giveaway is not entirely altruistic. I am often encouraging readers to follow the blog or share it with others. Sometimes I can use the promise of more social media followers to negotiate with others to provide me with bigger and better prizes. PromoSimple makes it easy to confirm people are actually following or sharing and share those results.
You probably understand this already. So what about the authorization issue?
A sample contest might require that you follow @HackMyTrip and send a tweet. In order to track this activity, PromoSimple performs the action on your behalf. To follow someone on Twitter, you must authorize PromoSimple to follow new people. To send a tweet, you must authorize PromoSimple to send tweets. I don’t know why it needs to read tweets from your timeline or update your profile, but it could be related to other PromoSimple features I don’t use in my contests. If there were ever any evidence that it was abusing this authorization, I would stop using the app.
If you are still concerned, you can always revoke access after entering the contest. Visit the application settings page on your Twitter account and click on “Revoke access” next to the appropriate service.
I have occasional conversations with PromoSimple, and they know people have privacy concerns. But without waiving some privacy it would be more difficult for some people to use. Here’s the customization form I use when setting up a contest. I can create a suggested tweet, which you are always able to edit before sending. To confirm that you’ve sent the tweet, I can ask that you search for that tweet on a browser, return to the app, and enter the link. Many people don’t know their tweets have links. Or you can just authorize PromoSimple to tweet on your behalf.
To keep people happy, I will often require one entry providing only an email address and make Twitter, Facebook, etc. bonus entries. But sometimes I have a very specific goal in mind and do not provide the easy way out. Sorry. Maybe that contest is not for you.
If you can think of any better way to operate contests in the future, or if this argument makes sense and you can think of ways for me to improve my explanation of it to others, I’m always open to ideas.