Feb 172013
 

Car Alarms Are AnnoyingYou’d be hard pressed to find an online giveaway these days that doesn’t have the “Tweet about this contest” as an entry method. Same for “liking” a Facebook page. While the Facebook page “likes” are a bit less intrusive to the would-be winner’s social media circle, a Tweet is going to show up on the dashboard of everyone who follows them. And since some people just enter every contest they can, these Tweets are just so abundant that we’ve begun to, I think, tune them out like a car alarm. Remember those? Now they’re just annoying; you hear a car alarm go off and instead of thinking “Oh noes someone is trying to steal a car”, you think “That fucktard just set off their own alarm again I’mma kill that bastard you stupidhead would you just TURN IT OFF!!!”. Or something like that.

While there are people outside of the realm of sex toy giveaways who also will create a “contest only” Twitter account, I think it’s probably more prevalent for our little niche. Unless the person’s Twitter is safe from the prying eyes of friends and family, or they simply come from much more modern stock than I, they will want to create a secret account for entering sex-related giveaways. And then, since their Twitter account contains no valuable content to generate followers, their contest entry is the equivalent of standing in the middle of the woods and talking to the squirrels. Yet we reward them with multiple entries.

During my last giveaway I encountered a large number of these pseudo Twitter accounts, but also more pseudo Facebook profiles than I’d seen in the past. And like I said, to a degree, I get it. I happen to have a blog-me Facebook account and a vanilla-me Facebook account because I wouldn’t want to follow and like sex-blog/sex-toy related things on my vanilla account. It’s not something I need or want my family to see. But while I have followers on Facebook, these pesudo accounts that people use for contests usually do not have many, or any, friends/followers. So again, it’s a middle of the woods entry and we reward for it.

I suppose though that I’m more old school than I should be. While I agree and recognize that giveaways are a great tool to build brand recognition for both myself and the company sponsoring my giveaway, I keep wanting to go beyond that. I want the people to do something deserving of the more expensive prizes. I think I’m alone in this mindset, though. I encountered a giveaway earlier this week for a Vitamix blender – those fuckers start at something like $400. But did the giver-awayer require that I write a thesis paper? Nope. Did they even give a blog post as an entry method? Nope. They know that their audience isn’t other bloggers. All of the entries are nothing more than liking pages on Facebook, following Twitter accounts and a Tweet. Then again….this sort of social media “advertising” works for mainstreamers. People can easily “like” the Facebook page about food or recipes or whatnot, and it doesn’t matter one iota about friends and family, plus they’ll likely have a few friends/family who will also enter the contest and so it spreads, like wildfire.

But we are unique. We are stigmatized, in many ways. We are the dirty little secret. I get it. I do. My family knows nothing of my blog work, the blog-related trips I’ve made in the past to NYC for Calendar parties, to DC for conferences.

So, what to do? Do I need to just suck it up and play the game of social media as if I were giving away a blender and stop caring that most of the Twitter entries fall on deaf ears or half of the Facebook entries are seen by no one? As I was reading some articles about contests and giveaways, they stressed one fact that we already figured out on our own: people are lazy. They won’t want to do anything complicated. If your entry methods are complicated in nature or complicated to report, you won’t have many entries. I can remember once, long ago, Epiphora was giving away something pricey like a Pure Wand maybe(?) and contest entries had to be something creative and effort was required. I recall that she didn’t get many entries.

Past entry methods that netted me permanent traffic increases included things like having people submit a post to Reddit, Stumbleupon, Digg etc…but not many people did those. Any idea why? It’s pretty darn simple, given the Shareaholic plugin I have below that allows for easy sharing to those places. In recent contests I’ve allowed not only the daily contest tweet, but the opportunity to share via Twitter a past post of mine. Again, some people do it, many don’t. It’s still relatively easy.  I’ve had entry methods where I have people subscribe to my RSS feed (can’t track that) or subscribe to email notifications of my posts – but those can be throwaway entries too, as I’ve had people subscribe to my updates and then after the contest they unsubscribe. They don’t want their inbox cluttered with notifications on posts about sex toy reviews. No, that isn’t true for everyone that enters using those methods but it will be true for a decent percentage.

So I’m running out of ideas for “worthy” entries, most effective entry methods, etc. For my 5 year blog anniversary in June, I’ve decided to have 5 different giveaways. Some of the prizes are from smaller, niche/luxury companies like Fucking Sculptures and Nobessence. These companies need traffic, referrals and to just in general create buzz and keep it going. We need to help keep companies like them in business by fostering their growth.

What contest entry methods are you willing to do to win a sex toy?

What entry methods have you seen that you won’t or can’t ever do?

Should I just give up and stick to the status quo?

 

Edit: I’ve been doing a lot of research and I know that some don’t enter contests that use an app (like my last giveaway) that will ask you to link your FB account and you “allow” it to access your information; it’ll sometimes even say “post on your behalf” which causes panic. First, by using FB privacy controls you can control who see that stuff and what stuff the app can see. Usually apps can’t see things unless they’re visible to “public”. But I found this which is interesting:

Facebook has it own set of Promotional Guidelines.  All sweepstakes or contest promos that run on a brand’s or company’s Facebook page must run within a 3rd party application. This means that you cannot just use the Facebook wall to collect data on the person or use the page or “Like” button as a means to determine winners.   So when you use a Facebook application the user must “Allow” the application access to the user’s personal profile and other data. Many people are still not comfortable with this and don’t understand what data the marketer will be getting and what they will be doing with it. Facebook users should adjust their privacy settings so that they are not sharing their information with “Everyone”. Most apps will only have access to what a user makes public to “Everyone”.

Wow. We’ve been doing this all wrong. 

Apparently, whether or not to allow Canada residents to enter is NOT dependant on whether the sponsor will ship there: In Canada the winner can not be chosen by luck, but rather some element of skill must be involved. And if you do wish to open your giveaway to residents of Canada, you must go one step further and either exclude Quebec or add in the various additional rules that province requires. Quebec is very strict and requires bonding and registration for sweepstakes along with all communications to be produced in both English and French-Canadian. This is why you will see many U.S. based promotions excluding Quebec from eligibility.

 Posted by at 12:40 pm
Feb 042013
 

About 3 or 4 months ago I was looking up something on the We-Vibe website and I noticed that while some of the icon links to the Salsa/Tango still existed, you couldn’t see the Salsa on their page anymore. Just the Tango. I had my suspicions that this meant they were discontinuing my beloved Salsa. I reached out to them first on Twitter for confirmation, and didn’t get a response. After about a week, I tried Facebook, I posted my question on their page. No response. I let it go for another month or so and decided to try asking again. Yet again, both inquiries on Facebook and Twitter were just flat-out ignored. What is the point of having social media accounts if you ignore people? Last week then I decided to contact them directly, and sent an email via the site.

Hello. I have tried numerous times to reach out to your company on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. All 4 times I’ve been ignored. I see on your site here that you do not show photos of the Salsa anymore, you just talk about the Tango. Since the shape of the Salsa is the one I recommend slightly more (it is versatile in replacing anything that uses an RO-80mm bullet, for example), I am wondering if you have discontinued it and if so, why. The colors are great!! Many users are not feminine and appreciated the gender-neutral color scheme.  I’m a sex toy reviewer/blogger and  I’m probably one of your loudest supporters of the Salsa & Tango. I recommend them to nearly every person who contacts me for sex toy help; I tell retailers who want to work with me to carry them, and I compare every other clit vibe (and sometimes even internal vibes) to the Salsa & Tango. They’ve quickly become my only vibrator needed and Holy Grail. Suffice to say, I’m quite disheartened that my simple questions about product discontinuance are consistently ignored on social media. I’d like to properly alert my readers to purchase Salsa wherever they see it if my assumptions are correct. Can you please respond and let me know?? Thanks Lilly

Their response was quite….lackluster.

Dear Lilly, Thank you for contacting We-Vibe Customer Care. We have consolidated our product line and as such the Salsa is no longer in production, though it is still widely available in many retail stores. The Tango and the Salsa are virtually identical with the only discernible difference being the shape and the colour. The Tango proved more popular than the Salsa, though the decision to stop producing the Salsa was not based on gender preferences but rather on sales. Best Regards,  Customer Care

*blinks* No apologies for the lack of response time and again on social media sites, not even a “Thanks for recommending our product, glad you like it” half-hearted attempt at giving a shit. Call me naive but I’m surprised. Hell I’ve had a more personal and heartfelt response from Doc Johnson. I think Tantus is likely a bigger company than We-Vibe but Tantus goes out of their way for superb customer service. I’ll still continue to recommend the Tango, although it will be with a tiny bit less enthusiasm than the Salsa (even though, yes, they are virtually identical, the only difference being color and tip shape). However I will recommend the Tango only because I love the vibrations, not because I love the company.  I’m so damn sick of “girly” shades of blue, pink and purple – the red, black and white of the Salsa were such a welcome change.  So buy up the Salsa when you see it if you think you prefer the color and/or tip shape. RIP, Salsa. On that note, I’d love love love to giveaway a Salsa or two to my readers as a proper send-off for my most-loved vibrator ever. If anyone would be interested in sponsoring such a thing, please contact me ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Update:  Standard Innovations Marketing has contacted me and apologized for the lack of response on social media sites and has said that they will be improving their online presence drastically. I really do hope so; in this age, social media is huge and it’s often the place where many people go to first for customer service.  Unfortunately our collective sadness over this discontinuance can’t stop the ‘wheels of progress’, we can’t save it like a petition for a TV show. SI said: “With regards to the Salsa, we too are sad to see it go, but as our brand evolves we needed to make space in our line up for future products. We also appreciate your feedback with regards to colour. This is something we will seriously consider when developing new products.” So I do hope that they continue to expand into more gender-neutral colors. In regards to the Salsa, I will be sent a whole case to give away as I see fit! I’m still sad that I won’t be able to recommend it to all my lovely readers BUT I’m thrilled that at least a few more people will be able to own one. I just need to figure out how best to go about doing it. I’d really like to see the Salsas end up with people who are like me, who have been searching and searching for a clitoral vibrator that has the power and depth we need. I’ve reviewed or owned over 100 vibrators and the Salsa/Tango wins, hands-down, above everything that I’ve tried.

Dec 092012
 

As I trawl through my Tumblr dashboard, I tend to see a lot of cases of ignorance-via-innocence and household objects being repurposed as dildos. Today the object to catch my eye and trigger this post was nothing more than a simple carrot being used by a 19 year old woman as an anal dildo.

 

I’m sure that many people reading this are not seeing the downside. “An all-natural dildo!” you might say. “A cheap dildo!” could be an argument. “A dildo that anybody can acquire easily!” you also may say. Nay nay, my friends. These reasons are full of false security. The easiest thing I can say to invalidate all of this: Go grab a carrot. Any carrot. Try to snap it in half. You can do that fairly easily, yes? The muscles in the rectum are shockingly powerful during orgasm and could easily break off part of that carrot. It would be stuck up your butt.

And lest you think that a portion of a carrot is no big thing, or that snapped-off portions of vegetables are your only worry….let us also remember the incredible “vacuum” powers of the rectum. Have you ever seen this informative video from Tantus and Ducky Doolittle, where she lists off all the things that medical professionals have had to remove from people’s butts? Lots of mind-boggling choices are included, like an onion or a bottle of Mrs. Butterworth’s, but let’s focus on this carrot.

That’s an 11 inch carrot that was used as a dildo. And it required the help of a medical professional to remove it. Whole. So no, this one didn’t break off…..it just got sucked up inside the rectum.

Think about that. Really hard. Imagine having to go to your regular doctor for this sort of removal. Or the Emergency Room, where you’ll pay a lot more and have to wait an uncomfortably long time in plastic chairs first and be in an area where you’re bound to be overheard as you explain why you’re there. Think about that.

Now, I know. You’re a poor college student; you’re 17 and living in a sheltered town with strict parents; you’re a guy experimenting with anal play; or you’re just the sort of person who can’t find a way to justify the quality of materials vs cost of things you insert in your orifices. Ultimately, it’s your choice. But the Silk Small or Silk Medium from Tantus will replicate the size of your average carrot / zucchini / cucumber; is a one-time relatively affordable cost; and is made from materials that are 100% safe to insert in to sensitive holes. I can’t say the same for that cucumber you forgot to wash the pesticides off of.  Or chose from any of these suction cup dildos or these under-$35 sex toy choices, because they’re all silicone and by choosing dildos and vibes with flared bases it prevents the whole ass-vacuum thing. But please be aware that not all bases are created equal. Dildos and plugs that have a ring instead of a flared base should be have a finger firmly through the loop at all times, otherwise that ring is not enough to keep things safe. I can’t say I will ever understand the fascination with shoving highlighters and sharpies and whatnot up your holes, but whatever. Just be safer about it, ok?

Sep 052012
 

When I recently visited my longtime friend, the topic turned of course to sex at one or two points. Clinical, theoretical, opinionated talks. One topic, after numerous drinks by the couple, turned to how much noise my friend makes in bed. Or, rather, doesn’t make.

My bold, outspoken, ballsy, loud-mouthed friend is the exact opposite in the bedroom. That’s not to say she’s “frigid” (I hate that word). She loves sex. Her sex drive is crazy high. She especially loves sucking cock and freely, openly admits this in most cases. It turns her on immensely. Unfortunately, this is the only real thing that her boyfriend knows for sure arouses her. When it comes to sex she literally tightens up. He will see glimpses of her arousal and pleasure bursting at the seams but the moment a sigh escapes her lips she unknowingly clams up.

The discussion about this was basically him openly, and lovingly, telling her what she does/doesn’t do and telling her why he’d like her to be more free. To wake the neighbors. Not just for him, but for her, as well. He reasons that because she’s not at all vocal, be it in voice or body language, to his ministrations, he’s never really sure what or if she is enjoying. After a while, my friend started to take it all the wrong way and assume that he and I were saying that there was something wrong with her and that she wasn’t good enough in bed. He insisted that the sex is phenomenal, he loves it, but he knows that she could enjoy it even more and therefore so could he. That getting her off gets him off. Seeing that he is indeed giving her great pleasure is the best thing for him. I would have to agree with him on that…I absolutely need that feedback, I thrive off of it. I know my husband does, too.

We know why she’s like this. She was married to the first and only guy she ever slept with for a long time. Her and her ex had been together for something like 15 years. Her ex wasn’t much into sex. He never, not even on their wedding day, told her he thought she was beautiful. Sex was always brief, perfunctory and very infrequent. Quiet was encourage. Experimentation was not. So the boyfriend of less than a year has a LOT of “damage” to undo. My friend just feels weird making noise. Or saying anything. And then the circle goes right back.

Another topic in this long conversation came around to how rough each of them likes their sex because somehow my friend and I got to talking about BDSM a little bit. She wanted to know what it all stood for, what the words meant. She liked the sound of both masochist and sadist. Rough sex was discussed between the two of them….a little spanking, a little throwing around, etc. They’re both in great shape and she’s got the most incredible pain tolerance. Yet he’s not quite comfortable with being rough enough to spank her. He’s afraid he’ll hurt her. She’s afraid of hurting him. Despite both of them sitting there telling the other “It won’t hurt that much, don’t worry about me”, they kept insisting the same thing. It was like a huge circle talk of frustration. I’d like to think that some good came out of it all though. I’m hoping it did, since last week she texted me for recommendations on ball gags and wrist restraints. Yay!

So what do you think?

Does making noise mean better sex, if it’s genuine and not re-enacting the scene from When Harry Met Sally? Are there better ways for people like my friend to convey what is working and what isn’t, when they’re not comfortable saying a peep?

May 222012
 

A Twitter friend pointed us to HuffPo’s article on this past weekend’s BDSM-angled con, DomConLA. She was specifically pointing out that RedemptionsGirl is in a few of the photos, but what I took notice of was actually some curious wording.

“…..who is a willing submissive at a dungeon party during the DomConLA convention”

I cocked my head and thought it a bit strange. And then when I flipped through the slideshow more, I saw that that “disclaimer” was on every. single. photo.

Except for three. The three that featured a submissive male being whipped.

” Domina beats a submissive man at a dungeon party during the DomConLA convention”

There is no distinctive wording here to emphasize that he is a willing submissive. Why? Why is there a need to state the obvious for the female subs but not the male? Why state the obvious at all? The article is about DomConLA – a highly respected kinky conference that has visitors from all levels of kink & fetish.Taking bets on how many times Consent was reference, inferred or discussed at length would be like guessing how many M&Ms are in that 5 gallon jug at the bridal shower.

Then again….the comments on the article are filled with ignorant trolls. It’s fairly clear to me that the aspect of ‘Fifty Shades of Gray’ that is “sweeping the nation” isn’t the BDSM aspect at all. It’s the “saving the man” aspect; it’s the Cinderella-twist aspect; it’s the “she orgasms on command over and over and over and over” aspect. The majority of the general American public is just way too judgmental to even tolerate a mere article on DomConLA.

“People often abuse their bodies because they feel ugly inside.”

“these people didnt get enough hugs growing up…”

“or they got way too many!”

“Maybe that’s the only way ugly people can get attention…?”

Not all comments are negative like this. But enough are to make me never go back and read anything else “sexually progressive” at HuffPo. Anyways these jerks aren’t my point. My point is that I fail to understand on any level why apologies, excuses and special words are needed to make sure the intolerant jerks don’t flip out even more about these “willing submissive women”.

Please weigh in with your opinion. Enlighten me. Because I’m not going to understand this all on my own.

May 052012
 

“Contrary to what some people seem to believe, simple writing is not the product of simple minds. A simple, unpretentious style has both grace and power. By not calling attention to itself, it allows the reader to focus on the message”
–Richard Lederer and Richards Dowis, Sleeping Dogs Don’t Lay, 1999. More Words of Wisdom

Journalists and book authors were once held to impeccably high standards in terms of grammar, spelling and content matter. Somehow our society has degraded on the whole to what feels like a 4th grade level. Sometimes it’s even worse thanks to the prevalence of “text speak” in situations where it is so very inappropriate. Hyperbole and a Half said it best (regarding coping mechanisms to avoid exploding in a ball of white hot fury): “When someone types out “u” instead of “you,” instead of getting mad, I imagine them having only one finger on each hand and then their actions seem reasonable.  If I only had one finger on each hand, I’d leave out unnecessary letters too!”

Scenario 1: I decided to read Fifty Shades of Grey recently out of journalistic compulsion given all the drama and controversy surrounding it. While I can appreciate the overall sentiment to the book, the author’s absolutely horrid writing skill and dreadful lack of editing (and seeming inability to pick up a Thesaurus) ruined the promising plot and eclipsed even the awful and baffling fictional depiction of a BDSM relationship. Read the reviews on Amazon; some annoyed readers took to looking up the word count for certain things on their Kindle edition. I don’t care to do it for myself but someone else did! The repetition of words is distracting to the point of ruin. I’ve seen many media bits about this book/trilogy that laud it as “well written”. This is well written? Seriously? I have many more thoughts on this book but that is meant for another post. Jeez. Oh my…!

Scenario 2: I was reading the report on CNN about the Army nurse captain who died during a Skype call to his wife. The original story has now been fixed but when I read it it was:  “(CNN) — An Army captain’s wife witnessed her husband’s die while the couple was engaged in one of their regular video chats”” Oh CNN, why? Who should be blamed here? The writer or the editor or both?

Scenario 3: I like my erotica. Let me rephrase that: I like my well-written erotica. I do not expect something to be at the level of Anne Rice or whatnot but I do expect that you’ve read through it before hitting “publish” to pick out any spelling errors. When someone relies heavily on spell-check it is obvious! There is one erotica blogger/writer that I read despite the annoying spelling errors they refuse to care enough about. I notice the errors because of the tone of the prose; each error sticks out like a sore thumb. It causes me to halt in my reading like a needle being yanked off a record to figure out what word they meant to use. Oddly enough if it were a transposed letter, like writing “soemtimes”, then I would be more likely to not notice. But when one leaves off a letter (not/no, off/of, and/an, an/a, too/to) or screws up too/to/two or your/you’re or simply uses bizarre swaps like the/that it comes across as lazy writing. Unintelligent writing.

Scenario 4: Recently I’ve been editing on-site sex toy reviews before they go live. I fully understand that everyone has to start somewhere. Even I cringe at my early reviews for the tone and my childlike enthusiasm for some things. However….some people should not be writing reviews. Of any type, in any place. In fact they should please just stop writing altogether. Some of the reviews are so bad it’s difficult to edit them for better grammar without resorting to re-writing them entirely, which I’m not willing to do. I wish now that I’d copied the original bits from some of the particularly bad ones just to show as evidence.

 

I realize that most bloggers are not being paid for their words. But whether it’s a blog post or a sex toy review – don’t you care about how you look to others? A spelling error or two I can forgive. I’ve done it. But when it is consistently done then I stop respecting you. If it is done to the point of distraction then I’ll just stop reading your blog altogether. I also realize that many people are purposely writing to mimic the way they speak. This is fine to a point. And I’ll admit that comma placement still confuses me sometimes but when I see people obviously abusing it to the point where even I think it’s too much, I have to wonder about their intelligence. I’m not a “grammar Nazi” and I’m not a college English professor. I’m just a reader who wants to read words that make sense when thrown together in sentences and paragraphs. I don’t expect perfection; I just expect simple readability.

Read through your blog post or product review before you publish it! If you need to, read it out loud to aid in finding typing mistakes, run-on sentences or missing words. Polish up on comma placement (you don’t have to put a comma in a sentence for every time you would pause in speech); bookmark sites that have a list of commonly misspelled words such as lose vs loose or breath vs breathe (the latter is one I always screw up); stop using “alot“; learn possessive vs plural; and for the love of Pete if you’re writing about sex toys it is SILICONE not silicon. Another bizarre mistake I keep seeing is forgetting to use a question mark to cap a sentence that was obviously started in the tone of a question. Something I personally should learn to fix is something called “writing in the passive voice“. It’s how I speak and therefore how I write. Not enough importance is placed anymore on simple things such as apostrophes in contractions or capitalizing “I”. Another trick to figuring out if your personal speaking/writing voice comes off stilted/weird/wrong to others is to read through your writing and be sure to pronounce every word fully. Example: “…the reason for that is that Mary thinks…”1. Say it the way you speak naturally. Do you change the second “that” so it sounds more like “thet” or “thit” and it rolls off the tongue quicker? Now read it again where both “that”s are the same and rhyme with “hat”. It sounds weird, right? Redundancy!

Mark Twain: “As to the adjective, when in doubt, strike it out.”

When you write in the passive voice or have run-on sentences longer than the average paragraph….with lots of ellipses….with alot of redundant phrases ….. can tick of even the most forgiving reader2. There are a lot of helpful sites3 that can make you a better writer. Letting out this rant and researching the links for common mistakes has opened my eyes to things I do wrong, too, so I’m not proclaiming to be a perfect bastion of the English language here!

I also recognize that true blogging4 contains many moments when your text is your voice – or rather, your speaking voice replacement – and that writing in your speaking voice is more acceptable there (to a point). I’ve done it a lot and I’ve seen plenty of others do it in ways that personality, dialect and humor/emphasis shine through wonderfully. But when you write a post that you want others to take seriously, you should take a moment or three before publishing the post to the public. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to showcase a blog post as my Editor’s Pick on e[lust] because of the subject matter but bypassed it because the writing was just atrocious.

And finally, remember this: we are largely an online-only community. Your written words are your clothes, your power, your voice, your facial expressions and that by which we measure intelligence, personality and even attractiveness. Does your writing portray you in the best light? Please don’t underestimate the power and sexiness of intelligence.

  1. Changing that to “the reason is that Mary thinks..” says the same thing in fewer words, less awkwardly
  2. See what I did there? Ha! I kill me
  3. the one I’ve linked to in the paragraph has many very useful, quick and easy to understand posts about common mistakes
  4. As opposed to journalism style writing, professional writing, or sex toy / product reviews