Tuesday 27 September 2011

New Skills Festival - Running comps with Di

Today I am letting my best mate Di have a free rein for the festival. I met Di on our first day at uni, we had got into the same lift on the way to our induction meeting and neither of us knew where we were going but we both thought the other one did so we wandered around lost for quite a while!  When we eventually made it to the meeting I was mightily impressed with Di's maneuver to steal all the best biscuits from the plate being passed around, after a few beers a new friendship was cemented and we haven't looked back, well maybe sometimes to cringe and laugh a lot!

Di and myself at my wedding in Cambodia

Hello, I'm Di and I've known Jojoebi for almost 20 years since we studied and lived together in the charming city of Bradford in Northern England! I blog about UK competitions and contests at super-lucky.blogspot.com. As well as entering competitions myself and blogging about exciting new contests, I also advise companies and PR agencies on how to run effective promotions.

Running a contest, giveaway or competition on your blog is a great way to attract new visitors, whilst giving something back to your readers, and it will improve your blog's rank in Google search results. Often a company or PR agency will approach you, but you can also keep an eye on Twitter for requests too, and if there are specific companies or products that you like, contact them directly. And of course, if you're crafty or have a shop, you can give away your own handmade goodies! I like to offer the winner a prize of their choice, such as something from Amazon or the Book Depository.  

Prize photos Incorporate a photo of the prize that will appear when your link is shared on Facebook. If it's a handmade prize then take a couple of good photos of it, in daylight if possible. If it's something else then do a Google Search on large photos of that product - you could even design a graphic that adds 'WIN!' to a photo of the prize. 

Entry requirements Many blog competitions require a compulsory method of entry, and then offer extra entries. Ask people to leave each entry as a separate comment, and then you can use random.org to choose a winning comment - when you've selected your winner, do check that that person has completed all the steps they claim to have done!

Di with a small amount of her winnings!
The most common entry methods are: 
  • Leave a comment below (almost always compulsory)
  • Follow on Google Friend Connect (usually compulsory)
  • Follow on Networked Blogs
  • Subscribe to your blog via email
  • Follow you on Twitter
  • Follow (prize/product) on Twitter
  • Tweet a link to the competition
  • Like your Facebook page
  • Like (prize/product) page on Facebook
  • Share the competition link on Facebook
  • Tag the blog page in a Facebook status
Note: Although Facebook Promotion Guidelines aren't clear on this, I also think it's fine to ask fans to LIKE a page, tag your Facebook page in a post, or comment on your wall as an extra entry, as long as entry into the draw is not conditional on doing so. 

For more complicated giveaways you might ask the entrant to:

  • Blog about your competition
  • Add a badge to their blog linking to your competition
  • Comment on any of your other blog posts
My favourite giveaways require the entrants to answer a question, for example:
  • What will you buy if you win?
  • What's your best cleaning horror story?
  • What's your favourite bedtime story and why? 
Asking a question should ensure that the entrant would really like the prize, rather than someone who is passing by and quickly wants to pop their name in a comment and then scoot off.

List the entry requirements as bullet points to make it easier for people to follow, separating the compulsory actions from the optional ones. Don't ask people to do too many; if you run regular competitions then perhaps you could rotate the requirements and pop a couple of different ones on each giveaway - Twitter for one, Facebook for another for example.


It can get really time-consuming for the entrant having to post a comment each time, but there's a company called Rafflecopter who offer a system to track it all for you.  I believe it's invite only at the moment, but you can put your name on a waiting list. Personally I don't like the automated Rafflecopter approach - one of the best things about blogging is the ability to leave and read comments on blog posts, and interact with your readers! It's so much more personal than a list of entries. But it's up to you - if you like efficiency, register for Rafflecopter. If you like things to be a bit more personal, ask people a question related to your blog or the prize, that will take them time to answer. Asking them to choose their own prize from a website is a good idea - this will increase traffic to the company's website (the company or PR agency will be pleased about this!) and also encourages a bit more interaction with your readers.  

Setting up Entry forms using Google Docs 

Google docs are so useful for promotions - you can set up simple competition entry forms which can be used on blogs or even on Facebook (see my post about running a Facebook competition). If you make the competition easy to enter - for example, by only asking for an email address on a Google Docs form, you will get many more entries but the entrants may not be spending time on your blog - most are likely to enter their email address and then be on their way again.

Rules It's really important to have rules. You should explain:
  • Entry restrictions, eg. This giveaway is open to UK residents only
  • Closing date and time, eg. 31 October 2011 at 11.59pm GMT
  • How you will choose the winner. If you want to judge the competition then you can't ask people to make 'extra' entries, as these won't have any influence on the outcome. You should ask an independent judge to choose a winner to a tiebreaker question, rather than choose it yourself, to make it fair.
  • How you will contact the winner. Will you post it on your blog and ask them to contact you, or will you contact them via Twitter or email? If it's the former, state in the rules how long you will give them to contact you before you draw another winner. If it's the latter, you will need to ensure every entrant knows to leave a method of contact - if they don't use GFC (or haven't added an email to their profile) or Twitter then they will need to leave an email address in the comment.

Promoting your giveaway
  • If your competition is open to UK or worldwide entries then you can add it to my SuperLucky Linkys, the current ones can always be accessed from the top right of my blog - remember to add the closing date!
  • Submit competitions to your national listings site - in the UK, use The Prizefinder
  • Post up web links to your blog giveaway on Facebook.
  • Tweet links to your competitions
  • Network with other bloggers and ask if they will retweet you, or if you can share it on their Facebook walls. 
After the competition has ended

When the competition has closed, add 'CLOSED' to the end of your blog post title, as people will still find it in search results. Announce the winner in a blog post or a Tweet. Check with the company when the prize has been posted, and ask the winner to confirm receipt.

Thankyou for reading, and good luck with your giveaways!

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