Tuesday 31 August 2010

Top Twitter Tips

Twitter is taking the comping world by storm with prizes big and small on offer every day. But when you are new to Twitter, it all seems very confusing – even “old hands” can easily make mistakes. There is a guide to getting started with Twitter and in particular Twitter comping on my website so pop over there and have a look at it first. Here I am going to expand on it a bit and give you some tips to help you to become a winner.

In these examples, I am going to us two fictional tweeters, a business with the username @BloggsBiscuits and a comper called @maddywins. I have checked that neither of these usernames actually exists at the time of writing and would like to apologies in advance to anybody who might use them at a later date.

How do I find comps to enter?

Maddywins is new to Twitter. She has just opened her account and wants to find some competitionss to enter. The best way to do this is to find and follow some other compers. Most compers are happy to let a complete stranger follow them, especially if they introduce themselves and say hello, as long as they don’t make any mistakes that might spoil both of their chances in a competition – we’ll get to that later.

Feel free to follow me - my username is @janesgrapevine and you can find my Twitter page here - but don’t be offended if I don’t follow you back. I’m already very close to following 2,000 people and although in theory there is no limit on the number of people you can follow, it starts to get complicated when you reach the 2,000 mark. I’m happy to chat and help out even if I’m not following you – just send me an @ message.

A great way of finding compers and comping websites who pass on info about competitions is to go to WeFollow and put the word “competitions” into the search box. Everybody listed there has chosen to be there because they are happy for other compers to follow them.

Once you have found and followed some compers, sit back for a while and watch what they do. You’ll soon see they are a friendly, chatty and supportive bunch, so as well as entering competitions, there will always be somebody around who will help and guide you when you are new. You DO need to ask though – if you post a question in your timeline, only people following you will see it. But if you ask somebody directly with an @ message, they will see it even if they don’t follow you.

How do I enter a competition?

First of all, check that you are entitled to enter. Imagine you see this tweet from another comper

RT @BloggsBiscuits: RT this and follow for a chance to win a hamper.

The first thing you should do is click on the name, Bloggs Biscuits, which will take you to their own Twitter page. Look at the top right of the page where it will probably say where they come from. If it is somewhere in the UK, that’s fine, but sometimes compers accidentally Tweet competitions that are being run in other countries. Unless you can find some terms and conditions that say it is open to worldwide entries, or to a list of countries that includes the UK, foreign competitions are best avoided. It can be very upsetting to be told that you have won a lovely prize and then when you send in your address, be told you can’t have it because you don’t live in the right place.

Next, follow them- they have asked you to do this in their tweet, and if they pick a winner then find they are NOT actually following, they will redraw the competition and pick a different winner.

Now scroll through their tweets and look for the competition tweet that the other comper retweeted. It will probably be near the top of the page, but if you have to scroll a long way down for it, it may mean that it is an old competition that has already closed. So as you scroll, look to see if there is anything saying “We have a winner” or “The competition is now closed”. No? Then you are ready to enter!

So how do I retweet my entry?

There are two ways to retweet any tweet. The first, and easiest, is to click on the Retweet button which you will see when you hover the mouse over the post. The second is to copy the text of the tweet, by highlighting it and pressing Ctrl-C, then go to the message box and type in RT @ then the name of the business running the competition, then paste in the copied message. So for the BloggsBiscuits comp, Maddywins would type in

RT @BloggsBiscuits

And then paste in the message.

Now, while it LOOKS as if the easiest way to enter competitions is to press the retweet button, I have been conducting an experiment with the help of some of my twitter friends and we have found that messages retweeted this way don’t always show up in the original tweeter’s mentions, or @ messages, column. If they look at Twitter’s “Your tweets, retweeted” list, they will see HOW MANY times the message has been retweeted, but they can only see who the most recent 15 people to have done it were. And the few automatic retweets, using the button, that DO show up in the mentions column take a long time to come through and may miss a closing deadline or a “first so-many to RT” target.

So based on the results of my experiment, I will always retweet my entries manually, by copying and pasting, from now on. Oddly enough, automatic retweets that are edited slightly before sending behave as if they were done manually - but if you do that, make sure you keep all the important information in the tweet, especially any hashtags.

A note about "NewTwitter".  Since this article was written, Twitter  has had a makeover and now a lot of us are using the new look version. During October I experimented with various  ways of retweeting and have found that if you use the  new version, tweets made using the retweet button show up in  just the same way as those done manually. So as long as  the promoter is using New  Twitter  - and by now, most are - it is safe to retweet automatically.

Make sure you retweet the right tweet!
Imagine Maddywins sees that I have entered the BloggsBiscuits competition and instead of going to the original tweet and retweeting it, she retweets my tweet. Her message would read

RT @compergrapevine: RT @BloggsBiscuits: RT this and follow for a chance to win a hamper.

Her tweet would show up in my mentions but depending on how she had sent it, if BloggsBiscuits saw the message at all, they would either not recognise it as a competition entry because it didn’t start with the right words, or they would think that I had entered twice, and if they were only allowing one entry per person they would disqualify me.

So by retweeting my entry, Maddywins would NOT have entered the competition, but MIGHT have disqualified me. Naturally the thought of being disqualified upsets a lot of compers and some of them have taken to blocking people who retweet their entries.

The hard and fast rule is ONLY RETWEET THE PROMOTER’S OWN TWEET – never anybody else’s.

Handling hashtags
A hashtag is a word preceded by a hash symbol # which some promoters use to help them search for competition entries. They can simply do a Twitter search for the word and, provided nobody else is using the same one at the same time, will get a list of all the entries, making it easy to pick a winner. So if any competition message includes one, you MUST make sure it is included with your entry.

However a word of caution. Sometimes, instead of asking you to RT a message, a promoter will ask you to reply to them including a hashtag. In competitions I have run, I have found that you need to include something else as well as the promoter’s name and hashtag.

For instance, if BloggsBiscuits were to say

To enter, send us a message including the hashtag #biccyhamper

Maddywins might just send the message

@BloggsBiscuits #biccyhamper

While this would show up in their timeline, it might not appear in the hashtag search. To be sure of it appearing, Maddywins needs to add some more text, for instance

@BloggsBiscuits good afternoon! #biccyhamper

How do I give a link to a particular tweet?

Sometimes a promoter asks you to tweet about their competition and then send them a link, either in a tweet, through a blog, on a website to by email, to your tweet.

To do this, you need to find your tweet and then click on the time at the bottom of it. Your tweet will then open in a new window, all on its own, and you can copy the contents of the address bar as your link. If you are asked to tweet the link, you may need to use a link shortening service such as TinyURL to keep it within the 140 characters.

Have you any more questions? I really must head over to Twitter and enter some competitions myself now, but if you have any more Twitter questions, pop a comment in the box below or send me a tweet and I’ll do my best to answer.


  1. thanks for the information - some of which was very valuable and new to me! Janice P

  2. Thanks for the information. I think I am gradually getting it right and although I haven't won anything yet I have rec'd DMs! One question, which I hope doesn't seem daft, but having been a comper for many years, I know how important it is to follow the rules but I can't always find the rules for these comps - are they normally on the website? Thanks for your help. Benabilou (katiejess elsewhere!)

  3. There aren't always any rules! A lot of the businesses who run comps on Twitter are new to comping and don't realise they are supposed to have them. But if there is a link in the original comp tweet, it probably takes you to the rules. Or if the comp is also running on Facebook (a whole new story - watch this space!) the rules might be on one of the tabs on the promoter's Facebook page.

    If you can't find any rules, look through the promoter's timeline - they might have spread the information over several tweets. But in general,Twitter comps are less formal than "real life" ones, so rules are sometimes made up as people go along!

  4. I had been wondering about that retweeting of other people's comp entries for some time... I always did them fresh just in case so now we know! I had TWO twitter wins today. Woop.

  5. This is a superb article - so clearly written & you make what seemed a very mysterious twitter world so easy to understand.
    Hoping for lots of twitter wins!
    Many thanks for taking the time to explain to us newbies.

  6. Hi Jane
    Have just been reading your article again. Lots of information.

    Just wondered whether Twitter is case sensitive.

    Eg BloggsBiscuits - if manually RTing do you have to use capital letters or would lower-case do?


  7. Twitter isn't case sensitive, so lower case would be fine. People use capitals in their user names to make them easier to understand and remember. BloggsBiscuits is clearer to read than bloggsbiscuits

  8. Hi, thank you for this blog. I have just starting using twitter & comping.... had a few 'kind' messages telling me I was doing it wrong!

    Answereing my SOS, the lovely @Jo_Bryan directed me here and it's really helped me understand the whole retweeting thing a lot better.
    So thank you both!

    I shall try not to upset anymore twitter compers & actually manage to enter my self into some competitions :)

  9. thank you for your explanations of using twitter

  10. very useful,,thanks so much x

  11. Thank you - I had often wondered whether I should copy and paste rather than just hit the retweet button, and I have also wasted so many entries not realising that company name and hashtag alone would not show up. Very useful - thank you Jane.


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