Friday 29 April 2011

Comping on the cheap!

I’m trying to win an iPad 2 in the iSave, iWrite, iPad competition from!

Compers are used to saving money - after all, why buy something when you can win it? But there are ways to cut your comping costs, too, so here are some tips.

Use the cheapest entry route

Now the price of stamps has soared again,  don't automatically send a postcard if the choice is between a postal entry and a phone/text one. A second class stamp now costs 36p and a first class one 46p so a postal entry isn't always the cheapest. And if there's an online entry route, that is usually free - but check that you are not being directed to a Click and Buy site. You can make HUGE savings by entering online - the competitions on TV shows are often expensive to phone, yet you may be allowed up to 5 free entries online. And people DO win from the free entry routes.

Save on stamps

Post in plenty time so that you can use second class post and save 10p on each entry.
If you are sending several entries to one address, check to see if there is anything in the rules to say "one entry per envelope" and if not, send several together. But keep an eye on the thickness of your letter - even if it is in a standard sized envelope, if it is more than 5mm thick it will need a "Large Letter" stamp.
Stock up on stamps when shops like Superdrug have them on special offer - you can often save several pence a stamp. And although they set a limit on how many you can buy, you can go back day after day to build up your supplies.
And stock up in March each year because postage prices seem to go up by more than inflation every year. But if your stamps just say 1st or 2nd they are still valid after the price rise.

Don't pay for postcards

Plain white postcards cost around 3p each in high street shops, and only slightly less if you bulk buy. Look out for displays of free postcards in cinemas, bars and restaurants and stock up whenever you see them. Or cut up cardboard boxes and greetings cards into postcard sized pieces, and do your bit for recycling at the same time! But if you use greetings cards, make sure there are no embellishments on them that might get tangled up in the Post Office mail sorting machinery or your entry may never arrive.

Text tactically

Remember that if you have a package that allows you a certain number of free texts a month, texts to the short codes for comps are NOT included,  you have to pay the full price of each text entry, usually 10-12p, and then if the text costs 25p, 35p or even £1 you pay that on top. It's  easier to keep an eye on your text competition spending if you use a Pay As You Go phone where the entry just comes out of your balance.
And  check carefully how many entries you are allowed - if you send in one entry a day to a competition that only allows you one entry in total, you could waste several pounds as you will still be charged for the texts.

Be cunning with codes

Some competitions ask you to submit a code from a product, either online or by text. Sometimes the code is unique and you need to buy a new pack for each entry - other times it isn't and you can use the same code over and over again, if you are allowed more than one entry. If the code is a barcode, then you are safe using it as often as you like. If it is a batch code you can make several entries - some competitions specify 10 entries per batch code and I use that as a guideline where no limit is specified.

Subscribe to Grape Vine!

Sometimes you have to spend money in order to save money. At Grape Vine we search a huge number of shops and stores every week to bring you information on all the latest competitions (just think of all that petrol and parking subscribers can save!) but in each issue we save you money by bringing  you details of all the latest competitions on packs and books that you can enter without purchase. We buy the products so that you don't have to, and wherever a No Purchase Necessary entry route exists, we find it for you. And we give codes when they can be freely shared.

Good luck - and happy money saving!

Post Box photo courtesy of Valerie Dallimore

Wednesday 27 April 2011

Comping guides - a round-up

Those of you who enjoy comping on Twitter will find a link at the top of the blog to a page where all my posts about Twitter are indexed. But what about everything else? Over the last year, I've blogged about all aspects of comping. Some posts were about competitions that have long since closed, but others are as relevant now as when they first appeared, so here are some you may have missed or forgotten about.
Note that any competitions mentioned in these posts will have closed but the advice still applies to current ones.

Cooking up a Winner  How to write winning recipes

Tackling tiebreakers There ARE still some tiebreaker competitions around,especially on Facebook - why not give them a try?

Spice up your Text Life  Now a text message is so much cheaper than a stamp, it's time to press your mobile into action!

What to do when a prize doesn't turn up

Bringing the Comping Fairy back  some tips for when you're on a losing streak. I've never  made a card with a fairy on it, so please pretend these dragonflies are fairies.

A Bloggy Marvellous Way to Win   finding and entering competitions on blogs

and finally some tips  about Facebook   - Tag, You're it!  and How Can I Tell if I've Won a Competition on Facebook

Tuesday 26 April 2011

Tweet to win £100 to spend with Kitchen Stools Direct CLOSED

This  competition is now closed. Many congratulations to the winner


and thank you to everyone who entered.

The lovely people at Kitchen Stools Direct have offered me a prize of £100 to spend in their online store for one lucky reader. You might choose a funky bottle top style
Or something more conventional
Or one of dozens of others - they really do have something for everybody.

To  get your hands on the prize, you must first of all follow me on Twitter then tweet the following phrase EXACTLY  - just copy and paste it into your Twitter "What's happening" box, press "Tweet" and that's it, your entry is complete. If you'venever entered a Twitter competition before, check out my guide to getting started.

Kitchen Stools Direct has some fab bar stools in stock. Check it out #KSDGV @janesgrapevine

You can send your tweet by clicking here and a ready made copy of it will open up on your Twitter  page, ready to send.

The competition closes at midnight on Monday May 9th and the  winner will be selected at random. The competition is only open to UK residents. No more than one entry per person.

I know that some of you are Grape Vine readers who may be new to Twitter, so if you have any questions please post them as a comment below (remember to check back for the answer!), tweet them to me or contact me via the usual Grape Vine email address.

Monday 25 April 2011

Itchy City competitions

Itchy produce online guides to cities all over Britain. Their site is well worth bookmarking, not only to help you out with ideas for where to go and what to do, but because they have regular competitions. Here are the latest ones that they would like to share with you, with the prizes and closing dates.

Big Fat Gypsy Weddings on DVD (3 copies) 28/04/2011

£50 Waterstones Voucher 02/05/2011

An Original Source Hamper (10 products) 07/05/2011

Speck iPhone Cases (3 prizes) 07/05/2011

The Big C on DVD (3 copies) 12/05/2011

Saturday 23 April 2011

Make Every Tweet Count

This week somebody contacted me to say they had been entering competitions on Twitter for three months and not won anything. I had a look at their timeline, made a few suggestions and within a couple of days they got back to me to say they had just had their first Twitter win. So I thought maybe all compers on Twitter, old and new, might welcome some ideas for making sure  every competition tweet you send counts.

  1. Interact. Have a look at your own timeline. Is it nothing but retweets? If so, your tweets might be going nowhere! Because of spam issues, Twitter filters accounts it considers to be "poor quality" out when searches are run. And one of the criteria for judging a "poor quality" account is that it consists  of nothing but retweets. So when a competition closes and a promoter searches for entries, yours may not show up. How do you solve this? Chat to people - talk to other compers (I'm always happy to reply to messages sent to @janesgrapevine ) or just tweet about what you are doing - the weather, your plans for the weekend, what you are having for dinner. You'll soon find other people join in with you. Aim to have at least 1 in 10 of your tweets being a non-retweet, more if possible, to be sure Twitter isn't hiding your RTs.
  2. Make sure the promoter sees your tweet. I see a lot of tweets where compers have copied and pasted the original tweet, to save using the RT button. But they have forgotten to start with RT @ and the original tweeter's  name! If you do that, the promoter can't see your tweet - it won't appear in either their timeline or their list of retweets. So your tweet won't go into the hat - it's just a wasted tweet.
  3. Don't use the longer tweet option, if you have one. Some Twitter clients allow you to tweet more than 140 characters. When the original tweet is a long one and you don't want to use the RT button, it is tempting to use a longer tweet for your entry. However any hashtags and @ mentions beyond the 140th character doesn't show up in a  Twitter search so the promoter may not  see your entry.
  4. Is a day or time mentioned in the tweet? If a tweet says "RT this by 4.30pm today" and you retweet it at 6pm, or even the next day, it won't count - even if the winner hasn't yet been announced. Look at when the original tweet was sent by checking the date and time at the bottom of it.
  5. Don't resurrect old tweets. Occasionally somebody tweets a competition from weeks and weeks ago - probably because they have been searching for competitions but have forgotten to check the date. Then dozens of people retweet it and the competition appears to spring to life again. But it's almost certain to have closed, been judged and the prize sent long ago. If one of your friends tweets a new competition, don't just copy their tweet, have a look through the promoter's timeline to check that the competition really is new, or if old, still open.
  6. Is the competition run on a specific day? Many promoters  have a set day of the week when they run Twitter competitions. (For more about this see Tweeting Through a Winning Week  and my own daily lists  for up-to-date news  on who to look out for). For the most part, the competition will run on that day only  so it's no use tweeting an entry to a competition with a #winningwednesday hashtag on a Friday. If the competition DOES run for several days, as a few of the Friday ones do,   the promoter will usually mention it in the tweet or in a link to the rules.
  7. Is the competition going to run at a certain number of followers? For instance "A prize when we get to 500 followers" or "Help us to get to 10,000 followers". Before you tweet, have a look at the promoter's  Twitter page to see how many followers they have. If they've already passed the magic number, your tweet might help THEM but it's not going to do anything for YOU as you are too late!
  8. How often can you enter? Twitter doesn't allow you to tweet the same message multiple times, and if you use ways of getting round this, for instance adding or removing characters, you could still be classed as one of the "poor quality accounts" mentioned in point 1, and filtered out of Twitter search. A single entry is all you need for most competitions. If the promoter is checking retweets they will only see your tweet ONCE, however many times you have sent it. And if they are monitoring entries by adding you to a list, you can only appear on any list once so again, only one entry will count however many times you tweet. If you want to enter more than once, and the promoter has put nothing in the rules to say you can't, the best thing to do is to watch out for every time they tweet about the competition and retweet that. That way, each of your tweets WILL show up as a separate entry.
  9. Is the RT really your competition entry? Very often, a competition is run on a website or blog, and the promoter asks you to retweet just to spread the word about it. But you can only actually enter the competition by following the link  and entering on the site.  The promoter doesn't always make this clear, especially  if they are small businesses or bloggers who are no more  Twitter-savvy than the rest of us. So have a look at any links in the  tweet, because if that's where you need to go to enter, you can tweet as often as you like and still not enter the competition.
  10. Where is the promoter based? Most promoters take it for granted that only people living in the same country as them are reading their Twitter feed, so when they run a competition they don't bother to say it is only open to residents of a certain country. But for practical purposes, it usually has to be. As I write this, a lot  of people are tweeting an American competition to win kitchen appliances. Now if the winner was from the UK, even if the promoter was prepared  to pay the huge shipping costs of sending a cooker to the UK, and the winner was prepared to pay VAT and  a large admin charge for receiving the cooker, there would  still be a problem. Our electricity is 240V 50 Hz and America's is 120V 60Hz so the cooker simply wouldn't work! It's always a good idea to check what country a promoter is tweeting from. It will usually say it on their Twitter page - if it just gives two letters such as CA or NJ, that's their state and means they are in the USA. If they mention prices in dollars or time zones other than BST or GMT, they are foreign too. If you are really interested in the prize, tweet and ask them if the competition is open to the UK - but don't forget that you may be hit by massive customs charges if you win!

Tuesday 19 April 2011

How many entries?

Twice in recent months I have given entry figures from various comps in Grape Vine and both times I have had a great deal of feedback from readers. We compers like to know what we are up against - do we really have a good chance of winning or are we just wasting our time? Well, you are NEVER wasting your time because however long the odds, there are only two GUARANTEED ways of not winning a competition.

1. Get your entry disqualified by giving an incorrect answer or breaking a rule
2. Don't enter.

If you avoid those two pitfalls, your entry has as much chance as any other, however many others there are. But the fewer entries there are, the bigger that chance is so a low entry competition could make you a winner!
Here are the facts and figures that appeared in the February Grape Vine

Bear in mind that before Internet comping became popular, an entry form draw would have expected to get between 5,000 and 15,000 entries depending on the product and the distribution of forms, and a tiebreaker comp between 2,000 and 5,000. And one Heinz comp, with 57 cars on offer, had over 250,000 entries.

These are the entry figures for some recent online comps, some of which were on the popular Advent Calendars in December, one on this very blog and others on the website of a well known product over the course of last year.

PRIZE                                            ENTRIES

Hamper                                          6,300
Hamper                                          2,200
Health assessment                         1,400
£50 comping pack (on the GV blog) 370
Bottle opener x 10                          1,000
London Zoo tickets                         2,200
Pantomime trip                              2,400
Hamper                                         10,800
Luxury break in Scotland                 3,300

A competition that ran for several weeks, with a weekly prize of a case of soft drinks, had between 100 and 300 entries every week. The monthly comp on the GV website gets between 300 and 500 entries, while some competitions on blogs get only a handful of entries – sometimes not even enough to give away all the prizes.
This  was followed up in April with
A competition on Facebook with a prize of a television had over 19,000 entries.

A comp for a box of luxury chocolates could be entered through a blog or on Twitter. There were 1,796 entries on the blog and 174 on Twitter.

A comp in the Filippo Berio email newsletter, to win a recipe book, had over 2,000 entries.

The Maldon Sea Salt comp listed in the Feb GV, with 10 prizes of places at the Rick Stein cookery school, had over 4,000 entries.

Now I have some more facts and figures for you:

A game with daily prizes which ran  for 3 weeks on Facebook had a total of 6,000 entries or around 300 a day.

The Busy Bee competition on Facebook with a prize of Thomas Cook vouchers had 6,000 entries.

The daily Battery Force competition gets around 500 entries, the weekly comp on the same site around 70 entries and the daily comp on their sister site Light Bulbs First gets around 250 entries.

A well known hi-fi manufacturer ran a competition on Facebook, with some of their goods as prizes. The competition was open Europe wide, ran for a week and only had 330 entries.

Last year's Cannock Gates draw for a £1,000 holiday voucher had over 10,000 entries.

A blog competition for a year's supply of shoes bucked the trend for low entry blog comps by getting 1,260 entries.

image thanks to
Image: photostock /

Saturday 16 April 2011

Your little monsters could win you a trip to Florida!

School holidays are here - so I'm sure many of you are looking for ways to keep the children, grandchildren, nephews and nieces entertained. Wouldn't it be wonderful if they could be kept busy AND win you a holiday to Florida at the same time? Well, thanks to the new Robinsons Double Concentrate drinks that could really happen!

Children aged 6 to 11 are invited to create a Squash Monster using Double Concentrate bottles and items found  around the home and then, with the help of an adult if necessary,  upload a photo of their creations at  . Make sure the photo is ONLY of the monster - there should be no children or adults visible in the photo and no other brands'  names or logos visible. 

There are four monster art kits to be won every week. After the final closing date of June 3rd, children's  TV presenters Laura Hamilton and Neil Buchanan will pick two overall winners who will each win a family holiday to Florida.

Friday 15 April 2011

Compers wanted for new ITV show

I have been sent this request by a TV company - please note that this is THEIR presss release and all queries  should go direct to them. 


You and your partner could be the stars

of a hilarious new comedy panel show.

Is there something that you and your partner always bicker about?

Are you a big comper? Can you not stop entering and winning?

Does your partner not share your passion for comping?

Why not let our celebrity panel decide which one of you is right?

No issue is too small or ridiculous for us!

Email us now at - when you email, an application form should automatically bounce back to you.

for an application form

Or give us a call on our hotline on 0333 577 7772

(Don’t forget to leave your full name and number)

Please note all 03 numbers are charged at the same rate as 01 or 02 numbers. All pay as you go mobiles will be charged at the local rate.

Please also note we will use your data for the purposes of selection for the show, but we can not guarantee that you will be contacted.

Thursday 14 April 2011

Fiona in the Paris Marathon

Judging by the number of people who have come to my blog this week by searching for "Fiona Willis Nunez Paris Marathon" there must be a lot of you waiting to hear how my daughter got on in the Paris Marathon last weekend.

Well, here she is waiting for the start:

and here  is her stopwatch just after crossing the finishing line:
Yes, she completed the Paris Marathon, her first ever full marathon, in 4 hours 22 minutes. She says it is the hardest thing she has ever done - but I think once her legs and feet start working again she'll start to plan another.  

She finished in 19,643rd place out of around 40,000 runners but she FINISHED and that makes her a winner! (Did you see what I did there, cleverly bringing it back to the topic of this blog?)

Fiona ran in support of Oxfam and has so far raised d over £1,000 in sponsorship. Her sponsorship page is still open and maybe if you admire what she has achieved as much as I do, you might feel inspired to pop over there and drop a few pounds into the kitty.

Win contact lenses every week!

GetLenses  already supply contact lenses far more cheaply than high street opticians - but by winning your lenses from them, you could get them absolutely FREE!

Every week, they run a competition on Twitter where just by retweeting a message, you could win a month's supply of lenses. Find them at @getlenses where you will usually find the competition tweet posted on a Thursday and the winner announced on Friday.

They also run occasional competitions on their Facebook page where they also  post reminders about the weekly Twitter competition, just in case your Twitter timeline moves so fast you miss their announcement there.


Monday 11 April 2011

Too hot? Win a chance to cool down!

I'm sure everyone enjoyed the beautiful weather at the weekend. (What went wrong? Doesn't the weather know it usually turns  nasty at the weekend when we have time to enjoy it?) But winter sports  fans  may well be already pining for the snow. So how about winning  a year's membership to the Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead, along with a private lesson in ski or snowboarding to get you going?

Entering couldn't be easier, as long as you have a Twitter account. All you need to do is Tweet

Win an annual membership and a private lesson with @the_snowcentre Retweet this message before midnight Sat 16th April

To make it even simpler, you  can send your tweet just by clicking on the "Enter" button at where  you can read more about the competition and the Snow Centre.

The competition  closes at 11.59pm on April 17th, so get your tweet in Now!

Sunday 10 April 2011

Free Craft Stamper e-zine

As most of you  know, I love crafting as much as I love comping, and often buy Craft Stamper  magazine. They have put together a free e-zine featuring 12 of their top projects from last year. And the e-zine even contains a competition for £200 of crafting goodies, closing 30 Sep. I know a lot of compers are also crafters - it must be something to do with all those home made postcards we send - and the gorgeous  selection of goodies they are giving away would give somebody new to crafting a great start or provide masses of new inspiration to a more experienced crafter.

To get hold of your own free copy of the e-zine, visit and do let me know what your favourite project in it is! My own favourite is called "On Reflection" using beautiful  stamps  from Lavinia Stamps. Their stand is always my first port of  call when I  visit a craft show.

Comping's Wizard in Oz!

Grape Vine readers  may have noticed that some of the winning tiebreakers listed in this month's issue were for Australian competitions. Comping seems to be extremely popular in Australia at the moment. A friend who is  just back from a business trip picked up all these forms in a single visit to Woolworths (ah, Woolworths - how many of you gave a nostalgic sigh?) He said there were more competitions - these are just  a sample of what was on offer in ONE shop.

The  forms are a  mixture of tiebreakers, text comps and draws. How lovely, to have so many to choose from!

Friday 8 April 2011

Some more Twitter Tips

I know that lots of you have read and used my previousTwitter tips, but still have questions about using Twitter and entering Twitter comps, so based on the questions I've been asked over the last few weeks here are some more tips - I hope you find them helpful.

Favouriting Tweets

Have you ever had a tweet to say you have won a prize, then not been able to find the tweet again if, for instance, you want to thank the sender for the prize or, unfortunately, tell them it hasn't turned up? If you have the tweet stored in your favourites, you can find it quite simply by clicking on "Favourites" onyour Twitter home page.

To make a tweet into a favourite, just click on Favourite underneath the message. An orange triangle will appear on the top left and the message will be listed in your favourites. I put winning tweets into my favourites until the prize arrives: I then reply to the tweet to thank the sender and then click on "unfavourite" at the bottom of the message and it vanishes from my list. This is a great way of keeping track of whenther you are still  waiting for any prizes.

You can also favourite tweets for competitions that allow you more than one entry, but if you want to retweet them  again you will have to copy and paste them manually as Twitter will only let you retweet a message once. And that leads me on to.....

Copying and pasting tweets for Retweet competitions

A quick reminder that if you copy and paste a tweet instead of using the retweet function, you MUST start your tweet with RT @ and  the name of the original tweeter. If their name isn't in the tweet, they won't see your message, so however oftenyou tweet it you won't be entered  into the competition.   And what's more, other people may think that it is YOU who is running the competition and start retweeting your message.

If your entry is retweeted by another comper

all you need to do is find the tweet they retweeted and delete it. When a tweet is deleted, all retweets of it vanish. So you can cancel your tweet  to remove any retweets of it, and then tweet your entry again and hope it isn't retweeted a second time.

Shortening links

Sometimes you are asked to send a link, for instance to your favourite product on a website, but the link is far too long for Twitter's 140 characters. If you use Tweet Deck, it has a handy built in link shortener but if you  need to shorten it yourself, you can just paste the link into and it will shorten it for you. Another link shortener is

"Tweet Deck moves too fast for  me!"

 If Tweet deck makes you feel seasick, click on the little spanner on the topright and then select "Twitter" and  untick "Enable real time streaming". Then you will be able to  read at your own pace and not be chasing tweets up and down your timeline!

Wednesday 6 April 2011

Some new competitions for you

Appliances online are offering a  prize of £200 worth of vouchers for a supermarket of your choice. To enter, go to  and follow the link to the competition on the right. The task is to tell them about your most memorable cooking catastrophe, and you can read some of the entries they have already received if you scroll down below  the entry form. I can really feel the pain of some of those entrants!  The winner will be the story with the most literary and creative merit. Closing 03 May.

Bio-Synergy Performance products have a trip to Rio to be won, with 2 x driving experience days, 20 x Fast and Furious merchandise packs and Bio-Synergy goodies and  20 x  fast and  Furious box sets for runners up. To enter, go to . First of all click on the “Products” heading and note down any two of the items on the page (there are too many, and with too long names, to list here) then go back to the home page and wait for the competition to appear in the main window  and follow the link to it. The first two answers will be  the two items you have noted down, the third answer is Rio de Janeiro Closing 31 Jul.

Grape Vine readers will already have their April magazine (contact me if it's not arrived yet!) but here are a couple that I found after it went to the printers, yet close too soon to be included in the April update.

Sainsburys have 50 prizes of a "Romantic night in" consisting of a year's subscription to Love Film, a blu-ray DVD player, a jar of NescafĂ© Gold Blend and a box of  Dairy Box on offer. Enter by swiping your Nectar card when buying any pack of NescafĂ© Gold Blend or Black Gold at Sainsburys between 23 Mar (so you might have already entered without knowing it!) and 19 Apr.

Morrisons and Lucozade  are giving away a trip for 2 to Los Angeles to learn how to roller skate. Before you enter, you must buy a 4 x 500ml pack of Lucozade Sport (orange or Lemon & lime) from Morrisons and hang on to your receipt - you will have to produce it if you win. Then text (normal rate)  ORANGE followed by the last 4 digits of your bar code to 80878. One entry per mobile per day, so as there is only one prize there's nothing to stop you entering every day once you have your receipt. Closing 17 Apr.

And now, simply because I don't have any photos to go with today's blog and it's  looking a little dull around here, here is a completely irrelevant photo of a  family of coatis.

Sunday 3 April 2011

How Can I Tell If I've Won a Competition on Facebook?

How can I tell if I have won a competition on Facebook? This question crops up over and over again and is extremely  hard to answer as it varies from competition to competition.

The rules for running competitions on Facebook are quite complicated  - you can see them here but most of  the people running competitions don't know that these rules exist! A competition has to be run through an application that collects your email address, and winners must be notified by email.

But how often does that happen? Probably with about 1 in 100 Facebook competitions. Many small businesses run  competitions on their pages, and even if they knew about these rules, they would not be able to afford to pay for an application or have the technical skills to install one. So, since we compers want lots of lovely competitions to enter, we carry on liking statuses, tagging photos, posting links on our walls and commenting on statuses, even though all these things are theoretically banned.

But without a winning email,  it can be very difficult to know when we have won. Sometimes a page owner will send you a message but it doesn't always seem to be possible for them to do it. The less secure your profile, the more likely they are to be able to. The least secure setting, and the one that means they are most likely to contact you by message, is to go into your account (top right hand side) and select "Privacy Settings" then choose "Everyone". Only do this if you keep NO detailed personal information, such as your address or phone number, in your profile.

Even if you do this, Facebook sometimes won't let a page, rather than an individual, message you, so somebody from a page where you have won a prize may send you a friend request so that they can message you personally. For this reason it is a  good idea to NOT automatically turn down friend requests from complete strangers, as they may be from a business trying to let you know that you have won a prize. If you accept the request and they turn out not to be, it is easy enough to click "unfriend" at a later date.

However much of the time, winners names are just posted in an update on the page and the winners are expected to get in touch. If you miss the update, you could miss out on the prize. I think most page owners think that all their followers visit every page they follow on a regular basis, but with some compers following hundreds or even thousands of pages there just aren't enough hours in the day for that! So you need to have some tricks for helping yourself to spot mentions of your name.

The first thing to do is to make sure you can see every update of every page on your own home page. Facebook's default setting is to only show the  ones you interact with most often. To make sure Facebook shows you ALL updates, go to your home page and scroll right down to the bottom. This might take longer than you think, as  Facebook keeps moving the bottom! But eventually it will stop  and  there will be a bar at the bottom of the page, saying "Older posts" on  the left and "Edit options" on the right. Click on Edit Options and a box will appear - make sure that in the box next to "Allow posts from" you have selected "All of your friends and pages".

That way, if you make a note of the time when you finish a session on Facebook, in  theory you can scroll right back to that time the next time you log on and read every single message that has been posted since, to see if your name crops up. And you can search the page by hitting the Ctrl and F keys at the same time and typing your name into the search box, to see if anybody has mentioned you.

 Another  way you can search Facebook is to type your own name into the search box at the top of the page. A list of all the people with the same name as you will appear, but at the bottom of this is "See more results  for....". Click on this and under the list of people, you will see "Posts by friends", and on the left, "Posts by everyone", both of which are worth checking. Unfortunately most posts on pages won't show up, but if any of your friends has shared a winners list and your name is on it, you will see it.

Friends.... now they are probably the most important way of finding out about wins on Facebook! Different people are online at different times of day, and visit different pages in a different order. So one of the best ways of finding out if you have won a prize on Facebook is to cultivate as large a circle of comping friends as possible and agree with each other that if any of you spots one of the others listed as  a winner, you will post a link to the announcement on the winner's wall.

And if you haven't yet got any comping friends on Facebook to share the task with, do feel free to send ME a friend request!