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!

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