Monday 23 January 2012

Follow the instructions - or you won't win!

Follow the instructions - or you won't win! It sounds  obvious doesn't it? When you enter a competition, you need to follow the instructions so that you are entered into the draw, or your entry goes in front of the judges. But are you sure you always do what is asked of you?

Take my own monthly competition, for instance. Every month, around 1 in 4 entries are disqualified because the entrants didn't read the instructions. They put the wrong answer in the answer box, or sometimes no answer at all, or they enter 10 times within  the space of a few minutes (incidentally, if you enter twice at different times, I presume you've simply forgotten that you've already done that month's entry, so your entry still counts)

Promoters and bloggers I talk to come back over and over again with figures of 1 in 4 or 1 in 5 disqualifications, for lots of different reasons. Here are some I have heard of recently:

Trying to enter after the competition has closed.

In a postal comp, forgetting to put your name and address on the entry form or postcard.

Not having the correct proof of purchase for a postal comp or one that needs a text or online entry with a code.

Entering with several different email addresses within the space of a few minutes. Most websites CAN tell that you are the same person, even if you think they can't!

Filling in the Rafflecopter form that is used on many blog competitions now by simply clicking "I did this" for every option, when you haven't performed the task or given the details of your like/follow/sign up/tweet in the space provided. If you are deliberately doing this to save time, thinking you will get away with it, I've got bad news  for you - you've already wasted a LOT of time! Because Rafflecopter collects all the information you give so that the blogger checking the results can see at a glance whether you have done what you were supposed to.

Ignoring the Rafflecopter form, where there is one,  and just making your entries as blog comments. A blogger using Rafflecopter will have a list of entries compiled by the service, and if you don't use the form, you won't be on the list.

Commenting on a blog to  say "I have followed you with Twitter/Google Friend Connect/Email" when you haven't done. Every blogger will double check when they draw a winner and if you haven't done what you say you have, you simply won't win.

Commenting on a blog or Facebook page - but saying the wrong thing.  You might be asked to tell them something like your favourite  song, describe a book, a place or a recipe, or answer a question. If, instead, you write something along the lines of "Lovely prize, please enter me" then you just don't stands a chance.

Trying to enter by making a comment when there is a form to fill in. This happens quite often on Facebook pages where the competition is being run through an app,  and websites with entry forms where there is also a comments facility. The winner will be chosen from entries submitted on the form and the promoter probably won't even see the comments made by would-be entrants.

I'm sure some bloggers and Facebook page owners who read this will think of other ways entrants fail to get into the hat, so please comment or contact me if you would like to suggest anything to add to the list.

And compers, every time you enter a competition, remember that you don't want to be one of the "1 in 4".  Take a little time to read the instructions properly and do exactly as you are asked,  and then relax knowing that up to a quarter of those you are competing against won't bother to do the same!

For more tips on how to be a careful comper and make sure every entry counts, see the Loquax blog where there's even a handy poster to remind you how to enter Facebook competitions.


  1. Well said, Jane. I despair at times when I do a giveaway on my blog and people ignore what you ask them to do. If I make an effort to give away a prize that I paid for, I expect the entrants to make an effort and follow the little task that I set up, and it is nothing difficult. My pre-Xmas giveaway had a higher ratio of wrong entries, probably one third of people left only one comment instead of two as requested. I am in 2 minds about the Rafflecopter, I don't use it personally on my blog, as I feel that asking people to do 7 steps at a time to be entered for every small piece of merchandise (most of the time sponsored) is just a way for the blogger to bring more traffic to her blog. If people don't want to follow my blog, they will unfollow the second the winner is announced. To ask to follow on Networked blogs, Google +, Twitter, FB, tweet about it etc etc is extremely excessive. I tend to have a look at a comp set like that and leave. Very rarely I enter a comp set with the Rafflecopter. They are a mirror of the blogger's vanity, in my opinion, maybe it is a bit too harsh, but that's how I feel.

  2. Very good list.

    @Greensleeves Are you sure you have to do all the tasks in Rafflecopter? I believe you can do as many as you like.


  3. Nev's right, as a blogger running a comp with Rafflecopter, you don't need to offer all the options. I've seen several that have only used the "leave a blog post comment" option. And as an entreant, you usually find that only one or two of the options are mandatory.

  4. I know some offer a choice but some don't, and you cannot skip some stages. I don't mind following some blogs on Blogger but don't want them in my email, and vice versa, some blogs I prefer to receive as updates by email (for example, this blog is always welcome).

  5. Aw *blush* thanks for that. I know what you mean about not wanting them all in your inbox - I prefer to follow through Google reader then I can settle down to go through them all over a cup of tea in my own time.

  6. I always do everything just to make sure - some say you can do extra things for bonus entries but I think they probably only choose people who have done everything. Problem is, it get's more and more - I don't even know what half of the sites are. I'm only just beginning to understand Twitter!!!

    1. dinara, if they use Rafflecopter, it does the draw randomly among all the entrants so the blogger can't choose any favourite entrants or entry methods. I'm sure most other bloggers are completely impatial too, although I have come across one or two who definitely weren't - you'll never see ME linking to them or tweeting about them!

  7. Thanks Jane your common sense, good Etiquette and general friendliness is always refreshing. I know you comp and run this forum (and many other things) yet you still have time to be helpful and friendly to all not just your followers. After reading your post above I didn't realize Loquax was still up & running so I've bobbed over and introduced myself and mentioned your name & the grapevine blog (hope you don't mind) x As always Happy comping sincerely Chrriss x

  8. forum (and many other things) yet you still have time to be helpful and friendly to all not just your followers. After reading your post above I didn't realize Loquax was still up & running so I've bobbed over and introduced myself and mentioned your name & the grapevine blog (hope you don't mind) x As always Happy comping sincerely Chrriss x


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