Thursday 27 September 2012

Tons of tips to make you a Twitter winner!

... .and lots of useful tips for compers who don't use Twitter, and Twitter users who don't enter competitions.
Over the summer, I posted daily tips on Twitter using the hashtag #compingtip
In case you missed any of them, here is the full list.

  • check where a promoter is based - nobody is going to send you pate or cheese from the USA, it would go off in the post
  • Make a list for each day of the week and add any promoter who regularly runs a comp on that day
  • If the comp tweet contains a link, check it to see if you need to follow it to enter – sometimes what looks like a RT comp isn’t one
  • Check how many times you are allowed to enter, multiple tweets might disqualify you
  • Look when a promoter last tweeted – if they’ve not been around for a few weeks, the comp probably is never going to be drawn 
  • Don’t just tweet comps, it makes you look like a  bot and promoters might think you are one pick another winner if you are drawn
  • If a comp closes at a certain number of followers, check how many they have before tweeting in case you are too late
  • If a promoter never tweets anything but their comp, and they don’t have a website, it could be a scam – check carefully. 
  • Some ways of collecting tweets only show the most recent so it can help to enter very near to the closing time
  • Check the apps you have authorised and only keep the ones you currently use, to help avoid getting hacked 
  • Never open a link in a message that has no other text even if it is from a friend – they may have been hacked
  • Alarm bells should ring if a big prize is offered by somebody with only a handful of followers
  • Scam comps may be a spammer trying to get you to follow them so they can send dodgy DMs
  • Make sure you RT the right tweet, not one that is just info about the comp (unless you are just informing friends of it)
  • If a comp requires a unique answer, copying yours from somebody else will rule you both out. Don’t do it. 
  • Twitter will only let you RT the same thing once; if you are allowed to enter more often you will need to edit the tweet 
  • If you have a list of tweets to send daily, note down when each closes. Some people tweet comps months out of date! 
  • Don’t trust other compers to have checked T&C, check them YOURSELF. 
  • Interact with promoters. Then they will know you are a human, not an auto-tweeting bot. 
  • Don’t claim you’ve done something (liked, followed, commented, subscribed) if you’ve not – you’ll be disqualified. 
  • An obvious “comping” username can count against you. Avoid the words “comp” and “win” in it. 
  • Don’t tweet more than 100 times an hour or you’ll end up in Twitter jail. 
  • If a promoter is based in Ireland, check which part. The Republic has different laws so you probably can’t enter their comps. 
  • Tell non-comping friends and family to select “Hide retweets from this person” on your Twitter page. 
  • Don’t have a protected Twitter account – nobody will ever know you’ve entered their comps. 
  • Don’t tweet the same thing several times – you could go to Twitter jail or be filtered out of search
  • Follow as many other compers as you can – if they spot a new comp you’ll be one of the first to know
  • It’s fine to use the retweet button nowadays, in fact if the promoter collects entries by email it’s the ONLY way to enter. 
  • If a promoter tweets about a comp, then doesn’t tweet again for 6 months, the comp isn’t going to happen
  • Make sure the person running the comp gets an @ mention in your tweet or they won’t know you’ve entered
  • If there’s a hashtag, make sure you include it and spell it correctly
  • Have a picture on your profile, not just a Twitter egg. It really does make a difference to how much you’ll win. 
  • Always check the rules and instructions. Don't rely on another comper as they may have been in a rush and not checked themselves
  • Check your @ messages and DMs at least once a day to see if there are any winning messages
  • Follow the person running the comp – it’s good manners and means they can DM you if you win
  • Check the closing date – it’s no use entering a comp that has already closed
  • If there’s a link to the rules, follow it. Otherwise look at the promoter’s timeline for info about the comp
  • Don’t let your timeline be all retweets as you may get filtered out of search. Chat a bit as well! 
  • Don’t copy another comper’s entry if there’s a slogan or opinion question – you need to give your own answer. 
  • Check that the promoter is in the UK or says the comp is open to the UK or you won’t get your prize
  • When a tweet says “enter by 4pm”, it’s no use entering at 8pm! 
  • Say thank you when you get a prize. It’s good manners and lets the person know it’s arrived safely. 
  • Don’t retweet other compers’ entries. It’s annoying to them and means the promoter probably won’t see your entry. 
  • Make lists – one for your comping friends, and lists for comps that run regularly on certain days
  • Look out for scams and hackers – you CAN’T see “who viewed your profile”. 
  • Don’t cheat! Promoters can easily spot people tweeting from multiple accounts. 
  • If a winner is being picked at a certain number of followers, check their current number to make sure you’re not too late. 
  • Not every comp on Twitter is a retweet comp – make sure you’re doing the right thing. 
  • Interact with the promoters – many of them have a real person handling the Twitter account and they’ll enjoy a chat. 
  • Try to make some free time on Fridays as there are so many one day only comps then – it can be hard to keep up!
  • Hashtag searches can sometimes help you to find comps. Try #competition #giveaway #bookgiveaway and #comp 
  • It sometimes helps to enter right at the end of a comp, as older tweets can be lost from Twitter search. 
  • Treat over-generous comps with caution. Somebody with 250 followers can’t afford to give as big a prize as one with 25,000. 
  • If somebody RTs your entry, deleting your tweet will undo their RT. Then you can tweet again - they probably won't RT again
  • If a promoter has Ireland in their name it usually means the Republic. Most ROI  comps aren't open to UK - check with  promoter 
  • Check whether a comp has closed before tweeting – if the prize has already been won, you can’t win it

Tuesday 25 September 2012

Twitter Jail - now it's even easier to get clapped in irons!

A couple of years  ago I wrote some tips on staying out of Twitter jail and keeping your account from being hidden from Twitter search.

A quick reminder - Twitter allows you a total of 1,000 tweets a day. Any more than that, and your account is temporarily suspended, or as most of us refer to it, you go to Twitter jail, until enough time has passed for you to be into new "tweeting time" and have a fresh ration of tweets available to you. When I wrote the article above, your 1,000 tweets weren't necessarily spread over a whole 24 hour period - you could make up to 100 tweets in any given hour. That sounds like an awful lot, but if you are chatting to friends, entering competitions or taking part in a Twitter party those tweets can soon add up to a LOT!

The other day, I was awake early in the morning and decided to have a really concentrated comping session before the rest of my friends woke up and got annoyed by my stream of tweets. All of a sudden, a message flashed up on my screen; "You may not be allowed to perform this operation".  I thought it was a mistake, so I tried again with a different tweet, and then another and another...... then I noticed there was a link to further information in the message, and followed it to this Twitter help page .... I was in jail!

I counted up my tweets - around 40 in the space of half an hour. Nowhere near the hundred mark which I always try to keep below. But when I checked the page, the mention of hourly limits had gone. Now it says the 1,000 tweets are broken down into semi-hourly intervals. That means that now, just 21 - yes, TWENTY ONE - tweets in half an hour, can land you in Twitter jail. And the cruel thing is, it can be several hours before your account is freed up and you can tweet again.

Tweeting more than 21 times in half an hour won't necessarily land you in jail, but if you are unlucky, it CAN, so do be careful. You don't want to find yourself having an important tweet to send and be prevented from sending it for several hours. And compers, you don't want to miss valuable comping time or the opportunity to reply to a winning tweet, do you?

Win a £1,000 holiday and much more!






As the closing date to the North West’s largest photography competition approaches, now’s the time to submit the snaps you’ve taken during our Great British summer of celebration.
We’ve had the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, the Euros, the Olympic Torch Relay, London 2012 and the Paralympics – but the Life Through The Lens competition aims to find out what’s inspired you this summer?
Competition organisers at the Year of Health and Wellbeing North West have received lots of entries but need more images and more members of the public to vote on the entrants via the website.  So, whether you’re a first-time snapper or a seasoned pro – it’s not all about top quality photography skills, but about what your shot means to you – and what viewers of the online public gallery think.

Upload your photos to the website at   and tell us if this summer has inspired you to change your lifestyle or think about your health and wellbeing in a different light?

Entries by midnight on the 30th September 2012 will be judged by a panel of top UK photographers.  Prizes for the best individual entry include a £1,000 family holiday and a hot-air balloon experience.  Schools and camera clubs may enter up to 20 photographs with a prize of £500 of photography equipment vouchers up for grabs.

A ‘People’s Choice Award’ will also be awarded - to those images which have received the most acclaim from the public on the web gallery.

Visit to view all our North West entrants.  Have your say in the People’s Choice Award by clicking to rate each of our images, or just vote for your favourite shots.

 The Life Through The Lens competition, created by the North West Year of Health and Wellbeing, has been encouraging people all summer to get out and about and give the ‘Five Ways to Wellbeing’ a go.  Just by building five simple actions into your everyday life – Give, Connect, Take Notice, Be Active and Keep Learning - you can live longer, feel healthier and be happier.

Monday 24 September 2012

Win an electronic cigarette starter kit

Ecigclick are giving you the chance to win an electronic cigarette starter kit worth £55.  To enter, pop over to their site and enter here
Entrants must be in the UK and aged over 18, and the competition closes on October 1st.

Now hang on, I can hear you saying, what's all this about? Aren't e-cigarettes those things that alternate with the "You've been mis-sold PPI" emails and the ones asking me to help move money out of Nigeria?

Well, you could certainly be forgiven for thinking that, but actually when supplied by a legitimate business such as Ecigclick, they are a very helpful alternative to smoking, ideal for a smoker who is trying to cut down or who needs something to "smoke" when around family members who dislike their smoking. In fact my own mother has just started to use one as she is trying to recover from illness while still not feeling ready to withdraw from the nicotine that she has been addicted to for the last 70 years.

You can see a short video of Dr Hilary Jones talking about them here  and read a personal report about using them from Kay on Brink of Bedlam.  

Friday 21 September 2012

Does your qualifier qualify?

In days of old when knights were bold..... ooops, sorry, I'd better not go there.

In days of old, when I first started comping, the most common way to enter a competition was to cut out an entry form, from a pack, a magazine or a leaflet and send it by post. If a purchase was required,  a pack label, lid or token had to be enclosed with the form. In the early 1990s, barcodes and itemised till receipts came in, meaning we no longer had to send in bulky packaging, but we still had to send in our proof of purchase at the time of entry.

Nowadays it is far more common to enter online or by text, and your proof of purchase may be a code from a promotional pack, the barcode number from your pack or a code from your till receipt. Or the entry details may just say "buy the product and then text the following word to..." without any code at all.  Just to confuse matters, sometimes the display material in a shop doesn't mention a purchase at all, and you could well enter without checking the full terms and conditions, hidden away in the small print on the display or on a website, which tell you that a purchase is necessary ( I believe it's very naughty when promoters do this, and all proofs of purchase should be CLEARLY stated before you enter, without anyone having to hunt down details, but maybe that's a bit old fashioned of me in this age of information).

So it can be very tempting, either deliberately or by accident, to enter a competition without buying the product. It's quick and easy to send that text, that neck collar with an entry code can easily slip off a bottle into your shopping bag, that website is never going to check that you bought the product, is it? But if you get a winning phone call and are asked to send in your proof of purchase, all of a sudden trying to sneak in a free entry doesn't seem like such a good idea after all!

If the terms and conditions say that winners may be asked to provide proof of purchase, it doesn't necessarily mean that they WILL be asked for it, just that the promoter reserves the right to do so. But if they do ask, and you can't produce it, you will lose the prize - possibly a wonderful prize that you really wanted to win. Over the summer when Olympics tickets were being won left right and centre, I heard of several compers who were actually told, "You weren't picked in the first draw, but the original winner couldn't produce their till receipt so we drew again and you won". And also a few weeks ago I heard of someone whose prize of a widescreen TV was withdrawn because they couldn't produce the coded pack of crisps they had entered with.

But what if the terms and conditions don't actually say that proof of purchase may be asked for? You might think that in that case the promoter had no right to request it - but read through the entry instructions. It is a standard part of setting competition rules that "instructions form part of the rules" and so if, anywhere  in the instructions, it says that you should buy a product, then you MUST buy it before you can enter the competition. The only time it is really absolutely safe to enter a competition without proof of purchase, is if the terms and conditions say "no purchase necessary" (and they aren't just  referring to residents of Northern Ireland, or in the case of certain alcohol competitions, Scotland).

And make sure you buy exactly the right thing - at the moment, Morrisons have a competition with Nestlé breakfast cereals. Although you only need to text, or write on your form, the barcode from one box of cereal, the instructions tell you that you must buy TWO packets. So make sure you have the receipt(s) for both!

Of course keeping all these till receipts, packs and codes can get you into such a mess that when you are asked to provide your proof of purchase, you have a mountain of them and can't find the one you need, so let me tell you about the way I organise all mine.

I have a ring binder filled with cheap plastic punch pockets. On the outside of each pocket is a sticker with the month and year. When I enter a competition where I need to keep the proof of purchase, I staple the receipt to the leaflet or empty pack and put it in the pocket corresponding to the closing date. Tins, bottles and jars have the receipt attached with a rubber band. I haven't evolved a proper filing system for these yet - I tend to balance them all on the bookshelf beside me until they get too cluttered and then sweep them all into a carrier bag and stick them in the corner of the spare room - but I'm sure you can come up with something better than that! But wherever you keep them, bear in mind that modern till receipts fade quickly in bright light, and that if they get too creased you can't flatten them by ironing as they may turn black all over. So try to keep them smooth and in a dark place.

Recently I've seen one or two competitions where the rules have said that multiple entries were allowed but winners would have to produce proof of purchase to support ALL their entries. If this is the start of a trend, I can foresee us all having some serious storage problems in moths to come!

Thursday 20 September 2012

My radio interview

Would you like to hear my voice?

Yesterday morning I was interviewed about competitions on the Annie Othen show on BBC Radio Coventry and Warwickshire. I was followed on the show by Jeremy Stern, the MD of Promoveritas, who handle a lot of the competitions we enter, and he gave some interesting facts, statistics and tips.

If you'd like to hear it, you can listen to it on BBC iPlayer where it will be for the next few days - I think it will be ther until September 25th.

Follow this link
 if thet link doesn't work, try

and drag the slider to 2 hours 18 minutes 00 seconds. My interview lasts around 8 minutes and the whole segment about 20 minutes

Oooh! Win a satin babydoll!

Now and again I find people have landed on this blog by searching for something quite naughty. Well, here's your chance to win something naughty - but VERY nice!

Lusira are giving away a very pretty satin babydoll. To enter, you need to like them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter, then post or tweet a link to your favourite Lusira lingerie. The website  where you can pick your favourite is and it has links on the home page to their Facebook and Twitter pages. Once you've done that, email your contact details to telling them whether you would like size S/M or M/L if you win.

The competition closes on September 30th.

Wednesday 19 September 2012

Tweet to win a ski holiday

Win a week’s ski holiday to Tignes with Mark Warner

To celebrate the upcoming ski season, ski holiday specialist Mark Warner is offering the opportunity to win a week’s stay for two at the Chalet Hotel Hauts de Toviere in Tignes, France.

Taking part in the competition is simple – all entrants need to do is follow @MWholidays on Twitter and retweet the following message:

@MWholidays: RT this ski holidays page & follow us to #win a holiday for 2 in Tignes. UK #competition #mwcomp

The competition is open to all UK residents and takes place from 10am on 17th September 2012 to 10am 1st October 2012. Within seven days of the closing date, one winner will be picked at random by an independent prize draw.

Chalet Hotel Hauts de Toviere is located in the Le Lavachet area of Tignes, just a short ski away from the Espace Killy lift system. The area provides a huge variety of terrain for skiers and boarders of all skill levels and the impressive Grande Motte glacier offers excellent runs down to the resort.

To be in with the chance of winning this fantastic prize, see the @MWholidays Twitter account at or visit for more information and T&C’s.

For further information on Mark Warner visit

Tuesday 18 September 2012

More new competitions for you to enter

Dishmatic are back with another of their great competitions to win a huge bundle of Eco Force and Dishmatic products worth £50.  To enter, simply pop over to their website and follow the simple instructions - you can enter three times, once by filling in the form on the site, once by liking them on Facebook and once by Tweeting, using the pre-prepared tweet that means you only need to click the button. It really couldn't be easier! The competition closes on October 31st.

The prize bundle looks like a must-have for me, as my younger daughter has just bought a house and is moving in this week - and  the products are in the colour known  our family as "Fiona Green" because all her life, green has been her signature colour!

Next up is a super competition for anyone who, like me, runs a small business. Huddlebuy and Intuit are giving a prize of  £1,000 of Ikea vouchers, £1,000 of Staples vouchers and £1,000 of business advice. Enter at giving details of your business, then share the competition for extra entries. If you'd like to help me out by entering through my own link, instead of the one above, you can use This, too, closes on October 31st.  

And finally for now, a creative comp which gives you a chance to win your very own DUBE. What is a DUBE? Well, it's a cube shaped drum that looks like this:

But it can be customised - and that's where you come in. The task is to create an image, or write a description, of how you would customise your DUBE and then enter it at The Music Room The competition closes on October 17th.

Monday 17 September 2012

Some great new creative competitions

Economy Car Hire have a super competition running for those of us who enjoy a creative challenge. The prize is a Tom Tom sat nav, and to enter you need to visit their site and tell them, in no more than 200 words, about your most memorable road trip, good or bad, and then follow them on Facebook and Twitter.  You have until October 10th to get your entry in.

Mellow Mummy is running a limerick competition - and I'm judging it! The prize is a group 1,2,3 car seat, and you can enter either by filling in the form on the site or, if you have a blog,  including it in blog post. Full details of how to enter are here  and the competition runs until October 31st. Entries will be judged anonymously, so send me flowers if you must, but it won't affect my decision!

By the way, if you've been wondering why there have been no new blog posts from me for a while, I've been away on holiday for a beautiful relaxing break at the gorgeous Bordubet hotel on the Datca Peninsula in Turkey. I first went there two years  ago when I won as holiday there, and loved it so much we went back last year and again this year - and we'll be back there again soon, I'm sure!

Thursday 6 September 2012

My cufflink competition - the winner

Many congratulations to Charlotte Bourne, the winner of the competition for personalised cufflinks which closed this morning.

There were 534 entries in total.Most of you completed 2, 3 or 4 of the tasks, each of which earned you one entry, so there were around 200 individual entrants.

Thank you to everyone who entered and look out for more great competitions coming soon!

Sunday 2 September 2012

M&S Man-Over

Yesterday I told you all about the M&S Man-Over challenge. This is my entry for the challenge.

In a few days' time, it will be our 35th wedding anniversary. I'm hoping to be taken out for a lovely meal somewhere - but will my husband wear a suit for the occasion? Will he heck! He has to wear a suit all the time for his day job as a lecturer in IT  Service Management, so he claims he doesn't feel "dressed up" when he wears a suit. But I know that he'd really be happiest to wear his gardening clothes all the time. Many of you will already know what a keen gardener he is, from reading his blog over at Marks Veg Plot so this is what he looks like almost all of his non-working hours.

I'd love to see him in a suit with a slightly more relaxed style than his usual dark business suits. I've had a look at the Marks & Spencers range and I think this suit from the Performance collection would be perfect.  The neutral colour looks less severe than the dark suits he wears for work,  while the slight give from the natural stretch in the fabric would help him to feel relaxed rather than constrained.
But please, Mark, if you get a suit like this, don't wear it for doing the gardening in! 

Try Instagram comping with Zulily

New technology is springing up all the time and with it, new ways to enter competitions. Zulily, who have some wonderful deals on children's clothes, are giving us a chance to enter using the Instagram app, which you can download free from the App Store for iPhone or iPad or Google Play for Android phones. The app lets you use the camera on your phone to share photos with your friends and followers.

 To enter the Zulily competition, take an Instagram snap of either you or your little one showing your back to school excitement. You need to follow zulilyUK on Instagram (@zulilyUK) and tag your picture with the following three things: #zulilyUKcutiesbacktoschool, #stickygram and @zulilyUK.

Their favourite snap wins a £20 Zulily voucher, plus a code to create three sets of Stickygram fridge magnets

You can read all about the competition, which closes on September 13th, on the Zulily blog

Saturday 1 September 2012

Read all about me!

I was recently interviewed by The Social Media Portal  - a place where brands, bloggers, agencies and consumers can share information about all aspects of social media. You can read and submit press releases, share news and list events.

If you would like to read what I had to say in the interview, you can see it here

How to Win a Man Over

"Crikey," I can hear you thinking, "Jane's gone all Aunty Jane on us and is starting to give Lonely Hearts advice."

Well, I don't mean "How to win a man over", I mean "How to win a man over"- it's different.

M&S is giving away a makeover for the man in your life – husband, brother, son or friend! Bloggers can win a brand new suit, consultation with an M&S stylist and grooming session for your deserving man and a meal for two at a Gordon Ramsey restaurant. For details on how to enter visit:

To enter, you need to write a blog post about why your man deserves a man over and include a photo of him in his worst outfit. You have until September 14th to submit your blog post to them. Look out for my own entry which will appear on this blog very soon!