Sunday 18 May 2014

Finding your wins on Facebook

Recently I’ve been asked many times how you can tell if you’ve won a competition on Facebook. Well, I’m afraid there is no simple answer! Facebook is a huge resource and as a comper you will find yourself following hundreds, or even thousands, of pages. Possibly even right up to the maximum that Facebook allows, which is currently 5,000.

Until last year, Facebook had a rule that all competitions should  be run through an app, that collected your email address, and winners were to be notified by email. As we all know, many thousands of pages either ignored this rule or didn’t know it existed,  and it has now been removed, so now it is perfectly acceptable – to Facebook if not to compers – for  a page to simply announce the winner on their page. The average Facebook user likes just 80 pages, so it isn’t surprising that a page owner will assume that people who have entered will visit their page regularly or see all the posts in their news feed. Many pages still DO use apps, and if your email address has been collected when you entered the competition, either by filling it in on a form or accepting a pop up authorisation request to access your email address, the page SHOULD email you if you win. However a few pages still just announce it on their wall and leave the onus on the winner to get in touch.

However when you follow a large number of pages, it just isn’t viable to visit them every day, and Facebook doesn’t show  every post from every page in your news feed – if it did, you might find it scrolled so fast that you couldn’t real all the posts!

One way to see more posts from the pages you follow is to read your Pages Feed – you will find a link to this on the left hand side of your Facebook news feed, in the section headed “Pages” or just follow this link . You will see many more posts from pages here than you do in your main news feed, but you still won’t see every post from every page. You can increase your chance of Facebook showing you a page’s posts by interacting with them occasionally even when there is no competition running – give a post a Like or make a comment on it.

Many pages are telling us that you can guarantee seeing all their posts by going to their page and using the menu that drops down when you click on the Like button to select “Get Notifications” – however I found when I tried that, the notifications came to my notifications centre which is already overstretched with comments from friends and invitations to competitions, so that route wasn’t for me.

A better use of this same menu might be to use the “Add to interest lists” option. I’ve just started experimenting with making lists according to closing date. When I go to a page to enter a competition, I use the “Add to interest lists” function to add it to a private list named “May 31” “Jul 07” or whatever date the competition closes. Then I will check back after the closing date and remove it from the list when the winner has been announced. I only thought this idea up while I was writing this post, so I’ll report back in a few weeks and let you know how I get on. You can read more about interest lists here. There doesn’t seem to be a limit on the number you can make, so this could be a helpful tool.

But most of us are pressed for time, and even if we CAN see every post from every page, we may well miss an announcement. This is where it pays to have lots of comping friends on Facebook! If you happen to see a post announcing the name of a winner, and it’s one of your friends, you can “tag” them by typing their name in the comments box – as you type, a menu will appear with the names of your friends who fit the name. When you see the right name, click on it and it will appear in the box with a blue rectangle around (or near) it. Add a comment such as “Congratulations” or “Well done” so they know you’re not just inviting them to enter a new competition, and then they will get a notification that you have tagged them. The more compers you are friends with, the more likely it is that one of THEM will spot one of your wins and tag YOU! It’s the kind  of comping helpfulness that works both ways!

Whether you have lots of friends or not, there are lots of groups on Facebook that are dedicated to sharing lists of winners that people spot, and tagging each other, so it is well worth joining one. Most of them are private, so the best thing to do is to ask your friends if any of them belongs to one and can get you invited. You can search for open winners groups by using the search box in the blue bar at the top of your newsfeed and typing in  Groups:winners

If you are mentioned  by another comper or tagged in a winners group, you will be told about it  in your notifications area. Also if a page notifies you that you are a winner by replying to a comment you made on their wall or  competition post, this is where you will be notified. This is the little globe towards the right of the blue bar at the top of the page – when you have notifications, a red number appears in it to tell you how many there are.

Moving left from the notifications symbol, there are a pair of speech bubbles. This is where you will find your direct messages. If there are any in your inbox, you will see a red notification sign again. However, pages are not allowed to start a conversation with their likers – you will only get a message from a page in your main inbox if they are replying to a message you have sent to them. But they CAN use the personal account of one of their staff to send a message that will appear in your “Other” message box, where all messages from none-friends go. The trouble is, Facebook doesn’t tell you those are there - there's no little red number for them!  If you click on the two speech bubbles, the list of messages in your main inbox appears. At the top, next to the word “Inbox”, you will see the word “Other” in fainter type. If you have any messages waiting there, a number will appear in brackets beside it, so if you see “Other (1)” you know there’s a message waiting for you.

These are all ways of optimising your chance of finding out about  wins – but what about checking to see if you have already missed any? Well, that’s where Google’s Social Search comes in. Tick the Facebook box (you can also use this for searching other social networks) then type in a search term. I like to do two different searches

 congratulations “jane willis”


 (winner OR winners) “jane willis”

You can sort the results by “most relevant” or by date – I find sorting by date most useful as the most relevant option can bring up results from years ago. There are some snags though – if you’ve commented to congratulate somebody else on winning, that will show up as a result, and if you have a common name you’ll see other winners as well as yourself. I’ve just run a search and can see that there are compers, not necessarily in the UK, called Emma Jane Willis and Samantha Jane Willis. (Honestly, the nerve of them, popping up on MY search results!).
One final tip to help you keep on top of things so you are less likely to miss wins, is to try to keep the number of pages you follow down to a manageable number. There are Facebook groups who share with each other when it is “safe” to unlike a page when the results have been announced. I don’t belong to one and I think it smacks a little of the kind of behaviour that makes some businesses “anti-comper” but if  you feel it could help you to declutter your news feed, then by all means see if you can find one.

 A really useful decluttering tool is Manage Your Likes which will help you to quickly unlike pages – but of course it can’t tell you which ones you are waiting to hear competition results from! I use it to have a major pruning session about once a month – but of course as soon as I’ve finished I start liking more pages!

Facebook is a vast sprawling realm where nobody can ever guarantee  being able to read every word they would like to, and I think it’s inevitable that all of us compers will occasionally miss out on wins, but if you follow these tips and use these tools, I hope that it will happen as rarely as possible for you.

And if it all sounds too much like hard work, you can always share a few photos of cats. After all, that’s what Facebook’s REALLY about, isn’t it?



  1. Never been a great fan of FB or even more FB comps, but they seem to be the favourite of big and small companies now. So if I find a prize I want to go for, I enter as per instructions, then I bookmark that page/post with the closing date (if listed) or check the T&C's for it, in a separate folder. Then as a daily routine I will check my 'list'. Although never won anything yet (As loads of peeps enter) at least I see a winners name.

  2. found a prize... posted about 2 weeks ago... hope I'm not too late

  3. Thank you Jane for the useful info. I also use and find that there are regular posts on there, as well as my own.

  4. your google search tip which i read about before on your other blogpost helped me find a win so thank you! x


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