Cybher 2012: Running prize promotions on your blog

I was honoured when Sian To – @geekisnewchic – asked me to host a session on competitions at the ultimate female blogger event, Cybher. An unexpected bonus was that I was partnered with the girls at Spark and Fuse. I thought I knew a decent amount about running a prize promotion, but these girls taught me all about the legal side – and also best practice when it comes to making them fair. They also had plenty of interesting tales about crazy compers!

You can read a summary of the Spark and Fuse presentation on their blog here.

We were very tight on time at the event, so this post is an expansion of the points I covered in my ten minute slot. If you’re running competitions and prize draws on your blog then I hope there are some useful ideas here for you. I believe promotions should be fun for both the blogger AND the entrant. They should have clear Terms and Conditions, be run fairly, and make good use of social media channels – and that’s what my presentation is all about…


First of all: an introduction.
I’m Di Coke (yes, that’s my real name!), I’m proud to be a comper and have been for 15 years now. I’ve won over £200,000 of prizes and more than 40 holidays. I’m passionate about my hobby and started writing a blog because I wanted to share my experiences and tips with others.

Here at SuperLucky, I list creative competitions, share my own comping stories, write about controversial promotions and offer advice to both compers and promoters. I have a readership that extends to America, Canada and Australia as very few bloggers write on this topic. Since last Summer I’ve been working as Social Media Manager for Accolade Publishing – I run the Facebook/Twitter pages for Compers News magazine and The PrizeFinder, and I also blog about competitions at the PrizeFinder. I also write a monthly column for Compers News about online promotions.

All about compers
The Good

  • Compers have a lot of contacts – and not all of them are compers! Many of us do play by the rules and only have one Facebook account, so often we share information with more than just our comping friends – I have 1600 friends and 150 subscribers on Facebook, and most compers have 1000+ Twitter followers. Compers can be a powerful networking tool as they love to Share Facebook posts and Retweet (even if it’s not a condition of entry!)
  • Compers ARE consumers too – we do actually pay for things once in a while! If a company is memorable for their promotions and prizes then we are likely to remember and recommend them.
  • The nicest compers are likely to give you feedback on the prize, and post a thankyou or photo on your blog or Facebook page.

The Bad

  • Unfortunately a few compers can be greedy. Many are at home full-time, and will enter to win anything and everything regardless of whether they want it. They are often regular visitors – though not contributors – to the www.moneysavingexpert.com competition forum
  • Some compers can enter hundreds of comps a day and as a result are likely to spend no time reading your blog (or indeed, any website they visit) – if an answer is required, they will usually have copied it from the MoneySavingExpert post.

The Ugly

  • Try not to get on the wrong side of a comper – word spreads quickly on Facebook and Twitter and some of the more vocal compers will be happy to join the mob
  • There are several private forums on Facebook where compers moan about promoters, and if a prize hasn’t arrived or isn’t what they expected, they will gang up to complain. Many will even go as far as complaining to the ASA, even for something that may seem trivial – so be on your guard!
  • If you get a public complaint about a competition or prize, try your best to settle it quickly – and ideally privately. Don’t delete Facebook posts and only block users from a page as a last resort.

A successful promotion will…

  • raise awareness (and website/Facebook traffic) for the brand
  • increase traffic and interaction on your blog
  • result in positive feedback on social media channels
  • reward a deserving entrant
  • make your winner so happy they tell all their friends about your blog!

What can go wrong?

  • People cheating – using multiple emails, profiles or Twitter accounts, or plagiarising others’ photos or stories (see my post about cheats)
  • A winner who doesn’t want the prize and swaps/sells it straight away
  • No response to a winning email
  • Complaints or negative feedback

How to get the best results

  • Ask a question that requires an answer unique to the entrant. eg.
    – What would you spend the prize voucher on? (this will also send traffic to the brand website)
    – Why would you love to win this prize?
    – Write a poem about product/prize
  • Use Rafflecopter – even though it’s ugly, it will save you time and effort. Don’t overload your widget with options: daily tweets are considered spammy, and perhaps you could choose different options for each of your competitions for variety, rather than adding all of them to every giveaway you do. Think about the weighting of the entries – awarding 25 entries for blogging about the competition might be a good option to get fellow bloggers on board.
  • DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT using a voting mechanic. Trust me, you’ll end up in trouble.
  • If you want compers to enter – and lots of traffic – list your comp on
    Superlucky blog comp linkys (don’t forget the closing date!)
    Loquax
    The Prizefinder
    Money Saving Expert (note: you can’t add your own comp, you need to hope that a comper will spot it and add it!)
    – Facebook competition groups, eg. Free Things and Competitions
    – Facebook pages relevant to the prize – OR tag the promoter in your status update.
  • Use bit.ly to shorten and customise your link – for example, my current comp is bit.ly/PinterestWishlistread my post on Using Bitly
  • Try and use quirky, funny Tweets that will stand out in a Timeline rather than long-winded ones – people will be intrigued and click for more information!
  • A Facebook page for your blog takes very little maintenance (all you need to do is use Networked Blogs to post automatically) but can be really great for spreading the word about your comps. Facebook is very visual, and interaction is greater if a status update is accompanied by a photo rather than just a link thumbnail. Use a photo of the prize (if you’ve got the software and time, add your blog name to it) and post it on your Facebook page along with a link to the competition. Compers can’t resist sharing a competition – even if it’s not actually a requirement of entry!

Take time over your Terms and Conditions

  • If you don’t want to see your prize end up on eBay or Swaps forums, you could add ‘The prize is as stated and cannot be transferred, sold or exchanged.’ – this may make compers think twice about whether they really want the prize.
  • To keep cheats at bay – or at least to give you a reason to disqualify them – add ‘One entry per person. No third party or automated entries’

When the competition is over

  • Rafflecopter will choose a winner at random for you – make sure they HAVE done the required action, and do check that they haven’t entered multiple times from the same IP address. If you’re not using Rafflecopter, Random.org is the number generator of choice!
  • Email the winner…and this is where the trouble usually starts! If your winner is a regular comper, the likelihood is that they get 500 emails a day and may miss yours. I recommend to compers that they should set up filters on their incoming mail – or at least search regularly – for the phrases ‘Congratulations’, ‘You’re a winner’ or ‘You have won’. As a subject header I would suggest putting “CONGRATULATIONS Di, you’re a winner with Blah Blah blog!” so it stands out. IPM guidelines state that you should allow 28 days for a response, but 2 weeks is reasonable – include a line in your email saying ‘Please respond with your postal address by (date) or another winner will be drawn’
  • If you get no response from a winner, you can try and contact them via Facebook – put their email address into the Search box and if they used that address to register for Facebook, you will find their profile and can send them a private message. This works well for Rafflecopter winners, as most entrants use Facebook Login for the widget so you will have the correct email address for their Facebook account. Don’t forget that messages from non-friends will go to their ‘Other’ inbox so they may not even spot them!
  • Check they’re eligible for the prize (eg. a UK address) then you can announce their name on the blog and Facebook /Twitter. Let them know how the prizes will be sent – most winners will presume you’re the one posting them, when it’s usually the PR company. Make sure you add in the email ‘allow XX weeks for delivery’ just incase there’s a delay.
  • Ask politely for feedback on the prize – you could ask the winner to Tweet or post a photo of the prize on Facebook – or ask the PR company to insert a comp slip asking the same.

Unusual and inspiring competitions

  • Competitions are a great way to raise awareness about charities. Mummy Mummy Mum! ran an excellent competition for Operation Christmas Child last year – entrants had to fill a shoebox with toys and either blog about it or post to Facebook (although emailing it would get around the Facebook rule breaking!) before dropping it off at a local charity collection point
  • Photo competitions – I ran a comp on the Prizefinder blog where entrants could email a photo and caption. I collated these into a Facebook album and chose a winner at random. This also works well for recipes.
  • Video competitions are gaining popularity – ask people to make a video and either leave a YouTube link as a comment, or email a video to you which you can share on your blog or Facebook page.
  • Appliances Online ran a series of competitions asking for kids drawing, photos or recipes. The downside was that they were restricted to bloggers – but it was a great idea, and a blog hop linky would be perfect for it! Be aware that if you’re JUDGING a winner (rather than picking at random), you should keep the entries private until the closing date so there’s no advantage for those that entered first or last!
  • Ask your entrants to comment on a certain topic and you could get useful feedback or content for future blog posts
  • Ask your blog readers to Repin photos or posts on Pinterest as a method of entry – or even ask them to start their own board (see my current competition).

There are lots of rules and regulations surrounding promotions. You don’t need to know them all, but it IS a good idea to get a standard set of Terms and Conditions set up that you can adapt for every promotion you run. Get those right and it will help to protect you if anything goes wrong! If you have any questions about running your prize promotion, you can contact me at di@superlucky.co.uk or the Spark and Fuse team at bright.sparks@sparkandfuse.com – I’m also happy to spread the word about your competitions so feel free to send me your links.


Finally, don’t forget to enter my own Pinterest Competition – read all about it at http://superlucky.me/pinterest/create-a-pinterest-prize-wishlist-and-win/  – you can win a £50 prize of your choice from Amazon! (closes 15 June 2012)

Me & @petitmew after a few après-Cybher drinkies!

16 Responses

  1. Just to clarify this point. Loquax doesn’t include answers on site listings, but users are free to share answers or ask for help on competitions via the forum. We advise people hide answers using the spoiler button so that people can choose to view them or not. Hope that helps and thanks for the blessing.

  2. Kelly Martin says:

    “Unfortunately a few compers can be greedy. Many are at home full-time, and will enter to win anything and everything regardless of whether they want it. They are often regular visitors – though not contributors – to the http://www.moneysavingexpert.com competition forum
    Some compers can enter hundreds of comps a day and as a result are likely to spend no time reading your blog (or indeed, any website they visit) – if an answer is required, they will usually have copied it from the MoneySavingExpert post.”

    I find this statement quite judgemental. I don’t enter for anything and everything but those that do, do so because they really enjoy the buzz of winning, not always because of greed. Many are Mums at home and it entertains the day. You may choose to focus your comping for certain specific comps for short periods but some don’t. Some compers feel creatively challenged so the simple, easier comps they enter and they enter in abundance. Sometimes I occasionally enter to win a small item (not so much nowadays) but to some winning things like a shower gel, or a sun cream (both of which came through my door this week) helps my weekly budget. Not everyone is working or have a high income so little things really help out many people’s standard of living. The little things can add up.

    And as for MSE not everyone wants to talk or socialise on forums and I know most are happy and grateful for the shares people do give. And also those that do share have every choice not to if they do not want to. Many answers I find out for myself but MSE is wonderful for helping me get my comping done.

    I know you have won a lot Di and you chose more creatively based competitions, but this does not mean that those that comp all day are bad compers. I have a lot of good friends that do this and while I choose not to I do not judge them as greedy. I see them as enjoying comping so much they choose to do it all day – their choice. None of my business.

  3. Big Bad Jim says:

    The moneysavingexpert site isn’t the only one that posts up answers.

    This morning I went there to see if anyone had posted up the answers to the Sunday Times wherewasI competition. Nothing on MSE at the moment but where did I find the answers – on the Loquax site. Although give them their due – they had posted up the answers under ‘Spoiler’ tabs. Bless them!

  4. Aly says:

    Hi I found this post really interesting.I’ve only entered a handful of comps via blogs (won a fridge freezer last year) and I’ve never done one on my blog.I’m subscribing to see if I can get lucky again

  5. TM says:

    Biggest load of twoddle ive ever heard – Where is the RULE that says you ‘have’ to post or follow blogs etc…
    And youre also an hypocrite, the Answers folks put on MSE are to help the people who may have missed a show or the magazine etc..
    Without these you wouldnt have won half of what you won (and dont even dare say you have never used a comp from there with the answer)
    It is actually people like you who are giving the good comping people a bad name.
    You also post on there??????????????????????(mse)

    To any new compers reading this – there are many people who feel the need to boast and say so many wrong things 90% of what di has said is true but the rest – well it is the internet after all.

  6. Thanks for your kind wishes – I hope you do well in your comps too!

    To answer your questions, most of my holidays have been from some type of ‘effort’ comps – radio phone ins (Barcelona, Iceland), tiebreakers (New York x3, Brazil, most recently Spain & Amsterdam), video (Italy), online puzzles (New Zealand), crosswords (LA, VIP festival weekends), entry forms in shops (Prague, Berlin, Dublin) – even the dreaded voting competitions (Paris x2, Copenhagen). I’ve won several holidays by sending hand-decorated postcards to magazines – Japan, Antigua, Ireland – and a few short breaks on Facebook. Also lots of Thomas Cook vouchers in photo and tiebreaker comps! I believe you make your own luck – work hard at it, concentrate on what you want to win and try and source unusual competitions in magazines, shops and on the internet. Think positive, enjoy your hobby, and hopefully you’ll reap the rewards!

  7. Compersanon says:

    Thanks for your reply!!

    I can see your genuinely a really nice person, I had no hard feelings towards your post but I felt others may have needed some response. Love the amount of holidays you’ve won though! Whereabouts have you been in the world on a prize? (Sorry would really love to know)
    You should be very proud of your wins, I most definitely would, and your competition entries are extremely creative so there’s obviously some reason you’ve won so many (or your just plain lucky 🙂

    Wish you all the best x

  8. Thanks for being the only MSE user to actually comment here on my blog – it’s a shame you felt the need to set up an ‘msecomperanon’ email address though!

    This is a general response – not just aimed at you, because you clearly enjoy my blog and hopefully have found it useful!

    Money Saving Expert is NOT a bad site. It’s the few lazy lurkers that I’m critical of – the ‘bad’ compers who want to enter and win as many comps as they can without interacting or enjoying this great hobby (I would say those that sign up to ‘automated entry services’ are just as bad). The only site I know of where answers are posted is MSE; lazy compers go there so they have to make as little effort as possible to enter. Loquax and Prizefinder don’t post answers to online competitions so compers entering from those will at least have to take the time to READ some of the blog post before answering the question and entering – which is what the blogger WANTS them to do. Most bloggers run comps not just to get traffic, but in the hope that the visitors will stick around and enjoy what they have to say!

    This post is advice for BLOGGERS. Just think if YOU were running a competition on your blog – would you want your winner to be one of the 150 people who had just copied and pasted an answer from the MSE forum? Probably not. That’s why I suggest adding an element of skill so that you’ll attract the best type of compers (be they MSE contributors, Facebook Sharers or any other kind of comper that GIVES as well as takes!)

    I don’t use MSE for comps – although I contribute where I feel I can offer advice or if someone is ranting about my blog. I search for comps on Google or Twitter because I know they will get far fewer entries than those listed on MSE – and I concentrate on those that need a bit of effort because they’re the most rewarding (I also share EVERY comp I find on my Facebook pages). I rarely enter free prize draws as I know 5000 others will have entered! For those that are moaning about how successful I am with my prizes, if you subscribe to my blog you’ll soon see how I do it and maybe you can pick up some tips yourselves…

  9. MseComperAnon says:

    Really love your blog! Just had a few thoughts though
    Please dont target moneysavingexpert.com and portray it as a bad site, even though some (well most) of us compers dont post, those dedicated few who do have helped people such as myself win thousands of pounds worth of prizes (an ipad 3 in the recent timed hourly and even a tv+xbox in a netflix sponsored one). We dont all want to go and pay for a subscription to a competition site (which is no doubt where most your winnings come from) and this seems to be a great alternative.
    You are also a registered user on the site so seems a bit hypocritical to me.

    Sorry for the post but still love your blog! 🙂

  10. …and thank YOU for giving me the opportunity to speak at such a great event!

  11. It was super .. Yes After Cybher drinkies were fab x

  12. Thanks for posting this Di and thanks for your session. x

  13. Was lovely meeting you, totally love your scarf and shoes! <3

  14. Great advice Helen! My blog isn’t monetised and all giveaways are funded out of my own pocket so I don’t have much involvement with PR companies/brands. Your input is much appreciated – and I didn’t realise that was the case with MSE either. I’ll edit the post accordingly. Thanks!

  15. Great post Di! I so wish I had gone to Cybher!

    A few thoughts of mine.

    Asking someone to add your comp to MSE is actually against site rules and they have been known to block urls of people who break this rule. If you run enough comps eventually a MSE regular will spot your competitions and add them, although it takes time.

    I strongly feel that from the bloggers point of view that you need to get something out of running the competition, it takes time and effort. Is, at most, a good few thousand page views really worth the effort of running the promotion? I nearly always ask for at least sample product to compensate.

    If a brand wants you to promote their social media in the comp, please please remember that this is a very valuable service that is worth something. Brands and digital companies do put a price on twitter followers and FB likes. You can and should charge to to this. If not you are effectively working for free for the brand. Remember that the PR is paid to do their job. If there is a consistent message going out that bloggers will not run a comp and gain you a heap of new social media followers for free, then they will either stop asking or start paying. Hopefully!

  16. jo ebisujima says:

    another great post Di and you always pick friends with the most excellent dress sense!

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