How to Win Contests on Twitter and Blogs

Ever since the movie The Prizewinner of Defiance, Ohio came out about the mom who helped support her 10 kids by entering and winning hundreds of contests in the 1950’s, I’ve been intrigued by the idea of entering contests. However, never intrigued enough to want to sign myself up for receiving piles of junk mail and calls from telemarketers for the rest of my life. That and I figured with thousands of people entering sweepstakes-like contests, I’d never have the chance to win to make it worth entering.

But Twitter has changed all that.

You probably have heard of Twitter, but in case you aren’t very familiar with it, Twitter is a site where people can post any comment about any topic, as long as it does not exceed 140 characters. The comments are called “tweets” due to their short length and the only people who can read your tweets are your “followers,” or people who sign up and agree to follow you. The messages are usually about what one’s doing or thinking, about an interesting news item or event, or about a product or service a company is trying to promote. This is where the contest angle comes in.

Many people and companies are turning to Twitter, Facebook and blogs to host giveaways of their products. They hope to generate widespread attention to their company, products or services by using social media outlets to spread the news about the contests. The great thing is, this entire concept is relatively new. So if you’re interested in giving contests a shot, now’s you’re chance. Many contests only have a couple hundred entrants, so you’re chances of winning are better than ever.

Through Twitter, I have won two cool prizes in the past month: a 0 Google Adwords voucher, which helped me advertise my business this holiday season, and a really beautiful pair of Silpada earrings.

So, do you want to learn how to get on the Twitter contest bandwagon? Here’s a crash course:

1). Get a free email account. Sign up for an email account that’s just for entering contests. That way you won’t bogg down your personal email account with entry responses and information. Hotmail, Yahoo and Gmail all offer free email accounts.

2). Sign up for a free Twitter account. Go to twitter.com to learn how. It’s easy and addictive!

3). Start following people on Twitter. Once on Twitter, do a search for people or companies you know. Follow people you like and enjoy the Twitter experience. Once you do, you’ll start to be able to view the tweets of those you follow. Frequently, people tweet about contests that they’ve heard about or even entered themselves. Once you see one of interest, follow the instructions in the tweet and enter!

So is it really that easy? Yes and no. Some contests do require a bit of your time. Often a contest tweet includes a link for you to click on. That link often will take you to a company’s web site or a blog with instructions on what you need to do to enter. Many contests are intended to generate attention for a new company or product. These companies often turn to blogs to promote or run their contest. You usually have to visit a web site and take a look at a company’s products and tell them which product you liked best and why, or tell them something you learned from visiting their site. Often, to get extra entries, the person who runs the blog will ask you to subscribe to their blog or newsletter or follow them on Twitter and them tweet about the contest. Sometimes, a Twitter contest only requires you to “re-tweet” the contest information about the contest, or post their contest info in your tweet. That would count as one entry. This is done by companies to generate as much attention on Twitter as possible, since if one person tweets it to all of her followers, then one of her followers might tweet it to all of hers, and so on, and so on.

I usually only enter contest for products that I am interest in that really capture my attention. There are too many contests out there to enter every one, though the number you try depends on how much time you are willing to devote to it. Most contests only ask for an email address-not a phone number or physical address-which is why a separate email comes in handy. And the holiday season has proven to be a product giveaway bonanza! So many companies want you to learn about what they have to offer this time of year, hoping that some extra attention will generate a few more holiday sales. And in Silpada’s case, when I’m in the market for jewelry, I’m most likely going to remember them and give their site a visit.

I will leave you with one more tips: to find more contests on Twitter or people to follow who might tweet more frequently about contests, use the keyword search bar on the right side of your Twitter screen. Enter words like “contest” or “giveaway” to see who’s giving away what or tweeting about giveaways. So good luck! And happy contesting!

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