16 July 2013

How to enter Rafflecopter giveaways

A few years ago, Rafflecopter was used exclusively for blog giveaways. Now though, it's one of the few FREE options for companies to run a compliant prize draw on Facebook, which is why there are many more Rafflecopter 'widgets' around than there used to be.

The range of entry tasks, although sometimes bewildering, offers bloggers and promoters flexibility in gaining new followers and fans - and there are options for them to pay a fee to upgrade their promotion to add extras like refer-a-friend. When the giveaway has ended, Rafflecopter chooses a random winner from all entries, and the winner's entries are validated by the promoter before they are contacted and announced.

I like Rafflecopter because it's Facebook-compliant, free, and it picks and publishes a random winner. But it can be confusing for entrants, so in this post I'm going to try and explain how it works. You will usually find Rafflecopter widgets 'embedded' in (or linked from) a blog post - although you can also find them as Facebook 'Tabs' or 'Apps' and embedded on websites.

The most common reasons I hear for people NOT entering Rafflecopter giveaways are:
  • I need to do all the entries
  • I have to be registered with Twitter and Facebook

  • They have thousands of entries so there's no chance of winning!

All three of these are WRONG! With 99% of Rafflecopter giveaways, just completing A SINGLE task will get your name in the draw. You can log in with an email address if you don't use Facebook. And the HUGE entry numbers are because most giveaways have 10+ entries per person. Actually, Rafflecopter giveaways get FAR less entries than most website competitions and draws!
Before you start entering Rafflecopter giveaways, consider creating a Google/gmail account - then it's easy to comment on blogs, YouTube and Google+. To do this, go to https://accounts.google.com/SignUp. There are three types of Rafflecopter giveaway - most will have multiple tasks, and either:
  1. there are one or more mandatory tasks, which when completed will reveal one or more optional tasks
  2. all tasks are optional - do as many as you like
  3. all tasks are mandatory - you must do all of them
The most common type of Rafflecopter giveaway is number 1 - this has one or two mandatory entries which, if completed, will unlock other optional entries. Rafflecopter entry methods, or tasks, are weighted by the promoter - so for example a tweet might get you 1 entry into the draw, but if you write a blog post with a link to the giveaway, you get 20 entries. Some bloggers will list a LOT of tasks, but just do the ones you want to, and each one will get you the corresponding number of entries in the draw. For numbers 2 and 3, the widget will have all available options showing, with no 'unlockable' tasks. In most cases, all tasks will be optional - but some promoters MAY make them all mandatory. You'll have to check the terms and conditions or the accompanying text to work out whether they're mandatory or optional, as the widgets themselves look the same. Even if there are three mandatory tasks, and the entrant only completes one, that will still appear on the spreadsheet of entries, and it's up to the promoter to moderate and exclude that entry from the draw. I mentioned this to Rafflecopter, who are currently looking into ways to make mandatory and optional entry methods clearer on the widget to avoid confusion. I'm going to use one of ChelseaMamma's previous giveaways as an example to talk through the Rafflecopter entry process.

Rafflecopter giveaway walkthrough

Here's the Rafflecopter 'widget' on the blog - this is what you'll see if you're NOT logged in to Facebook. If you can't see the widget, refresh the page and be patient. At the bottom, you can click 'Terms and Conditions' to see more information - you should also read the instructions within the blog post to check what you need to do. On the widget you can also see the prize, how long is left and the total number of entries (NOT entrants!), as well as how many entries you can earn. You won't see the required tasks until you've logged in.
You have two options for logging in:
  • Log in via Facebook - choose this option and a pop-up will ask for permission to access Facebook details. Rafflecopter needs to access email addresses via Facebook in order to contact winners.
  • Use your email - leave a name and email address. Your email address is PRIVATE and is only shared with the promoter, not published anywhere.
Now, onto the entry process. ChelseaMamma has just set a single mandatory task - when completed, that will unlock more tasks. The total number of available entries is shown at the top of the widget - in this case, I can get 17 entries in total if I do all mandatory AND optional tasks.

Leaving a blog comment

If the widget is on a blog, this is likely to be the first task - and is usually mandatory. Many entrants forget to leave a blog comment, or don't follow the instructions. Leave the blog comment first, THEN click 'I commented'. Leave it until after doing the other tasks, and you might forget to do it… you'd be amazed how many people fall at the first hurdle! Click on the down arrow in the widget to see what the blog comment needs to be about. If necessary, visit an external site to find the answer or choose a product. Promoters need to manually make a clickable link within the widget, and not every blogger does it - copy and paste the URL if it's not an active link.
Then leave a comment - blogs have different commenting methods. Some will have an empty comment box immediately after the blog post ends, for others the box will be at the bottom of all the other comments. If comment moderation is enabled on the blog, the comment may not appear immediately - comments are moderated by some promoters to prevent spam. Here are the most common ways to leave a blog comment:
  • Leave an email address - simply comment, and leave an email address and name. The name will be published, but the email address is hidden - use a nickname if you like. There may be a box for a website/blog URL but this is optional - bloggers can leave a website address and if 'CommentLuv' is enabled the comment will appear with a clickable link to their latest blog post.
  • Blogger comments (used on Blogger or Blogspot blogs) - Choose from a drop down menu - the best option is to use a Google identity. If you opt for the anonymous setting, ensure you leave a name in your comment so your Rafflecopter entries can be matched up to your comment. Don't leave your email address in the comment box, as it may be picked up by spammers!
  • Disqus comments - To comment, register with Disqus, or log in with Facebook, Twitter or Google+. It's possible to post as a guest, but leave a name so it can be matched up with the Rafflecopter entry. If you have trouble using Disqus in Internet Explorer, try the solutions on the Disqus Help page.
  • IntenseDebate comments - IntenseDebate is similar to Disqus. Register with a name and email address, or log in with IntenseDebate, Wordpress, Facebook or Twitter. Or simply leave a name and email address.
In this case, I commented using my Google profile, then returned to the Rafflecopter widget to click 'I commented':
I've completed the mandatory task - I now have 5 entries into the draw, but I've decided to also do the new optional tasks which I have unlocked.

Follow on Twitter

This is straightforward - click Follow, you will get a Twitter pop up window prompting you to log in. Click to Follow the relevant account, and leave your Twitter name in the box on the widget. If you already follow that user, the button won't be clickable - so simply leave your Twitter name.

Like on Facebook

This is also straightforward - click Like, and leave your Facebook name in the box. If you already Like the page, you won't be able to click the Like button - so simply leave your name.

Tweet

Click Tweet and a pop-up window appears with the tweet text automatically in there.
After sending, a pop up will say 'View it on Twitter' - click this to open up a new window with the tweet in. Copy the long URL from the browser address bar - and paste into the Rafflecopter widget. Click 'I Tweeted'.
If the pop up pops off too quickly, find the URL by right-clicking on the 'timestamp' to the right of the tweet on a Twitter profile page, and choosing 'copy link'.
After tweeting, you may see 'Do this tomorrow for more entries' - the promoter can choose to add a daily tweet option. If you want to increase your chance of winning, simply add the URL of the giveaway to your daily bookmarks list and tweet daily for bonus entries. Only do this if you don't mind annoying your Twitter followers - and it's a prize you'd really like!
I've now completed 17/17 entries for Chelseamamma's giveaway. However, if I come back to tweet tomorrow the widget will show 16/17 - this is a way of Rafflecopter showing that I can do a daily tweet. Don't worry - no entries have been lost and your accumulated daily tweets will still be registered on the spreadsheet of entries; it's just the way the widget works! Leaving a blog comment, Following on Twitter, Liking on Facebook and Tweeting are the most common Rafflecopter entry tasks. Here are some of the others you might encounter:

Answer a question

Answer a question in the Rafflecopter widget, rather than as a comment. This is useful if promoters don't want entrants copying the previous answers in the comment thread.

Join a mailing list

The promoter will give instructions to do this - it might involve completing the 'Subscribe' box on the blog home page - sometimes (eg. with Feedburner or Mailchimp lists) you'll have to click a confirmation email to ensure you're added to the list - make sure you do it! A simpler method is to leave an email address in the Rafflecopter widget, which the promoter will add manually to their database.

Follow on Instagram

Instagram is a photo and video app for phones and tablets. To complete this task, you'll need to be registered with Instagram and then click Follow on the link provided by the promoter (eg. http://instagram.com/superluckydi) - OR search for the username within the Instagram app and then Follow. Leave an Instagram username in the Rafflecopter widget, to validate your entry.

Follow on Pinterest

The promoter should provide a link here to their Pinterest profile. Make sure you're registered with Pinterest (you can log in with Facebook) and click 'Follow All'. Leave a Pinterest username in the Rafflecopter widget, to validate your entry.

Follow on Google+

The promoter should provide a link here to their Google+ page. Make sure you're signed in with Google and choose 'Follow'. Leave a Google+ username in the Rafflecopter widget, to validate your entry. Some promoters might request a +1, in which case click that button too.

Subscribe on YouTube

The promoter should provide a link here to their YouTube page. Make sure you're signed in (with Google) and choose 'Subscrbe'. Leave a YouTube username or Google email address in the Rafflecopter widget, to validate your entry.

Follow on Networked Blogs

Networked Blogs is a Facebook App for following blogs. To complete this task, you'll need to be registered with Networked Blogs and then click Follow on the link provided by the promoter (see example below for ChelseaMamma). Leave your Facebook username in the Rafflecopter widget, to validate your entry.

Follow on Bloglovin'

Bloglovin' is a way of following blogs, and getting their content delivered via email. To complete this task, you'll need to be registered with Bloglovin' and then click Follow on the link provided by the promoter (see example for SuperLucky). Leave a Bloglovin' username in the Rafflecopter widget, to validate your entry.

Comment on any of my other blog posts

This is a favourite with bloggers, so they get traffic to other posts on their blog. You'll need to go to another post and leave a comment, then copy the URL of that post and leave it in the Rafflecopter widget.

Pin this post on Pinterest

For this task, there will usually be a 'Pin it' button on the post (see the graphic at the top of this page as an example) which you can click to share on Pinterest. You'll need to leave your Pinterest name to validate your entry.

Share the post on Facebook

This is actually a breach of Facebook Terms, but some promoters still request it. First, either click a Facebook share button on the competition page, or manually copy the URL and then post it on your own timeline. To find the link to a shared post, right click on the 'timestamp' underneath it on your timeline and choose 'copy link' - then paste this into the Rafflecopter widget. There are plenty of other options - the promoter can customise the widget to add anything they like! If there are tasks you're not sure about, just give them a miss.
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Your entry is now complete! But how does the promoter pick a winner?

Choosing the winner and moderating entries

When the giveaway has ended, the promoter logs in at www.rafflecopter.com and clicks to generate a random winner. The winning entry will be a single task - for example, it could be a tweet or a Facebook page like. The promoter should check that specific winning task was done correctly - but should also check ALL the other tasks completed by that person. For example, the winning entry might be a tweet, but if the entrant didn't also leave a mandatory blog comment, they wouldn't be eligible to win. Some promoters do moderate ALL entries - but this is very time consuming, so most will just check the validity of entries from the winner. If the winner DIDN'T enter correctly, the promoter should delete their incorrect entries from the spreadsheet, then click again to choose a new winner and do the same checks. When a winning entry has been validated, the promoter clicks to send an email (if you used Facebook log in, this will go to your Facebook-registered address) and can choose to display the winner's name on the Rafflecopter widget - this will usually be done AFTER the winner has responded to the winning email (for example, if the winner replies to the winning email and the promoter realises they live in an ineligible country, a new winner should be drawn).

Need help?

  • Sometimes if there's an issue with the main Rafflecopter site, all the widgets disappear! Try refreshing the page - if that doesn't fix it, check the Rafflecopter Twitter feed or Facebook page to see if there's a problem.
  • If you have problems with Facebook log in, you could try removing the app from your App Center and then trying again.
  • The support team are always very helpful and quick to respond - you can contact them at support@rafflecopter.com
  • There's lots of tips and advice at http://blog.rafflecopter.com/
Hopefully this post has helped those of you who shy away from Rafflecopter giveaways - once you've done a few, you should find them easy! Please share this blog post with anyone who's struggling with them - and good luck! Visit my Blog Comp Linkys for practice with lots of Rafflecopter giveaways!