In the first of our 'Comping Questions' posts I'm covering some of the most common questions about your email address, Facebook name and avatars – all of which may affect your chances in an online competition!
Should I have a separate email address for comping?
It's definitely a good idea to set up a new email address (I recommend Gmail) for your comping - and perhaps you could set it as your main Facebook contact email too, if you do a lot of comping on Facebook and want to receive your notifications via email. It's not a good idea to make any reference to your hobby in your email address. Even though all prize draw winners should be drawn at random, some companies might manually check the emails and might not like the idea of 'compers' winning! Wherever possible, try to use a short and memorable email address rather than using numbers - you might have to text it for a competition or write it out on entry forms and a short address saves valuable comping time.
Can I use a nickname on Facebook?
What about a Twitter username?
Again, try not to reference comping. I'm stuck with the username SuperluckyDi and I do think that adversely affects my Twitter win rate (which is very, very low!). With a Twitter name, choose something short and memorable with no numbers - so it's hard for a promoter to mis-type it. If your desired name is already in use, how about using characters from songs, books or your favourite films?
My name is really common - I regularly think I've won on Facebook when it's someone else with the same name. What can I do?
Do you have a middle name? Adding your middle initial is an easy way to give yourself a unique name on Facebook - or you could use a quirky mis-spelling of your name!
Does my profile photo make any difference?
If you're entering comps on a Facebook wall (Like, Comment or Share comps) or on Twitter then there's no easy way for a promoter to randomly pick a winning entry. The likelihood is that they will scroll through the list of Likers/Sharers/Retweeters and choose one - so having an appealing, funny, eyecatching or relevant profile photo may well work in your favour! If you enter a lot of baby comps, you could use a photo of you and your baby as your profile photo - the company will then see that your prize is going to a good home (the same applies to pets!). Think about a photo that could be relevant to the time of year - at Christmas you could have a photo of yourself in a Santa hat, or you could take a silly photo especially for the Olympics. I rarely see winners announced who have the default Facebook 'silhouette' or Twitter 'egg'- they seem to put off promoters. And I do believe that companies would rather choose a winner with a 'real' photo of a person rather than a cartoon - but that's just my opinion!
Will promoters click through to see a potential winner's profile page?
If a promoter chooses you as a winner, they might well click your name to check out your Twitter or Facebook profile before they announce your name. If you're already using Facebook Timeline make sure your large 'cover' photo is appealing - a family photo or something funny looks good. Having a timeline full of competitions doesn't bother most promoters, but a few might be put off if they see all your posts are Retweets or Share comps, with no friendly chat at all - try and interact with friends once in a while too!
If you've got any more questions on the topic of online identity, please ask them in the Comments section - or pop back to our original Comping Questions thread to ask me about any other comping matters!