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Thinking About Participating in an Instagram Loop Giveaway? Read This First.

You’ve seen them all over Instagram lately – the magical loop giveaway aka sleekly designed sweepstakes flaunting the chance to win a dream trip to Bali, the Caribbean, Morocco, a cruise, Disneyland, etc. If it’s on your bucket list, there’s probably the chance to win it by searching #giveaway #contest #winatrip or any other similar hashtags. Organized by one generically named profile account like @ultimatetravelgiveaway, to enter you have to follow everyone that page is following for that specific giveaway, which can include anywhere from 15-50 sponsor accounts. For niches outside travel, the same principle applies to win make-up kits, apparel, products, gear, or anything of value

One winner is chosen at random at the end of the sweepstakes period, which can range from a few days to a few weeks. Some giveaways offer the opportunity for bonus entries by tagging a friend in the comments, sharing the post on your page, in your stories, or misc. other tactics to boost engagement and visibility of the contest.

If you’re thinking about entering or sponsoring an Instagram loop giveaway, let’s talk about the benefits and the drawbacks and explain what’s really going on behind the scenes.

Why are loop giveaways so popular?

Frankly, because people like instant gratification. It’s a way to grow your followers fast, sometimes in the thousands overnight. It can feel like a silver bullet especially with all of Instagram’s algorithm changes that made growth frustratingly stagnant as of late. It’s a way to jumpstart your engagement and increase your reach to a new audience literally within seconds.

Do people like loop giveaways?

Some do, some think it’s annoying (especially if they follow multiple accounts that are participating in the same one so they’re bombarded with the same picture over and over). For some, it can legitimately feel like a way to reward your followers with a potentially big prize. Some people do really like entering sweepstakes, no matter how bad the odds. Who doesn’t hold out on the hope of winning the lottery or a dream trip one day? The barriers to entry are generally pretty low, and it takes just a few minutes to be in the running.

It sounds too good to be true, is it?

Well, yeah. The odds of winning are very low. And for those who sponsor giveaways, many of the followers you gain will unfollow you immediately after the sweepstakes is over – like by the hundreds and sometimes even thousands. It can feel like the ultimate high to see your numbers spike so quickly and then a major burn to see them drop so fast.

Should you participate in loop giveaways?

It depends what your goals are. If you just want to get followers fast, it’s a great way to do it. If you want engaged fans, it’s not the way to build a community. A lot of people equate loop giveaways to buying followers, but that’s not really fair. Every digital marketer channel uses sweepstakes and contests in some form or another whether it be a way to acquire cheap Instagram or Facebook fans, email subscribers, leads, etc. While they may look similar to the unknowing eye, some are more legitimate than others. Simply put, some are better setup for success and to minimize the fallout after it’s over.

Here’s what you need to ask if you’re considering sponsoring a loop giveaway:

1. What is the buy-in cost?

Loop giveaways started as a way for a bunch of Instagrammers to pitch in money to collectively buy a big prize they likely wouldn’t have been able to offer on their own. There is usually tiered pricing based on follower count (so everyone in the loop has access to your audience) that can range from $25-500+. Most cost around $50-75 to participate as a sponsor.

2. What is that money actually going towards?

While collecting money started as a way to pay for a prize, lately, many prizes have been offered up by hotels, airlines, cruises or other big brands who want to participate as sponsors. Even with donated prizes, the giveaway organizer will still sometimes charge a fee so make sure you know what that money’s actually going toward (and not just the admin fee for putting everything together).

Sometimes, it goes toward paying huge accounts to be listed as sponsors, essentially paying them to promote it. I heard about one recently that had a girl from Pretty Little Liars as a sponsor. While that’s cool you have a celebrity involved, what does that have to do with travel? Personally, I would rather put that money toward boosting the post via paid promotion and keeping it as targeted to your niche as possible. This way also minimizes the fallout when the giveaway ends if you’re targeting people who are genuinely interested in the type of content you put out.

3. Who are the sponsor accounts?

If they’re using one or more of those huge accounts to promote, I’d highly suggest spot-checking their followers to see if they look legit or like bots. Generally, the bigger the account, the more spammy the followers. You might reach a larger number of people, but it will ultimately hurt your engagement if none of those followers actually care about what you’re posting.

4. How many accounts are participating and what is it capped at?

Some loop giveaways make you follow 10-20 accounts to enter. Some make you follow 40-50 of their “closest friends.” There’s a happy medium between maximizing your reach and making users do too much. Remember, the more hoops you make people jump through, the higher the barriers to entry, and the fewer entrants you’ll get.

5. Are hidden/secret participants allowed?

Hidden or secret giveaways are the newest shady thing in the Instagram world. It means you can pay to participate in a giveaway so that people have to follow your account to enter (usually with an even larger buy-in fee), but you’re not required to post about the contest so your followers have no clue you’re using loop giveaways as a growth strategy. It’s not collaborative and it’s literally just a way to pad your follower count, which is really just a vanity number if you properly know how to vet influencers.

6. What are the anticipated gains and losses?

While these can be hard to estimate, if the organizer has run giveaways in the past, they should have some numbers as a point of reference from past loops based on a similar number of participants and account sizes.

7. Who else is participating?

Check to make sure the other accounts align with your messaging and are a similar size to yours.

Should Brands Participate in Loop Giveaways?

Only you can decide if it makes sense for your strategy. It can be a good way to get a lot of exposure by aligning yourself with top travel bloggers and a way to get followers fast, as long as it’s a good fit for your audience. If you’ve been asked to join a loop giveaway, do your due diligence and ask the right questions of the organizers. If you want to run one yourself, the Influencer Institute can help coordinate so you’re primed for success. Contact us to request a quote.

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