This week I wanted to discuss something that has given me a bit of a headache over the past few weeks. If you’re following me on Instagram (here), you may have noticed that I recently participated in Instagram loop giveaways that increased the number of my followers quite significantly.
I went from having 43.6 k followers to having 55.7k followers. I’ve talked about how to gain followers on Instagram previously and mentioned that Instagram loop giveaways were probably one of the most effective ways to increase your following.
Now that I’ve actually done an Instagram giveaway myself, I want to revisit the topic and give the pros and cons of the method.
What Are Instagram Loop Giveaways?
Instagram loop giveaways are essentially the same as a regular giveaway where a preselected prize is given to one winner.
The way in which Instagram giveaway differs from usual giveaways is that there is a catch – in order to win, the contestants have to follow many bloggers to be eligible for the prize. Instagram loop giveaways usually look something like this:
All the accounts that are participating in the giveaway are looped to one another through the captions on an image. It’s not unusual to have up to 40 accounts linked into one giveaway.
And yep, if you want to win the prize, you need to be following every account. The reason why people bother following all these accounts is because the prize is usually not short of amazing – you could win a new MacBook Pro, an iPhone 7, Loubutin shoes, a Camera AND Kylie Cosmetics all in the same giveaway.
Do People Actually Win Prizes from Instagram Loop Giveaways?
Yes, they do. However if you look at the numbers, it’s very unlikely that you will win. There are usually around 18,000 entrants on a big giveaway, making your chances of winning one in 18,000; or 0.0056%. Your odds are better than winning the lottery, but otherwise pretty slim!
Why Do Bloggers Participate in Instagram Loop Giveaways?
Instagram loop giveaways are of course done because bloggers and other public figures want to have a larger audience. It is incredibly hard to grow your following on Instagram nowadays as the platform is becoming increasingly like Facebook.
Instagram hasn’t yet reached the point where it would be completely impossible to grow without paying for sponsored ads, but it looks like that could be the future of the platform.
Instagram loop giveaways work well to boost your audience size for a while, but there are other things that you should consider before jumping into an Instagram giveaway straight away.
My Experience With A “Mega Instagram Loop Giveaway”
Before participating in an Instagram giveaway, I had about 43.6k followers. My growth had plateau’d on Instagram and I was only growing by about +30 per day.
I was eager to reach the 50k mark but with my stats then, it would have taken me 7 months to get there. I had seen a couple of other accounts do loop giveaways and reaching 100k just by participating in them, so I thought I would give the giveaways a go.
I knew someone who hosted Instagram giveaways so I got in contact with them (they can be found here). The price that you need to pay to participate is quite obnoxious – it differs per giveaway but it’s usually in the hundreds of dollars.
Ridiculous, I know. Anyhow, I had come into some money that I wasn’t expecting just in time for the giveaway so in my mind, all stars aligned and I threw my money at the organisers. Within 3 days, I had gone from 43.6k to 58.8k followers, a total gain of 15.2k – success, right?
Wrong. These followers are only following you because they want to win the prize. After the giveaway, you start losing a LOT of followers, which can be quite scary. Up until now, I’ve lost about 3 k followers.
After the initial scary drop in my follower count, the negative growth seems to have stagnated and I’m now sitting at 55.7k, not growing but also not losing a significant amount of followers.
This is to be expected, of course, but it can be very disheartening to see, especially when you don’t know when it will end!
Instagram Loop Giveaways May Negatively Affect Your Engagement and Reach
During the loop giveaway my engagement was at an all time high – some of my pictures even got four thousand likes (my average is about 1100), but after the giveaway I noticed that both my reach and my engagement were down compared to what what they were before the Instagram giveaway.
It would be logical to assume that both these factors would grow by the same percentage as my following did, but that wasn’t the case.
The average number of people that my post reached before the giveaway was about 6k according to Instagram analytics, after the giveaway it’s about 5k, which makes no sense since I went up by about 35% in followers.
My pictures before the giveaway got about 1200 likes, now they get anywhere from 600-1000 which is very strange. I was expecting my reach and amount of likes to at least stay the same. Instead, they dropped.
Why is that? I’m afraid I can’t give you a straight answer to that, but my own speculation is that the Instagram algorithm is not in favour of accounts that keep losing followers, and therefore it limits the exposure of the pictures from those accounts.
The algorithm must also show my pictures to accounts that are not interested in my content, scroll through it and therefore negatively affect the exposure of my content on the platform after that. Well, this is my own theory, but it does explain what I’m going through.
I hope that both my reach and engagement grow as my account goes back to normal, but until then I can only hope for the best.
Instagram Loop Giveaways May Negatively Affect Your Sponsorships
Speaking of engagement, you might sabotage your chances of locking down sponsored work if your engagement drops too much. I work with various companies on my Instagram, mainly through influencer platforms and sometimes through email.
I had figured out that an Instagram giveaway could have some sort of an impact on my sponsorships before participating in one, but I was hoping that the effect wouldn’t be too large. What happened after the Instagram giveaway threw me off guard a little and left me at least £1000 worse off than I would have though.
Influencer platforms have access to all your data, so they see all suspicious behaviour that is happening with your account. When an account goes up by over 10k followers in one day, it’s instantly suspicious.
What happened in my case was that one of the platforms I was working through flagged my account because of this. The platform was one of the biggest sources of sponsored content for me, so I was pretty upset by what happened.
I emailed the company and they told me that I could try to get my account approved again in 30 days, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed for that!
It’s now been about 3 weeks so I can’t report back to you yet, but if my account was flagged for life because of this loop giveaway, there’s absolutely no point in participating in them – as I said, I’ve lost quite a bit of money already and if this trend continues then well, I’m screwed!
However, most brands are looking for influencers that have an engagement rate of at least 1%. If you are confident that your engagement will remain above this number, you may want to consider Instagram giveaways as a way of growing your account.
My engagement rate was about 2.6% before the giveaway, and it’s about 1.5% now. Therefore I would suggest that you steer away from loop giveaways if your engagement levels are any lower than what mine used to be.
How Often Should You Do Instagram Loop Giveaways?
As I said previously, the price to enter a successful Instagram giveaway is in the hundreds of dollars, so for that reason alone it would be wise to steer clear of participating in them too often.
But what is an acceptable amount of times if money is not an issue? I recently listened to an interesting podcast by one of Fohr Card’s founder’s, James (here – great series by the way!) where he discussed the subject.
He suggested that it is acceptable to participate in an Instagram giveaway about four times a year. Any more than that ‘reeks of desperation’ and may affect your sponsorships in a negative way.
James says that he would not work with creators who do any more giveaways than that, and it’s good to trust an industry expert when it comes to a subject like this.
With that being said, there is of course no need to participate in a loop giveaway to grow your following. If you can find ways to grow without doing them, well done. Keep doing what you’re doing.
Conclusion – Are Instagram Loop Giveaways Worth Participating in?
The short answer is yes and no. The price that you need to pay when participating is very big and you don’t get engaged followers out of it. The biggest negative factor for me was the way in which the loop affected my sponsorships.
It’s no secret that once you have a larger following, you can charge more. This is one of the reasons why I wanted to try it out, I’m not going to lie. However, I’ve lost more money than what it was worth because one of the platforms I worked through flagged my account.
Instagram giveaways might be good for you if you’re not already working with companies or if you have a very high engagement rate (4-5%). Otherwise I would highly encourage you to be careful about them.
If you’re finding it very hard to grow and want to move up in the “follower bracket”, you can try it out for yourself and see if your experience is any different to mine. Personally, I’ve decided to practice a little bit of patience and stop stressing so much about my follower count on the gram – I’m going to work with what I’ve got for now.
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Update March 2018 – Why Doing An Instagram Loop Giveaway Is My Biggest Regret
It’s been about six months since I wrote this post and sadly my situation hasn’t improved – Instagram’s algorithm seems to have completely banned me, and I’m still losing followers.
I’m now sitting at 52k followers, which is still not bad, but my engagement is 1.5% – it used to be 3%. The drop in both my growth and engagement hurt for a while, but I’ve stopped caring now.
I’ve just accepted that I can’t win with Instagram anymore, and I’ve ventured out to blogging and YouTube. In a sense, I gave up.
I haven’t been working as much with brands as I used to, and what I said previously still rings true – I think I lost about £500-£1000 in sponsored content per month because I participated in an Instagram loop giveaway. So, don’t do it kids.
Other people who I’ve spoken to experienced a similar thing – I haven’t met anyone who has gained a positive impact from doing Instagram loop giveaways.
Well, I bet the accounts that have hundreds of thousands of followers did gain momentum from these posts, but that’s probably only 3% of people who have attempted giveaways.
So, if you’re planning on participating in Instagram loop giveaways, do it at your own risk. The damage may be irreversible.