Instagram giveaways. We see them all the time. Some people love them, some people hate them. Some bloggers do them ALL the time, some NEVER do them. And I’m not here to say what’s right or wrong. I’m just here today to tell you the truth about how Instagram giveaways work. Because if you follow me on Instagram, you probably know that I participated in one two weeks ago.
It’s no secret that giveaways can help grow your social media account. In fact, there are plenty of stories about people who have gained THOUSANDS of followers from participating in an Instagram giveaway.
SPOLIER ALERT: I did not gain thousands of followers.
But I did learn some fun facts Instagram giveaways along the way.
1. The person hosting the Instagram giveaway may not be ‘participating’ in the giveaway.
I had been thinking about doing a giveaway for Valentine’s Day or when I finally hit 1,000 followers. And then the stars aligned and I hit 1K about 2 weeks before Valentine’s Day! So, when a fellow blogger with about 10,000 followers reached out and asked if I was interested in participating in a giveaway, my interest was piqued. Particularly because it was someone that I was following already (and who was already following me back as well).
I’d had many accounts reach out to me in the past to ask if I wanted to participate in a giveaway. They would tell me what the prize was and tell me the buy in amount. I’d was always kind of skeptical, especially since the message was usually coming from a vague account with a name like @bloggerbabesgiveaway. So I always said no.
Plus, I was saving my first giveaway for the right time.
Anyways, it seemed that the right time had finally come. PLUS, someone with 10K followers wanted to include me in her giveaway! That would mean that I could benefit from her much larger reach. It seemed like a great opportunity, so I said yes! I even roped my blogging bestie, Lucille Porter, into participating with me. In fact, she has her own thoughts regarding this experience as well.
Once I’d paid my portion of the gift card via Paypal, the blogger added me to a group chat for the giveaway.
SIDE NOTE: When using Paypal, double check email addresses before sending money! I actually sent $25 to the WRONG PERSON. Luckily I was able to cancel the transfer. Thank goodness!
Anyways, I soon realized that a giveaway account had put together the group chat (one with a name like @bloggerbabesgiveaway). The blogger who had initially reached out to me was not in the group, so I concluded that she was the one running the giveaway account.
How many followers did other giveaway participants have?
I started looking at some of the other bloggers in the group chat. Some people had more followers than me (up to 7K) and some had less (around 300). Most of the participating bloggers had between 1,500 – 3,000 followers.
I started to realize that I probably would not be benefiting from the initial blogger’s 10K followers.
Sure enough, when it was time for the giveaway to go live, the original blogger who reached out to me did not post the giveaway on her feed. However, she was one of the accounts required to be followed for entry. For giveaways, this is commonly referred to as a ghost spot or ghost account.
Now, let me be clear. I don’t think that this blogger did anything wrong. In fact, I did not ask if she would be posting the giveaway to her feed. I just made assumptions about how the giveaway was going to work.
And we all know what they say about assuming.
2. The group of ‘blogger friends’ hosting the giveaway might not have been ‘blogger friends’ before the Instagram giveaway.
How many giveaways have you seen that start off with something like “I’ve teamed up with a group of my favorite bloggers to give you a chance to win…”? Pretty much all of them, right?
In some instances, maybe it truly is a group of great blogger friends who have been interacting with one another for a while.
In my instance, not so much.
After being added to the group chat, as mentioned above, we all received instructions to follow each other and engage with everyone’s most recently posted pictures.
Of course, it looks much better if you are doing a giveaway with a group of your friends, instead of a group of random people looking to grow their followers.
We weren’t pretending that people host giveaways SOLELY because they like giving away free money, right?
Anyways, most of the bloggers participating in the giveaway were in the same niche as me. I actually found some great new accounts that I really enjoy following. However, I’m not going to pretend like this was a group of bloggers I’d been friends with for a while and just decided to ‘team up’ with.
We were all found and brought together by the original blogger hosting the giveaway.
Thinking about it now, it makes sense. However, I had previously assumed that most giveaways happened because a group of friends got together and decided to host a giveaway.
I never really thought about how one person may be organizing and conducting multiple giveaways and just finding random participants for each one.
3. The Instagram giveaway host will make money.
When I first received the message about the giveaway, I was informed that the cost was $25 and the prize was a $400 Target gift card. Some quick math ($400/$25) indicated that there should be 16 participants hosting the giveaway.
Apparently, ‘quick math’ is not the math you should use to figure out how many accounts will be hosting a giveaway.
This is probably the biggest thing I kicked myself in the butt about. I didn’t bother to ask how many people would be hosting the giveaway. One of the biggest reasons I said yes to this giveaway is because it would require people to follow LESS than 20 accounts in order to enter.
Or so I thought.
There actually ended up being exactly 20 accounts that people had to follow. There were multiple ghost accounts included in the list, in addition to the account of the original blogger who reached out to me (but didn’t post the giveaway to her account).
Here’s some more quick math for you. $25 x 19 other participants = $475. Although, this is assuming it was $25 for everyone’s buy-in. I’ve seen giveaways before where the buy-in for a ghost spot was more than a regular spot. So, it may have been a bit more than $475.
Apparently, Instagram is not made for quick math.
But, who’s ready to host an Instagram giveaway now? 💰
I’m not mad at the blogger hosting the account for this. In fact, after I thought about it, I realized that there would probably be a couple extra accounts included so she could make some money. After all, she was using her time to organize the giveaway, send the prize, etc.
I just didn’t expect it to be 4 extra accounts and I was annoyed at myself for not asking such a simple question. So, let this be a lesson learned for all of you and make sure to ask how many giveaway participants will be allowed to join!
4. Your follower gain will likely depend on the follower count of the other giveaway participants.
The giveaway I hosted went like this. Everyone posted a picture and caption to their feed with instructions to enter. To enter, you had to go to the giveaway account and follow the account and everyone the account was following (me and all the other giveaway participants).
Therefore, the more people that see the pictures posted by the participants, the more followers you will get. Your own feed and following don’t actually get you many followers, unless people are tagging their friends (who aren’t following you) in the comments. However, every time someone else’s follower goes to enter, you automatically gain a new follower.
So, it’s ideal to participate in giveaways with people who have more followers than you (or at least around the same number).
You should also realize that you’ll lose some of the followers you gain (yes, most people are doing it just for the prize).
My follower gain from doing the Instagram gievaway:
I started out with 1,035 followers at the beginning of the giveaway. I ended up with 1,280 followers 4 days later when the giveaway closed. A week after the giveaway closed I was at 1,335 followers. So, I did continue to gain followers the week after the giveaway. However, I definitely lost more than I normally would have in a week because I had been consistently gaining around 100 new followers each week.
Taking all of that into account, I gained about 200 followers from hosting an Instagram giveaway with a group of other bloggers.
5. There are people out there who enter giveaways all day long.
This is not something I had thought of before I joined a giveaway.
Apparently, there are a large number of people who spend all day entering giveaways. They scour Instagram for every and any giveaway they can enter. Often, they tag a bunch of spam accounts in the comments in order to increase their chances of winning.
Usually, you can spot an account like this because they follow THOUSANDS of people, but don’t have many followers.
The reason I say this is because most people don’t want someone like this winning their giveaway. So, you’ll have to decide how you want to handle the situation if a person like that is randomly selected to win. Personally, I’m of the mindset that if you want to spend your life entering giveaways, more power to you. While I would prefer a ‘real’ and engaged follower to win my giveaway, fair is fair when it comes to random selection.
Final Verdict: Are Instagram giveaways worth it?
Yes, and no. While giveaways work to increase your follower count, I doubt it will have as much of an increase on your engagement rate. This is because your new followers chose to follow you to win a prize, not solely because they genuinely loved your content.
Personally, I’m not sure that I will be participating in another large group giveaway any time soon. However, I am not opposed to the entire idea of giveaways. In the future, I would love to team up with a smaller group of bloggers who I actually know and who blog in my niche (fashion, beauty, faith).
If you do choose to participate in an Instagram giveaway, learn from my mistakes and ask more questions up front. That way, you know exactly what you are getting yourself in to.
What are your thoughts on Instagram giveaways? Have you ever participated in one? Let me know in the comments below!