instagram 101 series loop giveaways

Instagram 101 – How to have a Successful Loop Giveaway

Welcome to the fabulous world of Loop Giveaways. This post I will go over everything you need to know to have a successful Instagram Loop Giveaway and how to enter these the right way!

I will mention two words A  LOT in this post. They are:

Participant: Which is the actual bloggers/ shop owners/ brands that are in the loop giveaway.

Entrants: The general public on Instagram that will be entering in the loop giveaway.

Keep these two definitions in mind while reviewing this in depth blog post.

So what is a loop giveaway?

If you don’t know by now, it is an Instagram event that a designated amount of brands/bloggers/creatives collaborate together. One Instagram user is a designated host who is the one that gathered all of these participants to agree to put on this loop, generate a graphic, write out the entry directions, handle announcing winner and dealing with the prize.

So at a set time and date, all of these individuals post a specific graphic on their Instagram account with a entry direction comment under the image. This comment has specific directions for the entrants to read and proceed through the loop. The common directions are usually in very basic terms: 1- follow all shops/brands/bloggers in the loop. 2- “like” the specific graphic. 3- Tap on the image to see who is tagged to proceed to the next participant in the loop. There are also legalities that Instagram has instructed giveaways must include – sort of like the “fine print” that you will also see now at the bottom of the giveaway comment.

WHY should I host a loop giveaway?

A few reasons actually. The first and most obvious, would have to be gaining followers. We all want more followers – or else you wouldn’t be reading this series! You are able to tweak the loop to target your target audience. They are actually fun and people do participate. Networking and building a rapport with other shops and like-minded individuals. It keeps fresh eyes seeing your posts. It is usually a minimal fee so your ROI (return on investment) should be “pretty good.”

What you should know about to having a successful loop:

  1. Figure out what you want to accomplish. Do you just want to gain followers? Do you want to gain followers that will actually purchase your product/view your blog? Or are you just looking at gaining a higher follower count?
  2. If you are trying to obtain followers that will stick around, I suggest doing the following things:
    • Be selective when participating in loops. Have a strategy in place. Know which shops are in the loop prior to accepting “enrollment” into the loop. You want to only join those that have the same aesthetics as you because that means your followers will like their followers and visa versa. Keep in mind if you are a shop with other shops, make sure you are selling similar items. I can’t tell you how many times I get annoyed (and eventually unfollow) because I have a son and I start the loop from a bowtie shop only to be sucked into a loop primarily full of girl bows and headbands. Remember that from an entrants perspective.
    • One of the requirements for entering in your loop should be an action (speak to the host about this if you are not the host and this is what you want to achieve.) For instance, answering a thought-provoking question. Or finding something in your feed that they like and comment in the thread below your giveaway graphic on what their favorite “thing” is. Or viewing your blogs about me section and writing something they didn’t know about you in the comments. This too takes time. Those that are into just getting items for free usually won’t waste their time doing this for however many bloggers/shops in one loop.
    • Don’t participate in loops that have an excess amount of accounts. If the loop has more than 20 participants (especially if you are utilizing my tips above), your followers will get annoyed, bored, or even possibly distracted and never end the loop. This will already happen just because you are working with the general public; but to keep those follower around as much as possible and to make this a successful loop for everyone involved, don’t participate in more than 20. I’d even say 15 max…
    • If the type of loop requires you to giveaway something individually, make sure that there is a minimum limit to the retail cost of everyone’s individual prize. A good rule is a minimum of $25 prize per account.
    • Makes sure the participants in the loop you are “enrolling” in are the real deal. There are a few scandalous shops and a few brands that have extremely bad customer service and some (one in particular that I even know of personally) that does not follow through with giving the prize to the winner. If you are ever unsure and are new to this loop thing, ask around and do your research before joining one.
    • Connect and network with your entrants even if your directions do not state they must complete a specific task other than following and liking your post. Go through who has liked your post. Find a unique user name or a cute profile image. Go through their feed. Try to make a genuine connection with that person.
    • Be vocal about your giveaway on all social media platforms and encourage your other participants to do the same. Including announcing the winner!
    • Hold a giveaway that allows your entrants to follow who they want. This of course won’t be as successful follower count-wise but it will generate those that truly want to follow you to hit that follow button.
    • Actual prizes are BETTER than giving out codes. When your entrants WIN something, the last thing they want to do is throw down some money to pay for shipping. Or a code for 10% your order… That just isn’t even worth the time or energy. If you are participating in these loops, know that you are going to have to give something away in order to get something back. #justmytwocents
  3. If you are trying to just get your follower count up, I suggest participating in as many loops as your budget allows. However, be mindful of how your feed looks. Take a moment to read the first post about Branding & Marketing which elaborates on this.
  4. Be mindful of the follower count of the other loop participants. If you go into a loop with all followers having around 1k each, it probably won’t be as successful as you think – no matter what the prize is.
  5. Host fees. I have been seeing some users charging a fee to host a giveaway. I think its genius however, make sure the one who is charging you has a good reputation of putting them on effectively and efficiently. They need to have proof of their work. You don’t need a host that charges in order to have a successful loop either.
  6. Create a Google Calendar event or even a Facebook Event/Page for your loop. DMs are okay to keep everyone on the same page but sometimes it doesn’t work out as planned. Have a back up plan. You have to maintain contact with everyone in the loop ESPECIALLY when its go time and when its time to check to make sure the winner(s) is following everyone.
  7. Be clear and concise with your instructions and make sure you include the legal information from Instagram.
  8. You will get the MOST entries RIGHT when you post the graphic. Don’t get crazy with the “did you see the giveaway I just posted” type graphics. Once is okay but more than that just gets annoying. Especially for all of your new followers.
  9. Play the game. What some loops have done (and have been successful at) is starting the pot at a lower amount than you really have in your collaboration pot. This obviously is for those loops where one prize winner takes all. For instance, you and your participants have $1000 in a PayPal giveaway. You might start off the loop with a graphic that says $850 PayPal giveaway and have it run for 4 days. On the 4th day, you would create a new graphic of $1000 PayPal giveaway and give to all of your participants to post this new graphic with the new prize amount. This generates more entries and more buzz around the giveaway. I fall for it…every…single…time 🙂
  10. Make sure ALL participants have PUBLIC profiles. If they don’t the loop will not go as planned.
  11. Be mindful of your comments especially when it first starts. Loops are difficult and stressful to host and sometimes the loop is not a complete one or there is a bump in the road for some reason. Take time around your set posting time to be vigilant of your comments and check off to make sure the loop is really complete.
  12. As a host, once the loop has ended, instruct your participants to delete the TAG from their Loop graphic. This helps so that followers aren’t able to run through the loop to quickly unfollow if they are not the winner.
  13. Creditably. This is HUGE for loop giveaways. Do you want to answer “did you announce the winner” questions? Included “CLOSED” in the comments portion of your loop giveaway after it closes. Also include it in the comment thread below your graphic so that there are no last-minute false entries. Lastly, post a NEW IG post with the winner info. Make this image fits your brand and feed so that you can leave it up for a bit longer than normal.
  14. Use to pick a winner. Don’t pick your friends or family or anyone that is remotely associated with you. Its just not good business ethic or ethic in general.
  15. At the end of the loop and the winner has been announced AND the winner has been contacted, screen shot your loop giveaway graphic showing the winner (if you ever need it to show evidence the winner was announced – I screen shot everything relating to my loop!) and then delete it from your feed. Why? Keep your feed clean and not busy with promo posts! I talked more about it in my previous post here.

Why should I enter a loop?

Entering loops is FUN. A distraction. Imaginary… As a Mom, it’s so hard to “turn off” Mom Mode. And yet, when I enter in these little loops, I get to do just that. And its refreshing. Its my little imaginary escape even if it’s just 20-30 taps on the screen. #ShopSmall is also my motto and for that reason is one of my main reasons for entering in loops. It is my way of testing out products and recommending my friends and family to purchase items. I have first hand knowledge and experience with this shops and their products.  I have won a few things in my looping time and I am the first to say that real people DO win these loops! I however, am still waiting to win one of the “big ones” 🙂 And lastly, if the hostess follows my tips here, they will give you a shout out… And we all know how nice it is to get a free shout out.

What a brand/ shop/ creative/ blogger should not to do…

With all of that said from an entrant stand point, there is also other things participants of hosting the loops can do that are shunned against. One of them actually happened recently that I would like to cover here. First I would like to say I am ALL for helping others. This part of the post is in no way trying to “shame” this shop. I hope everyone can learn from the way they handled their issue with me.

If you have seen me enter in loops, I tag – sometimes in excess of what is required – to get other to join in the loop. I want each loop I enter in to be successful and to have my friends obviously potentially win as well. I am hoping if you are hosting a loop that this can benefit your giveaway and to help those that are potentially affected know that… its just not you, its me too:)

This account has been blocking Instagram users & entrants who pop up on a “program” of theirs due to analysis of their activity on Instagram. First I want to say that I have no clue what this program is called so I can’t help you there. Second, the program is flawed because there is nothing wrong with my activity on Instagram. I know Instagram preeeetty well… Well enough to venture to doing this 101 help series.

So whats the problem for you? The main reason that I wanted to share this with you is that if this participant is in your loop, your loop will not be as successful as you hope it would be. This account blocks people (and quite a few might I add) so that who ever is blocked, they cannot complete the loop. They cannot see this accounts graphic to see who is tagged to complete the loop. Therefore, any of you that are participating in this loop and your account is after this account in the tagging order, those that are blocked will not be able to see your account. Make sense? I have reached out to this account via email and below is their reasoning for blocking me as well as others in my situation:

It seems you may have been blocked by our social media team.  We try to prevent excessive, repeated following and unfollowing from accounts that have been participating in our giveaways as it hurts the Instagram accounts of all hosts to have a lot of what we call “churn” activity.  Your account may have been flagged within our churn analysis.

We will be glad to unblock you per your request IF you have an interest in our account, not just in our giveaways.  Our goal is not to force people to follow us, but to stop rampant and repeated follow-unfollow activity on our account that IG may flag as spam against our accounts.

Le Motto”

Now there are quite a few issues with this situation and I won’t go into them all. Just know that I don’t have this “churn activity” that they describe above.
So whats the lesson in all of this? First, don’t block people randomly for no reason ESPECIALLY if you are a business owner and you want to grow your business. I believe in blocking; I surely do and will go into that in another post in detail. However, for the reason this account is stating above, you should be checking your program (would love to know what this program is by the way) to make sure this is accurate information.

I GET IT. I totally get it. You want followers that stick around for you. BUT you cannot achieve this by a blocking force. It counteracts what you are trying to accomplish. Follow my tips above and you should see a more successful loop with followers that stay.

It is not a good idea to threaten a potential customer to only want to follow they have interest in the account. Are you in a loop giveaway? YES that means you want followers plain and simple. Every single follower is a potential customer. By going this route, it not only frustrates those of you that were blindsided by this block (or may not even know they were blocked!) but you can bet your bottom dollar that there is no way of salvaging the potential business relationship via email as stated above.

If you are like me and blocked from this account, know that it’s not just you. I responded to this email quite firmly and clearly stated that I will no longer be participating OR entering in anything relating to this shop. If this is how they work for some fun loop giveaway then I don’t want to think about how they handle customer service inquiries.

As an entrant what you shouldn’t do…

You see the image at the top of the post? That screen shot was taken as I am typing this post (hence why I have zero battery life:P) That means I am following close to 7,000 people on Instagram. Is that good for me business wise? No. However, since I enter in soooo many loops, I have to follow soooo many accounts. I clothe my child in my winnings. I network with like minded mamas. I make new friends with others that have entered and/or won. I maximize my Instagram footprint in everything I do. So why don’t I unfollow everyone? One reason is due to Instagrams algorithms. There is a cap at how many accounts I can unfollow at a certain time. For one of my apps, I can unfollow around 100 accounts an hour. And to be honest, my goal in life is to not have numbers that equate to a “normal” amount – at least right now any ways. So for ME personally, it works.

Now, I have to say coming from someone who plays in these loops AND has participated in them AND has even hosted giveaways, be mindful. These people are putting in work (yes a lot of work goes into these things) as well as money. Do NOT just follow to unfollow. If you must unfollow, give them some love. Tag some friends in some other their pictures. Like some of their images on their feed.

Do NOT use giveaway only accounts (Instagram accounts that are erroneous for just the purpose of entering loops only). Enter using your REAL account. And then enter away!

Helpful tidbits

Before I end this post, I wanted to give you some last minute helpful tidbits to help you generate an awesome AND successful loop giveaway.

Use styled stock photography for your graphic. If you do not know what this is, Google and Pinterest will be your favorite things. Including Creative Market and Etsy.  This website is also beneficial. You can thank me later:)

Beef up on your research. Find out how other people were successful. For instance, Elle & Co on what they learned about gaining 3k followers in one day. Don’t just take my post as fact and true. Things change and I admit, some of these items might work for some and not work for others.


Have any tips or tricks that have worked for you?

Let me know in the comments below!

Updated 7.23.15 @ 1:33pm PST:

Instagram seems to be a PRO at ever changing and ever evolving with their rules in particular. Just after I published this post, I had received a comment that Instagram has been shutting down shops that participate in loop giveaways. After reading a little bit more in depth, I found that the issue is relating to TAGGING. Now there are TWO ways to tag on Instagram. One is on the actual picture (so you can complete the loop) and the other is tagging friends in the comment; so they too can find out about the loop which maximizes your loop success. More people that join = the more that follow = the more successful the loop is.

Now Instagram is very generic with their rules (gotta love that.) So here is the actual verbiage from Instagram:

You must not inaccurately tag content or encourage users to inaccurately tag content (ex: don’t encourage people to tag themselves in photos if they aren’t in the photo).”

You can read all of the rules here.

So the only way around this since we do not know what kind of tagging is being referred to here, is by doing the following:

  1. Make sure your loop graphic has everyone’s product or logo in the image. That way they are in the image being tagged. OR do not tag the image and include in the comment directions who the next account is that they must follow.
  2. Do not have “tag a friend in the comments for an extra entry.” They are trying to avoid spam accounts from circulating which is AMAZING but I still get tagged by spam. So I’m assuming they are getting more strict with it and trying new ways to find these spam accounts and loops just happen to fall into their algorithm. So don’t include “tag a friend” in your instructions. I BET the way they are picking it up is those groups of people that are tagging like crazy (like ME!) and they think those people are trying to spam but in all reality they are just trying to get more entries. But how can you maximize your loop to reach more people? Post another “did you enter” loop graphic. The caveat to that is only leave it up for an hour or so and then DELETE it. Keep your feed clean. And do not instruct ALL of your participants in the loop to post that follow up graphic at the same time. Just think all of your new followers are following ALL of you at the same time. Would you want to see 20 follow up graphics all at once? No… so be strategic. Have someone post in the morning… A couple during the afternoon and then evening. Break it up. Even give your participants an hour in which they should be posting their follow up graphic. And lastly, follow the steps above throughout this entire post. I hope at least one of these points has resonated with you!
  3. Avoid using name brands in your loop giveaway graphic. For instance, if you are giveaway an IPad, do not google “iPad” and use that image. Same goes for their logo. They probably don’t want to be associate with any loop giveaways – especially how many they are. And those are trademarked and copywritten. So… Use a stock styled graphic as I stated above or use a handy app like WordSwag or Rhonna Designs to create a graphic. Remember: The high quality, clear and clean graphics look the best and appeal to the most possible entrants.

Cheers to successful looping!

Have more questions? Comments? Let me know! If its easier to email: [email protected]



The Sentimental Mama

Bre. Geiger