Giveaways have been around since cavemen invented the wheel and needed to sell it.
While they don’t always result in the most qualified entrants, you can’t deny giveaways provide a jump in the number of people paying attention to you—for a while, at least.
On Instagram, a giveaway loop is when you partner with other accounts in your niche to attract their followers. It’s usually affordable since you split the cost of the prizes between participants, and it’s more effective than a regular giveaway due to a wider reach.
Want to see one in action? Search for #loopgiveaways on Instagram.
If you’re interested in running your own giveaway loop, check out Monique Danao’s thorough explanation on the Schedugram blog. I’ll condense and summarize the steps here, but if you want to dig deeper into any of them, visit Monique’s article.
Step 1: Choose a theme
A theme can be a type of product (e.g., kids’ books) or a type of business (e.g., salons).
Pretend you’re an animal groomer. Your theme should be about dog treats or cat toys, not tech gadgets or sports events. You need something that’s relevant to your brand.
Alternatively, if you own a local business, you could invite other businesses in your area. Maybe all your downtown neighbors want to get in on the action?
Step 2: Find accounts to invite
Monique says there’s no rule about the number of accounts you should invite. She’s seen loops with only 4 accounts and others with as many as 50.
In general, invite people who are in your niche since their audience is comprised of people who are interested in brands like yours. If you’re a dog groomer, invite other dog groomers, vets, animal rescue services, etc.
Step 3: Determine the rules
Once you’ve found others to partake in the giveaway, settle on the guidelines.
Should participants be located in a certain country? Should they be a certain age range? What are the steps required to enter the loop?
Don’t reinvent the wheel here. Look up other loop giveaways and copy a format you like.
Monique says, “Don’t forget to follow the FTC guidelines. One of its rules is to put a concise disclosure in the caption. Violation of this rule could result in suspensions or fines. You can add this disclosure at the bottom of the caption.”
Step 4: Decide on the prize
The biggest variable of success in your giveaway is the prize. Make it awesome.
Some hosts collect cash from their participants (anywhere from $25 to $200) so they can pony up a good prize. Other hosts require people to pitch in a prize of their own—e.g., participant 1 would provide a gift card, participant 2 would provide a gift set, and participant 3 would provide a product.
Everyone on the loop should use the same image and caption. This avoids confusion and makes it easy to promote accurate information.
Map out the order of the accounts carefully and make sure all the tags are correct. The whole thing will fall apart if someone tags the wrong account.
At this point, you could also prep a “Now Closed” image to post the end of the giveaway. Alternately, you can delete the giveaway post once the contest is over.
Lastly, determine the hashtags you want to use and when you’ll go live. It’s important for everyone in the loop to post at the same time. If people mess it up, they’ll break the loop.
Once everything’s ready to go, hit publish.
Step 6: Promote the giveaway
Now that the giveaway loop is live, it’s time to go full Don Draper.
Light up all your marketing channels—email, YouTube, blog, podcast, etc.—and include a link to the initial giveaway post on Instagram.
If the results are mediocre, crack open your wallet and spend some cash on ads to spark the fire. (Remember, it takes money to make money.)
Step 7: Announce the winner
Once your giveaway ends, it’s time to announce the lucky winner.
Most giveaways announce the winner by posting an image of the prizes with the winning account tagged and captioned. Everyone who participated in the loop should also share the announcement.
Step 8: Retain your new followers
The giveaway may be over, but the battle has just begun—the battle to keep as many of your new followers as possible.
Guaranteed after the giveaway ends, a good chunk of people will vanish.
Monique says an effective way to keep people around is to reward them. The reward doesn’t have to be expensive. You can email participants a discount coupon or deal.
The great thing about getting people’s emails is that even if they unfollow you, you’ll be able to contact them down the road. It’s also important to ask people for feedback, which will help build relationships. See what prizes would interest them next. Ask if they had any problems with the giveaway. Recommend other giveaways.
Final word: Are giveaways worth it?
There’s a lot of debate whether giveaway loops are positive or negative. Some say they flood your account with unengaged followers and hurt your future reach, while others are ecstatic with the spike in followers.
“They’re definitely worth it,” Monique says. “With a great giveaway, you can get discovered by thousands of people. There’s always a risk that they will unfollow you. It’s your job to create posts that will attract new followers and keep the ones that you already have.”
In short, loop giveaways aren’t perfect—but nothing is. Try one out and see what happens.
P.S. If you’re a data person, I recommend reading this analysis on giveaway loops. Great look at the potential downsides for larger brands and influencers.