Aug 3, 2015

Hosting an Instagram Loop Without Losing Your Mind (1/3)

We're taking a quick break from the wedding scene this week to chat about something new!

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to host an Instagram Loop Giveaway with a group of wonderful business owners.  It was certainly quite a bit of work, but I met so many new people and learned a lot about organizing brands and communication, about funding, timing and handling a little bit of chaos.  And I had the opportunity to build my business while supporting other businesses that I love and believe in.

I am open to hosting another giveaway in the near future, but there are a number of things that I would change the next time around.  Below is part 1 of a 3 part series that covers what I did, what I would change, and what really helped me as I strove to lead this group of brands.

What is an Instagram Loop Giveaway?

It's genius really.
Everyone in the group posts the same photo at the exact same time.  Each of these photos has a different (per-determined) member of the group tagged in it. Example: I have "@writefullysimple" tagged in my photo, and she has "@unlikejuliet" tagged in her photo, etc.
As viewers come upon your photo, they click on the brand that you have tagged in your photo, follow that profile and click on the account of the next brand who is tagged, and follow them! And so on until they reach your original post again.
Simple enough, right?
The most important thing is that EVERYONE posts at the EXACT SAME TIME or the link will be broken and you could not only lose potential followers, but get a lot of frustrated complaints!

Find Brands/Businesses to Participate:

I highly recommend working with a theme;  ie, a group of people/brands who are working towards the same target audience or lifestyle.  Whether that's a "mommy" group, clean eating, exercising, wedding businesses, or Etsy shops, a consistent theme will not only unify you but also clarify your target audience and make you more attractive to those who you are actually trying to draw to your shop/feed.  And that's the goal, isn't it? Not to gain a ton of short term followers who don't care about you or your work, but to grow your following with people who could become potential friends and clients.

For my giveaway back in July, I worked with a group of small business owners who work in the wedding field.  We had calligraphers, photographers, planners, designers and jewelers—all businesses that had Brides as a main audience.  This worked really well for us, though next time I might limit it even further and stick with those who work solely in the wedding field.

Choosing a Prize:

You can either have a collective bundle where each brand offers an element of their own shop / services, or a lump gift card that will interest your target audience.  I did end up choosing to go the gift card route because it really simplified my job as the host/organizer and I could guarantee that each brand paid their "due".
If you choose to give a gift card, have a set amount in mind for the prize ($200, $500, etc) and give your group a rough estimate of how much that will cost them—don't finalize anything until you know all of your costs so that it can be an even split.

Whatever you decide to do, have a plan for delivery in place (most companies allow you to send gift cards via Email—Did this. Love this.) so that you don't have to scramble as soon as the winner is selected.

Style Your Giveaway Image:

As a designer, this was really important to me.  I ended up designing the giveaway image myself (below) rather than handing it off, because I wanted the design be strong, but also to reflect the brand that our gift card was coming from.  If you are not design savvy, I recommend either selecting someone in the group who is or paying someone to take care of this for you and including that in the group cost.
There is nothing more frustrating than performing less than your best because your image is sub-par.  We've all been sucked in by a good design... and turned off by a bad one.  This is instagram, the bar is set high, so reach for the stars!

Also, be sure to review Instagram's ever changing rules for posts and giveaways.  We love these rules because they limit the spam that we are hit with, but we hate to dance around them.  The point is, they are there and it's always best to do your homework beforehand and not have your account closed or suspended!

That's all for Part 1!  Are you still with me??  What a trooper, I hope this was helpful.  If you are looking for more information, stay tuned for Part 2 and 3!

In Part 2 (coming Wednesday!), I review how to set up for the big day—collecting funds, sharing information and unifying your brands.
Part 3 (coming Friday!)  goes over day-of game plans, during the giveaway, and picking a winner.

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