How do they work?
With various sizes and quality of accounts, they vary drastically in what you can achieve from taking part. Loop giveaways work by grouping together accounts with a similar following. A common barrier to entry is the size of your Instagram account, for example, only users with 50k and upward can take part. The larger the number of followers in a giveaway, the more expensive it is to participate. Why? Because those Instagrammers with 500k or 1 million are paid to post, essentially sharing their audience with the rest of the loop. You’re not paying just for the prizes but for the time and effort it takes to coordinate the sponsors and the participants – usually around 30-40.
How much does it cost?
Typically, the cheaper they are, the less effective. I nearly took part in a loop where the buy-in was £40. Everyone there had just under 10k and the ‘gain’ was set to be around 400. And just how many stay? Well that has to do with the quality of your content and how similar those other accounts are to yours because as aforementioned, what you’re doing is grouping together to share exposure. Larger loop giveaways can soar up to $1000 +, with prizes up for grabs like Chanel bags and multiple sponsors boasting 100k+ engagement per post. As expected, the gains are set to be in the tens of thousands. By now your stomach is either churning with disgust or you’re incredibly intrigued. Interestingly enough, I was the first.
Why I took part
Everyone knows that familiar feeling of frustration that comes with unexplained stagnation. If you’re constantly refreshing your hashtags and actively engaging with other accounts, and still no one seems to be seeing your content, it triggers people to behave in certain ways. A lot of the time, people give up. Others turn to like-bots or fake followers. Some develop their own strategies like upping the amount of content they post or experimenting with different demographics and content. For me, I looked to a giveaway partly for an exposure boost but also to find out whether or not my content really was good on a platform like Instagram. I’m confident in the work I produce but sometimes, things aren’t always suitable in the context you’re working with. My hypothesis was that if I chose a loop with quality accounts and most people stayed after the giveaway was over, it would be a gauge to see how popular my images really could be. A kind of statistical poll, if you like.
Is it a scam?
It depends but one thing for sure is that it’s extremely taxing and anxiety-inducing. One of people’s biggest concerns that they shared with me was that they didn’t want to be scammed. I’ve heard of this happening recently, where the organisers or hosts of a giveaway sent torrents of bots to accounts to simulate an increase in following. And earlier in this post, I referred to a loop that I ‘nearly’ took part in. Although it was mostly my fault that it was ineffective (I didn’t post on time), the hosts of the loop didn’t tell me when we would be posting, assuming that two hours notice was sufficient. They forgot that a lot of accounts are spread across the world and they had scheduled everything to go live at 2am in the UK. With no refund or assurance of at least a discount were I to take part in another in the future, I was scammed out of my buy-in. As you may have discerned, loop giveaways thrive on rules and keeping to them maximises its effectiveness. Also, not all of them are suspicious. To find a reliable one, I’d ask around for recommendations and speak to the hosts themselves, if you can find out who they are. There are a few things that they should be able to tell you before paying:
- The list of sponsors and their account following
- The gain of the last loop that they hosted
- The time and date of the giveaway, way in advance.
Is it ethical?
A lot of talk around loop giveaways boil down to reductive thought – is this buying followers? Well, if you consider paying for promoted posts to be ‘buying followers’, then this is essentially the same thing. However, more accurately, it’s buying exposure. Instead of going to Instagram, you’re collaborating with similar sized accounts to lead your following to each other.
Should everyone be playing the social media game ‘organically’? Ideally yes, but I find this to be a better solution to getting your account noticed than buying robots or permanently converting to a business account and have your impressions held as leverage. I also like the ‘transparency’ of participating in one. Part of the reason I hate comment groups so much is the secrecy shrouding it and when it comes to Instagram strategy, people are so guarded about the tools that they use. Giveaways are obvious – it’s on your feed for nearly a week and you can track the gain and the fall out. It’s also public so people can see it too, and while that might freak some people out, it makes me feel a lot more secure.
What do you think of loop giveaways now? Share your thoughts and experiences with me via my Instagram.