Learn the process we followed to host an Instagram secret giveaway and explode our growth in a matter of days without spammy tactics. We’ll cover what Instagram secret giveaways are, why they’re so effective, and go into detail on how we put ours together.

Before we get into Instagram secret giveaways, let’s state the obvious: giveaways can be a very effective way to grow your business. People like free things. They enjoy the chase, and they are attracted to chance. That’s why contests and sweepstakes have been such a staple in marketing for so many years. In the 1800’s, giveaways were an essential part of Mr. Bursh’s 4-part marketing plan for Budweiser. Brands both large and small continue to use giveaways for both their consumers and their partners and employees because they work. We all know they work, but it’s not always that simple to execute them.

Instagram Giveaways: What People Are Doing Now

In 2018, giveaways take many forms, among the most common of which are Instagram giveaways. Influencers and small business owners have been doing Instagram giveaways since the beginning of the app, and today, they most of often take one of 2 forms:

A Loop Giveaway:

We’ve all seen them: photoshopped images of SLR cameras, iPhones, and sometimes even cold hard cash. You start with one blogger, follow her, like her photo, then follow the profile she mentions in her post and like their giveaway image too, then repeat the process 50x and you’re entered! Each blogger is required to promote the giveaway and participants are usually limited to a single entry. These giveaways are common because bloggers can band together to offset the cost of the prize and they piggyback on each other’s followers.

Brand Giveaway:

A brand is offering a free product or gift of some kind in exchange for you tagging some friends and following them. They may have sponsors also promoting the giveaway, but the burden of promotion is usually completely on them. These types of giveaways are a great way to help a brand build engagement but it can be difficult to achieve substantial growth using just organic methods.

Neither of these giveaways was an option for us.

We were:

  • trying to establish an account and audience
  • not interested in filling our fresh account with giveaway images
  • looking to build followers
  • without a product to giveaway
  • without an audience to leverage in a giveaway

After some thought, it became clear that an Instagram secret giveaway was the best option for us.

What is a Instagram Secret Giveaway?

secret giveaway- Instagram secret giveaway

A Instagram secret giveaway is a fast and efficient way to grow your following with real, active and engaged followers without having to post the giveaway on your profile. This growth takes place between three and seven days and can grow as many as 10,000 real followers. How do we achieve so much growth in so little time? With research, preparation, goodwill, and a good sponsor.

In an Instagram secret giveaway, the participant finds out about the giveaway through a paid sponsor. The sponsor directs the user to a specific Instagram profile or host account that has the contest details posted. This host account only follows co-hosts of the giveaway. Participants are told that to enter, you have to follow all of the accounts that the host account follows, and like and comment on the giveaway post, usually tagging people for more chances to win. Participants can also engage on host photos for more chances to win.

An Instagram secret giveaway is effective because it pleases everyone involved:

  1. the participants have a chance to win a terrific prize in exchange for 30 seconds of their time
  2. sponsors are paid for their promotion of the giveaway
  3. hosts gain followers without having to post the giveaway on their feed

Now that we know more about Instagram secret giveaways, let’s dig into our process for putting one together.

We started by looking for organizers already putting these types of giveaways together. There were very few options, and those that had proof of delivery focused on international giveaways with large quantities of co-hosts. It was clear that if we were going to do this right, we had to do it ourselves.

Organizing an Effective Instagram Secret Giveaway

giveaway strategy - make a plan

1. Set a Measurable Goal and Create a Giveaway Plan

After we decided to run a giveaway, the next decision we made was that we were going to focus 100% of our efforts on US-based promotions. That’s where our clients are and that’s where our audience is. Other than that, we knew we should set a measurable goal so that we could adequately measure the return on our investment of time and money.

We decided that since we were just starting out, 1,200 followers was a good goal number for our secret giveaway. We also decided we wanted to retain 75% of those followers during the two weeks after the giveaway.

At this point, we also decided that in order to get those numbers, we would need to pool our resources with other hosts to create a giveaway with a prize and sponsor that would earn a new account 1,200 new followers. We decided to have 10 other partners and a sponsor with a very active audience was critical. We were ready for the next step.

2. Get to Know Your Audience

This is a critical but often missed step. Picture this: a great sponsor falls in your lap and you pull off a kick-ass giveaway. You gain 2,000, maybe even 3,000 followers, but slowly but surely, you start losing those followers and suddenly all the effort you put into arranging that giveaway just went out the window. How does this happen? It happens for one of three reasons: one, you’re not prepared for your new followers and you don’t have the content to keep them, or two, you’ve attracted the wrong audience and they’re not interested in their content, or three, you have both problems.

Depending on where you are in your social media or Instagram journey, you may already have a posting and engagement strategy. If not, be sure you take the time to get to know the people you’re trying to attract so that you have a better shot at keeping them as followers once the giveaway is over.

We’re also taking a look at our target audience because we need to recruit the sponsors our target audience is already following so that they can lead them to our giveaway.

Simply speaking, the target audience is the intended audience that you aim to reach. ask yourself, who would be the buying audience for your particular product/service? What type of person is your product/service for? Before we get too marketing 101, let’s take this back to Instagram, when we’re talking about audience research and Instagram,  we take a look at 3 things:

Research hashtags:

Find hashtags related to your industry. Chances are you already know what these are. Follow them and interact with the users posting with your hashtags.

Research your competitor’s followers

Your competitors might have already won a loyal audience, but don’t let that discourage you. This gives you a great opportunity to look into the persona’s of their followers, giving you insight on how you can tap into their interests.

Research influencers in your niche/industry

Again, you probably have a good idea of who these people are, but take another look at those active in your industry, dive into their media kits and figure out what type of content they’re posting.

Just by taking a few minutes of your times to look into what your audience is doing on Instagram, you’ve set yourself up to find a better sponsor to attract the right giveaway participants (followers) for you. You’ve also self yourself up to be better equipped to retain your followers because you’ve seen the kind of content they’ve proven to be attracted to.

3. Select an Irresistible Prize

Create an Irresistible Prize - Oprah

Speaking of attraction, everyone loves free things. The problem is, not everyone loves to spend their time entering giveaways, and even fewer people want to have to even lift a finger to follow someone, let alone a list of people. To convince people to take action, you don’t just need a prize, you need a prize that makes their entry all but inevitable. We call this an Irresistible prize. The Larry the Cable Guy Grill set I got in last Christmas’ white elephant exchange? Not irresistible. A MacBook Pro worth $2,500? That’s an irresistible prize. Sometimes it’s a little more nuanced. For example, sure, an Xbox is a fantastic prize for the under 35 males crowd, but if you’re a fashion blogger targeting women, you could find a better prize at that price point.

Remember, sometimes a prize is worth less than free. In order for your giveaway to be effective, your prize has to go above and beyond. We find that the most over the top prizes always end up netting us higher results and this is a case where more is always best.

Pro Tip: It’s always important to consider the monetary value of your giveaway prize. You should refer to your country’s laws for specifics around sweepstakes, contests, and lotteries.

4. Vet, Recruit and Make Arrangements with Sponsors

In our case, the decision to keep our promotions USA-based meant we would have to maintain high standards when seeking sponsors. We knew this was going to be critical to the success of our campaign, so we took special care to vet each potential sponsor for follower quality and engagement value.

We employed the use of one of our favorite tools to do this research, SnoopReport. Using this tool, we’re able to monitor the quality of all of our sponsors before we work with them.

Sponsors price their promoted posts based on their audience number and engagement rates, so you want to be sure that number is not inflated in any way. It’s important to track metrics for telling signs that an influencer has a fake or latent audience.

We also track sponsor account engagement rates and changes to their follower count. We also monitor their posting activity and make a conscious determination on whether or not their content aligns with our goals.

By taking the time to audit our sponsors, we’re able to better-utilize them. We have the ability to determine the optimal times to request our sweepstakes be posted and we’re able to craft our messaging based on the influencer’s voice and style. These extra measures can make the difference between having a truly viral giveaway or not.

5. Recruit Partners

put together your squad

This is the tough but most rewarding part. To make the giveaway worth it, we had to pay a big sponsor and purchase a big prize. To reduce our risk and help spread the costs, we recruited several like-minded giveaway co-hosts.

A rising tide lifts all boats. We built relationships with our co-hosts, working out a strategy to boost the reach of the giveaway but all agreeing to post the giveaway on our stories a different day. This is just one example of what you can do when you work together, but smart Instagram marketers know that nurturing relationships is the best way to grow your following.  As a result of the giveaway, we started our own Instagram engagement group and gained more than we ever expected from our Instagram secret giveaway.

6. Prepare for Follower Retention

This is the most important part. To enter the giveaway, the entrants must follow all of the accounts that are being followed by the giveaway page and remain a follower until the winner is announced, but after that moment, it’s up to you to retain those followers.

In our case, we did two things. First, when we set our sights on putting together a giveaway, we had already decided to step up our content game. We changed our feed style into something more inviting and cohesive. See if you can see the difference:

Instagram Secret Giveaway

You can see that we moved towards a more styled theme, placing the feed overall ascetic higher on our list of priorities.

The second way we fought a follower exodus is with a high-quality post series. We planned the giveaway to coincide with the release of an in-depth blog series written directly for our new audience. The last post went live the day after the giveaway ended, and we think the content we produced for Instagram helped us reduce the amount of follower drop-off we experienced.

Other ways we avoid the dreaded follower drop-off include:

  1. hosting a smaller, private giveaway on your page after the Instagram secret giveaway has ended
  2. staying consistent with your posting
  3. posting high-quality content
  4. creating a content schedule so that #2 and #3 are easier to achieve
  5. collaborate with others to create unique content
  6. use stories to introduce yourself and create a personal connection with your new followers

7. Launch, Measure, and Iterate

Ensure that the rules for your Instagram contest are clearly stated, that you have a start and an end time, and that one of the rules is that entrants must follow all of the accounts on the host account’s list of followers.

When you’re running a giveaway to get more followers on Instagram, you want to sure it goes as viral as possible. The best way to do this is to ask followers to tag at least one friend in the comments to enter. By getting Instagram users to tag their friends in the comments, you can draw more attention to the sweepstakes and increase your brand awareness. If you’re not relying solely on sponsors to promote the giveaway, be sure your outreach list is ready to be contacted before the giveaway starts.

Pro Tip: Comment back on all of your new follower’s comments – this tip is essential to establishing a relationship with them and also shows the Instagram algorithm you’re engaged with your audience.

Keep in touch with your sponsors throughout the contest in case you need to make arrangement for more promotion. This likely won’t happen if you’ve managed your expectations, but it’s nevertheless important to be sure you’re covering yourself.

After the giveaway is over, measure your success.

For us, we were able to achieve our goal of 1,200 new followers, finishing with +1340 followers after a 14% drop-off 7 days after the giveaway. In the end, e ended up with 1,688% more followers after the giveaway.

Instagram secret giveaway results

In the end, any giveaway is only worth the followers it attracts. If you have the right ingredients: sponsors with the right target audience, a prize that gets people excited, and partners that will support the health of the giveaway, then you have a good chance of getting quality out of the large quantities of new followers your giveaway brings you.

We had such a good experience with our first giveaway that we started duplicating the process for other clients, and we now specialize in creating US-based Instagram secret giveaways. This rewarding process is a great way to jump-start new accounts, re-charge latent accounts, and earn a quality, targeted audience.

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