We’ve all seen them: the Instagram Loop Giveaways, hosted by any number of shops with the chance to win a really great prize. $1,000 to Anthropologie?! Sign. Me. Up. All you have to do is follow these 10 bloggers/shops/small business owners and tag a few friends. No reposting. No purchase. Amazing, right?!
When it comes to entering, I have a few personal rules: I have to really, really want the prize. If it’s a gift card at a place I don’t shop, I don’t enter. If the prize is not a gift card, and isn’t something I’d purchase on my own, I don’t enter. And the big one: if I don’t want to follow all the shops in the loop, I don’t enter. I know, womp womp.
Here’s the thing, I’m a small business owner, too. And I’ve participated in these giveaways. I’m not leaking any secrets by sharing this, but we’re only doing them to gain followers. That sounds really vain (and maybe it is), but to a small business owner, followers can turn into new business. Followers, to a lot of small business owners, make you feel like you have a legitimate audience, which in turn, makes others feel like you have a legitimate business. I’m guilty of it too – anytime I see a fellow stationery designer with more than 2,000 followers, I think to myself, wow, she’s really killing it! Instagram followers do not make a business any more worthy, or any more legitimate than anyone else. But when there’s a possibility of gaining 1,000 new followers in less than 24 hours, it can be hard to say no. If one person of those 1,000 orders something through me, than the buy-in to the giveaway was worth it.
Conversion rate in a loop giveaway is really hard to track, and while I’ve had a handful of clients tell me that they found me on Instagram, I haven’t heard anyone say, “I found you through a loop giveaway!”. I do think that a handful of new followers have become legitimate Bella Carta cheerleaders, but the majority were definitely in it for the prize, and that’s OK. Being a small business owner also means having tough skin, so I don’t take it personally when I lose followers after a giveaway. If they’re not interested in what I have to say, or my products, then they should un-follow me!
The biggest reason I’m not sure if I’d participate or host a loop giveaway again, is that I don’t like perpetuating the idea that the number of followers on Instagram is what makes a business have more value. I love watching my following grow organically – people who find me through other small business owners, clients, referrals – people who are genuinely interested in my services and watching my business grow. I want to create a loyal following for Bella Carta, but only in ways that are authentic to me and to my brand, and in a way that I’m proud of. I think that Loop Giveaways can be a wonderful avenue for other businesses to find new followers, and in turn, generate more business. But for me, and for my brand, I don't think that they're the right fit.