Tiny Trends: Loop Giveaways going round the bend

Competitions and prize draws are a standard marketing tactic, especially on social where you can often enter competitions with the click of a button. Before it was banned in 2014, like-gating (also known as fan-gating) was an extremely popular way of creating fanbases for brands on Facebook. Offering a discount code or a prize, you would be required to like the page before being given access to this ‘exclusive’ content. In August 2014 Facebook updated their platform policies to include this point:

“You must not incentivize people to use social plugins or to like a Page. This includes offering rewards, or gating apps or app content based on whether or not a person has liked a Page.”

Facebook explained they had made this decision because:

“We want people to like Pages because they want to connect and hear from the business, not because of artificial incentives. We believe this update will benefit people and advertisers alike.”

Let that sink in while we explain the latest tiny trend in prize draws on Instagram. Loop giveaways are a new tactic being used by independent brands and bloggers to boost follower counts on Instagram. The premise is simple, each account involved in the giveaway shares the same picture, with the same copy explaining the giveaway with one difference. Each account links to the next account in the chain of accounts involved like so:

Brand One, tags Brand Two.

Brand Two, tags Brand Three.

Brand Three, tags Brand Four.

Brand Four, tags Brand Five.

Brand Five, tags Brand One, completing the loop.

Participants are asked to follow the accounts, like the prize draw picture on each account and then leave a comment on the last account. Here are some genuine instructions:

A quick search on Instagram reveals the hashtag #loopgiveaway has been used 54,870 times.

It’s clear to see why accounts are keen to use this approach, they can split the cost of funding a prize, they get multiple exposures of the prize draw because every account taking part publicises it to their followers. You are able to combine the reach of all the accounts taking part. Tempting, right?

However there is a downside to this trend. Our example lists five brands. In reality, loop giveaways often involve very large numbers of accounts. We’ve seen loop giveaways with up to 33 participants. That’s 33 accounts you have to follow and 33 images you have to like to be entered into the prize draw. That’s 66 separate actions. With no indication in the prize draw copy of how many accounts are taking part, trying to complete your entry in a loop giveaway can feel like a Sisyphean task.

It’s also not clear how winners are effectively drawn from the pool of entrants. UK CAP regulations state that promoters need to be able to show they had a reliable method to collect all the entries. How promoters of loop giveaways are verifying entries across as many as 33 accounts and 33 images remains vague.

While prize draws are a popular way to boost followers, the execution of these giveaways is not good social practice. Facebook took the step of banning like-gating because it was artificially inflating page’s numbers, meaning Facebook was serving irrelevant content to users. Not only does the post’s reach suffer because it’s being exposed to users with no interest in it, Facebook is aware that use of its platform depends on users seeing the most interesting and relevant content possible.

There is no point increasing your follower count if your new followers have no genuine reason to be interested in your content beyond the competition. You may see an initial increase in engagement but this will sharply drop off when you’re no longer offering an incentive. And the higher your follower count, the lower your engagement rate will appear.

Effective social connects with a specific consumer group in an authentic voice. It’s nice to reward your followers with prizes but there are much more interesting and effective ways of running competitions and prizes draws out there. This is a tiny trend we would recommend staying away from.

Have prize draws been a successful tactic for your accounts ? Share your experiences in the comments.

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