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Monday, February 22, 2016

Entering Instagram Loop Giveaways

I've been entering giveaways for some time now. One type I've been seeing more of lately is the Instagram loop giveaway. It isn't like these are exactly new. But, I've been trying to increase my own Instagram follower count and looking at different options, and loop giveaways is one option. Plus, I've also been looking at entering giveaways with better prizes and perhaps better odds of winning.

What are They
What exactly is an Instagram loop giveaway? An Instagram loop giveaway is one where everyone in a particular group of users posts the same image at the same time. Then, within the description of that image for each user, the next user in the loop is tagged, such that you can reach everyone in the group when you follow each tag through the loop. At each stop along the way, you must follow the user and love the image. At the end of the designated time, someone who follows everyone will be picked as the winner. Prizes could be small, but more typically they are like a $500 or $1,000 Target gift card / PayPal, a laptop, or a high end purse or other fashion item. The designated time frames are typically short, like one to three days, at most five I've seen. Yes, as quickly as 24 hours later, you can be $500 richer in some cases.
How to Find
The above is an example of the image associated with one of the loop giveaways I entered recently. Finding these giveaways is half the problem of entering them. If you never see them, you can't enter. If you're not already following someone involved in the loop, you'll never see the image on your Instagram feed. I've yet to see a directory of Instagram loop giveaways, so, you have to hope the people in the loop cross promote to their other social media accounts. Or, if you happen to be looking at a specific Instagram user's feed, you might see the image. Some of the giveaways use the hashtag #loopgiveaway, but I haven't found that on all of them. In fact, it hasn't been on most of them I've seen.
When looking for images, make sure you find the main giveaway image and not a reminder image. Frequently, for a multi-day giveaway, a reminder image might appear. It will typically include text like "Have you entered?" or "last chance" on it. Doing anything with this image does not impact your entry into the event. If I accidentally select one of these, I typically realize it by the change in entry counts. Like if most images in loop are around 500 or so entries and you see one that is just 50 or 75, that is not the main image. Go back to the main feed of that user and look again.

For multi-day events, it is easiest if you find the giveaways soon after they start. Otherwise, users can add more images to their feed and it is harder to follow / find the image as you go through the loop.

How to Enter
Once you've found a loop giveaway, you have to first see when it ends. If it is already past the end date/time, don't bother entering. Be sure to be conscious of time zones. Secondly, you have to ask yourself if you really want the prize. I've seen several loop giveaways for baby items which I have no need for so I won't bother entering. However, for a large value gift card, I'll enter, even if I don't shop at the store, as I know I can resell it. Ditto for a high end handbag. Easy to sell those on eBay.

Assuming you actually want to win the prize and the giveaway isn't over yet, now the fun begins. As stated above, in order to have a valid entry, you need to follow everyone in the loop. You also have to like each posting from everyone in the loop. It is a quick process, but you can't do it too quickly. For each stop on the loop, first make sure you are following the person. If not, press the Follow button. If you already follow, you can do nothing for the first step. Don't accidentally un-follow them. Next, you must like the image so the heart shows red. You can certainly click on the heart to like, but an easier and quicker way to like an image is to double-click it. You'll see a red heart appear in middle of image and you'll know it is safe to move on. Then, look for the tag in the opening message to see who the next stop in the loop will be. Once there, you'll need to find the same image on their feed as the one you just liked. Repeat the follow and like image steps until you visit everyone.

One word of caution: don't follow too many Instagram members too quickly. Instagram apparently doesn't like it if you follow too many members too quickly. As you click the Follow button, when the follow operation is actually saved, you will notice a slight delay before it shows Following. If you're following too many people too quickly and you press the Follow button, and it immediately changes to Following, it might not actually have saved the Follow operation. If you're ever unsure, refresh the page to see if the Follow stuck. If not, wait a few minutes and try again.

How do you know when you're done following everyone in the loop? You'll hit a person in the loop whose post you already like. You may already be following some of the loop participants, so just the Follow button alone is nothing to think of as far as finishing the loop. Once you've hit the end of the loop, or at least your beginning, you can stop going through the loop. It doesn't matter where you start as you'll eventually loop through all. For prizes I really, really want, I'll walk through the loop a second time to make sure I didn't miss anything or if anyone new was added.

If you're entering right after the giveaway starts, you have to remember that the whole loop might not be connected just yet, so you might not be able to enter everyone in the loop just yet. Wait and continue later. It is also possible that some late comers could have been added to the loop after the initial list of all loop participants went out. They'll be connected into the loop from the host page, taking over the host's "next" link, where the host includes the new entry as their next.

Like "regular" Instagram giveaways, some loop giveaways have other entry options like tagging friends or reposting the picture to your own feed. Check the rules to see if there are any special entry options. For maximum chance of winning, try to do the other actions but I wouldn't go overboard. If you get an extra entry option for each tagged friend, I wouldn't tag each and everyone of your friends, especially if you have hundreds if not thousands identified.

How to Participate
I'm not going to get involved with the intricacies of hosting an Instagram loop giveaway. I will however give a few pointers about participating as one of the stops in the loop. First and foremost, it isn't free to participate. All the Instagram users involved in the Instagram loop giveaway typically share in the cost of the prize. Somebody has to pay for it. From what I've seen in my limited exposure, this is typically around $20-$25. The general idea is by getting more Instagram followers when participating, you'll be able to earn back the money through additional sales or better opportunities which require more followers.  Part of the fee will usually go towards administering the giveaway. There is some risks involved when hosting the loop giveaway. The host is committing to a specific prize level. If they don't get enough participants, the host has to cover the difference.

The hardest part about participating in an Instagram loop giveaway is you have to be available at a specific time to do the initial posting. Since Instagram doesn't allow automated postings, you have to be available to post when the giveaway starts. Depending upon which timezone you're in, this could be impossible, if you're, driving for instance. If that's the case, find a loop giveaway with a different starting time that works with your schedule. Otherwise, you'll have like 3-5 minutes to get that initial post up. You would have received this in advance with all the stops identified. Just tag the next person in the list in your post. If you don't post on time, you could be removed from the loop to prevent loop from being broken.

You may be asked to post a second image before the end of the giveaway. This is so that anyone who might have missed the original posting might catch the image going by their feed. They'll still need to find the original posting to enter, but at least they'll know the giveaway exists.

After the loop giveaway is over, be sure to identify the winner in the original post and mark it closed. You don't need people entering any more, though you certainly wouldn't turn away any more likes. Secondly, break the loop. Remove the link to whoever was the next stop. This prevents people from immediately unfollowing everyone in a loop giveaway after the loop giveaway is over. But, don't be surprised if you lose some of your gained new followers. Not everyone will stick around and see what you have to say.

Note: If you have a PRIVATE Instagram profile, you more than likely will not be able to win a giveaway. Private profiles do not allow those who run the giveaways to verify that you are following everyone.

Did You Win?

Soon after the loop giveaway ends, a winner be chosen. The method I've seen demonstrated is the host finds the stop in the loop with the fewest entries, then uses something like to generate a random number and counts. They'll verify they're still following everyone, or nearly everyone. Then, the winner will be tagged in the posts and notified, possibly via direct message within Instagram. They don't have an email so can't email the winner.

That's about the whole shindig about dealing with Instagram loops. Have you ever won any yourself? Do you like them? Have you heard of them before?

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  1. I've entered a few, but worry that I'll get over my Instagram likes limit (if there is one). Good advice about not going too quickly. I don't know about getting notice if I win. Never have had an Instagram message.

    slehan at juno dot com

  2. I have also done a few and I've worried about knowing if I win. I have never had an instagram message either.

    1. You only see the messages on the mobile app. I haven't figured out how to / if you can see them on the desktop (web).

  3. Thanks for this advice: For prizes I really, really want, I'll walk through the loop a second time to make sure I didn't miss anything or if anyone new was added.

    Went thru a second time and several hadn't been Followed and a couple were added.

  4. Hi, I don't have a smartphone, I follow Instagram on the laptop so I have no pictures personally on my account, I do follow people/their feed but I've seen a couple of the giveaways state the no giveaway accounts are allowed, would my account be considered one of those because of having no pictures?
    But I guess my lack of mobile app I won't be able to reply if I won anyway, I just have been trying to find out what technically is thought of as a giveaway account.

    1. I asked someone who runs some of the loops I participate in and this is the answer I got:

      There are several Instagram giveaway organizers these days and each organizer has a different set of rules. When some organizers say they do not allow giveaway accounts, they mean to say they don't allow inactive members on Instagram who only post about giveaways or only enter giveaways. Some may say this is unfair because they can very well be in your situation where they created an account to be able to to enter the giveaways, but see no use in having to get a smartphone to post photos on Instagram. That is an innocent scenario. The reason loop organizers do this in the first place is to avoid spam and block accounts who don't actively use Instagram for what its for, sharing photos. Unfortunately, your account falls into the category even though you aren't a spam account. Personally, loops run on don't disqualify people who have no photos on their accounts, but we do require the winner to send us a direct message through the Instagram app to claim their prize which may be hard for you to do concidering you don't have a smart phone.

  5. Thank you for taking the time to answer my question, I started the account because I liked following some of the members, even if I couldn't personally post but at least I know until I'm able to get a smartphone to hold off on the giveaways.