Recently, I started my own, two-week Instagram challenge and invited my readers and followers to join in. The challenge ended up being very successful — it yielded almost 1,000 tagged photos and hundreds of participants. In case you’re unclear, an Instagram challenge is when you create a photo prompt for each day over a certain span of time and invite others to participate with you. For us, our prompts were mainly focused on Spring and we did it for two weeks. I learned a lot about hosting an Instagram challenge from this experience, and want to share two things with you today:
- Why you should start an Instagram challenge.
- How to create one of your own (and rock it!).
Why You Should Start an Instagram Challenge
- Instagram is many people’s favorite social media platform. In fact, in our 2014 reader survey, 50% of respondents said they favored Instagram over other social platforms (Comparatively, the second highest was Twitter at only 21%). If you know where your followers are hangin’ out, then it’s smart to build a presence there, too. Starting an Instagram challenge not only builds your presence, but gives people an incentive to interact more with your brand and create a stronger community.
- You will gain more followers. During the two-week challenge, we gained about 200 followers. Now, I do want to point out that we’re not trying to increase our followers just for the sake of having more followers. We’re trying to increase our numbers because we know that Instagram followers are likely to turn into dedicated blog readers or web design clients.
- It builds trust with your brand. People are more likely to trust you after having a positive, shared experience together. It creates more of a camaraderie rather than the separation that many brands have with their followers.
- It’s fun! I wasn’t sure if I’d enjoy having a daily commitment to post a themed photo to my account (pressure!), but I ended up liking it and felt more creative during the challenge. I also had a lot of people tell me that it was growing their Instagram followings with new, dedicated followers that discovered them through our unique hashtag (#TNCLovesSpring). Not only that, but it gave me a much more personal look into my readers’ lives. Normally, my reader interaction is done in the comments of blog posts, but those aren’t visual. Viewing everyone’s photos through the challenge helped me to feel more connected to our readers — I got to see pictures of their homes, people they love, the weather where they live, and more!
How to Create a Kick-Ass Instagram Challenge of Your Own
- Partner up with other Instagrammers. For this challenge, The Nectar Collective was the only host. This worked well because it was only our followers who participated (so we got to know our readers better), but pairing up with one or two other friends to host your challenge would likely create an even stronger community with more creative minds. Not to mention, you will probably gain more followers from a challenge if you’re not the only host because you’ll be utilizing their followers as well.
- Select a good hashtag for your challenge. The hashtag is one of the most important parts, because it’s what people will use to tag their photos and be included in the challenge. Choose something that is easy to remember and not being used (check Instagram first to be sure!). We also used “TNC” in our hashtag, #TNCLovesSpring, so that it was easier for followers to connect it to our brand and remember who was hosting it.
- Keep your prompts simple. It’s better to use simple prompts (for example, one of ours was simply, “yellow”), than to use something too descriptive. You don’t want it to be so difficult that it’s hard for people to think of what they could photograph. Plus, open-ended prompts allow for the most creative-thinking.
- Select a manageable length of time to run it. Ours was two weeks and I felt like that was perfect! Not so long that it became a chore, but not so short that it was unmemorable.
- Directly invite people to join before it starts. We didn’t think to do this until after the fact, but sending a personalized email to certain bloggers or Instagrammers (ideally people you’ve interacted with before) to let them know about your challenge and invite them to participate could create a larger buzz. Rather, we just posted about it here on our blog and also in our email newsletter, but I definitely think that personally inviting people could yield even better results.
- Interact with participants. This was one of my favorite parts. I enjoyed going through the hashtag, liking participant photos and leaving them comments. It made me feel more connected to the people who were participating, and feeling connected is really important to me. Instagram actually thought I was a spammer a couple times and wouldn’t let me leave more comments because I was commenting TOO much, haha! Encouragement goes a long way in motivating people, so I think it’s important for the host to take time to like and comment on participant photos.
- Do a recap on your blog. If you have a blog, then share a recap of the challenge each week. For our recap, we shared each of the photos we had shared so far, as well as some of our favorites from participants. Not only did this give a pat on the back to the people we featured, it also reminded our readers about the challenge so that they can jump in if they forgot about our first announcements.
Would you ever host an Instagram challenge? Did you participate in #TNCLovesSpring? I’d love to hear from you! 🙂