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How loop giveaways drive Instagram follower numbers crazy

Gaining tens or even hundreds of thousands of new Instagram followers in a very short time - which Instagram account operators don't dream of it? One controversial way to make this dream a reality are so-called loop giveaways: competitions in which users who want to take part in the raffle have to follow several Instagram accounts. Large influencer accounts such as those of Kylie Jenner, Kim Kardashian or Jake Paul often advertise the campaigns. OMR explains the mechanics of the giveaways, talked to industry experts about their sense and nonsense and took a look behind the scenes of the loop giveaway biz.

The principle of loop giveaways is relatively simple: several Instagram accounts jointly offer an attractive price - this can be the latest iPhone model, high-priced bags from coveted luxury brands, a large sum of money or a combination of cash and luxury goods. If you want to win, you have to follow all accounts that host the loop giveaway together.

"Every comment increases your chance of winning"

The mechanics: Either an account in its giveaway post refers to the next one, or - perhaps even more often the case - a high-reach influencer advertises the raffle in a post and refers in this to another Instagram account whose subscribed accounts the Participants then have to follow. So that the organizers can check whether participants really follow all accounts, their accounts must be public.

The giveaways may differ in the details. Sometimes the participating users have to comment on a certain post, for example, or mark a predetermined number of friends in a post. Or the participants can increase their chances of winning through such campaigns, because each comment is counted as a separate ticket.

After the giveaway, all traces will disappear

After a specified deadline has passed (at least as a rule the presentation of the organizers), the prize will be raffled among all participants; the original posts about the giveaway are edited, archived or even deleted. According to the organizers, this is to prevent Instagram users from continuing to meet the conditions of participation (i.e. following other accounts), even though the competition is over again and they can no longer win anything at all.

At the same time, this also means that public information about the fact that the relevant accounts took part in a loop giveaway - and in this way (if the plan worked out) generated enormous increases in followers - disappears. Because that is, unsurprisingly, the primary goal of all loop giveaways.

Up to five-digit sums for participation

Those accounts that users have to follow in order to be able to participate in the raffle pay money - to the influencers who promote the giveaway, and sometimes also to specialized service providers. According to estimates by the company behind the Instagram tool Later.com, the price for participating as an account owner can range between US $ 150 and a five-figure sum.

The US influencer marketing agency Popular Chips speculates that accounts posted in May 2019 on a loop giveaway advertised by Kylie Jenner and controlled via the Instagram account of Scott Disick (ex-boyfriend of Jenner's half-sister Kourtney Kardashian) could reach up to 19,000 US dollars -Dollars paid. The raffle was organized by the Australian service provider "Curated Businesses", which allegedly has its raffles monitored by the local lottery authority.

"You can win - you only have to follow 70 accounts"

Since the users had to follow 70 accounts in the case of the giveaway advertised by Kylie Jenner, if the assumption is correct, the giveaway could have generated total sales of around 1.3 million US dollars. The participation fee for a giveaway from Youtuber Jake Paul and his "Team 10" is said to have been even higher: Here, private individuals had to pay 25,000 and brands even 30,000 US dollars, with a total of 50 places available.

For the participating accounts, the giveaways are a way of quickly gaining followers that (unlike many other methods such as bots) do not violate Instagram's terms of use, as long as they do not violate Instagram's guidelines for promotions. “This behavior does not violate our guidelines. Our guidelines are constantly being reviewed so that Instagram remains an authentic and safe place of inspiration and expression, ”a company spokeswoman told OMR about the giveaways organized by Curated Businesses. However, Facebook emphasizes that this assessment only relates to these specific examples.

Indication of the success of the campaign with a loop giveaway from Kylie Jenner and Curated Businesses, © Curated Businesses

RTL series actors use loop giveaways

Curated Businesses explains on its own website that the participating accounts would have gained up to 230,000 followers through the giveaways - it remains unclear whether this number relates to individual accounts or spread over several accounts. Jake Paul's manager Adam Quinn is said to have given potential participants in a loop giveaway from Team 10 an increase of up to 500,000 followers in an Instagram story.

Who has used loop giveaways to gain followers? It is hardly surprising that there are many small account operators who are hoping for a great career as an influencer. As Later.com reports, well-known brands such as the online fashion shops Nastygal and Prettylittlethings as well as the upscale architecture magazine “Architectural Digest” are said to have already made use of this medium. In German-speaking countries, for example, Thomas Adamek and Aline Jost-Di Raimondo, both actors in the RTL series “Krass Schule”, have taken part in loop giveaways organized by the “germans.giveaways” account.

Marketing experts are skeptical

But can it really be advisable from a marketing perspective to build followers this way? Influencer marketing experts interviewed by OMR are at least skeptical here. "The method is suitable for achieving rapid account growth in a short period of time," says Mona Hellenkemper from the Instagram analytics tool Influencer DB. "Similar to the topic of buying followers, however, you have to ask yourself what the goal is: Do I want to get as many followers as possible who have no relation to me or my content, or do I want to build a loyal community in the long term? Loop giveaways tend to favor the former. ”“ What kind of people do you gain? ”Asks Sarah Kübler, managing director of the YouTube and influencer marketing agency HitchOn. "Sweepstakes tourists make up a significant proportion here".

In addition, the question remains of how sustainable the growth generated in this way is. An analysis of the number of followers on the accounts that users have to follow for the Germans.Giveaways loop giveaway shows clear gains in followers, for example with Art Creator ChiaraKokosnuss. Immediately after the post on the Loop Giveaway was published, she gained almost 3,400 followers to date, more than 34,000.

Follower growth for Instagrammer ChiaraKokosnuss (click on the picture leads to a larger view), source: InfluencerDB

The effects are usually only short-term

This corresponds to a growth of almost ten percent through this action. The long-term consequences are just as unpredictable for her as for actor and influencer Alexander Heinen, aka Mr.Alexito. It already has 192,000 followers, but especially when it comes to posts about loop giveaways, it generates a strong performance. This is shown by data from InfluencerDB.

The loop giveaway posts in the example show significantly more engagement than others, source: InfluencerDB

A clear indication that loop giveaways often only generate temporary engagement. Mona Hellenkemper explains: “This clearly shows that a large part of the audience is only interested in the giveaways, but otherwise has no relation to this influencer [...] In most cases, the users actually only follow the influencer because of the giveaway, not for example because they are interested in its content or in him as a person. So many followers drop out after the competition. ”This can also be seen in the BellaBeeBlog account. This was part of a loop giveaway from Curated Businesses, in which Kris Jenner (29.6 million followers) was used as a participant magnet.

Many followers drop out later

The number of followers on BellaBeeBlog has increased from just under 40,000 to over 77,000 in just a few days. With the current Loop Giveaway from Luxury Giveaway, the tourism account lofoten (now 265,000 subscribers) has gained over 21,000 new followers in one fell swoop.

But how does the development look after some time has passed? BellaBeeBlog saw an upswing in June from just under 16,000 to over 60,000 followers in just two days. On those exact days, there was a loop giveaway from Curated Businesses and Kris Jenner, similar to the one that BellaBeeBlog recently attended. From the end of June to the beginning of October, the number of followers on BellaBeeBlog fell from 60,000 to below 40,000. This shows that many followers drop out when the competition is over. Nevertheless, BellaBeeBlog as an account today has far more followers than before participating in loop giveaways. The makeup influencer Denisa Simam also won thousands of followers after a loop giveaway in November 2018. After that, the number of subscribers fell again, but not so much that all previously gained followers would have been lost again.

The follower development at Denise Simam after a loop giveaway in autumn 2018 (click on the picture leads to a larger view), source: InfluencerDB

A little something can get stuck

Obviously, loop giveaways can also work as a growth hack.Mona Hellenkemper explains to OMR: “Even if many followers drop out again, the influencer still manages to gradually increase his follower base if he repeatedly promotes such loop giveaways. Because even if many followers drop out afterwards, some get stuck. "

However, the value of these followers is still likely to be questionable in many cases. With the InfluencerDB platform, which analyzes the advertising value of influencer subscribers, loop giveaways can lead to poor audience ratings. Because followers who have been won through loop giveaways often no longer really interact with the respective accounts after the competition has ended. "If the audience of an influencer consists largely of participants in loop giveaways, the influencer has a correspondingly poor audience quality grade, ie has a rather less valuable followers," continues Hellenkemper.

The risk for influencers remains

In addition, any future partners or influencer platforms could be deterred by very irregular growth. That too can cost money. Sarah Kübler from Hitchon says: "If the value per follower drops sharply, the question remains how strong the benefit really is". Therefore, the agency's managing director advises influencers against the tactics. Despite the opportunities, loop giveaways therefore have a great risk potential.