Instagram can be a tough nut to crack, but so is everything related to social media and marketing your business. As online business owners, we know how difficult it can be to decide on a social media marketing strategy before knowing what the return on your investment of time and or money will be.
Nobody want’s to be wasteful of their time when they’re trying to grow a business or awareness of their blog. Done properly, and the Instagram challenge would definitely not be a waste of your time.
About a month ago, we concluded our very first Instagram Challenge. It was, by far, a learning curve in engaging an existing audience and keeping them engaged for 3 weeks.
Yes, 3 weeks! #blogtherainbow was an Instagram challenge that we ran from January 23rd until February 14th and combined it with a giveaway. We awarded custom brand photography, $100, and the Visual planning and scheduling app for Instagram called PLANN.
It was a major success for us because we met our goals and the hashtag has been used over and over again, despite the challenge is over. If that’s not a win, I don’t know what is.
Now, 3 weeks can sound like a long time just to get some people to use a hashtag, and it is, but you certainly don’t need to run your challenge for this long, but establishing your own hashtag is a major branding win for anyone and simply priceless when it comes to marketing your business.
We had a few reasons for doing a 3-week challenge, and one was to give many of our followers a decent opportunity to fit it in their schedule but to also challenge them to use Instagram (because many of our followers hadn’t even set up profiles yet).
Being that Instagram is by far one of my favorite social media marketing tools and that I believe our audience should be using it for their blogs and businesses too, I wanted to challenge them to use Instagram and this challenge to get back to the route of why they started blogging to begin with. You can read more about the challenge >> here.
So, should you try and create an Instagram Challenge?
Yes! and here’s why…
Why You Should Create an Instagram Challenge
Reason #1 –
This is an obvious one, but we should cover it anyway. It will help you grow your Instagram following. Done right, an Instagram challenge should encourage your challenge participants to follow your Instagram account. One way to encourage followers is to simply ask for the follow, but you can also do like we did and combine the challenge with a giveaway where your audience gains extra points towards winning when they follow you. This way, you are ensuring any participants will likely follow you, particularly if the prize is valuable to them.
Reason #2 –
Chances are, your followers already like Instagram and you. According to sprout social, Instagram is the second favored media platform with Facebook being first. This is among millennials and Gen-Xer’s. Besides all of the data, it is also one of the easiest and most fun social media platforms to engage on as a blogger and business owner. If your audience already likes Instagram and you, then I’m certain many will gladly participate for the sheer fun of it.
Reason #3 –
When you’re a growing business, it’s important to establish authority in your niche and become more established in your brand identity. What better way is there to gain the trust of your audience than to engage with them specifically and regularly through and Instagram Challenge. This will help you earn that closer relationship needed to get more of your audience onto your email list or buying your products/services.
Related Post: How to style flatlays to market you blog on Instagram
Ingredient’s You’ll Need to Create and Host Your Own Instagram Challenge
A Goal –
Make your goal a S.M.A.R.T. Goal (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and time bound). Don’t shoot too high, but do aim for improvement in reaching more of your audience, creating relationships with followers, and being of service to them. I wouldn’t aim for anything too complicated or lofty for your first challenge.
A Timeline –
Give yourself enough time to prepare for the challenge and the rest of the ingredients for a challenge listed below. Plus, you’ll want to gather interested participants well before the challenge starts and create some buzz. This will give them time to prepare photos related to your challenge and will also give you time to prepare everything needed.
Daily Prompts for the Challenge
This part can be anything and will depend greatly on your audience and goals. If you are a fitness coach and physical trainer, your Instagram challenge and daily prompts would likely be very different than the prompts for a challenge with a personal finance blogger. For our challenge, we went with a color theme of “rainbow” and included daily prompts you can see>> here.
An Email Sequence
In order to keep participants engaged and excited about the challenge, it’s a good idea to write out a series of emails that you’ll send to challenge participants. These emails can be simple reminders of what to post each day, or you can do like we did and include some Instagram lessons to help them improve their profiles (That’s only a good idea if it works well with your business and niche).
Pre-made Photos to Post
Just like your audience of participants, you will also want to prepare and pre-make photos for the challenge. Don’t get caught midway through your own Instagram challenge and not have enough photos to post. When creating your timeline of events, be sure to work in enough time to take your photos well in advance.
One of the best parts of hosting an Instagram Challenge is the creation of your own Hashtag. It’s challenging at first because there are so many existing hashtags, but take some time to brainstorm something unique (that hasn’t been used before) and that stands our. This hashtag of yours should not be too long and would hopefully be more about your audience instead of about yourself or your brand. People are more inclined to use a hashtag like #blogtherainbow than #ivorymixchallenge because it’s about them and not me or my business.
An Engagement Strategy
When your Instagram challenge is up and running, you’ll hopefully be getting lots of little pings and notifications about new followers, comments, and tags. This can be overwhelming. So, before you begin, establish the time of day you will sit down and go through comments and tags to reply and like the posts of challenge participants. Consider re-posting and tagging things that your audience shares too. This kind of engagement will ensure you are being thoughtful and leaving a positive impression with those who follow you.
A Follow up Strategy
Following up with your challenge participants would and should happen very quickly after your challenge has ended and should be worked into your goals and your timeline. Following up could be as simple as doing a “conclusion” blog post on your blog or it could be that you send your participants through a series of emails intended like a sales funnel. Whatever it is, make sure you follow through and quickly. You want to keep the momentum and excitement up about your brand and challenge.
In addition to the above – here are some Challenge options you can utilize, as you wish.
Something to Giveaway (optional)
I mentioned that with our #blogtherainbow challenge, we had a giveaway. This wasn’t necessary, but it worked well for us because we do monthly giveaways of custom photography every month with or without the challenge. So, the challenge was actually the bonus.
That said, you can add a giveaway component to your challenge easily with the help of programs like Rewards Fuel or KingSumo. Both of these programs provide opportunities for your participants to meet some simple requirements that you set, which then allows them to earn points or “entries” into your contest. For Rewards Fuel, I used the Instagram integrations and set it up so that when someone used the hashtag #blogtherainbow on their account, they could submit that as an entry into the contest.
A Partner (optional)
Sometimes, doing all of this alone can seem daunting. It’s a lot to do in a short amount of time and making sure it’s all done right and that you reach the goal you are after is key. Finding an Instagram account to partner with could be the extra hand you need, not to mention, it grows your reach by however many followers that account has. Pulling together your ideas and your resources could be very beneficial to your goals, especially if this is your first Instagram Challenge.
Instagram and growing a following may be tough, but with the help of this list above and this free workbook, you should be well on your way to hosting your first successful Instagram Challenge!
As always, post your questions below and we’ll answer them as promptly as possible to help you and other readers.
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