Another day, another massive loop giveaway. Maybe it’s a Louis Vuitton Luggage Set or ooh, how about a trip to the Maldives? The madness has gotten out of hand and it’s about time someone on the inside tells you what that’s really about.
To be fair, some giveaways are a group of like-minded creators who band together and chip in to award a lucky winner a generous prize. In giveaways of over 15 people, that’s usually not the case. Creators pay an absurd amount to an anonymous organizer who charges 20-50 accounts anywhere from $200 to $2000 to participate in this “giveaway” and promise an influx of followers and bot ‘likes’ to match. That means that more often than not, Instagrammers will have an inflated number of followers and even likes on their pictures – Which. Is. Insane.
These “followers” are usually people who trust the creator and are willing to follow 40+ random accounts for a chance to win this glamorous prize while diluting both the creator’s brand and the follower’s Instagram feed. Cool! But even followers are getting sick of the huge promises and low delivery. They aren’t willing to go to @blog.gifts.big.prize.whatever and follow all of those random accounts. These people are smart and know that the 1/50000 chance to win isn’t worth the hassle. So what do the organizers do? Well, they get fake accounts, bots, and people in other countries to follow and boost numbers. WOW!
WHY SPEND HUNDREDS OR THOUSANDS ON THIS?
So why the obsession? What’s it worth? For some, more “followers” can be interpreted as more “influence” and therefore more brand deals, partnerships and social proof. Right? Wrong. It is just shy of fraud to be advertising yourself with a certain following and falsifying those numbers. How can you sleep knowing that you are promising a brand visibility into your audience – that just isn’t there? Brands are getting smarter too. Most have a “no giveaway” clause in their contracts and use monitoring software like Social Blade to see the influx of followers on certain days and other indicators of foul play.
AS A CREATOR, WHAT CAN YOU DO INSTEAD?
Now that we’re all on the same page about different ways that creators try to boost numbers – let’s move on. To my fellow creators, your number of followers does not reflect your value, your community or your influence.
I remember a few years ago I listened to The Goal Digger Podcast by Jenna Kutcher and she said something that really resonated with me. She said that chasing new followers is like being at a dinner party. Imagine that you have a table full of people who are eager to consume what you have created for them and instead of serving them, you are chasing down people on the street that may not even be interested in what you are dishing out.
Every single piece of content that you create should do one of the following: educate, inform, excite, teach, or inspire your audience. If you aren’t adding value to their lives, why should they follow you?
AS A READER, WHAT CAN YOU DO INSTEAD?
First of all, skip the massive giveaways. Focus on smaller ones that are from an influencer you trust. I don’t want you to be skeptical of all giveaways! There are still those from a small group of like-minded people who pool together their funds to purchase a treat! Truth is, a lot of us really DO just want to reward our followers!
Lastly, interact – interact – interact. Likes, Comments, Saves & DMs are FREE! Read your favorite influencer’s posts (even off Instagram, for those who still have blogs!), like their content, and leave comments. Show that you are truly engaged and find value in the content that influencers take time to create. & Yes, even on sponsored posts. I know it seems like no big deal when you scroll past a post the second you see #AD – but the truth is that most influencers work super hard to create content that tells a story for brands. When those posts underperform compared to the non-sponsored posts brands get disappointed. Remember, it’s the brand deals that help justify the enormous amount of time that people spend on this ‘hobby’ so help your favorite influencers out and take a moment to engage with ALL of their content, especially the sponsored stuff.
Just remember, the amount of Instagram followers that you have does not define your community. In fact, more and more brands are opting to work with ‘micro-influencers’ because of the relationship that they have with their audience. The most important thing that an influencer can have is the trust of their community. So work hard, develop content that adds value to your community, and build relationships. There are no shortcuts, at least, not in the long haul.