Steph Skardal QuiltsSteph Skardal Quilts

I Ran an Instagram Giveaway ... And I Probably Won't Do It Again

This is NOT a sponsored post. I wrote it because writing helps me clarify my thoughts on the subject :)

If you've been following my blog, you might have noticed I ran a giveaway with the help of Riley Blake Designs recently. You can read some content leading up to the giveaway here. I initiated the giveaway (approaching Riley Blake Designs with the idea) given an existing sponsored blogging relationship.

Giveaway Setup

Before I ran the giveaway, I researched Instagram giveaways and received helpful input from Riley Blake Designs since they sponsored a portion of the prize. My giveaway was set up with fairly standard rules: To enter, users had to follow me and comment on the post. Users could tag friends if they wanted to, but tagging friends wouldn't translate to extra entries. The giveaway was open for about 6 days, and the winners announced a couple of days after commenting was closed.

Giveaway Outcome

Here are rough metrics for the giveaway I observed:

  • I gained ~50 followers (and probably have since then lost some of them). To get a sense of proportion, 50 followers accounts for 3.5% of my following. I think I started around 1,350 followers, and ended around 1,400, so this is still small potatoes in terms of social media following.
  • IG insights tells me the reach on my post was ~1k. There were ~480 comments on the giveaway post, comprised of ~100 unique commenters.
  • I used a random command line coding tool (because I'm a software person :)) to pick the winner, but there are a handful of tools out there for picking a random winner from your comments. Though, I don't know if they account for unique entries only.


Here are some observations I made during and after the giveaway:

  • The giveaway didn't need to run for a week. Three days was probably enough, or even one day because I was posting other work in progress photos, so my giveaway post would fall into the abyss of the Instagram feed. Or maybe if I ran a giveaway, I shouldn't post anything unrelated while the giveaway is live.
  • A lot of people tagged friends in additional comments, but perhaps they didn't realize the rules didn't state that would translate to additional entries. I didn't intend for the giveaway to be a popularity contest, and normally when I enter giveaways, I'm deterred if I have to tag a friend unless I absolutely think that person would be interested. UPDATE: Lots of engagement on Instagram after I shared this post tells me that there are absolutely users who have good intentions on tagging friends, and I don't mean to alienate them. I personally just don't tag friends often.
  • Two out of three of the giveaway winners were long-time followers of me, so that's fun. Obviously, I didn't have a preference on who would win, but it's cool to know that my followers not already incentivized won prizes. I don't normally pay attention to my followers other than having to scroll back a ways in their feed to confirm they followed me.


All said and done, I'm not compelled to run another giveaway given my current motivations. Why? Because it felt icky to gain 50 followers in an aggressive manner (relative to a more organic approach), when I know they will probably unfollow me once they realize I also post photos of my adorable (not biased at all ;) ) kids. And my conclusion is not reflective of the sponsor, because they were very helpful throughout the process and getting their prize out.

Additionally, I have to remind myself that quilting is not my main source of income and revisit what it is that motivates me. Throughout the last year or so, I've realized:

  • I'm very motivated to create unique quilts that disrupt or challenge the way people think about quilting.
  • I like technology, and things related to mixing technology in quilting are a good niche for me.
  • I'm not motivated to make the same thing again and again.
  • Exposure doesn't translate to sales for me at the moment (because I'm not selling anything), although I have met a lot of really cool and inspiring people in the quilting world as a result of exposure!

And this is not to say that an Instagram giveaway is not the right move at a later date or under different circumstances. I have a friend who recently told me that I should just "Say yes to everything for a year, and then decide what I liked most", and for me, a giveaway is not that thing right now.

UPDATE: There was a lot of feedback on Instagram following this post. My intent was not to alienate new followers. I still am encouraged by engagement and exposure, because I love documenting and sharing, and connecting with others with the possibility of collaboration!