The TRUTH About Instagram Giveaways

If you’ve been on Instagram any time in the past month or so, it’s pretty much inevitable that you’ve seen at least one person telling you to enter their Instagram Giveaway.

Here’s the basic premise: an Instagram “friend” tells you to go to XYZ Giveaways page and follow everyone that page is following for a chance to win a gift card.

Usually the gift card is pretty substantial – I’ve seen anywhere from $200 to $4,000. The tradeoff is you have to go and follow anywhere from 15 to 30 random accounts in order to be eligible to win.

But who’s running these things anyways? Are they even legit? I wondered myself. So, I decided to join one and see what they’re like “from the inside”…

The Logistics of Instagram Giveaways

So if we want to get technical, I was invited to participate in the giveaway by my much more fashionable, Tallahassee blogger and real-life friend, Victoria Shelton. I believe she was invited by Aimee, the insta-famous personality behind the planesandprettythings IG account (she has 12.2k followers and counting).

Aimee was the organizer. She set up the giveaway page and collected the money. There were 20 total participants. The buy-in was $25, which we sent via Paypal to Aimee. However, there were approximately 2 ghost participants, who paid $35.

Ghost participants are accounts that are included in the people you must follow in order to win, but they don’t promote the giveaway on their page (we’ll get to why that’s relevant later).

The total amount of money put in the pot, so to speak, was $520. The gift card was $400 (in this case), so the organizer made about $120 to run the promotion.

The Real TRUTH About Instagram Giveaways
The REAL TRUTH About Instagram Giveaways

Why Participate in an Instagram Giveaway

Remember when Facebook was all about engaging with your friends? You didn’t get political articles, or click-bait stories or random memes popping up in your feed. Well, thanks to capitalism (really, THANK YOU! I’m a fan), Facebook realized brands would pay big bucks to get in front of all these regular people and our feeds started filling up with advertisements.

All the old people stuck around Facebook because they love political rants and pictures of other people’s dogs, but the millennials were like “ewww” and moved over to Instagram, where the space was free from the clutter.

Well, thanks to capitalism again (really, THANKS! I love money!), Facebook bought Instagram and started doubling down on the ads there too.

Ok, ok, but what does this have to do with participating in an Instagram Giveaway?

What this meant is, just like Facebook, it became nearly impossible to get organic growth on your Instagram page. The only way to “grow” your following, was to pay, and all the followers went to the businesses with the deepest pockets.

So, the mid-level (and low-level, considering they let me in) Instagrammers got together to come up with a new, innovative way to reach new people – Instagram Giveaways.

The thought process is: if you like following me, you’ll probably like following other accounts similar to me. So by doing a giveaway with a group of similar instagrammers, we can all grow our following and our followers can discover new accounts with content they like.

Do Instagram Giveaways Work?

This is a tricky question…

If you mean “do you gain followers by doing an Instagram giveaway?” then the answer is yes (for now). I started out with 687 followers. The day after the giveaway, I had 903 followers. Today, I’m holding steady at around 860 followers.

However, these “new followers” could be a bunch of random people who just follow every single contest account out there. If they never like any of my non-contest related posts, they’ll only end up hurting my engagement in the long run, which Instagram also penalizes you for. Only time will tell.

Wait, What About The Ghost Followers?

That’s right! Glad you reminded me…

I’ve been following one girl who has gone from essentially no followers to just over 7,000 followers in about 6 months by doing giveaways every couple of weeks. Not going to call her out. If that’s her thing, that’s her thing. But my point is, it gets old posting about a new giveaway and telling all your followers to like/comment/share/follow/give-your-first-born-to-the-cause etc.

So, what a lot of people do who are trying to build a large following quickly, without looking like they’re just jumping on every giveaway that comes their way, is to pay more to participate in the giveaway without having to promote it on their page.

Basically, everyone who wants to enter to win still has to follow them, but they don’t have a post on their page about the giveaway, so their growth looks more “organic”.

Are Instagram Giveaways Legit?

I’m going to be honest, I only looked it up after I had signed up and participated in the giveway (I only had 687 followers, so if I was booted off Insta for breaking the rules, I wan’t really losing big).

But as far as I can tell, yes, giveaways are legitimate. There are certain rules you have to follow, which Dana Kilroy does an excellent job of outlining in her article on shortstack.

However, the legitimacy of a givewaway also depends largely on the organizer. It takes a lot of work to go through all the comments and follows to determine who actually followed all the rules. And then you have to take it a step further and use a random name picker if you really want to be fair about it.

And then there’s the whole issue about announcing the winner. If you post the winner’s name all over social media, the people who followed just to win will quickly unfollow and the whole purpose of the giveway (aka to gain followers) was all for naught.

What I Learned from Participating in an Instagram Giveaway

  1. I want to be the organizer. As I have realized with most things in my life, I prefer to be in charge, so if I were to do another giveway, I’d want to be the organizer.
  2. They’re kind of annoying. Personally, I wouldn’t want to participate in one of these giveaways. It’s annoying that I see 1 or 2 giveaway-related posts in my feed every day, but if I had to follow all those people hosting the contest, I think my feed would pretty much just be all posts about giveaways, which isn’t that interesting.
  3. Stay on brand. I joined a fashion giveaway (and by joined, I mean i was invited by my fashionable friend). While I do some fashion posts here or there, lately I post way more about home decor and (foster) parenting, so it probably would have made more sense to join a mom instagram giveaway group.

So, did I answer all your burning questions about Instagram giveaways?! Is there anything I didn’t cover? If so, ask me in the comments! Or be a pal, and follow me on IG 😉

Why Kids in Foster Care Continue to Fall Behind

Imagine you had to physically fight someone. It’s high stakes – the loser dies. So you prepare for it the best you know how. You hire a boxing coach. You train every single day. You analyze hundreds of hours of tapes from all the boxing greats. Then, the day of the fight, you show up to the ring and they blindfold you, tie one hand behind your back and tell you “give it your best shot”.

That’s pretty much how it feels to be a foster parent.

You do everything you can to prepare as best you can. This kid arrives at your door and you do everything you can to protect them. To keep them safe. To help them because they’re scared and traumatized. Yet, there’s rules, regulations and red tape in place that prevent you from doing what you know is “best” for this child.

Foster Kids & Education

Foster kids continue to fall further behind in school, due in part to the visitation requirements set forth by the courts.
Due to visitation policies, foster kids are pulled out of school for parent visits, thus falling further behind in school.

Since Thomas and I both work, H is in a foster-approved daycare with twelve other 4-year olds. On Monday, the teacher sends a packet of homework home and it’s due on Friday. The kids practice coloring inside the lines, totaling objects on a bar graph and learning a new letter each week.

I leave work at 5:15 PM and pick him up by 5:30 PM. We get home at 5:45 PM and I immediately start dinner. Food is on the table by 6:30 PM, when Thomas gets home. By 7 PM we’ve finished eating. Then the whole bed/ bath/ book routine starts. H must be in bed by 8 in order to get 11 hours of sleep. Babycenter.com states 10-12 is the recommended sleep time for 4 year olds.

So, the first “choice” I have to make is do we do the homework or does H get enough sleep every night?

For a kid who’s not in the system, I’d easily pick sleep. Homework is just reiterating what they learned in class anyways, so they’re getting it at least one time, right?

For kids not in the system, this is correct. For kids in foster care, the choice is a little harder.

Foster Kids, Visitation with Parents & The Impact on Education

The other Thursday night, I got a text from a Case Supervisor. He wanted to give us a head’s up. Although H currently has one 2-hour supervised visit a week with his mom, it’ll increase to a 4-hour visit.

H’s mom lives 3 hours away. So once a week a 9-passenger van comes and picks him and 3 to 7 other kids up and drives them to see their parents. Consequently, H misses a day of school, because the county he happens to be from doesn’t do weekend visits.

Since it’s 6 hours round-trip and the visit is 2 hours, that’s an 8 hour day. So they can either add 2 extra hours on the same day for one 4-hour visit, which means H won’t be home until 8:15 PM (and not get enough sleep) OR he’s pulled out of school TWICE a week for visitation (thus missing another day of education).

In case you forgot, he’s 4.

Education: The Only Way Out for Foster Kids

I was very fortunate to come from a family who valued education. It was never a question of “if you go to college” but “when you go to college”.

In fact, my parents valued education so much that my mom didn’t take a traditional 8-5 job. Instead, she homeschooled us. Top educational programs is not what Alaska is famous for. But my parents wanted us to have the best possible chance in life, which meant the best possible educational opportunities.

So it physically pains me to know that this child who I am responsible for cannot get the best. In fact, he can’t even get the average. Because of a situation he did not create, he is forced to take the leftover scraps…whatever he can get. Everyone gets 180 days of school. H will be lucky to get 108.

In fact, he probably gets closer to 99 days. Remember, he’s also got twice the amount of doctor’s appointments than non-system kids. The speech therapy sessions and dentist appointments, court hearings and check-ins all are time out of school.

The Realities of Being a Foster Parent

We knew when we signed up for the foster parent thing it would be hard, so I don’t tell you all this for your sympathy.

And to be honest, telling you about it at all is kind of dangerous.

The reality is, at some point or another, as a foster parent, you may end up in court. As it generally goes in court, anything you say will be twisted against you in one way or another.

But I think foster parenting is one of those topics that no one really talks about. As a result, there’s all this mystery surrounding it, which is why I think it’s worth the risk to write about it.

If more people talked about it and knew what it was like, there’d be a better chance to improve the system.

If it were up to me, the first change would be to ensure these kids got a fair crack at an education.

The Best Crayons for Kids

The Twistables Crayons by Crayola are the best crayons for children and toddlers because they have a plastic coating, which prevents them from breaking.
The crayons will help you clean your house faster (I promise!)

Being a new mom feels a lot like how Christopher Columbus felt when he discovered America. 

You make an awesome discovery and then it’s like “oh, wait, the Indians already knew about that”. 

This has pretty much been my life as a parent thus far (which, I’ll admit, has been all of 3 weeks). 

The other day, H was coloring in his monster truck coloring book with colored pencils. 

The annoying part about colored pencils is you have to sharpen them every 96 seconds. 

As a result, you must complete every activity within 96 seconds to truly maximize your “free time”. 

  • In 96 seconds, you can throw a load of laundry in the wash.
  • You cannot fold all of the clothes in the dryer. 
  • In 96 seconds, you can warm up your coffee in the microwave.
  • You can’t make a fresh pot.

Completing household in activities in 96 seconds should be an Olympic sport. 

And while I love a good challenge, I thought to myself, “imagine how much I could get done in ONE HUNDRED AND NINETY SIX seconds?” 

As it turns out, a lot. 

The secret is to get a different coloring device. Crayola makes crayons with a plastic exterior so when kids squeeze them, they don’t break.

They also don’t require sharpening every 96 seconds. 

I am not the first to discover these, but since I’ve introduced them to my family, I am the hero of my house. So like Christopher Columbus, I don’t mind taking all the credit. 

So tell me, what amazing, must-have items did you “discover” as a parent? Comment below with your favorites!

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