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Instagram, Marketing

How to Use Instagram Games & Challenges to Grow Your Following

Want to host fun Instagram games or challenges on your profile but don’t know where to start?

We asked Bailey Stanworth, PLAY Digital Founder, to share how she successfully used Instagram games to grow her business and her brand.

From creating a playful concept to locking in your hashtags and challenge captions, here’s her 10 top tips to using Instagram games for growth!

What are Instagram Games and Challenges?

Have you ever been tagged in an Instagram challenge?

You know, the ones where you’re asked to fill in the blank, tag a friend, nominate someone to keep it going, and so on.

Instagram Games

Chances are you have — Instagram challenges have become increasingly popular as a way to not only increase your engagement but also your social media following.

Did you know these challenges (and games) are some of the most powerful content on Instagram right now?

This is because challenges provide fun for users while also creating a digital footprint through expanded reach and impressions.

With Instagram Stories’ new challenge sticker, challenges typically roll out on Instagram Stories, but since stories disappear after 24 hours, why not run an Instagram challenge on your feed?

I recently kicked off the “Bathtub Challenge” after seeing a friend @hunterraee post a fun dolled up photo in her bathtub and immediately thought, I HAVE TO DO THAT.

Which got my creative juices flowing, if I wanted to replicate her cute photo… how many other people would? That’s where the challenge idea was born.

I put on a fancy dress I was supposed to wear to a wedding that was canceled due to quarantine, poured myself a glass of rosé, set up my tripod, and hopped in my bathtub… naturally.

After getting the shot, I nominated some influential friends, including The Birds Papaya, Tia Booth and Elena Davies, to join in on the Bathtub Challenge.

Within a few days all 3 of them had posted their glamorous bathtub/shower photos and helped create a spiderweb effect. Suddenly, friends were tagging friends, and the hashtags picked up steam as the web of nominees grew larger!

The hashtag #bathtubchallenge went from only a handful of photos to over 2000 rapidly. I even saw Julia Roberts post her own version of the Bathtub Challenge… and while I can’t confirm it, I’m going to tell myself it stemmed from our challenge.

Another way I was able to cultivate an interactive movement on Instagram was through our recent PLAY Pong Tournament which I started to raise money for COVID-19 relief.

With 16 players we were able to utilize Instagram Live to essentially create a series of live games followers could tune into in real-time.

Again, I called on friends like Kaitlyn Bristowe, Jason Tartick, The Birds Papaya, Blake Horstmann, Elena Davies, Hannah Berner, and more to come together to raise money for a good cause.

Initially, I thought it would just be a fun little way to give back while quarantining in our houses but it quickly became a viral event that sometimes up by the end of the Live up to 100,000 people were tuning in to watch.

By the end of the first round, we had reached our goal of $10,000 and by the Championship round, we had raised over $15,000 in total!

Instagram games and challenges deliver a direct call to action that organically drives users to share and promote your content on their platforms. It’s a win-win for all, why wouldn’t you create your own Instagram game?

It doesn’t matter if you are a brand or an influencer, creating your own challenge/game for Instagram (or any social media platform) is an easy growth tool you can start implementing today.

Now, let’s get to the good stuff. How do you successfully create an Instagram game? Check out my top 10 tips and best practices for strategically creating and gaining momentum with your challenge.

How to Create an Instagram Game or Challenge for Your Brand

The digital space can be intimidating to show up in but Instagram games and challenges are a way to get creative and have fun with your audience.

I want you to have the tools and insight to launch your own version of a viral challenge so I’ve put together my top 10 tips and tricks!

Instagram Games and Challenges Tip #1: Make It Fun

Just like a viral meme or an upcoming event in your calendar, you want your audience to be excited to engage with your content.

That means, making it eye-catching, intriguing, and fun! Think outside the box and come up with something that as Marie Kondo says, sparks joy.

IG Games

After all, are you more likely to participate in a “See A Dog, Share A Dog” challenge or a “See Vacuum, Share A Vacuum” challenge. The correct answer is dog (I really hope you said dog).

Instagram Games and Challenges Tip #2: Easy Should Outweigh Effort

If you want people to join in on your Instagram game, it has to be easy. Because let’s be honest, people can be lazy.

Make sure the key elements (or props) in your game or challenge are accessible to the majority of not just your audience, but all audiences. To be extra inclusive, make sure you provide easy substitutions — think wine bottles instead of weights.

Instagram Games

You don’t want anyone to feel like the task is too difficult before they even take part. It’s on you to make it simple, by taking the unnecessary effort out of the challenge.

Instagram Games and Challenges #3: Talk Trends

Whether you’re on TikTok or Instagram, trends are everything right now.

Leveraging what’s going on in the world is a great, tactical way to spark interest.

If there’s already buzz around a topic, event, or pop culture moment, take advantage of that momentum. When people are already invested in a topic, they’re more likely to stick around and pay attention!

Instagram Games and Challenges Tip #4: Call For Action

The ultimate goal is to get others involved, which means you need to tell them to do just that.

Make sure you are giving, clear, concise instructions on how to join in on the fun and successfully participate in the challenge.

This can be as simple as asking your audience to “fill in the blanks and nominate 3 friends to take the quiz” just as long as it’s a tangible call to action to get involved and spread the word.

With this in mind, it’s worth giving yourself enough time to write and edit your captions.

One of the best ways to do this is by writing all of your captions in one go using Later’s Instagram scheduler on desktop. With the calendar view, you can craft and edit all of your captions in one go:

instagram scheduling

You can even add line breaks to your Instagram captions with Later, which is a great way to keep challenge or game rules easy to digest, even when you’ve got several points to make!

Plus, by giving yourself some editing time, you’re more likely to catch any typos or errors that might have slipped through the net in your first round of writing.

Looking to get organized and save time? Plan, schedule, and automatically publish to Instagram with Later

 

Instagram Games and Challenges Tip #5: Get Your Brand On

This may be the most important tip of them all: Make sure you brand your Instagram game. I repeat, make sure you brand your Instagram game.

If you miss this step, it’s like handing out a business card without your contact information — there’s no benefit!

Whether you’re an influencer or a brand, it’s important that your Instagram game is branded with your logo and social handle(s) that drive back to your channels.

When users share your content, you want it to be clear that you or your account is the origin of the challenge.

Instagram Games and Challenges Tip #6: Leave Your Mark

Creating a unique name and hashtag for your Instagram game is a must!

Make sure you are researching your name, hashtag, and other assets before launching to ensure they are not already active. Having a unique hashtag allows you to easily track overall engagement, growth, and results.

When creating both the Bathtub Challenge and PLAY Pong hashtags I made sure to research them first to ensure that they wouldn’t be polluted with other random posts. Doing your research and creating something that is on-brand but available is key when it comes to picking your hashtag.

Want to learn more about branded hashtags? Check out our free Instagram Hashtag Strategy Guide for everything you need to know! 

Instagram Games and Challenges Tip #7: Incentivize

Let your audience know what they can benefit from getting involved.

Will you be following select participants? Will you be sharing your favorite posts to your feed or stories? Will they get highlighted on your website?

Think about what incentives your audience value most and then leverage these benefits to entice your audience to join in on the fun.

It’s a great strategy to really kick things off and move the needle when creating a viral challenge.

Instagram Games and Challenges Tip #8: Think Like a Follower

Step into your followers’ shoes and ask yourself:

  • Do I have all the information needed to successfully join this challenge?
  • Is the Instagram game easily accessible?
  • Is it clear how to get involved?
  • Are the instructions easy to understand?

It’s important to take out the guesswork for your audience (and potential audiences as your challenge/game spiderwebs out to new audiences!).

Make it simple and break everything down from the eye of the consumer — make sure that you haven’t missed any steps or information that could limit people from getting involved.

Instagram Games and Challenges Tip #9: Follow Up With Friends

There’s no shame in asking others for support!

Give your challenge a boost by calling on friends, employees, co-workers, brand partners, etc. to support and kick off engagement by being the first to share on their personal platforms.

Remember a smile and mutual support can go a long way!

Instagram Games and Challenges Tip #10: Repeat

Just like creating any content, consistency is key when cultivating a digital footprint.

Consider turning your Instagram game into a branded series that you commit to monthly, bi-weekly, or even weekly. This encourages consistent engagement with your audience, plus it gives them something to look forward to on your channel!

Make planning your Instagram challenges or games easier by scheduling your content with Later.

Scheduling Instagram Stories and posts in advance is one of the best ways to get more time back in your schedule, so you can invest more time in engaging with your audience, or planning your next challenge!

Now that you have the tools to create a viral Instagram challenge or game, I can’t wait to see what you create in the digital space.

Don’t forget to nominate me, @baileyjst, so I can participate in your challenge!

Schedule all your Instagram games and challenges content with Later — it’s free! 

 

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Written By

Bailey Stanworth

Bailey is the founder of PLAY Digital, a social and influencer marketing platform for brands of all sizes. Join her on Instagram where she's helping brands grow and build powerful communities. And kicking off a few viral trends along the way.

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