What I Learned From Hosting an Instagram Challenge

I have no idea if you are anything like me, but I LOVE independent studies and case study statistics. I mean let's be honest here, I am horrible at math ... but man, there is something about numbers, strategies and processes that excite my inner nerd. Ok seriously, I have FINALLY recapped my success, the amount of participants  gained, and special tips on how  #TheInstaPrintChallenge has been one of my most successful endeavors, to date! You ready to dive into the numbers?

To note, before launching #TheInstaPrintChallenge, I already had a steady income of Instagram followers who were highly engaged. But after taking the leap to actually do my 14-day challenge, I did not foresee the awesome success I would gain in just 14 days:

THE BREAKDOWN

As of January 2016, there were 225 participants who joined my challenge (by way of Instagram, Twitter and my Emailing Lists)! This is most certainly astronomical for me! Ladies, I did not get lucky here, I put in hard work to break my threshold of having only 50-90 folks actually signing up for my newsletters + webinars in the past. Don't worry, I will get into how I made my challenge work for me, shortly. 

INSTAGRAM GROWTH (WHAT?!?)

Along with the participants entering the challenge via email, I also had an influx of  new Instagram followers as well. 


MAILING LIST GROWTH

To date, January 2016 has been my record emailing list growth in the matter of 14 days. Not only is it shocking, but there was a 90% increase in my open rate as well!



1. Slack is Where It's At

The whole purpose of a challenge is to not only teach your online tribe how to enhance their outlook or teach them a skill, but it is also important that we engage with them. Though some folks choose Facebook as a communication tool throughout their challenges, I opted to open a Slack channel where my participants and I could communicate daily so I could trouble-shoot, answer questions about lessons, help them through how to transform their Instagram ... IN REAL TIME! Now, that's powerful! 

I highly recommend using Slack because it's a desktop and phone app that acts just like a text messaging service. I mean, how easy and engaging is that! If you are interested in participating in my Slack Community where we talk all things Instagram, social media growth and everything in between, click on the image below to request a seat:

 

2. Host Your Challenge on Multiple Platforms 

Yup, you read that right! In order for your challenge to gain more traction and participation, I encourage you to open your challenge to folks on the social media channels you frequent most. With that being said, I also advise that you assess if these social media channels make sense for your challenge. 

Since my Instaprint Challenge was about Instagram, my daily tips were posted on that channel. On the other hand, I have an extremely engaged Twitter community and I knew that they would love to see my daily tips there as well. OK, are you hanging in there with me? Perfect! So, the last layer to this challenge marketing cake would be that my challenge needed a home base so that folks could also access the freebies attached with the lessons. So that you get how I made this all work without a hitch, take a slice of my challenge marketing cake:

  • Social Channel 1: Use this social channel to ensure that your community members can easily access each tip of the day.
  • Social Channel 2: This platform will be your engagement channel, where you can get folks talking and sharing your content and the sign-up link to your challenge. 
  • Challenge Homebase: If you have full lessons or freebies attached to your challenge, you may want to consider setting up an automated emailing system that will allow you to deliver these lessons to your community members. Throughout #TheInstaPrintChallenge I used MailChimp Automation to deliver my emails ... easy, effective and hands-free! Yes, it takes some time to write and design your emails ahead of time, but it will be so worth it when your challenge is live. 

3. Partner with a Fellow Girl Boss

Extend your reach by working with a fellow girl boss who is also looking to teach a lesson or skill. Collaborating during a challenge is a fantastic way to cross promote and be introduced to new audiences who may have never came across your content before.


4. Stay Engaged ...

During the beginning, middle and end. Producing and hosing a challenge takes a lot of work and dedication. Once the hard part is over, we tend to lag on staying engaged with folks who are asking questions, sharing their progress or even when they need our affirmation/confirmation. Honestly, staying engaged was my favorite part of my challenge ... it made me feel like a rockstar that my community members wanted to interact and learn with me. 

5. Keep Your Challenge Open to More Participants

Better late than never ... seriously! Here's a PSA: YOUR ONLINE COMMUNITY MEMBERS ARE ON SOCIAL MEDIA AT DIFFERENT TIMES (EVERY DAY). So why not leave it open for folks who want to enter at a later time. Yes, there will be a group of folks who are up-to-date with your content who may have signed up on the first few days of registration, but there will be folks who come on late too, which is totally normal. With that being said, make them feel just as important as the folks who signed up on the first day. We are all in this together!

6. 14-Day Challenges Perform Really Well (Or so, I was told)

In the past, I have seen 30-day challenges that take some time to create and execute, which is just fine. I want to tread the water lightly because I have not created a 30-day challenge to compare the results and participation from my 14-day challenge. But, according to the women who have taken and surveyed my challenge have said that they were more focused and determined to complete the challenge from start to finish. I am not downing or eliminating 30-day challenges from my focus, but 14-day challenges are a quick way to expand the reach of my brand.


7. Preparation is Key

Prep, prep, prep and prep some more! Challenges take time to cultivate, release and manage. There will be times where you will have to revise a lesson (so that it meets the needs of your target audience), tweak your challenge marketing approach or even think through how your collab partner and you will tie-in each other's challenges. So my dear, if you are planning to follow-through and create your own challenge, I want to encourage you to plan and create way in advance so that you can leave some time for you to fix any errors or mishaps before you launch. 

8. Don't Be Afraid to Ask for Help

It can be frustrating and a bit overwhelming to plan and host your own challenge. With that being said, reach out to your blogger friends or professional contacts that can be voices of reason to help you through the create process. They may or may not have created their own challenges, but they can still give you golden advice on how to remain productive when creating your challenge. 

9. Create Your Passive Product ... NOW

Hello ... after taking time to create a detailed challenge with freebies, lessons and maybe video content, this would be a fantastic way for you to convert this (free) challenge into a paid, passive product. Creating a passive product will not only show you how serious you are as a business owner, but you would have already proven how insanely valuable your expertise is during your challenge. 

10. Manage Your Time Wisely 

Waiting until the very last minute will not help you accomplish anything when hosting a challenge. Break down the amount of time you want to dedicate to creating your challenge. On top of that, you should also be planning at least two-three weeks in advance on how your challenge will be shared, delivered and how you want your community members to engage with that content. For instance, below was my two week build out for my challenge:

Week 1: 

  • Monday-Tuesday: Finalize Lessons for Challenge 
  • Wednesday: Schedule Lesson Emails + Social Media Content to Accompany the Lessons
  • Thursday-Saturday: Email Blast Emailing Lists to Promote Challenge
  • Sunday: Plan + Execute Marketing Materials for Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.

Week 2:

  • Monday: Begin Marketing Challenge Across My Social Media Platforms
  • Tuesday: Send Informational Emails to Registered Participants (sharing where they will be able to find content, when to expect emails and when the Slack conversations would happen.
  • Wednesday-Friday: Continue to market and spread the word about the challenge on my social media platforms + Facebook Group pages.
  • Saturday-Sunday: Re-read Challenge Lessons + Touch Base with Challenge Partner.

Week of Challenge:

  • Monday-Tuesday: Marketing + Registration Round Up
  • Wednesday: Launch First Lesson + Begin Slack Conversations
  • Thursday-Sunday: Ensure Lessons + Content Are Being Released Properly/Hosting + Managing Content in Slack Community

11. Use Click-to-Tweet Links in Your Challenge Emails

In my emails, I used a Click-to-Tweet links to encourage my online community members to share the challenge and also share the progress they made over the course of the challenge. Not only did this increase the exposure of the challenge on Twitter, but it was one of the direct reasons why the challenge started and ended strong, with 225 active participants!

 

12. EDIT, EDIT, EDIT

This is self-explanatory ... I hate typos, typos hate me and I try my best to read and re-read my content. I want to encourage you to do the same when you create your challenge. 

13. Have Fun!

Trust me, it is easy for you to begin to feel overwhelmed when creating a challenge. But, the hard work you put in will be so worth it once you begin connecting with your community members during the challenge. Treat yourself to a glass of wine and a dedicate at least an hour (each day) to build and connect with your challenge tribe!