I Did a Hidden Giveaway, Here’s What Happened

Hidden Giveaway

As a social media professional I’m always curious about new ways to grow. I’ve done loop giveaways, the follow/unfollow method, engaging incessantly, and I’ve tried getting reposted by large accounts. I like to see what happens and understand what is actually beneficial. As expected, it’s getting harder to grow as Instagram changes, so we need to adapt our strategies, because what worked before, won’t necessarily work now. I don’t have all of the answers, but I have dedicated my career as a Social Media Manager, and my hobby as a blogger to finding out, so I did a hidden giveaway and tracked the results.

There are a LOT of feelings and opinions about large international giveaways on Facebook, and I’ve gone through many phases with them from hate to curiosity. Before the giveaway, I was definitely in the curiosity phase. I have limited the number of giveaways I do, and typically stick with hosts that I know and trust, and every time but once, kept them US-based.

Everyone wants to be the first to be second, right? So naturally I waited until a friend tried one and used her opinions and results to make the decision to try this Instagram giveaway. My biggest concern was that people won’t know what happened and think I purchased followers, so let me state this now, I don’t. However many people maintain the mindset that large giveaways are the equivalent of purchasing followers and to be honest, I absolutely had the same thoughts at one point. That was until I got caught up in the numbers and the feeling that I wasn’t growing fast enough.

What is a Hidden Giveaway?

A hidden giveaway is when there are a number of accounts participating, but only the paid hosts actually post about the giveaways. These hosts have upwards of half-a-million followers and one host in my giveaway actually had 10 million. When the host posts on their feed, they direct their followers to a giveaway account who only follows the giveaway participants. Followers are instructed to follow everyone who the account follows and do a few other things like comment or like each participants latest posts.

You may also like Part 2: How to Fix Your Stats After a Hidden Giveaway

Results of the Hidden Giveaway

To start, I’ll show my highest point in the hidden giveaway. When you enter any giveaway, you enter with the understanding that you will lose followers who were only following you for the prize. After this first image, all of the stats following show the “Before” on the left, and “After” on the right.

Hidden Giveaway Stats featured by top US influencer, Kasey of Running in Heels

After the giveaway closed and the winners were announced, I lost about 1000 followers those first 3 days. Since then it’s been a steady -300 or so per day. It has been almost 2 weeks since the giveaway closed, and they are still dropping like flies. I have also been posting less, so that could be why my impressions are down! Additionally I did a small giveaway with a few blogger friends this week which helped me maintain rather than lose everyday.

Hidden Giveaway Stats featured by top US influencer, Kasey of Running in Heels

I always find demographics interesting, and this was my biggest concern with doing an international giveaway. Nothing is wrong with international followers, but the people most likely to buy the styles I post are in the US which is appealing to brands as well as myself for affiliate programs I’m a part of. I was pleasantly surprised to see my men to women ratio go down, but I was slightly concerned with my top cities. However, when I tap to see percentages, they are all at 1% of followers, so really none of the top cities have a massive foothold.

Hidden Giveaway Stats featured by top US influencer, Kasey of Running in Heels

Additionally I gained a lot of young people, which is also not ideal for a few reasons. First and foremost, they are not my demographic. Second, they don’t have the spending power.

Hidden Giveaway Stats featured by top US influencer, Kasey of Running in Heels

This is where things really start to get interesting. My impressions have absolutely gone down. Now an argument could be made for my lack of photos, since I’ve been posting less overall, but note that the top 3 in my 30 days after the giveaway were posts were supposed to be liked and commented on for an additional entry to the giveaway. I was getting so many spam comments I actually turned off commenting on  those images for the duration of the giveaway.

Hidden Giveaway Stats featured by top US influencer, Kasey of Running in Heels

My Instagram stories impressions were largely unaffected, and have been for months. They don’t seem to change almost at all!

Hidden Giveaway Stats featured by top US influencer, Kasey of Running in Heels

My engagement is at an all time low. I do think the giveaway had something to do with it, and here’s why. When you get new followers, those new followers are served your content since by following you, they are technically saying they like you and want to see your posts. When these people don’t like your post, they will no longer be served the posts. Now Instagram is confused and doesn’t know who, if anyone to show your posts to. It’s not an exact science, but it’s what I’ve determined from this experience. Now the trick is getting my posts back into the feeds of people who actually want to see my content.

Hidden Giveaway Stats featured by top US influencer, Kasey of Running in Heels

Final Notes: Am I happy with the Hidden Giveaway Results? Would I Do it Again?

No. While on the surface it looks good to have a higher number, I think I really screwed up my stats, and I am not happy with the background of what happened in this giveaway. While they are real people, the majority of these people are not ones who are benefiting me or the brands I work with in any way. Even though giveaways are more prevalent now, I still think it looks sketchy to have a massive jump in a couple of days.

You may also like Part 2: How to Fix Your Stats After a Hidden Giveaway

Followers vs Audience

I have always preferred to refer to the people that read my blog and are active on my Instagram as an audience, rather than followers. That is something I learned from one of my favorite bloggers Wendy’s Lookbook. Followers are just a number, which in regards to this giveaway, that’s all i was looking for, but an audience is people who are interested and there intentionally and willingly. I want an audience, not just a number, which I lost sight of recently. I have resolved to stop constantly reaching for more, and be happy with what I have. So to those of you reading, thank you for being a part of my amazing audience! I SO appreciate your support as I trial and test tactics in the name of research!

Leave a Comment


  1. Maggie wrote:

    THANK YOU for posting this!! I love how you broke it down with the results and showed how these giveaways are not always what they seem.

    Posted 2.12.18 Reply
    • Thanks for reading, Maggie! I figured it was best to be transparent about all of it, whether the results were desirable or not!

      Posted 2.12.18 Reply
  2. Jessica wrote:

    This is so crazy! Wow! That is a lot of followers in a few days!
    xo Jessica

    Posted 2.12.18 Reply
  3. Fabulous post Kasey….especially the end. The whole numbers thing drives me nuts! Having readers that truly look forward to reading our content and feel some type of connection is soooo much more rewarding than a big number that has never even read a single blog post. I have only participated in one loop giveaway and I didn’t care for it. To be honest I find it a bummer to gain readers by “having” to give them free stuff. I personally choose to subscribe to blog content because I thoroughly enjoy them and they inspire me not because they give me free stuff. I desire the same type of readers. My audience is still on the lower end of things. And I’m ok with that. The connection I desire with my readers just takes time.
    Thank you for sharing your experience Kasey. xo

    Posted 2.12.18 Reply
  4. Stephanie wrote:

    This was helpful to read! I remember doing my first loop giveaway last year – after finally reaching 10k all on my own (took three years to do so). I was so excited when I gained 5-6k followers, but then I lost over 2k of them and have been stuck at 13k for literally 6 months now. Instagram has become such a challenge when it comes to growth, even with engagement, great quality of photos, etc. It’s so stressful but I’m sure with hard work, it will pay off in the long run!

    Posted 2.12.18 Reply
    • I completely agree! Growing organically, or at least in a more targeted setting is so much better than forcing it for the numbers!

      Posted 2.12.18 Reply
  5. Taylor McLemore wrote:

    I’m legit so intrigued by all of this! I’ve been in limbo to do a giveaway since IG is being so weird recently but every time I hype myself up to do it I bail. Like I’ve been trying to do everything organically and while it sucks sometimes I don’t want to get caught up in the numbers game. It might not look like I’m doing much because my engagement is low on IG but when I look at my STATS for my blog they’re great and that’s important to me because when brands ask or I’m putting myself I have my google analytics to back me up even if my Instagram doesn’t look like it. ha. Comments are hit and miss but I have tons of traffic and my sales are good with rS so I can’t really complain. Thanks so much for sharing all this information and breaking everything down!
    Taylor | http://www.styleiseverythingblog.com

    Posted 2.12.18 Reply
    • Hi Taylor, thanks so much for reading! I agree, its your blog and your sales that are important! It’s so hard not t get caught up in the numbers game, but I think it’s worth it in the end!

      Posted 2.12.18 Reply
  6. Ruthie Ridley wrote:

    I could not figure out why my stats were so jacked up after my first hidden giveaway! This explains it!!! Thank you for breaking this down!!!

    Posted 2.12.18 Reply
  7. This is an amazing breakdown! I’ve heard so much about hidden giveaways and with this breakdown I am so glad I haven’t done one. It’s crazy how easily it can mess up stats.

    Posted 2.12.18 Reply
  8. Jennifer wrote:

    Kasey, what a great post. thank you for your tansparency and for sharing it with us.

    Posted 2.12.18 Reply
  9. Nelli wrote:

    Thank you so much for this post, it was very insightful and I am so happy you shared this info with us so we know the facts! Xo, Nelli

    Posted 2.12.18 Reply
  10. Nataly wrote:

    I am so glad you broke everything down like this! I have always been wondering about this, so I found this super helpful!

    Posted 2.13.18 Reply
  11. Susannah wrote:

    I really appreciate your honesty. I’ve been curious about hidden giveaways and giveaways in general, and you echoed a lot of my suspicions. Thanks for the heads up!

    Posted 2.13.18 Reply
  12. Great post Kasey! I appreciate you sharing the results from this because I was curious.

    xo Bryn

    Posted 2.13.18 Reply
  13. This is a great post, I ESPECIALLY appreciate the transparency and honesty. It does give a breakdown of what happens and what to expect.

    ❥ tanvii.com

    Posted 2.13.18 Reply
  14. Nicole wrote:

    Wow – what an amazing post! I’m not a fan of these types of giveaways (or loop giveaways!), so it’s really nice to see someone posting actual data! What you wrote about your target demographic is SO TRUE. I think a lot of bloggers are so desperate for numbers that they don’t think about whether adding those numbers will really benefit them in the long term because they aren’t really their target audience.

    Posted 2.14.18 Reply
  15. Jackie wrote:

    Thanks for posting this. I have been on the fence about doing one for the exact reasons you won’t do one again! What’s the point of a flood of followers who really couldn’t care less about me or my content? While I am soooo frustrated with my followers number, I just have to sit tight and keep being me.

    xoxo Jackie https://www.thatswhatsupblog.com

    Posted 2.15.18 Reply
  16. Thanks a lot! It is such a good post! I was also wondering about this hidden giveaway . I am happy to see the results. Actually they are pretty expensive and with the results you gave I don’t think it worth it. Still looking to find a solution to grow on IG!

    Posted 2.15.18 Reply
  17. Kristina wrote:

    I have never heard of a hidden giveaway but this post was definitely interesting to read! I think everyone is struggling with Instagram right now.

    Posted 2.19.18 Reply
  18. Chloé wrote:

    WOW! Such a good comparison. Love that you were able to get more followers, but sad to see it didn’t drastically change your interactions.

    Posted 2.19.18 Reply
  19. That is very interesting on the hidden giveaway. I had never heard of it so thanks for sharing


    Posted 2.19.18 Reply
  20. Ashley DTKAustin wrote:

    I feel like everyone knows my stance on these giveaways and loops haha but they seriously hurt your account so bad… Which sucks!! I wish there was a more effective way to steadily grow these days!

    Posted 2.20.18 Reply
  21. Brooke T wrote:

    Girl! I don’t even know what to think about giveaways anymore! Thanks for sharing this babe!

    Posted 2.21.18 Reply
  22. Shan wrote:

    Gosh I WISH I read this before I did one of these. I have a question for you… I did 3 of these and went from 5K to 35K… Will my stats be ruined forever? Is it salvageable? Or do I give up and start a whole new account from ground 0? My discovery rate will not peak beyond 10%, and lately won’t peak beyond 5%. It’s awful. My likes after it ended still avg. at 1000-1500 and now I am lucky enough to break 500-900 likes.

    I feel like my account is so screwed up, but I had a genuine dedicated following before that I feel awful about leaving!

    Help? I am so curious about your thoughts on this. Can I save my account over time and will this awful engagement fade?

    Posted 4.8.18 Reply
  23. Nila wrote:

    If you don’t mind, would you care to share how much you paid to be featured?

    Posted 7.6.20 Reply
    • I don’t remember exactly since it was quite a while ago. I believe it was over $150 but I have seen some recently for several thousand dollars.

      Posted 7.21.20 Reply