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#MIXGramJam: A recap of our first-ever Instagram Photo Challenge

From April 4-18th, we hosted #MIXGramJam, an Instagram photo challenge that featured daily one-word prompts that were intended to inspire. This was launched as a follow-up to the newest course in our MIX members-only content. For those participants who had recently launched a brand profile on Instagram, we figured this would be a fun next step.

The outcomes were exciting and surprising and we share them here, along with lessons learned, to encourage you to host a similar photo challenge with your own community:

EDUCATE: It was surprising how many members of our community (who hadn’t participated in our Instagram course) had never participated in a photo challenge and really didn’t understand how it works. Therefore, we’ve learned that it’s necessary to help them understand what an Instagram photo challenge is all about well in advance so that they’re comfortable. In short, an Instagram challenge is just a group activity whereby the facilitator sets a particular theme, assigns a hashtag that will be used to track the responses, and assigns prompts that participants will use to guide their participating posts. There’s typically a clearly-identified timeline. Ours was two weeks and that worked fine, although we’ve seen some that are longer. A 10-day challenge may be the perfect length, so consider starting there.

COLLABORATE: It would make sense to partner with at least one other Instagram brand to host the challenge with you to increase the visibility and participation from the outset. It also makes sense to invite members of your community to participate well in advance, getting their buy-in for the challenge on their own profile as well as their audience. One of our participants used a blurb that we really loved: “friends: I’m joining an instagram challenge hosted by @themarketing_mix for the next few days. We’re exploring single-word prompts each day to inspire new ways to tell your brand story on social media. If you always get writer’s block when you try to hammer out your #socialmediastrategy, this is a great way to get started without feeling totally overwhelmed. ⁣Use #MIXGramJam to play along ❤️ ⁣”

CELEBRATE: There were only a handful of participants in our first challenge, but it was still successful by many measures. First, our participants seemed to have a lot of fun and were able to get an average of 18% more engagement (likes, comments, shares) on their tagged content. Interestingly, our follower count grew from about 1,200 to about 1,500 in the two weeks of the challenge. This was an unexpected result that still leaves a question of why so many new followers … and yet no noticeable increase in likes/comments on content. The only other thing that this could be attributed to is that we also launched our IGTV channel around the same time … but haven’t really concentrated on populating it with content, so it’s still something that we’ll want to explore. The biggest measure of success, however, was in the pure fun and sense of connection that we gained and the satisfaction of seeing such creativity born from the simple one-word prompts that we shared.

Our first Instagram photo challenge will definitely NOT be our last and we’d love to hear from YOU if you have other insights or tips for making our next one even more successful!

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