Is Instagram comp tagging out of control?

Recently I’ve been entering more prize draws on Instagram. But my delight at finding a fabulous new giveaway is quickly replaced by annoyance when I see those dreaded words in the caption…

“Tag a friend. Each comment is an entry, must tag a different friend in each comment”

“Tag two friends in a comment (as many comments as you want but tag different friends)”

“Tag one friend per entry but enter as many times as you like”

I find this type of prize draw infuriating. An entrant gets a prize draw entry for each comment they leave – and can drastically increase their chance of winning as a result.

Unlike Facebook and Twitter, Instagram doesn’t give us the ability to share a post on our feed – it requires a screenshot to be taken and reuploaded with the information, or the use of an app like Repost. And promoters know this might be a bit too much to expect from an entrant. After all – the whole purpose of Instagram is to upload our own photos and videos, and who wants to spoil their profile with someone else’s stuff? So regram/repost comps aren’t that common.

Promoters could ask an entrant to share a post to their Instagram Stories – this is great as it doesn’t spoil a profile page, and can also reach lots of viewers, but it can also be tricky for a promoter to keep track of entries.

But most often, a promoter usually wants entrants to spread the word about their giveaway by asking them to tag a friend on their post. Or maybe two or three friends. That’s easy enough for the entrants – most Instagram users have at least a couple of friends who would be interested in a pair of handmade pom pom earrings!

But lately, I’ve noticed a trend in promoters asking us to tag as many friends as we can, in separate comments – with each of those comments counting as a new entry into the draw. So for example, an Instagram comp with 80 comments might have 20 comments from the same entrant, giving that entrant a 1-in-4 chance of winning.

Many tagged friends aren’t real accounts

I’ve been looking out for people that leave multiple comments on competition posts, and some of the tagged users aren’t quite what they seem. On several posts I’ve counted thirty or more friend tags from the same entrant! Tapping those “friends” names, here’s what I’ve discovered:

  • Private accounts with a handful of followers
  • Accounts with no photos at all, and a couple of followers
  • Accounts with one or two photos that are more than a year old
  • Business accounts (belonging to the tagger)
  • Made up account names (‘user not found’ when you tap the name)

Now, if I tag a friend in a comment on Instagram, my friend will usually tap the heart on my comment – and sometimes even leave a reply. I tag real, regular Instagram users – because I know they would appreciate the prize.

But the type of accounts listed above aren’t genuine users – they’re not going to follow the profile or interact. They’ve probably not even logged in for 6 months. And should someone have a better chance of winning a prize because they’ve tagged 20 dormant Instagram accounts? I don’t think they should.

In fact, regular followers of a brand may be put off from entering when they see a long spammy list of tagged names from the same person, believing they won’t have a chance of winning when someone else already has twenty entries in the draw! Why alienate real fans for the sake of a few useless tags?

Of course, lots of multiple taggers are tagging genuine friends – so please don’t think I’m tarring them all with the same brush! But wouldn’t it be nice to make it a level playing field, and give everyone the same chance of winning?

Set a limit on the tags

It would be great to see brands, bloggers and influencers set a limit on tags – asking an entrant to tag three friends in a comment is more than enough to spread the word to hundreds or thousands of people. And if they really must ask for more, then set a limit – ‘tag up to six friends in the comments, each comment is a separate entry ‘- would work without getting ridiculous!

I’d also like promoters to stop automatically sharing Instagram competition posts to Facebook without making it clear that the competition is running across both platforms. This is very common with Advent competitions – but it’s not fair on the entrants, who have no idea there could be double the number of entrants. And for the promoter, it’s not as easy to choose a winner fairly when Facebook and Instagram entries are combined. It’s also worth remembering that Facebook Promotion Guidelines do not allow tagging friends as an entry mechanic! Finally, excessive tags on Facebook or Instagram can trigger a ban for the entrant too – so it’s not a good thing to encourage.

For more advice on running an Instagram comp, see my post How to run an Instagram giveaway – and please use www.getcombot.com to fairly choose a random winner from all those comments!

What are your thoughts – does Instagram tagging drive you crazy?

15 Responses

  1. Amy Jo says:

    Thank you for writing this! I find limitless tags infuriating. It’s spammy and really puts me off entering. I don’t understand why brands value having 800 entries (but only from, let’s say, 150 different people) more than having 250 unique entries. It makes no sense to me. Of course, more people are tagged in the first scenario but with so much spammy tagging going on on Instagram, there’s no guarantee people will open their mentions anymore as people are now tagged too often.

  2. Anna Lord says:

    I agree with everthing said in these comments and I do think Insta comping has become open to abuse and a waste of time, a little like Facebook. I must praise one charity who in their Advent competition state “tag one friend in the comments (multiple entries will not be counted)” not that this stops the programmed taggers! Equal disdain for companies and Compers alike who use unscrupulous methods!!

  3. Totally agree with everything you’ve said Di. I’ve never investigated deeper by looking at other people tags so that is particularly annoying to hear that they could be fake accounts. I tend to tag a few friends who like to comp. Ideally I’d say up to 2 or 3 is plenty. I really don’t like repost ones as they are Spammy but will occasionally do them. Also loop ones can get ridiculous. Absolute favourite insta comps are uploading a unique/ creative photo with a particular hashtag. Wish there were more like this.

  4. Helen Grayson says:

    I agree, it totally puts me off a brand that says “tag 6 friends and head over to twitter for more chancs!” It’s very annoying, when even large companies and verified companies are asking people to tag. I’d much rather see people put a comment and then tag one more person. Something relevant to the brand!
    I’ve only just started properly on instagram and it’s putting me off doing more. Maybe this will die down in the new year when they relaise people aren’t going to be entering as much.

  5. Laura Wheatley says:

    When I see tag as many friends for extra entries it puts me off to be honest and I tend to skip.. I don’t mind tagging 2 or 3 but I think my friends probably get a bit fed up of it to be honest. I’m just not a fan of social media, I miss the good old days haha, I am very unlucky when it comes to social media competitions, however I do love the blog competitions (rafflecopter/gleam) and I feel like these are much more fair.

  6. Tracey Gwynne says:

    I find it tedious too. I notice now some Insta comp posts have 8,000 likes, so the chances of being picked randomly are low. Also if the brand is a beauty or fashion brand I avoid…. I expect that young trendy Instagram accounts want someone to win that they can benefit from. They can click on that persons profile and see if that person can be an ‘influencer’ or product placement for the company… they’re not going to award the prize to an oap or houewife if they are not in their demographic. I long for a few more creativly thought out means of entering. Comping is becoming spammy and overcrowed now which is a shame for anyone putting in real effort. :/

  7. It’s becoming more & more common & a worrying trend seeing as how open to abuse it is. I would much prefer one entry per person, and I agree that multi-platform competitions should be made clear as it’s very misleading.

  8. louise lumsden says:

    separate tags for extra entries is unfair, who has the time to do that for a start I certainly don’t, it’s a sure fire of getting your account flagged for a ban too. It puts me off when they expect tags, reposts or stories I just haven’t got the time for it, so I just leave one comment and move on, or I don’t even bother when I look at the comments and see one person tagging everyone on their follow list, so nobody else is getting a look in there are they ?

  9. I’d noticed a spike in this recently, and yep, it’s getting on my wick. (Coincidentally, my luck on instagram is also on the wane!) I’d like to see insta comps restricted to one entry per person as otherwise it completely skews things. I also think promoters should be required to say what platforms a promotion is running on – a comp running quietly on insta might well be exploding with RTs on Twitter. Given the vagaries of picking winners on Twitter, I’m also curious how the names all get added to the same bran tub….

  10. Caroline Tokes says:

    I agree I tend to not enter or just tag 1 friend, I don’t mind entering those that say tag 3 friends but anymore and I don’t often bother

  11. Davina M says:

    I skip past these type of competitions, unless it’s something I would really love. Also these loop competitions where you have to follow 478 companies to win a bar of soap

  12. Joanne says:

    I agree, it’s so frustrating and really puts me off doing Instagram competitions. I think they should limit it to only 2/3 tags per one comment per person. Only one entry.

  13. Diane Radford says:

    I wish all those companies could see this.

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