Jen’s Tar Pit – Starting with a Bang!

Nov 8, 2014
The Reptile Report
by Jennifer Greene

The Reptile Report - We’re kicking off the start of Jen’s Tar Pit, a collection of stuff “stuck” from around the web related to reptiles, reptile husbandry, and if you’re a reptile business owner… things that’ll help make your social media stuff run a bit smoother.

To start, we’re going to walk you through a fun, popular way to gain followers, engagement, and generally boost your presence on Instagram… As in, a contest!  Jen is giving away a FREE female spider ball python to the winner of her Instagram contest, which kicks off soon.

How do you enter?  When does it start?  When does it end?

Details are here; click to view!

Why an Instagram contest?  Not only is it to celebrate hitting 1,000 fans, but it also encourages those fans to engage with the account, and feel as though they are gaining something from following along with TyrannosaurJen.  Fans do not follow pages to benefit businesses; rather, they follow pages to benefit themselves.

With this in mind, let’s review the basic principles of running an Instagram contest.

One – What’s your goal?

Are you trying to get more fans?  Are you trying to increase the engagement from the fans you already have?  Are you trying to generate traffic to your website (measured and referred to from here on out as “clicks”)?  It is important to consciously decide what you want your goal to be before setting up a contest and beginning to promote it.  If your contest encourages people to like and engage with your content, but what you needed more was followers, then no matter how many likes you get, your contest is going to fail to get the results you need.

Make sure that the photo you use is one that you’d want to click “like” on!  Blurry, out of focus, or boring photos are no fun to have in a feed.


This photo, while it has potential, is too blurry to be a good candidate for a quality Instagram photo.  It’s junk as far as posting material is concerned.


This photo is crisp, in focus, and showcases the snake well.  It works as great Instagram content!

With this in mind, craft a contest that will encourage fans to interact with you in the way that best suits you.

Looking for more followers or fans?  Craft a contest that encourages the use of a hashtag you create, and be sure to closely monitor and actively engage in all instances of that hashtag.  You do not need to follow every single person who uses the hashtag, but you do need to engage with them somehow.  Just a like can be enough if you are busy!

Looking to get your current followers or fans to engage with your content more?  Craft a contest that rewards your most engaged followers, utilizing one of many tools that tell you who comments or likes your content the most often.  Randomly select a winner among a photo with likes, or select a winner based on who tags the most people that follow your page.  You can really get creative!

Looking for more traffic to your website?  Using Instagram, this can be tough.  I recommend keeping your website URL in the “about” section of your profile, and instead focusing on Instagram as a method for promoting what your brand/company stands for.  Not sure what that means when it comes to reptiles?  Don’t worry, there’s a blog post about that coming soon.  😉

Two – the contest!

Make the contest fun.

Make the contest simple.

If you need more than two sentences to describe it, your contest is too complicated.  The rules naturally can end up a bit more precise, but your fans should be able to tell friends about your contest quickly and easily.

Make sure that there is not only plenty of time for your followers to find out about the contest and get involved, but that during that time, you are actively promoting it, and at the same time, do not let it run too long.  A mega-band can get away with running a contest for two months, but a smaller brand or business should not tax their fans with such prolonged engagement.  You will tire out your fans and tire out the contest if you run it for too long.

How long is too long?  For most companies, running a contest for a week or two should be enough time to gauge how effective it can be.  If you see complaints of not finding out about the contest soon enough, or there are more than one or two comments wishing they’d known about the contest sooner, consider extending the time period out by a day or a week at a time.

Make sure to track your results – if your two week contest sees a huge dip in entries at the end of the first week, that is a contest that should have run for only one week.  Conversely, if most of your entries come near the last half of the contest, then your contest could have added an extra week or two to its life to get the maximum effect.

Plain and simple, there are no hard and fast rules for contest length.  However, it does pay to be attentive to the contest while it is running, and use that information to your advantage.

Three – Make good on your prize!

It is absolutely vital to ensure that the prize gets to your winner in excellent shape, in a timely manner, and that you encourage they continue to engage with your brand and username after winning.   This is your opportunity to engage with someone in such a meaningful way that they become a “brand ambassador”, or at the very least, they will enthusiastically endorse you if the situation arises.

This means if your giveaway is an animal, you are sending a top notch, healthy creature that is packed and shipped to the best of industry standards.  I cannot recommend ShipYourReptiles enough for this part of the process; if you are unsure of how to pack your animal (in the case of the small breeder shipping for the first time) or if you are a more experienced breeder just looking for something simpler than setting up your own FedEx account… Ship Your Reptiles is the way to go.

If you are sending a product, pack it appropriately so it does not break or get damaged in the process.  Do not skimp on packing materials, and be sure to include business cards, fliers, and stickers if you have them.

Make sure to check in for a review of a simple ball python morph giveaway, a walk through of how to pack a baby snake, plus more reptile specific content!

Your friendly neighborhood dinosaur in disguise,

Tyrannosaurus Jen

check it out@ the online source
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