Instagram Challenges: and what I learned from hosting one

The Instagram Challenge: and what I learned from hosting one

Confession – I’ve only ever taken part in one Instagram challenge. Do you know how they work? They’re projects which prompt ‘Gram users to create a specific kind of content, within a set time frame. Some are just for fun, like the #100daysofmakeup challenge, #throwbackthursday, or, one of the most popular, the #365days project (a photo a day for a year). Others are organised by brands or business communities to promote engagement and interest in what they do. They all have a unique hashtag so that you can see what other participants are posting.

My Instagram challenge

I’ve been going on relentlessly on my own account @notaboutthekids about a. how effective video content is and b. especially when you appear in it yourself. And so it occurred to me that this is the perfect material for an Instagram challenge of my own. Dare people to put themselves out there in their own videos.

Why video marketing? Click this from Hubspot.


The put yourself #outthereonvideo challenge was a 4-day kick-start aimed at getting my Insta community to appear in video content more, or for the first time. I launched a new prompt every morning (Tuesday-Friday) with a video (naturally) my main feed and Instagram Stories.

Day 1: simply BE IN A VIDEO

Day 2: tell us what you are doing today

Day 3: share something that you love

Day 4: and what have you have learned?

So that I could check out what everyone was posting, they tagged me and used the #outthereonvideo challenge hashtag.


Would anyone take part? I had no idea. A challenge is a sure-fire way to find out whether your audience is engaged and paying attention.

Here is what I learned from my first Instagram challenge and how you can run a succesful one of your own…

It’s been fab. You have really inspired me, and I’ve been getting some new followers!!! Check me ooooouuuuut.

People take part

Will wonders never cease? People joined in with genuinely unexpected enthusiasm. The most common piece of feedback I got was ‘thanks for the kick up the bum’. We all need a little push, and that’s what a challenge can provide. And it feels great to do that for someone. So go for it.

Be organised

Plan when you are going to run your prompts, then promote it beforehand to get people interested. You may also want to create supporting content (on Stories, your blog, or email) in order to get as many people as possible involved. You can’t expect the challenge to be succesful if you have a day off because you are not feeling it, or just don’t have a picture to post.

And keep it simple

Some of my prompts were trying too hard. Just ‘outside’ or ‘sofa’ would probably have been enough to get people on video, chatting about whatever springs to mind. The goal should be to make it as easy as possible to join in.

Thanks for doing this Helen. It’s not been as cringeworthy as I thought it would be – in fact, I really enjoyed it.

Only launch an Insta challenge if you have time to be present

Ouch, my screen time sky-rocketed during the course of the week. There is no point in running one of these things if you are not going to be around to see and share the content it generates.  Expect to get far, far more notifications and messages than usual.

It doesn’t need to be a marathon

You know what people are like, short attention spans! Here’s what I found; day two and three of my challenge is where interest peaked. After that, I sensed that everyone had moved on to the next thing. Now, this may not be the case if you designed a varied program of prompts. But if you ask me, short is sweet.

You must celebrate and spread the word

You need to plan how you are going to cheer people on if they take part, and where to share their content. Part of the reason they are doing it is to get noticed. Stories is the obvious place.

It’s a great (great) way to discover, and connect with, some of your most engaged followers

It helped of course that my challenge was video-based, but the biggest benefit to me and @notaboutthekids was the opportunity to see my followers, many of them for the first time.

Like nothing else I’ve done before, it has given me a clear picture of who is in my community is, especially its most enthusiastic members. Anything that brings in people who never usually comment on my posts or DMs me can only be a really, really helpful thing.

It’s fun

Other people are funnier and more interesting than I will ever be, and you can’t go far wrong by putting them at the heart of your content. There were so many heartwarming and hilarious moments during #outthereonvideo – Jill who fell over, the naked lady in the bath. It was funny.

It’s been a fab challenge. I’ve loved checking in and seeing other people’s videos. And I definitely wouldn’t have done one without you!!!

And – yes! – an Instagram challenge will raise awareness of your brand and grow your account

It works. I gained more mentions and new followers (over 100) than I have in a week for a long time. The simple lesson is that what you put into the Instagram community you will get back out. Just being there, posting regularly isn’t enough anymore. Ask, are you providing something extra. Something that makes Insta a better and more interesting place to be?

And then you can repurpose your learnings for your blog and IGTV

😉 so, are you tempted? Jump into the comments box below for a chat.

Click for 4 great apps that will make your video content awesome.

What's your View?

2 comments on “The Instagram Challenge: and what I learned from hosting one

  1. Bejal on

    I don’t always like putting myself out there on my stories and static post (Tend to do more for hotel reviews etc) but this challenge just really highlighted the importance of it and engaging personally with followers. Great challenge and thanks for the feedback Helen and insight into how to use.

  2. Helen on

    Be, HUGE thanks to you and everyone who took part, it quite literally would have been nothing without you. And you revealed your cheeky Jaffa cake side! xxx

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