How Wofford Grew Their Instagram Following by 150% in 10 Days

Want to boost your following on Pinterest and Instagram, showcase the awesome school swag currently on the shelves in your bookstore, and give alumni a shot at winning a prize of their own choosing? (Whew, that’s a lot.) Well, that’s precisely what the alumni relations office at Wofford College accomplished this past spring when they took to social media to launch their “Pin it to Win it” contest.

Here’s how it worked:

  • Wofford College created a Pinterest board with photos of potential prizes from their bookstore. Alumni could enter by repinning the prize(s) they would like to win using the hashtag #winwofford.
  • The photos were also posted to the WoffordAlumni Instagram account, and alumni could enter by favoriting or commenting on the prize(s) they would like to win.
  • They promoted the contest on Facebook and Twitter and told alumni they could enter by tweeting the prize they wanted to win to @WoffordAlumni using the #winwofford hashtag.
  • Contestants could enter for as many prizes as they liked, but their name would only be entered once for each prize.
  • At the end of the ten day contest, three winners were drawn and received the prize that was associated with their name.

We checked in with Ashley Rowe, Alumni and Annual Giving Communications Coordinator who conceptualized and managed the contest, to learn more.

What inspired “Pin it to Win it”?
“I was looking at blogs and trying to see what other companies, not necessarily non-profits, were doing online. I wanted to find something that used pictures because we had just started our alumni Instagram account. I eventually found a similar contest that Macy’s did using Pinterest, and I decided to adopt the idea. Our bookstore doesn’t have a great online presence, so I connected with them to see if they would be interested in participating, as it was essentially free advertising for their merchandise.”

How did you spread the word about this contest?
“We started out by sending an email to our entire list which is around 10,000 people. We wanted to focus this contest on our young alumni because they are the hardest to engage and the most active on social media. We promoted the contest on Facebook and Twitter, the places we already have a solid following, and drove them to Pinterest and Instagram for the rules. On Instagram, we actually wrote out the rules, took a picture of them, and uploaded that picture to explain how it works. We also had a page explaining the contest on our website.”

Alumni could enter to win on Pinterest, Twitter, or Instagram; on which platform did you see the highest level of engagement?
“Instagram definitely had the most entries which was surprising because we were planning for the contest to really focus on Pinterest. We had just started our Instagram account in April, and when we started the campaign it only had eight followers, but over the ten day contest we had a 150% increase! Today, we’re up to 195 people following our Instagram account which is huge for such a small school. Anyways, 729 people entered on Instagram, 632 on Pinterest, and only 30 on Twitter. Our Pinterest following grew by 43% over the course on the contest.”

How did alumni respond to the contest and what feedback did you receive?
“There was no negative feedback, from everything I heard, people loved it. A few people were really excited and started liking everything–I think they just wanted to win something! People were happy that they had a choice in which prize they could win. A lot of times we have contests where it’s only one prize you can win, like a Terrier Tumbler or a Wofford t-shirt, and you leave people out that aren’t interested in winning those items. I think we had such a high level of engagement because people were excited about getting to pick their prize. Also, the prizes ranged from around $5 to $75, so people had a chance to win the more expensive items that they may have wanted since school, but never wanted to spend the money.”

Did “Pin it to Win it” meet or exceed your expectations?
“It absolutely exceeded what we expected. I thought we would get around 300-500 entries, but ended up with 1,391 entries! It especially exceeded my expectations with Instagram because our account was brand new and we got so many new followers.”

If you were to hold the contest again, is there anything you would change?
“I would eliminate the twitter aspect. I figured it would be helpful because people could use the hashtag, but it just kind of flopped. I think it’s because Twitter is not a graphic platform like Instagram and Pinterest. I would also have more than one person monitor the entries– keeping up with them became like a full time job for the ten days. I used Instagrille, it’s an app you can download on your PC, to track activity from Instagram and found it extremely helpful. You can’t upload photos, but you can search for hashtags and Instagrille will update you throughout the day when people post using your hashtag–it also allows you to see of the number of likes per photo.

The other thing I’ll mention is that a few people complained about the fact that you couldn’t enter the contest on Facebook; they were alumni that didn’t have a Pinterest or Instagram account. Even though our largest following is on Facebook, we decided not to use it because of the restrictions they have for entering contests–you can’t simply like a picture and be entered to win. I recently read an article on about Pinterest changing their policies for entering contest, so I would recommend for anyone planning a similar campaign to make sure they check out the evolving rules before planning their contest.”

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