Ragnar Relay: Instagram Case Study

April 25, 2016
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**Collective Bias is not affiliated or associated with Ragnar Relay in any way.**

Brands can learn a lot from the photo challenge hosted by Ragnar Relay (@ragnarrelay), a race company based in Utah. Ragnar has successfully engaged with its community of runners on social media, especially Instagram. Its 30-Day Ragnar Training challenge, which was held in January for the second year, garnered impressive reach and helped to promote the company’s racing events.


The company organizes races in which 12 teammates run a combined 200 miles as part of an overnight relay. The company started with its first race in 2004 in Utah and has since spread throughout the country. Ragnar’s popularity has led to more races being added in places such as Hawaii as well as the addition of a trail version of the relay race.


The 30-Day Ragnar Challenge is a fitness photo contest in which participants – who call themselves Ragnarians -strive to stay active for 30 consecutive days. If someone skips a day, he or she is encouraged to double up on another day. No excuses!


Ragnar uses the #Ragnartraining hashtag for the contest, along with #InnerWild and specific hashtags for each week’s theme. An example: #ChasetheSun for the first week, in which participants were asked to show photos of them working out at sunrise or sunset. Winners were chosen each week to receive prizes from sponsors and Ragnar. The grand prize at the end of the challenge was a free team for a Ragnar race, which is more than a $1000 value.


Ragnar started promoting this year’s challenge at the end of December. The challenge coincided with the new year, capitalizing on the prevalence of new year’s resolutions. In addition, a Facebook event was created where Ragnar reminded participants of the week’s theme and posted motivational quotes. People posted their workouts on the page as well.


The challenge was a perfect fit for Ragnar because it was an intense physical challenge – participants had to do something active every day for a month – which aligns with the toughness needed to run 12-24 miles in two days at a Ragnar race. Ragnar has built an image of being about teamwork, improving yourself and accomplishing an incredible feat. This was reinforced in some of the hashtags used for weekly themes: #GetStrongNotSkinny, #ConquerTogether and #BetterThanYesterday. These hashtags maintained consistency of its brand messaging.


More than 13,000 photos are visible under the hashtag on Instagram since the hashtag’s creation. More than 1,200 were posted in January alone, and another 750 photos using the hashtag have been posted since the challenge ended. The Facebook event had 3,047 people who said they would attend, plus 617 people who were interested. In addition to Instagram, the #RagnarTraining hashtag was used at least 249 times on Twitter in the same time frame. According to Ragnar, the campaign also generated about 3,100 emails and 10,000 blog hits.

What can influencers and brands learn from Ragnar’s photo challenge?

  • Your photo contest or challenge should align with your brand. The prizes and hashtags should also make sense for your brand.
  • Include a call to action in your posts. Examples: Ask participants to share the challenge with friends, use specific hashtags and visit your website for more information.
  • If you use a different theme each week as in the #RagnarTraining challenge, add other specific hashtags to make posts easier to find and enhance reach.
  • Consider posting collages of favorite participant photos. People love to feel like they are a part of your community, and they love being featured by their favorite brands.
  • Interact with the community by liking, sharing or commenting on photos.
  • Be transparent. Share the names of winners at the end of the contest and do so in a timely manner.
  • Use other social media sites, like Facebook and Twitter, to promote your Instagram challenge. For instance, create an event for your challenge and ask people to invite friends.
  • Use a hashtag that can live on.  People have continued to use the hashtag even after the contest period to connect with other runners.

A case study of Ragnar Relay's Instagram Challenge shows valuable insights into brand awareness. Click To Tweet

Marette Flora is a writer and editor living in Chicago. She enjoys running and yoga and has participated in the Ragnar Challenge in addition to four Ragnar Relays. She shares posts about food, fitness and fun on her blog and on Instagram and Twitter.

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