Marketing & Communications

The challenge, not only for those with big budgets

We have been implementing the “Help a Dog for a Hot Dog!” campaign for over 9 years. Every year we try not only to surprise the participants but above all to extend its scope. In each subsequent edition we introduce new solutions that translate into both image and performance KPIs. We have already used the mechanism of collecting donations during live streams on Facebook, which we carried out as the first agency in Poland[1]. However this year, our activities focused mainly on the effective use of the challenge on Instagram. This is a solution that many of our clients are interested in, but so far only the biggest players have used it. We managed to prove that it is possible to carry out a challenge creatively and effectively even with a small budget for a CSR campign.

Unobvious choice of channel

The choice of channel for the challenge results from its accessibility and low entry threshold for both participants and advertisers. Unlike TikTok, whose flagship product is the Hashtag Challenge[2], on Instagram we can run the challenge completely organically or promote with the budget we currently have. What’s more, on Instagram the form of the challenge is free[3] and unlimited in time, while on TikTok the whole mechanism must be booked in advance and accepted by the provider, meet budget and time requirements. Of course, not every brand can afford to create original music for a challenge or commission a campaign with a six-figure budget. This was also the same in our case. That’s why we decided to run the challenge on Instagram.


Challenges have maintained their popularity for a long time, but they have gained momentum in social media over the past few months. Their popularity is directly correlated to the restrictions placed on consumers during the pandemic and the resulting needs. At the same time, while looking for insights for this year’s “Help a Dog for a Hot Dog” event, we noticed in Google results that since March 2020, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in searches for phrases related to pets for adoption or breeding[4]. We also took advantage of the trend of creating profiles of pets in social media – Petfluencers – for which popularity rankings have been created[5]. While working on the idea, it was also important for us that the owners of the pets are very willing to share photos and videos, and up to 65% of them publish information about their pets on social media on average twice a week[6].

The assumptions of the “Help a Dog for a Hot Dog!” project,as a campaign for years associated with pets, narrowed down our field of activity accordingly, but the capacity of the challenge solution is basically unlimited and can be adapted to any brand or product. It is also worth mentioning that brands from regulated industries, which cannot conduct activities on TikTok, can successfully do so on Instagram[7].

Challenge idea

The main axis of the campaign “Help a dog for a hot dog!” is an annual charity campaign for the benefit of four legged friends, and we encourage Internet users to help the Tymmmczasy Foundation and make donations by having fun and using trends prevailing in social media. Our challenge was based on an activity that pet owners naturally do – bragging about their pets on social media. Participants had to upload photos/videos on Instagram and tag @performics_pl and#DogCareChallenge, to show how they take care of their pets. Each user uploaded content and nominated a few people to have fun and build a “how to care for your pet” knowledge/inspiration base.

We had in mind that the challenge is quite a demanding form of engaging users and even a seemingly simple task is more absorbing than writing a comment under the competition post. Therefore, in order to encourage as many people as possible to take part in the challenge and balance out the high entry threshold, we added an element of gratification in the form of special stickers and this seemingly small gesture turned out to be a huge hit. We also invited ambassadors who encouraged others to take part in the campaign. This allowed us to gain a broad reach and quality responses to the challenge.

The voice of experts

When developing the strategy and building the reach in social media, it is always worth taking the appropriate selection of online creators, influencers and experts in the thematic areas that the action concerns into account. Such an approach not only broadens the possibilities of reaching the audience interested in the event, but also significantly affects the quality and credibility of the presented content. That is why this year we invited people who work in dog schools, clinics and grooming salons to take part in the live streams to share the ins and outs of pet care, diet and grooming with the viewers. Additionally, in the comments of each live show viewers could ask the invited experts questions and share their own experiences, thanks to which the conversations became an incentive to spend their time wisely with their pets and at the same time an inspiration to take part in the challenge. Above all, however, the voice of the experts provided an educational component to the campaign, thus differentiating the event from a standard challenge that can be found on social media.

If the planned campaign in its assumptions is not only to provide short-term entertainment value, but also manifest an educational nature, we strongly recommend cooperation with carefully selected professionals.


Looking through the prism of paid promotional activities, the biggest challenge was the fact that taking part in the challenge required the user to take an action outside of the promoted material. The ad could only inform the viewer about the campaign, but in order to take part in it, the user had to perform several other steps: take a photo/record a video and share it on his/her private profile with an appropriate hashtag. Such a situation required good thinking about how to optimize the campaign. We decided that the best solution in this case would be to optimize for Brand Awareness, thanks to which we are most likely to reach people who will remember the ad. And if they remember, they may be more likely to perform subsequent actions. What’s more, we created segments based not only on the Core Audience (people interested in caring for animals) and Custom Audience (users taking part in previous editions of the campaign), but also on exclusions that allow us to avoid showing ads to people who have shown engagement on our profile on Instagram in recent days, which means they probably already had a chance to become acquainted with the challenge and its idea. When promoting a challenge, remember to use the audience groups that are most likely to perform the expected action, and exclude those who have already converted or had the opportunity to learn about the challenge. The possibilities and level of sophistication of segment creation and optimization depend on the challenge mechanism and the channel in which it is conducted.   

What should I pay attention to when planning a challenge?

-> Check the rules of the channel that you want to use, to be sure that the planned actions are carried out in compliance with the rules in force in a given platform  
-> Check to make sure that the planned challenge mechanism does not have an overly high barrier to entry  
-> Think about introducing an element of gratification for all of the challenge participants  
-> Think about inviting influencers or employees who will be ambassadors of the campaign to participate  
-> Set up a budget for paid social activities  
-> Remember than nuances will decide whether the activity is a competition, challenge, or drawing, while the classification impacts the type and amount of the taxes paid

Donation collection on Instagram

We were one of the first in Poland to test the donation collection on Instagram, which has recently appeared on the platform. It definitely works smoothly and seamlessly. When choosing a foundation to cooperate with, you should remember, however, that donations can only be paid to verified entities[8]. Therefore, when thinking about a charity campaign, we recommend testing the whole process on a test account in order to avoid unpleasant surprises at the start of the campaign.

User experience

Due to the fact that this year’s campaign consisted of many elements, we took care of proper navigation and participants’ experience. For this purpose, we used the grid on Instagram, which allowed us to present a number of activities arranged in a coherent whole and showing in a simple way the idea of the entire campaign. By clicking on the various tiles on the @performics_pl, the user was provided with detailed information about the planned live streams, donation opportunities, challenge rules, as well as being able to watch the live streams recorded on IGTV, in which we talked to experts about activity, diet and pet care.


Many customers are reluctant to opt-in to the challenge because they fear a small turnout and non-quality responses to the challenge that will have little to do with the brand and the task. Are they right? It depends. In our case, 100% of the responses to the challenge were qualitative. As a result, we were able to build a knowledge base and inspiration about pet care and bring attention to pets in need through fun activities. All responses to the #DogCareChallenge are available in the Featured Stories. What’s more, we collected 23% more donations for Tymmmczasy Foundation than in the previous edition and engaged not only our employees, who have been on home office for 1.5 years, but also people from outside the organization. In total, our charity action this year reached over 473,997 people.

Thinking about testing a challenge? Remember that a challenge must not only be engaging, but it must also comply with the laws and regulations of your chosen platform[9]. If you have no experience in organizing, promoting and settling various forms of user engagement, contact an agency that specializes in it. It would be a shame if the challenge ended with a crisis in social media or consequences in terms of PIT and VAT.

[1] Drapała, B., Jobda, K., Olsztyńska, Z. (2020). CSR During the Pandemic, MMP.

[2] A Hashtag Challenge is an advertising product purchased at a set price; You may not run a challenge or use the word or # containing the word “challenge” on TikTok unless you have purchased a Hashtag Challenge booking campaign.

[3] This can be done in any form, compliant with the rules of the platform and generally accepted social norms.

[4] Alloway, T. (2020). Dog Influencers Take Over Instagram After Pandemic Puppy Boom, Bloomberg.

[5] Most-followed pets on Instagram worldwide, Statista 2020.

[6] Lotz, K. New Survey Shows How Much We Love Posting Our Pets On Social Media.

[7] Regulated Industries, IAB Polska.

[8] More on the topic of verification is available in the Instagram Rules

[9] More information on the topic of the rules connected with the organization of a challenge can be found in the IAB publication“Forms of engaging users in social media”.

source: MMP