It’s no doubt that Instagram is one of the largest social media platforms in the world. It’s also one of the best platforms to grow your audience, build credibility, and become an authority in your industry.
Let’s face it; one billion monthly active users is pretty impressive — and you can get a large chunk of this number by merely running an Instagram contest.
Whether you desire to promote a new product or you want to grow your brand following on the platform, an Instagram contest is the way to go.
The good news is…
Running an Instagram contest is easy, but most folks get it all wrong.
How do you run an Instagram contest, and how can you get the most out of it?
Well, here’s how to do just that.
Select Your Favorite Option
- How to run an Instagram Contest
- #1. Define your goals and objectives
- #2. Pick an entry method.
- #3 Choose the ideal hashtag.
- #4. State the Theme
- #5. Choose the prize
- #6. Choose a selection model for the winner.
- #7. Create contest assets
- #8. Stipulate the terms & conditions
- #9. Promote your contest
- #10. Pay close attention to the submissions and follow up.
- Instagram Contest ideas for your brand
- Conclusion — run an Instagram contest the right way.
How to run an Instagram Contest
Before diving into how to run an Instagram contest, here are some rules to keep in mind.
First, the lawful operation of the contest is solely your responsibility. Also, when publishing photos, you’ve got to avoid incorrect tagging at all costs. If you go ahead to run a contest, then don’t expect any assistance from the platform.
You’ve got to make certain clarifications like acknowledging that your contest is in no way sponsored by Instagram.
Finally, running a contest is at your own risk — you should be prepared to take responsibility for any outcome.
Here’s the screenshot of the promotion guidelines.
Here is how to run an Instagram contest.
#1. Define your goals and objectives
Before starting an Instagram contest, you should define your goals and objectives. Having a clear purpose is vital to the success of your contest.
What’s your purpose? And your purpose should align with the behaviors and interests of your customers.
Whether you desire to boost your brand’s awareness, grow your Instagram following, or merely establish credibility, you should have clearly defined goals. This way, you would know if you were successful at the end of the contest.
If you want to develop laser focus, you’ve got to consider your audience. What kind of content do they enjoy? What is their behavioral pattern on the platform? If you genuinely desire to grow on the platform, all your content should be centered on what your audience love.
Furthermore, it would be best if you came up with a contest budget.
Yes, a contest should have a budget and a time frame. And all these logistics should be planned out upfront.
#2. Pick an entry method.
Most times, brand owners start a contest by encouraging their audience to post personal and fun photos. But that’s not all there is to a contest.
There are lots of ways to enter a contest, and you must stipulate how your audience enters your contest.
Here are a few ideas on how to enter an Instagram contest.
- Let your audience post a video or a photo on Instagram. The visual content should be in line with the overall theme of the contest. Also, it should come with a specific theme.
- Have your target audience follow your account on the platform. This should be done in addition to creating a post.
- Encourage your audience to make a post, then tag your brand to the post.
- Let your audience comment or like one of your selected posts.
The rules and guidelines have to be established first. And the best way of doing it is by clearly stating it while promoting the contest.
Bluefinsups did a great job of clearly stating the entry method of their contest.
Moving on, you have to clearly state other details like the time frame for the contest. How long will it last, and when will the contest entry end?
Aside from the entry details, you have to tell your audience how you would notify the contest winner. Will you message them? Publish a new post? Or merely tag the winners in the comment section?
#3 Choose the ideal hashtag.
Hashtags are one of those little things that makes a big difference. It’s more like a bridge between the contest and the content.
Hashtags are also the mechanism that drives participation and sharing in a contest — and that’s why you should choose a good one.
The thing is, creating the perfect hashtag is not a walk in the park. And since thousands of hashtags are created on a daily, creating a catchy and unique hashtag is not easy to come by.
The perfect hashtag has to be short, catchy, relevant to your brand, and globally recognized.
If your hashtag is short and catchy, your audience would remember it easily. You don’t need a hashtag that is overly lengthy and bogus.
Furthermore, the hashtag has to be relevant to your brand.
Here’s the thing, using the #HandWash hashtag is not cool, especially if you are in the fashion industry. Building a fashion industry brand requires a short and catchy hashtag like #SummerCloths or #ChristmasWears. A good hashtag should be relevant to your brand.
Finally, it has to be globally recognized. If your audience is from various regions of the world, you would need a hashtag that resonates with everyone.
See what @troutunlimited did here! The hashtag is relevant and universal, and they pretty much spell out the rules of the contest.
#4. State the Theme
Most times, Instagram contests are always based on user-generated content (UGC). Without a clearly defined theme, your audience would pretty much don’t know what to post. If you desire purposeful entries, then you’ve got to choose a theme.
A good theme should align with your products, services, and market. Anything short of these is of no good in the long run.
Here’s the screenshot of how @cremahh created a theme with their brand name.
You can also use holidays and public celebrations to your advantage. This is primarily accomplished by using a theme that is in line with the public celebration.
#5. Choose the prize
Every contest should have a prize, and it’s your responsibility to choose a good one. The prize has to be tailored to your audience, and it should be something everyone would desire to win.
Here’s the thing; aside from the mental (and emotional) thrill that comes with a good Instagram contest, a good prize is one of the critical things your audience is looking out for.
To choose a good prize, you’ve got to opt for a prize that appeals to your target audience — and here’s how to do just that…
A generic prize like a cash prize or gift prizes like iPads and iPhones will do you no good. Everyone wants those. But if you opt for a product voucher, then only your ideal customers would be interested, and these are the kind of folks that would buy your product.
When the winner posts eye-catchy images with the prize, it would go a long way to boost your brand’s awareness.
Your budget plays a significant role in the kind of prize you would choose. Aside from your budget, it would be best if you had your goal in mind.
Let’s face it; a free trip would be much fancier than a t-shirt. Therefore, the better the prize, the better the engagement you would have.
As a rule of thumb, the value of your prize should outweigh the energy and cost required to participate in your contest.
Most brands opt for prizes like free services, giveaways, coupons, and gift cards. But you are not most brands, and you can get pretty creative with your prizes — here is how to do just that.
This Instagram post shows that a different brand can sponsor a prize. This is a subtle way of giving a shout-out to the other brand and setting grounds for a healthy collaboration in the future.
#6. Choose a selection model for the winner.
A well-thought-out contest should have a clearly defined rule on how to select the winner. Most Instagram contest winners are chosen either by a jury or by voting.
Here is how it works…
Selection by a jury
Letting a Jury choose the winner is a fair play. You’d have to put up a team of experts to serve as a jury. This way, they get to read through the entries and come up with a winner.
The jury method is not all good; there are some flaws to this method.
But the key is to state your selection model to the audience clearly. They should know essential details upfront before the contest.
Selection by voting
One of the great benefits of this model is that participants are involved in the selection process. When the participants are the ones to choose the winner, you would pretty much expect lots of engagement during the contest.
Most times, the entry with the most likes wins the contest. To drive more engagement, you have to showcase a juicy prize. With a good prize, your audience would likely share the post across various social media platforms.
Finding the post with the maximum number of likes and comments is pretty simple. You can do that by using a instagram hashtag tracking tool like Socialert.
On the flip side, selection by voting may prompt your audience to use like bots. Like bots generate fake likes, which is not authentic metrics. You can eliminate these issues by enforcing strict rules before the contest.
#7. Create contest assets
You need eye-catchy visual content for your contest, and this visual content are not created in thin air. It would be best if you built a creative team that would design the graphics, flyers, and everything in between.
These contest assets would be cross-promoted on various social media platforms. You can also promote them on your email newsletter and website.
Create eye-catchy imagery that would be shared both on your Instagram story and on your Instagram feed. This way, you would quickly drive more eyeballs to your brand.
More eyeballs translate to more followers who would participate in the contest.
#8. Stipulate the terms & conditions
Your contest should be thoroughly organized. Everything has to be in place — and your terms & conditions are one of those things.
There have to be legal guidelines. And these guidelines should be tailored to fit your ideal customer avatar. It should also state who is allowed in the contest.
Your Instagram contest is not for everyone, and it should be clearly stated in the guideline.
Here is a free tool to help you create catchy terms & conditions for your Instagram contest.
#9. Promote your contest
It’s your responsibility to put your contest in front of the right people. To do that, you’ve got to promote your contest the right way.
By now, you should have a good plan in place. The next step is to develop a good promotion strategy, and here is how to do that.
First, you can start with your blog!
Craft a detailed blog post about your Instagram contest, and use the blog post as a starting point to launch your campaign. The blog post can also serve as your landing page’s launch point.
Next, publish a thrilling post on Instagram. You can also cross-promote on various other social media platforms. The ultimate goal is to drive lots of eyeballs to the Instagram promotional content, which will have a link to the promotional content on your blog.
It would help if you also focused on email marketing.
Yes, email marketing is alive, and you can use it to promote your contest. Extend the contest invitation to folks on your email list. A quick yet friendly email is enough to drive eyeballs to the contest.
#10. Pay close attention to the submissions and follow up.
Monitoring your contest is of the essence. You need to follow the participation and be sure that everything is going fine. Having a close eye on the contest will also help you to monitor the metrics.
To do this, you would need a contest manager.
Let’s face it; you may be preoccupied with other responsibilities in your business. Therefore, a contest manager will come in handy.
A contest manager will help you monitor everything from the launch of the contest.
It is important to note that monitoring your contest should not be done manually.
Here’s the thing; it’s almost impossible to manually keep an eye on every hashtag, mention, and keywords. You will need a third-party Instagram tracking tool like Socialert.
Socialert helps you to track all relevant metrics during and after the contest. This way, you get to have a detailed report of your Instagram analytics, make informed decisions, and also amplify your brand reach.
Furthermore, the Socialert platform can help you to keep an eye on your competition. It’s the ideal tool to help you know what’s going on in the other camp.
When following up, you should keep your terms & conditions in mind so you could weed out entries that do not follow the guidelines.
When the winner is chosen, a public announcement should be made to notify your audience.
Finally, you are ready to go. It’s time to launch your contest!
If you are still skeptical and don’t know how to roll out an engaging contest, here are some free contest ideas to get you off the ground.
Instagram Contest ideas for your brand
#1. Like, follow, and comment.
This is arguably the most common model of entry. By letting people leave a like, comment, or follow the announcement, they get to gain entry into the contest.
Here’s how Cosabella, an Italian lingerie brand uses a contest to drive more engagement to its brand.
All you’ve got to do is publish the contest rules and let the entries roll in.
#2. Instagram stories
An Instagram contest is primarily designed to give back to the audience, but that does not mean that you can’t benefit from it too. With an effective Instagram contest, you get to gain more attention and generate more eyeballs for your brand.
One of German car manufacturers Opel, uses Instagram stories to receive entries from their audience. They do this by merely asking simple questions.
If you desire to drive more engagement and get the words out quickly, you can get your audience to publish on their Instagram stories. To do this, you should merely ask your audience to post on their Instagram stories as an entry.
#3. User-generated content
If you are looking for user-generated content, an Instagram contest could come to the rescue.
Asking your audience to share sleek photos and using a specific hashtag for every post is the ideal to go. You can also get your audience to tag your brand on every post. This way, you get to monitor every entry.
Upwork, the largest freelancing platform is good at using this strategy to gain user-generated content.
Yes, there is a $1,000 visa gift card!
The simple strategy led to dozens of entries from their audience. Here’s a screenshot of one cool entry.
This strategy is the right way of getting top-notch user-generated content for your social media marketing strategy.
#4. Offline challenge
By now, you probably imagine an Instagram contest to be online.
Well, that’s not all true…
You can take the contest offline and make it work!
Here’s how to do that…
You give your audience the challenge of doing something creative outdoor — perform some cool stuns or something more thrilling.
#5. Caption contest
In the internet world, a caption is everything, and a good caption can make a post go viral.
Why not let your audience do the hard work? Let them think of a caption.
Let your audience do the thinking for you.
The caption contest not only generates enough conversation about your brand, but it makes your audience to reflect and think deeply about your brand.
Conclusion — run an Instagram contest the right way.
Running a compelling Instagram contest is not rocket science. However, if you want to succeed, you need to understand the nitty-gritty of an effective Instagram contest.
Having an objective is the first step. Without a clear objective, you are pretty much screwed from the beginning.
Next, pick an entry method, choose an ideal hashtag, and state the theme.
Folks who don’t have much contest ideas can opt for an offline challenge, Instagram stories, or the caption contest.
All in all, an Instagram contest boils down to generating enough results and measuring such results.
Speaking of results, you can monitor the results by using third-party platforms like Socialert.
Now you know how to run an Instagram contest, how would you run your next Instagram contest?