How To Run A Successful Instagram Contest

How To Run A Successful Instagram Contest

Instagram has come a long way since it was first released in 2010. It's grown to host over 2 billion monthly users that consist of individual, creator, and business profiles, according to CNBC. People love to use it as a way to uniquely express themselves by sharing photos and videos to their followers through posts, stories, and even Reels. And due to that fact, many businesses have found it to be a great marketing resource for them.

The social media platform presents some great opportunities for businesses. As the platform started to realize businesses enjoyed using Instagram for marketing purposes, they made some updates along the way that would help them in reaching their goals. But before I ramble off and head into all the ways Instagram helps business owners market their business (there's a lot!), I'm actually here to tell you about one thing that has become super popular over the last year with businesses that have helped them improve reach, engagement, and awareness. Running an Instagram contest!

I'm sure you have seen an Instagram contest here and there. This time of year, especially with all the holiday giveaways. And you'll see that each of them have their own rules for entry. Depending on the goals a business is wanting to accomplish through their contest, they will make their rules geared toward reaching those goals. Easy enough, right?

Knowing the importance and value behind an Instagram contest is a great start, but in order to run a successful contest, you are going to need to plan out an effective strategy. So… where do you start?

No worries! We've got you covered. Here's a layout on how to create an effective Instagram contest strategy that will help you reach your goals.

Make A Plan

Success doesn't often happen overnight. We know that; that is, unless you're one of the .000001%. Anyway, it doesn't happen often, so if you're truly trying to reach it, you need to start with a well-thought-out plan.

Before drafting up the actual contest, start thinking about the goals you would like to accomplish through the giveaway. Are you wanting more engagement? Are you wanting more followers? Are you wanting to expand your reach? Are you trying to increase website traffic? You get the picture. After you determine your goals, you can move on to the next step.

Now you will begin laying out the contest. If you are a product-based company, think about giving away one or a few of your products. If you're a service company, a good idea would be to give away a free service or maybe a big discount - although most people prefer free (just being real).

Another idea is to partner with another company to do a giveaway together. This is a great option if you're trying to expand your reach. Your contest will be seen by your audience as well as the other company's; therefore, possibly resulting in not only a further reach but also more engagement. Both parties win!


The picture is a crucial step for success as well. Your picture should display exactly what the prize(s) is, and it should be of good quality. Bad quality images on Instagram don't do well for average posts in general, so it wouldn't do well for contests either. It's imperative that the image is of the prize(s) in good lighting and high quality. Make that a priority.

Make Rules

When it comes to entering the contest, make about 3-4 rules for entry. Choose appropriate rules depending on your goals. Make the rules for entry geared strictly toward them.

Goal: More Engagement.

Make a rule to like the post and to comment a heart (just for example) on the contest post and two other posts on your business page. Another ryle of entry can be fore them to 'save' the post.

Goal: Increase in Brand Awareness/Reach.

Make a rule to tag at least 2 friends in the comments and share your post to their story. Depending on your business, you could ask for people to post a picture of themselves using your product or post a photo that follows a theme.

Goal: Increase Web Traffic.

Make a rule to go to your website and sign up for your newsletter.

Goal: Grow Your Following.

Make a rule for them to follow you.

Another thing to keep in mind is when it comes to making rules, make sure you keep it around 3-4 rules. The more rules there are listed to enter could steer some people away. Another thing to note is to let your audience know when the contest will end and when the winner will be announced.

Promote, Promote, Promote…. And Promote Some More

Once you have your goals, photo, and rules put together, now it's time to promote it on Instagram. For your post to reach even more people, you're going to want to put some money behind it. Get with your marketing team and develop a budget you want to set behind it to push it out to your target audience.

Be sure to get your family, employees, and anyone you can to help promote it by entering in the contest themselves and sharing it with their friends through their personal social accounts. There's no such thing as promoting it too much.

Choose A Winner

When the contest comes to a close, choose an appropriate winner. Make sure whoever you choose has completed all the rules for entry.

To announce the winner, you can do it in multiple ways. You can announce it on your story and tag the winner or you can tag the winner in the comments on the contest post and congratulate them. If you're giving away a product(s), it's important to inform them to DM your account with just their address, so you can mail them their prize.

If you're giveaway is a free or discounted service, you should DM them yourself to give them the discount code for when they would like to utilize the service.

Common Mistakes To Avoid

Now that you know what it takes to run a successful Instagram contest, I wanted to go ahead and inform you of some common errors businesses make when they run one. Here's what you need to avoid…

  • Having the giveaway run too long or short
  • Forgetting to state the rules
  • Not promoting it enough
  • Not following up with good content after the contest

Don't have time to run and monitor your business' social presence online? Reach out to the social experts today and we can get a social media marketing strategy set in place for your unique business. Turn your social into sales today!


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