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How to Run a Successful Instagram Contest or Giveaway


 So, you want to run a contest on Instagram? There’s a right way, and there’s a few wrong ways. In this article, we’re going to show you the things you need to do to run an Instagram contest properly, and stay away from the Instagram police.

Stick around. Contests are a great way to reach your audience, reward them for participating with your content, and reach a whole new pool of followers. But there are a few things to keep in mind, and in this article, we’re going to outline what you need to do to run that Instagram contest efficiently and effectively. We’ll cover the rules, ideas for successful contests stick till the end, Chances are that you’ve heard that running Facebook contests are complicated, and there’s a lotta rules, because there are. But fortunately, Instagram contests are so much easier. But there are still a few rules that you need to be aware of, and we’re going to go through those right now.

Rule number one, you must use this release verbiage: Per Instagram rules, this promotion is in no way sponsored, administered, or associated with Instagram, Inc. By entering, entrants confirm that they are 13 plus years of age, release Instagram of responsibility, and agree to Instagram’s Terms of Use.

Rule number two, you cannot ask users to tag themselves or others in a photo in which they do not appear, and you cannot tag people in a photo in which they do not appear. However, you can tag them in a comment, so saying, “Tag a friend below” is perfectly okay. They just cannot be physically tagged in the photo or video, itself.

Rule number three, you must fully disclose the terms and conditions of the contest. This can include things like start and end date of the contest, conditions to enter, how the winners will be determined, and any other defining criteria.

On that note, you also want to make sure you’ve determined those factors before you’re ready to launch the contest. Depending on the length of the contest will determine how many times you want to post about it. Additionally, you want to make sure that you’re familiar with any of your local, state, provincial, federal type regulations when it comes to contests, giveaways, and sweepstakes. We don’t want you to be in violation of any of those legal laws, either. You also want to use the right terminology when you run your contest. Something like a sweepstakes or a giveaway indicates a random winner, and something is given away. A contest insinuates there is some sort of judging, or skills involved. For example, if I ran a contest and said, “Post a photo to Instagram, “and we will pick our favourite as the winner.”, that indicates that some sort of judging is going into that determination. You want to make it clear that you’re running a contest. Include the word contest or giveaway in text on the actual image. Use contest or giveaway with emojis and capital letters in that first sentence, even the first word of your caption.

Make it clear and obvious that this is not an everyday post. You may be wondering now what types of contest to run, what format to set them up in. Let’s look at a couple examples. The easiest type of contest to run is where you have two to three simple criteria for entry. This is usually something like, “Follow this account, “like this post, and tag a friend below.” Super easy to enter, super easy to manage. The advantage to these types of contests is they’re great for growth and exposure. By asking your existing audience to tag a friend below, that friend receives a notification. If they want to join the contest, they have to follow your account, like the content, and tag somebody else. It becomes a reciprocal process. Some more complicated contests may involve your audience creating content for Instagram, be it as a story, or as a feed post. In these types of contests, you’ll want them to use a specific hashtag, and you’ll want them to either tag you, or at mention you in the content. Now, it’s not only more complicated for them, it’s more complicated for you to manage it because now you have to monitor the hashtag, and monitor your mentions to make sure you see who is submitting entries for that contest. Determining the type of contest, you’re going to run is also going to be determined by the prize you have available. You want the prize to be commensurate with the type of effort going into that contest.

So, something like the easy giveaways would be maybe a low-range swag giveaway, something that’s maybe $25 or less because their entry requirement is simply tagging a friend. It’s not a huge commitment from them. In contrast, when you’re asking someone to create content on Instagram, and tag your brand in it, and it’s now a reflection of their content, that’s a big ask. That’s going to be a bigger prize giveaway, maybe a free consultation. Additionally, you want your prize to be relevant to your target audience. We’re not going to give away an iPad, or a $100 Amazon gift card, or a vacation package because everybody wants that, and what ends up happening is you get a lotta followers who don’t really care about your product or service, and they’ll leave when the contest is over. Instead, pick a prize that is something like your product or service that potential new follower will be more interested in as it relates to your business. I already mentioned having a hashtag to follow when creating content for Instagram. You will want to create a hashtag exclusively for that contest. Since it’s a one-time use, it can be a longer hashtag, more descriptive, and even include the word contest or giveaway in that hashtag.

In terms of managing your contest, you’re going to want to assign somebody before you launch who will be in charge of monitoring the content, monitoring comments, and questions, and dialogue that are happening on that contest post, and making sure that everything is running smoothly. When the contest closes, and it’s time to notify the winner, reach out to the winner privately first. Send them a DM on Instagram, let them know they won, make sure they accept the prize, and once that’s completed you can go ahead and post publicly announcing the winner if you choose to, or simply saying the contest is over. And now for the bonus. Just because the contest is over doesn’t mean your work is over.

First and foremost, I recommend you go in and edit the caption for that contest, and write, “Closed” on the caption. So, if somebody sees that contest post, they know that it’s no longer valid, and they won’t try to submit another entry. Additionally, after a few days or a week, you may even want to archive that post. By choosing to archive it, you retain all the data and insights off of that post, but no one else will see it publicly, so there’s additional confusion about that contest being active. Speaking of metrics, you’re going to want to catalogue all of the data from your various contests in order to look for patterns, and other ways to improve performance down the road with future contests. Look for things like how many likes and comments you post generated. Also, look at when you posted it, how long the contest ran for. Was it three days, seven days? Look and see what time of year it was, or seasonally if that had an impact. What was your prize value? Did that have an impact? Over a series of at least three to five contests, you’ll start to notice what works best for your audience, and what is going to generate the best performance for future contests. Chances are if you’re running contests, you’re using more advanced marketing tactics for your business.



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