Influencer Marketing

5 Expert Tips on How to Run a Successful Instagram Contest

Planning to run a contest on Instagram? Sounds exciting. And with millions of users on the platform, you know you’ve got a huge chance of hitting the jackpot with all the engagement your contest will get. 

The thing is, figuring out how to make your contest successful is not as easy as it may seem to be. Running a contest on the platform is more than just posting some piece of eye candy to attract an audience. There’s actually a lot of work that goes behind the scenes.

So what can you do to make sure that your Instagram contest doesn’t end up a flop? Here are 5 key steps that you need to take so you could hit the ground running with your marketing strategy. 

5 Steps towards a Successful Instagram Contest

1. Lay out your objectives and goals

Before you start thinking of ideas for your contest, it’s important for you to first lay the groundwork. And by ‘groundwork’ we mean your objectives and goals for the contest. What do you want to achieve? Is it to grow your brand presence? Increase brand familiarity? Increase your number of followers?

Having a clear, specific goal in mind will help you evaluate the success of the contest afterward. Not only that, it will help you strategize better. If your goal is to build brand presence, you’ll definitely want to consider your target market’s behavior. If your goal is to improve engagement, then you’ll want to focus on drumming up content that would resonate with your target market’s interests.

You should also plan with a budget and a time frame in mind. This will help you come up with realistic and more effective ideas for your upcoming contest.

2. Come up with an entry method

Now you need to think of your contest mechanics. The best and most successful Instagram contests are usually those that encourage users to post their own photos and use a branded hashtag. Not only do these types of contests generate a lot of engagement, they also allow businesses to gain user-generated content that they can repurpose for their next marketing campaigns. 

It’s important to note, however, that there are other mechanics you can employ for your Instagram contest. All it takes is a handful of creativity and lots of planning and research. Here are some more ideas that you might want to check out:

  • Ask your audience to follow you and other accounts you specify
  • Ask your audience to upload their photos based on a specific theme and then have them tag your brand in their post, in addition to using your branded hashtag/s in their caption
  • Ask your audience to Like and comment on your post

Whatever your mechanics are, make sure that you make the rules clear on your post to avoid confusion.

3. Come up with the perfect hashtag

Once you already have your mechanics set up, it’s time to think of the perfect hashtag for your Instagram contest. Now why is this important? Because hashtags play a key role in helping you build your brand presence. Also, without specific hashtags, you won’t have any link between your contest and the content generated. Plus, you don’t want to waste User Generated Content, do you?

The problem is, it can be quite a challenge to come up with the P-E-R-F-E-C-T hashtag for your contest, don’t you agree? 

But here’s something to keep in mind when thinking of a hashtag: If you’re running a contest within a specific timeframe (which is how it should be), make sure that you come up with something catchy and unique. Otherwise, it’s going to be pretty difficult keeping track of all those who’ll join.

And here are some more contest hashtag guidelines that you might want to consider before coming up with your own:

  • Keep it short. People in general find it difficult to remember lengthy phrases (and might even end up misspelling them), so don’t make their lives complicated. The shorter your hashtag is, the better. And go for making it readable as well. 
  • Keep it relevant. It’s good to come up with a unique hashtag, but if it’s not even remotely relevant to your brand or the products and services you offer, it’s not going to be of much benefit to you in the long run. 
  • Make it memorable. Prior to running your contest, you’re obviously going to promote it on your feed. If you make your hashtag memorable, it’s going to stick around in your user’s minds so they will remember it easily once your contest finally starts. 
  • Again, the best way to make a hashtag memorable is by keeping it short and simple–without weird spellings and confusing word choices. This is important especially if you’re running a contest for an international audience.

4. Pick a specific theme

Remember that we mentioned earlier that Instagram contests are really effective at generating UGC (User Generated Content)? Right. This is exactly why it’s important that you clearly define the theme for any photo you want your participants to post before they can join the contest. 

The best way to come up with a theme that would appeal to your target audience is to link your contest with an ongoing (or upcoming) holiday, season, or event. For example, you can ask your audience to post photos about summer while making sure that their content and your theme is aligned with your brand and the products and services you are offering.

5. Decide on how you will be choosing your contest winner/s

Some Instagram contests pick their winners at random, but you’re not required to do the same for yours. In fact, most of those who run contests on Instagram determine their winners by either a vote or a jury.

If you choose to go with the voting method, you can say that the post that gets the number of likes will win the contest. This is a win-win situation for both you and your audience, especially if the prize you’re giving away is valuable enough. For one thing, it helps you maximize your audience reach as users ask their friends to like their respective entries.

Of course you would want to make sure that you have guidelines set regarding the likes your participants get. Some might resort to getting fake likes just to win the contest so make sure that you have a plan for addressing these types of workarounds.

Another way to determine the contest winner is by having a jury decide on it. If you want to go for this method, make sure that the guidelines are clear and you select a group of experts that would decide on the winner without any bias. 

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