The Ultimate Guide to Running Instagram Contests

Gone are the days when Instagram was considered only a photo-sharing app. It is more than that. The popular social media platform offers an incredible opportunity to boost brand awareness by using out-of-the-box features like Instagram stories, Reels, shop features. And, did we miss out on the popular feature that has become a buzzword in the world of marketing. Yes, we are talking about Instagram contests.
Instagram contests are the magical formula for building Instagram followers. People love to win free stuff, which is the main reason why raffles and sweepstakes have been around for so long. But, this was in the past; now, brands use social media platforms to run contests and loop giveaways.
● The Value of Instagram Contests and Types
To engage users in a fun and meaningful way, brands must run Instagram contests. Instagram contests help brands to expand their reach, increase their followers and build loyal brand ambassadors. In this blog, we will talk about the different types of contests and the trick of running an effective one.
● Like /or Comment to Win
This is the most common type of contest. In this type of contest, the audience will enter the contest by clicking the Like button. Here, you don't have to track hashtags or review incoming entries.
● Tag-a-Friend
This type of contest allows you to expose your brand to people who may not follow you. The contest is simple; you have to ask users to tag their friends in the comment section for a chance to win a prize. Each person tagged will receive a notification and will see your post. If they like your post, you will get a new follower.
● User-Generated Content Contests
It’s a great way to collect content from fans and followers.  You can ask users to show themselves using the product, share a story of your product or service, or post photos related to your product or service.
● Photo Caption Contest
Through the photo caption contest, ask followers to show off their wit and humor while showing their loyalty to your brand. To run this contest, all you need is an exciting photo. Post it on your feed and ask fans to post their captions in the comments.

Why Brands Love Instagram Contests?

  • Instagram has over 1 billion active users each month
  • Engagement is key to making your brand stand out
  • Promotional campaigns are set up with the aim of growing audience reach and improving engagement
  • Instagram contests can help you get the amount of engagement you need for your brand

What you will get in this article.

  1. Plan objectives and goals
  2. Think of an entry method
  3. Come up with the perfect hashtag
  4. Make sure your theme is clearly defined
  5. Decide how you will be choosing the winner/s
  6. Figure out the prize for the contest
  7. Draft terms and conditions for your contest (this is not optional, by the way)
  8. Set a Time Limit for your Contest
  9. Promote your contest
  10. Keep track of submissions
  11. Follow through accordingly

How do you run an Instagram contest?

Want to host the perfect Instagram contest your followers will love? Running an engaging contest is not that easy, but Social Sensei, the celebrity influencer agency, is here to help you out. We have broken down the process of running Instagram contests into eleven easy to execute steps. So, let’s start!


  1. Plan objectives and goals

    When setting up a contest, you must have a clear idea of what you want from your campaign. So, the first step of running an Instagram contest is to identify your goals and objectives. Keep these in mind during the campaign, and don’t lose sight of your ultimate end-game. Your ultimate goal is to get more Instagram followers and for this, take the following things into account.

    • Who is your target market?
    • What are their likes and dislikes?
    • What kinds of posts do they mostly interact with?
    • objective-and-goals
  2. Think of an entry method

    After setting your objectives, the next step is to decide on the entry method. We know contests are helpful, but how you will entice customers to join is the key takeaway. Some of the entry methods you can opt for include:

      • Ask people to post a photo or video with a specific hashtag and trending theme
      • Ask people to tag your brand in their posts
      • Ask people to like and follow you on Instagram
  3. Come up with the perfect hashtags

    Hashtags play an essential role in increasing your reach. It’s through the hashtag you can create a link between the contest and the content. Hashtags help in boosting brand/contest recognition and driving participation. However, creating the perfect hashtag can be a little tricky. There are tons of hashtags brands generate every day, making it difficult to find something unique and catchy. Here are some tips that will help you to select the right hashtag.

    • Short – there’s really no need to complicate things!
    • Relevant – easily identified with your brand, products, and/or services
    • Memorable – use a phrase that will stick to the mind of your audience
    • Universal – use words familiar to your target audience
    • Rare – the more unique the hashtag, the easier it will be to keep track of your UGC
  4. Make sure your theme is clearly defined

    Instagram contests offer brands an opportunity to collect and use user-generated content (UGC). Hence, brands need to pick a theme that will help users to know more about their business. The key is to pick a theme that relates to your market, product, or services. However, you can also pick a theme relevant to a specific holiday or event.

  5. Decide how you will be choosing the winner/s

    You must always inform the audience beforehand about how you will choose the winners. You can choose contest winners on the basis of:

    • Voting: If you want your contest to go viral, make sure the participants compete for it. Ask the participants to share their posts with their friends across different channels to get as many likes as possible.
    • Jury: For more transparency, it’s better to ask the jury to choose the winner. Select a group of experts who will evaluate and choose the winner.
  6. Figure out the prize for the contest

    Award will decide how much you are able to entice the audience. When deciding on the award, take your target audience, budget, and goals into account. Outweigh the prize with the cost and energy needed to enter the contest. For instance, prizes like a free trip will give rise to more participation than a free t-shirt. Always choose a prize your audience loves or is interested in. Find a valuable and relevant prize for your brand. Gift cards, free services, giveaways are common; think creative. Like shoes or anything, your brand sells with the winner’s photo on it.

  7. Draft terms and conditions for your contest (this is not optional, by the

    Every contest has its own rules and guidelines, which will limit the visitors that can earn the prize, thus creating a sense of urgency amongst them. By drafting rules and guidelines, you are separating potential followers from regular visitors. Some rules brands must lay out before starting the contest include:

    • Name and contact details
    • Dates of the contest
    • Qualifications for those who want to join
    • Entry guidelines
    • Guidelines on choosing the winner
    • Date and method for announcing the winner
    • Date and method for informing the winner
    • Time period for the winner to claim their prize
    • Details about the prize (including the number of prizes to be given away and any caveats)
    • Details on how the prize will be delivered
    • Disclaimer stating that the contest isn’t sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Instagram or any other social media platform used throughout the contest
  8. Set a Time Limit for your Contest

    Creating a sense of urgency is the best way to get audience attention, and for this, you should run time-based contests. For daily contests, you can do it through Instagram stories, and for other types of contests, create eye-catching posts to announce the giveaway.

  9. Promote your contest

    Creating a sense of urgency is the best way to get audience attention, and for this, you should run time-based contests. For daily contests, you can do it through Instagram stories, and for other types of contests, create eye-catching posts to announce the giveaway.

    • Post about it on your blog, giving details about the contest
    • There is no better place than social media to post about your contest.
    • Send an email invitation to your target audience asking for participation
  10. Keep track of submissions

    No contests or, for that matter, any campaign to gain influence on Instagram is successful unless you monitor results. Measure your results against the set objectives and goals. Determine what evaluating metrics you will use and how you will track results. Here are some factors that will help in monitoring results.

    • Number of submissions
    • Likes per submission
    • Number of participants
    • Top participants
    • Total likes
    • Total reach
    • Follower growth during contest
    • keep-track
  11. Follow through accordingly

    Your job as a marketer doesn’t come to an end after the contest is over. Don’t forget to follow up on the set rules and guidelines. Review the contest submission on the basis of terms and conditions and evaluate the winners fairly. Make sure you announce the winner publically to maintain transparency.




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