A young man wearing a white T-shirt sits on a brown leather couch and looks down at the smartphone in his hand. He smiles and pumps his fist in victory.
An Instagram contest can take many forms. You can require contestants to submit photos or videos, caption an image, follow a challenge or theme, or just leave a comment. — Getty Images/simon2579

With more than one billion active users, Instagram is a prime spot for interacting with leads and customers. Indeed, Tailwind found that "an Instagram contest or giveaway can help you grow your followers 70% faster in three months than if you didn't host a contest at all." Ensure your campaign is successful by outlining your goals, theme, and entry guidelines. Here's how to get started.

[Read more: Hosting a Social Media Giveaway? Here's What to Know First]

Define your Instagram contest goals and select a theme

Determine your ideal audience for your Instagram giveaway and what a successful outcome looks like to you. Do you want to increase followers, generate email signups, or get user-generated content (UGC)? Your approach may differ for each objective.

The theme and format for your contest set the stage for what you want participants to do. For instance, entries to a “Think Spring” contest may include outdoor photos, spring-themed makeup videos, or comments with a follower's favorite spring drink.

Ampfluence offers 15 creative examples. You can also consider using one of these formats for your Instagram promotion:

  • Selfie contest.
  • Tag-to-win.
  • Caption contest.
  • Comment-to-win.
  • Hashtag contest.

Choose a giveaway prize

Generic prizes are in demand but don't necessarily help you reach your goals. If you want fast new follower growth, giving away an Amazon gift card or fuel voucher may get the job done. But people may unfollow you after the contest ends. Conversely, a prize tailored to your target audience can weed out people who fall outside your interest categories and demographics. Consider offering your products or creating a bundled gift by partnering with another small business.

[Read more: Top 5 Instagram Features to Help Boost Engagement]

Write your contest guidelines and rules

Follow Instagram’s promotion guidelines and tell people how they can enter your contest. Your rules will depend on your format but may include liking the post, tagging a friend, or following your account. Don't forget to make an official guidelines page and put the link in your Instagram caption. ViralSweep offers a template for official guidelines and has a Google Document template as well. Here are two examples of Instagram giveaway rules from Little Bee Book and Brit + Co.

The theme and format for your contest set the stage for what you want participants to do.

Host your Instagram giveaway or contest

Once you've taken care of the nitty-gritty details, it's time to create your post and promote your giveaway. You can design a few graphics and use them on your landing page and social platforms. Remember to post your giveaway when your audience is online and use hashtags related to your brand.

Take these steps to hold your Instagram contest or giveaway:

  • Create a giveaway post: Develop an image or video and compelling caption. Use emojis and line breaks to make your post easy to scan. Get inspiration with examples from Hendrix Yancey and Spencers. Plus, don't forget to use Instagram hashtags.
  • Develop a landing page: For legal purposes, it's a best practice to offer an alternative method of entry (AMOE) for any giveaway requiring entrants to do or give something. A contact form on a landing page can collect entries and serve as a promotional tool.
  • Outline your promotional strategy: Share details and links to your giveaway on other social media sites and by email. Consider adding a pop-up to your website and a blog post about your Instagram contest.

Track entries and choose a winner

Tailwind suggests tracking entrants in a spreadsheet and "export[ing] the list to a randomizer to select a winner." Do this by adding the Instagram handle (user tag) to your spreadsheet for each person who follows your steps. You can use an online tool like Woobox to pick a winner, which is helpful if you're counting upvotes and offering bonus entries.

Alternatively, you can assign random numbers to all participants in your spreadsheet using the RAND function and use Google to pick a random number. Do this by searching for “Google random number,” and the tool pops up on your search engine results page (SERP). Random Picker by VeroMotion also offers an Excel template for generating winners.

[Read more: A Quick Guide to Marketing Your Business on Instagram]

End your promotion with a winner announcement

Have a post template ready, including your caption, so you can announce your winners as soon as possible after the contest ends. Pick a random winner or tally votes and share the results on social media, on your website, and by email.

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Published June 20, 2022