How to run an Instagram giveaway or contest successfully

Running an Instagram giveaway or contest is a strategic way to engage your audience and grow your following. Plus, it’s a fun way to give back to your followers—and work to turn more of your followers into customers.

There are so many social media contest ideas out there that could be a perfect fit for your brand, and they can even be a stellar tactic for building a library of user-generated content and new followers.

Throughout this article, we’re going to dive deeper into what an Instagram giveaway is and why you’d want to host one—plus a step-by-step showcasing how to put on your own giveaway successfully.

Why should you host an Instagram giveaway?

An Instagram giveaway or contest tends to start with an Instagram post that asks your audience to complete some sort of task to enter into a giveaway to win a free product or prize. This type of campaign can generate a lot of excitement around your brand, bringing in new eyes and increasing reach and engagement… sometimes by a lot.

There are a number of benefits to employing this strategy—let’s cover the most important ones.

Get more followers

Many brands require that users entering their giveaway must first follow them on Instagram. Follow-gating your giveaway like this ensures that your Instagram following grows alongside your entries. While you’ll likely start receiving entries from those who already follow you, prepare to see some growth as your giveaway gains traction.

Generate higher engagement

Instagram giveaways can generate higher engagement on specific posts (your giveaway announcement, obviously)—but it can also improve your engagement overall. Algorithms work in funny ways, but once it realizes that you’re getting a lot more engagement than usual, it’ll start to place your content in front of even more eyes, boosting your total engagement.

Increase reach and impressions

Similarly, your Instagram giveaway can help you increase your overall reach and impressions. The more engagement on your giveaway posts, the more likely your content will be shown to followers. If users keep seeing your content and interacting with it, you’ll pop up at the top of their feeds more often, helping to increase your reach.

Create an opportunity to collaborate with others

Lastly, Instagram giveaways present a great collaboration opportunity. Many brands (as you’ll see us cover shortly) choose to co-host giveaways. Find a brand with a product that’s complementary to yours (i.e., if you sell silk pillowcases, collab with a brand that sells hair masks) and give away those products together in a beautiful little bundle.

Types of Instagram giveaways

There are five main types of Instagram giveaways that you’ll see brands utilize. We’ll walk you through how each of these works and why you might want to choose that route.

1. Like, comment and follow

One of the most popular methods of entry is to have people like your photo announcing your Instagram contest, leave a comment and follow your account in order to gain entry.

Or, you could make commenting the most important part of the entry, like we see in this fun holiday-themed giveaway from Edible Arrangements:

Screenshot of an Instagram post on Edible Arrangements' Instagram page of a holiday themed arrangement of fruit and cookies.

When you use this tactic, simply name your prize, lay down the ground rules and watch the entries fly in. You can ask people to comment on why they should win, nominate someone to win or simply tag a friend to spread the word.

That last option is a great contest idea all on its own — read on for more ways to make tagging friends in contests work effectively.

2. Tag a friend

Want to really get the word out about your Instagram contest? Ask people to tag a friend when they enter! Users can tag as many friends as they like in order to get even more entries.

Then, those users are likely to enter and tag some of their own friends, creating a ripple effect of awareness around your contest and brand. You can also host a tag-a-friend Instagram contest in order to ask your followers to nominate someone who deserves a prize.

Here’s an example of what this might look like from Edible Arrangements:

Screenshot of an Instagram post by Edible Arrangements showcasing four Twix cheesecakes and a caption encouraging followers to enter a contest.

Edible Arrangements asked users to enter the contest by tagging a friend in the comments. Many giveaways allow users to tag multiple friends as a way of entering more than once, increasing their chances.

3. User-generated content

If you’re looking to put together a campaign around gathering user-generated content (UGC) to share online, creating an Instagram giveaway around that concept can be a great way to do it.

Ask your audience to share a photo onto their feed using a specific branded hashtag or tagging your business so that you can easily find all of the entries in one place.

Not only does this reward your customers for helping you out, but it gives you an entire arsenal of user-generated photos to share on your feed for future content planning.

Because this type of giveaway entry requires a lot more effort on your audiences’ part, you’ll want to make the prize worth it.

4. Collaboration

As we mentioned earlier, another way to broaden your audience is by collaborating with a similar brand for your giveaway prizes. This way, the audiences of all involved brands can learn about new, similar brands, and have an even better prize at the end.

Here’s an example of this type of collaborative giveaway where three brands got together to offer a major prize bundle as their giveaway prize:

Screenshot of an Instagram giveaway post by Grove Collaborative that showcases products from Grove, Kitsch and Beauty Counter. This is an example of a collaborative Instagram giveaway.

Many influencers also host collaborative giveaways like this, meant to help their followers discover new brands and bloggers, and vice versa.

If you’re working to grow your Instagram presence, a collaborative contest or giveaway might be your best bet.

5. Instagram Stories

While Instagram contests are all about giving back to your audience, there are important benefits for your overall Instagram marketing strategy too: brands can garner a lot of attention and generate a bigger audience through them as well.

Having your audience share a post on their Instagram Stories as a form of entry can be another great way to get the word out there.

It’s super easy for users to share posts to their Instagram Stories, so asking for something like this as an entry isn’t asking too much of your audience, and can be a great way to spread the word.

How to run an Instagram giveaway in 6 steps

Running an Instagram giveaway is a fun way to increase engagement and followers, but you need to follow the right steps to maximize your success. Utilize this blueprint for your next contest or giveaway to make sure you’re covering your bases before you announce the prize(s).

1. Define your Instagram giveaway goals

Before anything else, you need to make sure you define the overall objective of your Instagram giveaway. Otherwise, how will you determine whether or not it was successful in the end?

A few questions you might ask yourself to determine your goals are:

  • Are you trying to engage your audience more in your content?
  • Are you aiming to generate a larger following?
  • Is your plan to build a library of UGC to share on social media?

This is going to determine what type of Instagram giveaway you run. Whatever your main goal or objective is, keep it in mind throughout your entire contest planning process so that everything you do makes sense for your end goal.

2. Identify your budget and prizes

The next step is to identify what your budget is and how large of a prize or prize bundle you’re able to give away for free. You might start with a single, small prize for your first giveaway to test the waters before eventually moving onto a larger prize down the road.

Keep in mind that your prize should be specific to your target audience and something unique for hem to win.

For example, a cash prize or an iPad or iPhone could apply to anyone, whereas a gift card or limited edition product from your shop would appeal only to the people who would buy from you anyways. This helps engage your target audience further and can also help your awareness goals. If the winner posts their own photos of the products they received from your contest, you’ll get additional awareness and reach out of your efforts.

3. Plan and run your Instagram giveaway or contest

First things first, are you running a giveaway or a contest?

For the most part, these are one in the same. However, some brands choose to create more in-depth contests, where entrants are asked to put their best foot forward and a winner is selected by their performance.

A giveaway, though, has a randomly-selected entrant win the prize.

The next thing to consider is how users will enter your Instagram contest. Think back to the examples we shared above. Which contest or giveaway type falls most in line with your main goal or objective?

Whatever you decide, make sure it’s easy for people to enter your contest. No one is going to enter a contest that requires them to do a lot of work–people want your entry process to be simple and easy.

Once you decide the best entry method for your contest, it’s time to start planning out the rest of the details.

First, determine how long your Instagram contest will last. How many days will your audience have to enter? Make sure that deadline is predetermined and that you clearly let your audience know when entering will end.

Second, are you going to use a hashtag for your campaign? Whether you have people post photos with that hashtag or ask them to use it in the comments, creating a campaign-specific hashtag that no one else is using is a good idea. This way, you’ll be able to tell the contest entries from regular posts about your brand.

Third, what is the theme for your contest? This is especially important for UGC-focused contests. You want to make sure your audience knows what types of photos you’re looking for them to share.

And finally, how will you notify the winner? Will you tag them in a comment? Share a new post? Message them? Tag them in an Instagram Story?

These are all things you need to plan before you launch the contest.

4. Design your campaign assets

Next, you need to put together campaign assets to announce and promote your Instagram contest. Not only will this draw attention to followers, it’ll help you cross-promote it on various platforms, in your email newsletter, on your website and more.

Create imagery for both your Instagram feed and to share on your Instagram Stories to increase the number of followers who see the contest early on, giving you plenty of time to collect entries. You’ll want these to stand out and increase the total number of entries. Consider getting high-quality photos of the prize and add “GIVEAWAY” or similar copy in big, bold lettering to the top of your graphic.

Next, you need to think about your captions. Start with an attention-grabbing hook so that you can reel viewers in. Then explain what the prize is, how to enter the giveaway and what the overall rules are. You must also follow Instagram’s terms and release them of any affiliation with the giveaway.

5. Measure your giveaway entry results

Keep a close eye on how many people are entering your giveaway, if you’re receiving any questions about it and how many relevant entries are coming in with the giveaway hashtag.

Use a social media management tool such as Sprout Social to generate reports on hashtag and keyword use, follower count, engagement rate and more.

Screenshot of the Sprout Social Instagram Business Profile Report showing a performance summary within a given time period.

Keep an eye on all related posts and comments so that you can pinpoint whether or not you met your initial goal with the giveaway. If increased awareness or reach is one of your goals, track the performance of your giveaway hashtags in the Instagram Business Profiles Report to measure the hashtags associated with your brand. You’ll be able to tell if your branded giveaway hashtag is creating the buzz you’re looking for:

Screenshot of the Sprout Social Instagram Business Profile Hashtag Performance Report showing the most use and top hashtags associated with your Instagram account.

Also pay attention during and right after the giveaway to see if you’ve generated an influx in sales as well.

6. Select your winner with an Instagram giveaway picker

Once your giveaway timeframe has ended, it’s time to choose a winner. The best way to do this is by using an Instagram giveaway picker tool. There are a number of available tools for you to take advantage of specifically for these purposes.

Many brands will even record themselves using a tool to select the winner and share the video on their Instagram Stories as a way to prove that the winner truly has been randomly chosen. Full Article

6. Create a page on your site and build your email database first (CRM)

In today’s digitally connected world, Instagram competitions present a golden opportunity for businesses to drive significant web traffic to their sites, expand their email databases, and foster an engaged and loyal community. Let’s delve into a real-world example that brilliantly demonstrates this strategy.

Imagine a small online boutique, let’s call it ‘Chic Threads’. Recognizing the potential of leveraging Instagram, Chic Threads decided to launch an Instagram competition. The prize: a collection of their best-selling clothing and accessories. The contest was simple – users had to register on Chic Threads’ website to participate, providing their email address and phone number in the process. Participants also had to follow Chic Threads on Instagram and tag three friends in the comments on the competition post.

The results of the competition were nothing short of spectacular. Chic Threads saw a significant spike in web traffic, boosted by the Instagram competition, as intrigued potential participants visited the site to register and explore the product range. Not only did this increase brand awareness, but it also resulted in an uptick in sales, as many users couldn’t resist buying some of the items they saw.

The competition also led to an exponential growth in Chic Threads’ email database. Participants willingly provided their email addresses and phone numbers during the registration process, thus allowing Chic Threads to build a robust CRM system. This rich data repository became the foundation for their future email marketing campaigns, a strategy often deemed as a secret weapon in digital marketing for its high conversion rates and ROI.

Post-competition, Chic Threads did not rest on its laurels. They made use of the comprehensive email list to engage with their new followers, sending personalized emails featuring style tips, new arrivals, and exclusive offers. Chic Threads also started SMS campaigns for flash sales, creating another layer of connection with their customer base.

Despite the competition ending, Chic Threads kept up its Instagram activities, continuously engaging with their followers through high-quality content, sneak peeks, and user-generated content. In turn, this helped in maintaining the followers’ interest and encouraged them to stay connected with the brand.

In summary, the Instagram competition was an effective growth hack for Chic Threads. They skillfully leveraged the contest to increase website traffic, build their email database, and foster a loyal community on Instagram. This real-life example serves as a testament to the power of Instagram competitions and the potential they hold for businesses willing to think outside the box.

Remember, though we’re living in an era dominated by tech giants, there are still innovative strategies available for businesses to expand and strengthen their digital presence. Instagram competitions are one such strategy, offering tangible benefits that can contribute to your brand’s long-term success. Don’t underestimate the power of a well-orchestrated competition; it could be the catalyst your business needs to reach new heights.

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