So you’re planning an Instagram giveaway—how generous!
Here’s a step-by-step guide to throwing a successful Instagram giveaway, complete with tips for laying down the rules, promoting your giveaway and picking a winner — plus 11 examples from brands that are doing it right.
Let’s get started, you selfless, noble giver, you.
Bonus: Download 4 free, customizable social media contest templates to help you get started promoting your contests on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
An Instagram giveaway (or an Instagram contest) is a type of promotion involving a brand or creator gifting a product or service to an Instagram user. Users can enter the contest based on criteria defined by the giveaway organizer.
Here are some common reasons why brands throw giveaways on Instagram:
- To get new followers. Contests tend to bring in new viewers to your page.
- To engage their audience. Giveaways give your audience a chance to interact with your brand and your content—they bring in algorithm-friendly engagement in the form of likes and comments.
- To collect user-generated content. Contests can be a great opportunity to allow your audience to generate (free and creative) content for your page.
- To give back to their audience. Who would we be without our followers? Hosting an Instagram giveaway helps build your relationship with your audience and give them something in return for their support.
Start by deciding what the goal of your contest is. More followers? Increased sales numbers for a specific product or service?
Whatever it may be, figure out early on what you want to gain. That will make tracking the success of the contest far easier.
Clear rules are essential. When posting about the giveaway on Instagram, it may be best to include the deadlines and promotion guidelines in the caption. This will make them easy to find for your followers.
When sharing the contest on your website, a dedicated landing page, or other social media platforms, include any important rules upfront. If this isn’t possible, direct users to the giveaway post’s caption or wherever else the rules may be outlined.
If your contest is only open to certain geographic areas, be sure to include that information clearly.
This part should be fun! Decide what it is your followers will be competing for. It could be a product or assortment of products, a gift card, a service, or something else.
It’s wise to make sure the prize is related to your brand. General prizes like cash or Amazon gift cards will lure in random followers looking for a chance to win a quick buck. Offering products and prizes related to what your page revolves around is more effective—it ensures that anyone who enters and follows you for the contest is engaged with what it is you do.
And we’re live! Publish your contest using Hootsuite’s Best Time to Publish feature to ensure that your giveaway is being seen by the maximum number of followers.
You can also use Hootsuite to see how well the giveaway is performing in analytics, and respond to questions in your DMs or comments using Hootsuite’s inbox
Promote your Instagram giveaway as widely as possible. You’ll want to share it on your Instagram Stories as well as any other social media platform your brand uses. Post about the giveaway multiple times (“One week left to enter,” “Last chance to enter,” etc.) to make sure that no one misses it.
If you’re running a contest, you’ll probably want to see some concrete numbers proving how it helps your page’s traffic.
Hootsuite is the perfect resource to help run and track contests. Contest posts can be scheduled with the Planner. Comments can be tracked and answered in the Inbox, and mentions/hashtag usage can be tracked via Streams.
Learn more about how Hootsuite can help you with Instagram contests (and, well, all of your other social media efforts):
We’ve put together a free social media contest template that covers entry methods, terms of the giveaway, prize rules and disclosures about how winners will be selected. If you’re stuck on how to properly word your giveaway rules, start here.
Bonus: Download 4 free, customizable social media contest templates to help you get started promoting your contests on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
Need a random comment picker to decide your Instagram contest winner? Try these.
1. Saver Front
Saverfront’s picker tool is specifically for Instagram comments. It’s free, and you don’t have to log in or give any personal information to use it. You can choose how many winners you want and adjust criteria like mentions and hashtags.
Wask’s tool is also for IG comments. It’s free to use once, and after that asks for a login (but offers a free plan).
If you have less than 150 comments to choose from, this is a good tool to use (it’s free for 150 comments). You also don’t have to log in or sign up to use it.
If you’re searching for inspiration for your next Instagram giveaway, hashtags are your best friend: try searching #contest, #giveaway, #instagramcontest, #iggiveaway, #contestalert, and other similar variations to find millions of examples of contests — or scroll down the list of inspiring examples below.
The following 11 giveaways demonstrate different contest strategies, entry methods, prize ideas and creative ways to promote your giveaway.
This is the simplest form of IG giveaway. Your audience enters by interacting with the post (through liking, commenting or sharing—and post importantly, following). This makes entering super easy; it’s low-effort, high-reward.
This Instagram contest includes sharing to a story as a form of entry…
… and this one involves saving the post…
…while this one asks users to comment (and tag friends in the comments section, more on that later) to enter.
- Keep your marketing goals in mind when deciding your entry methods. Do you want to gain followers, get likes or comments, up your “share” stats, etc.?
- Try to keep entering as simple as possible—confusing entry methods are a recipe for low engagement. Make entering your contest a lazy person’s dream.
- Think about long-term growth when choosing entry methods. For example, “like to enter” only gets you likes on a single post, but “follow to enter” has the potential to earn you permanent supporters.
Asking users to tag their friends in the comments—and counting each of those comments as an entry—is basically an evil genius move. It means that the entrant’s friends will get notified when they’re tagged, encouraging them to also enter the contest.
If one user tags three friends, those three friends tag three more friends, and so on, pretty soon you’ll have taken over the world. Of course, not everyone will do this… we’re pretty certain that friendships have ended over serial tagging. Even so, it’s a very effective strategy for growth.
Tagging a friend is less of an evil genius move when it actually has something to do with your brand, or the giveaway itself. For example, if you’re giving away a spa package for two, you might ask folks to tag the person they’d bring with them if they won.
This contest for shirts that are dyed with blueberries (cool) asks users to “tag someone who is berry special” in the comments. They’re giving away two shirts, likely one to the contest winner and one to the tagged friend.
- Make tagging a friend in the comments a method of entry to increase your giveaway’s reach.
- Think about how tagging a friend can provide value to the user, as well—for example, you can give away two prizes (so the tagged friend also gets a prize). Otherwise, you risk your contest simply annoying all the tagged friends.
A new product launch is a great reason to host a contest—it helps create hype around the product and share news of the launch with your audience.
Plus, a fresh product automatically has more perceived value, even if the actual monetary value of the prize isn’t super high (for example, this giveaway of ready-to-eat boxed waffles).
- Consider incorporating contests into your marketing strategy when launching new products.
- Emphasize the “newness” of the product when promoting this contest—if possible, consider timing the contest so the winner is the first person to experience the product.
Collaborating with another brand or influencer automatically expands the reach of your giveaway because the contest has the potential to reach both your followers and your collaborator’s followers.
You can partner with a brand on both the contest promotion and the prize—for example, in the contest below, a reusable takeout container brand collaborated with a vegan food producer, and the prize includes products or services from both brands.
Or, a contest collaboration can just include a prize from one of the brands, while the other collaborator simply promotes the contest—as is the case with this wedding registry company x KitchenAid collab.
Either way, the most important factor in any collaboration is that your collaborator’s brand values align with your own. Reusable containers and vegan food producers both have the goal of sustainability, while the wedding registry company and KitchenAid have crossovers in their industries.
- Partner with another brand to tap into a new audience for your giveaway.
- Make sure that the brand’s values align with your own (in addition to this being a good practice in general, it also makes their followers more likely to love your content).
- If it makes sense, make the prize include something from both brands.
You don’t really need an excuse to have a contest—people love free stuff at any time of year—but if you can celebrate a holiday or occasion with a contest, do it.
This can be a personal occasion (for example, your brand’s anniversary or reaching 2000 followers) or a publicly-recognized one (Valentine’s Day, Christmas, Mother’s Day).
This contest hosted by a grocer celebrates International Women’s Day by giving away a product from a female-owned company.
- Centre your giveaway around an upcoming holiday or special date to give your contest a sense of timeliness and occasion.
- If you can, make the contest prize something that relates to the occasion (for example, give away a zero-waste product for Earth Day or a candy cane-scented candle for Christmas).
When planning your contest, think about how you’re going to market it (after all, people can’t enter if they don’t know it exists). Create attention-grabbing—and informative—visual content to help spread the word about your giveaway.
For example, the Instagram contest below uses one long graphic posted as three separate carousel images. It creates a cool effect when scrolling, and also shares a lot of information about the contest and the prize without being too visually overwhelming.
- Incorporate a marketing plan into your Instagram contest strategy.
- Create visuals that communicate everything that users need to know about the contest, without bogging them down with information.
- Consider using carousel posts with one super-sharable cover image, then details about the prize in later images.
When it comes to social media marketing, videos are the name of the game in 2023. Try making a Reel to draw viewers in and advertise your contest.
For the giveaway below, the creator made a Reel that first engages users with strong visuals and sounds (an ASMR-ish cooking video) and includes a contest in the description. He keeps the format simple, just like his non-contest Reels. It’s not simply a Reel that markets the contest; it provides value to his audience as well.
- Use Instagram reels to market your contests and giveaways.
- Make your giveaway reels match the rest of your content, so it doesn’t feel out of place.
- Incorporate value beyond the contest announcement in the reel to make the video more engaging.
As a creator, paid partnerships are one of the best ways to make money on Instagram—and as a business, paid partnerships are a great method for expanding your target audience and getting some major street cred.
Do your research into creators or influencers that can help market your contest (and naturally, your business’s product) to find the perfect fit.
Partner with a trusted creator who has an impressive portfolio for the best results—for example, the adorable visuals in the paid partnership contest below.
- If you’re a business running an Instagram contest, do your research into creators that may be able to help you promote it.
- Once you’ve found the perfect creator, work with them to develop the contest content (and pay them for their work).
- Make sure to mark all posts as a paid partnership, or risk Instagram removing the posts or flagging your account.
Photo contest have been around since the dawn of—well—cameras, and they’re a helpful strategy for connecting with artists and getting some awesome user-generated content.
If your page advertises products you can ask entrants to post a photo with your wares. You can also encourage your audience to post a photo that simply follows a theme.
Contests like these are also a great way to collect testimonials. You can ask users to share their favorite personal stories surrounding the brand, product, or ones that relate to your page’s ethos. The choice is yours, just make sure it’s made clear in the rules that you have the right to repost any of the entries.
- When hosting a photo contest, make sure you have the resources and time to judge it.
- Consider using the photo entries as user-generated content (with the photographer’s permission, of course).
- Include in the rules that you have the right to repost any entries.
Hashtags make for a great way to host giveaways. Like a user-generated content contest, hashtag giveaways require entrants to post to their page or stories under a specific hashtag (you determine what that is yourself).
Ideally, what you’ll end up with is a hashtag with sizeable traffic. This format does not just allow you to easily keep track of entries. It also drives engagement with a specific hashtag, which the algorithm tends to take note of. A well-performing hashtag will drive traffic back to your Instagram post and your page.
Make sure to pick a hashtag that is unique enough that no one else is using it… for example, #goatsarefamily.
- Choose a hashtag that your audience can use to enter your contest.
- Make sure the hashtag is creative and that you’re the only one using it.
- Track how popular the hashtag is, and how many entries you’re getting, to determine the success of the contest.
How many brands’ Instagram contests have you entered only to never hear from them again? Most of us totally forget about the contest post-entry. One way to keep the contest fresh in your audience’s minds (even if they don’t win) is to share the name of the winner.
Of course, ask the winner’s permission before you do this, and don’t give out any of their personal information. But sharing the winner helps prove your authenticity to users (and might inspire them to enter your next contest).
- Once you’ve picked a winner of your giveaway, ask the person if their first name or Instagram handle can be shared online.
- Share the winner’s name to confirm to your audience that you’re legit, and to encourage them to enter again.
Use Hootsuite to run your Instagram giveaway. From a single dashboard, you can schedule your posts, answer comments and DMs, and monitor engagement in real-time. Try it free today.