There are few methods more reliable in growing an Instagram following than running a contest.

Instagram giveaways create interactions with your existing audience while drawing in countless new views and followers. They’re a tried and true way to drive engagement in a way that Instagram’s algorithm can’t help but notice.

Bonus: Download a free checklist that reveals the exact steps a fitness influencer used to grow from 0 to 600,000+ followers on Instagram with no budget and no expensive gear.

Why you should run an Instagram giveaway

Instagram giveaways can help you hit a few different Instagram KPIs. Here are the top reasons you should consider including Instagram contests in your strategy:

Grow your following

Running a giveaway on your Instagram account is a great way to grow your audience. Contests tend to bring in new viewers to your page.

In the example below, Bulletproof coffee asked contestants to tag a friend in a comment to enter their giveaway:

Some of the tagged users went on to tag their friends, further extending the reach of the giveaway. After all, who doesn’t love a contest? The prospect of winning something draws users in and gives them a chance to familiarize themselves with your brand.

Engage your audience

Giveaways, by nature, give your audience a chance to interact with your brand and your content. They can bring in algorithm-friendly engagement in the form of likes and comments, sure. But more importantly, they can encourage the sort of engagement that can’t be measured by statistics.

Contests and giveaways can allow authentic user engagement, bringing your audience closer to your page, brand, and ethos. It gets people talking on and off social media about what your brand is doing and can increase overall brand awareness of both web and brick and mortar retail.

They’re also a great way to let your audience know that their support is appreciated.

Collect user-generated content

Contests can be a great opportunity to allow your audience to generate (free and creative) content for your page. Whether it’s caption contests, photoshops, or art, it’s a way to get the creative side of your followers going.

Plus, your followers will love to see it — UGC serves as social proof, showing your followers and first-time account visitors that your brand is loved by the community.

How to set up an Instagram giveaway

1. Plan your contest

You’ll want to start by outlining the plan for your contest. This will involve picking out what kind of contest you want to run. You’ll also need to set time constraints. Make sure the time and date the contest ends are clear and adhered to in selecting your winner.

Perhaps most importantly, you’ll want to set a goal. What are you aiming to get from this contest? 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.

2. Set the rules

Every contest has rules. Yours will be no different. Whether it’s entry deadlines or what your followers need to do to enter, make sure they are clear and legible.

When posting about the giveaway on Instagram, it may be best to include the guidelines in the caption (like in the example below). 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 it may be best to 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.

3. Pick a prize

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, or something else. Just make sure you choose a prize that makes your Instagram contest worthwhile.

It’s also 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.

That will ensure plenty of leads come to your page – and that your current followers are rewarded for their loyalty!

4. Promote your contest

Now that you’ve decided what to give away, it’s time to make sure people know you’re giving it away, to begin with! Promote your Instagram contest 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.

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In this example, the Daily Hive promotes an Instagram feed post that outlines their giveaway with a matching Story:

Instagram Story promoting Instagram giveaway feed post
Source: Daily Hive Vancouver

5. Track entries with a social media management tool

If you’re running a contest, you’ll probably want to see some concrete numbers when it comes to seeing 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):

How to create Instagram giveaway rules

Before you launch your Instagram contest, you need to make sure you’re following both the rules and the right advice. There are, after all, laws surrounding contests that you’ll need to be sure you’re following.

Here are some dos and don’ts when it comes to Instagram giveaways.

DO follow the law

It might seem silly but there actually are laws surrounding contests held by brands, even over Instagram. It is only further complicated by the fact that those laws are often specific to locations. They can vary state to state and get especially tricky when dealing with international entries.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to making sure you aren’t breaking any laws by hosting your contest. You’ll have to do the research on your own and may even find it worthwhile to have a lawyer help you out. Making sure you are covering all your legal bases can be vital in holding a successful Instagram giveaway.

DO make it clear that Instagram is not involved in the contest

This one is important! Instagram has a set of guidelines for promotions of any kind being run on the app. You must clarify that your giveaway, “is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Instagram.”

DON’T ask Instagram for support

Because of the above rule, Instagram is pretty hands-off when it comes to giveaways. They make it clear that, “If you use our service to administer your promotion, you do so at your own risk.” This is why it is vital to make sure you outline your rules in advance and that you have done your legal research. If problems with the giveaway arise, they will be on you to fix.

Instagram also won’t answer any of your contest-related questions. Instagram’s contest policy states that they, “will not assist you in the administration of your promotion and cannot advise you on whether consent is required for use of user content or on how to obtain any necessary consent.”

Again, this is why you need to make sure you have your rules figured out before launching the giveaway.

7 Instagram contest ideas

Now that you’ve gotten the boring part done, the fun can begin! Instagram contests and giveaways can be an exciting way to engage with your target audience. Here are some of the best and most reliable giveaways to run.

1. Like and/or comment to win

There’s no need to overcomplicate things.

One of the most common forms of Instagram giveaways is pretty simple: you instruct your entrants to like and/or comment on the post to enter. This contest format is easy for everyone involved. Entrants don’t have to do much to get their name in the mix. Plus, you don’t have to track Instagram hashtags or anything like that to keep track of entries.

Film Companion’s contest is a simple and effective form of fan engagement. All any of their nearly 300K followers need to do to enter is like the post and drop a favorite Bollywood movie quote in the comments.

The addition of adding a comment to the requirements is a good way to weed out Instagram bots and anybody simply entering random contests in mass. Any requirement for a specific sort of comment like the above Bollywood movie will do just fine. It also drives engagement with the post which assists in the algorithm favoring your content.

2. Photo caption contest

Caption contests are perfect for creating direct engagement with your audience. They’re simple: post a picture and ask your users to add the perfect caption.

Because the winner is often decided based on quality, it brings out the best in the entrants. You can judge the winner yourself or tell the users to like for their favorite caption, with the winner being the person with the most likes.

Caption contests also encourage engagement between users. You’ll often see your followers replying to captions they enjoyed, which can serve to build a community around your page.

This caption contest held by Pokey (an Instagram-famous Boston Terrier) is an excellent example. It yielded great engagement with the page’s community. It brought out a ton of creative content in the comments. That’s really all you can ask for from an Instagram giveaway – this one was clearly a success!

3. Tag a friend

Ultimately the aim of Instagram giveaways is to bring new viewers to your page. Why not have your followers do it for you? All you have to do is tell people to tag a friend (or two, or three) in the comments to enter your contest.

Doing this gives the tagged friends a notification, leading them to the comment they’re tagged in as well as your post. Oftentimes it will lead to the tagged friend following your page – and maybe even tagging some new friends of their own as an entry.

It’s worth noting that tagging is often incorporated into other types of contests as well. The above example from Pokey required friends to be tagged to enter in addition to a funny caption. That’s the beauty of using this method in your giveaway. It’s versatile and can be integrated into any existing contest.

4. User-generated content

Whether you’re asking for photos or text, a user-generated content giveaway is a great way to create community engagement. It will also give you lots of unique content to post to your page moving forward.

If your page advertises products you can ask entrants to post a photo with your wares. You can also encourage your followers to post a photo that simply adheres to 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.

Brute Magnetic’s photo contest is one of the more unique ones you’re likely to encounter. Still, it’s kind of a perfect example of one of these contests. It engages with a very specific community. It asks for user-generated content that falls under that community’s net of interests. And the entries are pretty entertaining on their own.

5. Trivia

People have been running trivia contests offline for ages. There’s no reason you can’t take something that is tried and true and use it on your page!

Instagram trivia giveaways allow your followers to show their skills. You could have them answer questions about your page and brand or even a current trending topic like sports or pop culture.

Generally, you’ll want to format it so that the winner is a randomly selected correct answer. Giving the prize to the first person who answers correctly shortens the window of time in which your post is effective.

North Shore Kia’s recent trivia contest is short and sweet — the perfect accessible trivia contest. It tests its audience’s knowledge of the Kia brand and draws new eyes to the page by adding a “tag your friends” requirement.

6. Share this post

When someone shares a post via the repost app or to their stories you’re notified of it on Instagram. It provides a savvy way to run an Instagram giveaway. Create a contest post and tell your followers to share it via Repost or to their stories.

It’s super easy to track entries and pick a winner. More importantly, it gets your post shared around in massive quantities. This puts more eyes on your contest and therefore your page.

Venmo has recently made waves with semi-regular cash giveaways. All they require is that you share the contest post and drop your tag in the comments.

7. Hashtag contest

Like many social media platforms, Instagram’s algorithm and user interface utilize hashtags.

Given how easily they compile posts that fall under similar topics, they 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 post and your page.

Destify Weddings did it right with this contest. They branded the contest with a unique hashtag, #WhereDidYouWed. Posts under the hashtag shared some great UGC that the brand took advantage of on their page. They even used some of the entries to further promote the contest.

The one thing to keep in mind when planning a hashtag contest is that there are a LOT of hashtags out there. Make sure the hashtag you use for your contest is unique to you. You’ll have a lot more trouble keeping up with entries if you don’t. Plus you want to make sure the traffic your giveaway’s hashtag generates leads back to you.

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.

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