A 7-Step-Guide to Running Instagram Contests

There are more than 1 billion active Instagram monthly users. Impressive, right? That’s over 200% more active monthly users than what you’ll find on Twitter and over 300% more than what you’ll find on Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.

If you’re looking to grow your Instagram presence, you can get free Instagram followers by running a contest. As tempting as it may be to run right off to launch your contest – if you want to get the most from it, you must first strategize and plan. The more you put into Instagram contest planning and execution, the better your return on your investment has the potential to be.

Step One: Planning Your Contest Objectives and Goals

Every successful contest needs a purpose. And for it to make the most sense, that purpose needs to be aligned with your business goals, but also with your audience’s interest and behaviors. Two common primary goals of Instagram contests are: increasing your follower count and growing your brand presence.

If you plan your goals ahead of time, then you know how to measure the success of your contest when it’s finished. In your planning stage, outline the metrics you’ll track, and how often you’ll track them. Options include:

  • Number of entrants and comments
  • Follower count
  • Engagement levels
  • Website/Landing page traffic
  • Purchases
  • Email list signups
  • Positive and negative feedback

Regardless of what your goal is, having something specific in mind will help you determine how well your contest worked to help you reach the goal.

Step Two: Deciding Which Type of Instagram Contest is Best

There are several types of contests to choose from, and you can get creative and work in elements from multiple types to make your contest unique. The important thing to remember is to keep the barrier to entry low, otherwise, people will think it’s too much work to participate.

  • Like contests: Post a picture of your product on Instagram and invite users to follow you. At the end, draw a random winner and notified by email. The winner gets a free product. You can also combine this with follows to increase your follower count and engagement.
  • Photo challenge contests: This is one of the most popular contests on Instagram. It’s great for getting user-generated content to use across your social media channels. All you have to do is ask users to post a photo on their personal account using a contest hashtag or tagging the brand for a chance to win a prize.
  • Comment contests: Ask users to comment on a photo you upload for a chance to win a prize. It lets your audience get creative. You can also ask a question and choose the best answer as a winner. This allows you to increase post engagement and get feedback at the same time.
  • Reposting contests: This type of contest encourages users to regram one of your posts for a chance to win a prize. It’s a good way to expand brand reach, exposing your company to all the people who follow your followers.
  • Selfies contests: In this type of contest, you ask users to take a photo of themselves with your products. The winner gets a free product or something used to advertise the brand.
  • Tag a Friend contests: This is when you ask users to tag a friend in the comments of your brand photo for a chance to win a prize.
  • Voting contests: This is when you add a voting feature to let people vote on their favorite photos. The winner could get free product from your business, or something related to the photo contest itself.

 

Step Three: Finding/Creating the Hashtag

The hashtag is important because it’s how you track the entries. If you use a generic hashtag, it won’t be easy to track which ones are related to your contest, but if you use something that’s too long, it’ll be hard for people to remember and less likely that people will enter it.

Make sure the hashtag is unique, so you know the people who use it are your contest participants. Make sure it is short so it’s easy for people to remember. Avoid strange spellings, or confusing Keep it applicable to your brand, either through your brand name, your products, or your services.

Step Four: Choosing the Prize

You’ll have a better chance of attracting the right targeted users if you give something away that’s related to the products or services you offer. Remember, you don’t want just any followers. You want followers who are actually interested in your brand – so, keep it relevant to your brand, and to the audience. Consider your target audience, your budget constraints, and how aggressive your goals are. Whatever you choose, the reward must be greater than the effort it takes to enter.

This means if you’re asking people to take their own photos with your products and services, the prize needs to be larger than if you’re just asking people to like, follow, and comment.

Prize options include:

  • Gift cards
  • Coupons
  • Giveaways
  • Free services
  • Goodie bags

Step Five: Choosing the Theme

Contest entrants are working for you, and if you’re asking them to post photos or videos, you want to make sure they know what kind of content to post. That’s why it’s important to choose a clearly defined theme – but not just any theme. The theme must align with your market, products, or services. You can launch contests around holidays, events, or seasons that align with your brand.

Step Six: Promoting the Instagram Contest

People have to know about the contest before they can enter it, so you’ll need to plan some promotional posts to let people know what you’ve got planned. Ways you can do this include:

  • Writing a blog post on your blog
  • Talking about the contest on your other social media channels
  • Sending out an email to people who are on your list.

Think about the hook, or what will get people interested in the contest. Think about the channels you’ll use to promote the contest, and how. Consider the promotion dates and timing. Who’s involved in the contest and what will they do? Do you have plans to mitigate any blocks or risks? How will you keep the momentum going during the contest?

Step Seven: Inform Participants of How They’ll Win

To round out your well-designed contest, you’ll need to clearly define to the users how the winner will be chosen. Will it be drawn randomly? Will a panel of judges vote on the best entries? Knowing up front how they can expect to win will help motivate them to enter.

Instagram has fairly open promotion guidelines, which give you a quite a bit of freedom and creativity as you build contests and promotions on the platform. For the greatest chance of success with your Instagram contest, be creative and vary the types of contests you use, offer the right prize, and use targeted hashtags to attract the right audience for your needs.

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