How to share a contest on Instagram and get more participants

Posted in: Applications for InstagramLast update: 19/08/21

Why do promotions fail? It happens more often than you might think. Someone designs a clever contest, adds gorgeous graphics, sets it to “active” and… nothing happens. What’s the problem? Not enough publicity. Let’s discuss how to share a contest on Instagram and give it space to succeed.

There are so many different ways to run an online contest – from virtual photo booths, to competitions for video creators, to referral rewards. But all contest apps share the same challenge: getting enough publicity. That’s why it’s important to share a contest on Instagram, Facebook, and across other social media.

Why share a contest on Instagram?

The publicity channels you use depend on your target market and specific goals. But for most brands, Instagram is an important part of their social media and ad strategy.

  • Instagram users tend to be young, active online, and relatively affluent.
  • It’s the social network of choice for fashion, food, health, beauty, fitness, lifestyle, interior decoration and design.
  • Instagram is a highly visual medium – perfect for sharing photos of product design or videos of your brand in action.

Let’s take a look at 5 ways you can leverage Instagram to get maximum reach for your promotions and contests.

#1 Make a post on your Instagram profile

Let’s start with the most simple, obvious option. You can begin with a post on your profile, announcing the contest and explaining the rules. Because the post stays on your profile permanently, your followers can check back to read the details or find out the winner.

It’s a good idea to show a picture, gif or video of the prize itself. Here’s an example from a competition to win a couples’ holiday in Italy, showing off clear blue water and a romantic restaurant. Who wouldn’t want to sign up?

Screenshot of a an Instagram post announcing a giveaway, with a photo of a Mediterranean beach from the air.

However, there is one fundamental problem when you share a contest on Instagram. You can’t share live links in the caption of an ordinary post. You could type out the URL – but users can’t click to view the webpage. They would have to copy and paste the address into their browser – and not many people will make the effort.

Instead, you should quote a URL that is short enough for users to remember. Or simply provide directions to a live link in your bio, Stories, or website.

#2 Share a contest on Instagram and Facebook Ads

Here’s one way to get around the link issue. You can announce the contest in a post made with Instagram and Facebook Ads. Although these posts look just like normal, they are labelled “sponsored” – and you can include live links.

Screenshot of an Instagram Ads post by beauty brand Sephora. The image shows a pink casino machine with a link inviting followers to subscribe to win.

In the example above, Sephora used Instagram Lead Ads to invite users to subscribe. Once they shared their email address, the brand could use a quick Pick A Winner app to run the prize draw. And of course, they could follow up on all those sales leads with a targeted email campaign.

A major advantage of using Ads is that you can post simultaneously on Facebook and Instagram. You can also target your posts to a specific audience, and get detailed feedback on who liked your campaign.

Screenshot of a sponsored Story post on Instagram. The text explains that followers can enter a Valentine's Day quiz to win jewellery and a giftcard.

You can add links to sponsored Stories, too. Just like sponsored posts, you can choose your audience. Think carefully about where you want to send users: the “swipe-up” link could take them to the contest URL, your profile bio, or a specific post with more info about the prize.

#3 Create Stories to interact with Instagram followers

Story Ads are a great way to get click-throughs. But you can be a lot more creative than that!

Stories are popular because they’re quick, accessible, and interactive. So that’s exactly the kind of content you need to post. Take a look at this contest from stationery brand Paperchase. First off, they ran a quick poll sticker to get users tapping:

Instagram Story with a background of cartoon rabbits. The text reads: "Hello. Have you seen our Peter Rabbit giveaway?" Followers can tap a sticker to vote "I've entered" or "Tell me more".

Paperchase correctly predicted that most people didn’t know about the contest. So the next Story they shared was a photo of the prize, with a swipe-up link to enter the contest.

Instagram Story by Paperchase. The image shows a Peter Rabbit notebook, and the overlaid text reads "You could win all of these official Beatrix Potter goodies".

The link went directly to the contest sign up page, so that users could join the prize draw without ever leaving the Instagram app. Remember, to maximize participation, you should keep your contest as simple as possible.

Screenshot of the Paperchase Peter Rabbit competition when users tap the Story link to enter.

When users were done signing up, they received a thank you message before getting back to their Instagram feed.

#4 Set up links in your bio and highlights

We’ve mentioned adding a link to your Instagram bio. It’s one of the few places where you can share live links, and #linkinbio has got to be one of the most-used hashtags on social media.

Screenshot of an Instagram profile page, showing a giveaway in the Highlighted Stories as well as profile posts.

But you can only share one link at once. If you want to offer more connections, then consider a link sharing tool. Or you can save Stories as permanent Highlights on your profile. is a link-in-bio tool that allows you to drive traffic from your Instagram accounts to multiple pages you want to promote. This tool allows you to add an unlimited number of links, lets you schedule links, check analytics, add social media links, and has a ton of highly customizable features. 

The information and links will still be accessible – so you can keep contests open for more than 24 hours. And once the prize draw is over, the highlight will serve as a tempting reminder of your generosity to followers.

Most of all, make sure you add UTMS to your links. A UTM is a string of text at the end of a web address, which helps you track where it came from. For example, you could type the promotion address with a UTM like this:

Then, when you check your promotion statistics, you can see exactly how many people clicked that link to take part. In the example below, 8 people joined the promotion by clicking a link on Facebook.

Screenshot of the Easypromos Statistics panel for a promotion. The chart shows click sources: 29 clicks from direct referral, 8 from Facebook, 7 from Intercom, and 2 from LinkedIn.

Without UTMs, it’s impossible to tell where your participants come from. But if you track your sources, then you can use the information to target your next promotion more effectively.

#5 Get the word out with collaborators on Instagram

Finally, you don’t have to do all the work alone! To get more attention for your contest, you can work with collaborators, sponsors, other brands, and influencers.

Here’s an example from Osprey Europe, an adventure and travel gear brand. They ran a contest in collaboration with Intrepid Travel and Visit Jordan.

Instagram Story announcing a giveaway in collaboration with 2 other brands. The Story gives details of the contest and a link to enter, along with photos of the prize.

Because all three brands were involved, that meant three links in bios, at least three sponsored posts, at least three Stories, and so on. By working with a collaborator, you can double engagement at least!

With these 5 ways to share a contest on Instagram, your promotion should go viral.

What are you waiting for?

Corinna Keefe

Content marketer at Easypromos

Publication date: 2019-02-20