How to run an Instagram contest for your brand

César Rodríguez
César Rodríguez
Launching an Instagram contest has become a staple marketing strategy. The unparalleled reach and visual appeal of this social network provides brands the perfect setting to captivate and forge meaningful connections with their audience. Read on to learn more about which Instagram contest dynamic is the most suitable to help you reach your specific marketing goals.

An Instagram contest or giveaway has become an indispensable tool in the marketer’s arsenal, from fostering a sense of community to boosting brand awareness and amplifying reach. In this article, we will look into the types of Instagram contests you can organize with Easypromos and which are the most suitable to achieve your brand’s marketing objectives.

What is an Instagram Contest?

An Instagram contest is a promotional action on Instagram where users participate for a chance to win a prize. And in return for the opportunity, the brand will require participants to follow some instructions. This sort of contest on Instagram aims to increase brand engagement, awareness, and reach and can also be used to collect user-generated content as well as lead generation. However, not all types of Instagram contests serve the same purpose or have the same participation dynamic. With this in mind, it is essential to choose the kind of contest and dynamic to achieve a given marketing goal.

So, which type of Instagram contest is the most appropriate for your brand? Keep on reading to find out!

Types of Instagram Contests

There are six different dynamics to run a contest on Instagram using the Easypromos platform. And as we mentioned before, each one serves a distinct purpose. So without further ado, let’s go over each of them.

Comment-based Instagram contest

It could be said that an Instagram giveaway is an entry-level promotional action for a brand that wishes to engage with its audience, grow its follower base, and promote its products. If you are new to Instagram contests, this is the perfect strategy to start building your brand’s presence on the social network and to achieve a critical amount of followers and reach before moving on to more complex dynamics.

The workings of a comment-based contest on Instagram are quite straightforward. Start by making a post on your brand profile announcing your giveaway. Make sure that the image is attractive and that it clearly shows that you are running a giveaway and what the prize is. Next, ask users to comment on the post to participate, either by asking them to answer a question like “What would you do if you won this prize?” or “Tell us why you love our brand.” Also, give your giveaway a better chance to go viral by asking participants to tag a friend in their answer. Something like “Tag a friend (or friends) with whom you would like to share this prize.” Once the participation period finishes, use the Easypromos platform random picker to select the winners and the alternates.

Instagram Story Giveaway – Reply to a Story

Instagram Stories have become the preeminent format in the social network, so it makes sense to include them in your marketing strategy. Easypromos launched the first app in the market that allows you to run a reliable and fully automated Instagram Story Giveaway. The participation dynamic is quite similar to the comment-based giveaway. Simply, post a Giveaway story on your account and ask users to reply to it to participate. What’s more, you can ask participants to include a specific #hashtag in their replies to better filter participating users.

Photo Contest on Instagram Stories: Post a Story + Mention

In this Instagram Story giveaway dynamic, instead of users replying to a story posted by your brand, participants have to post a story of their own and include a mention of your brand in it. This is a good strategy to turn customers into brand ambassadors as you can stipulate what the participants’ stories have to feature, for instance, a photo of them showing your product, which is exactly what Bebang HaloHalo did. Suffice it to say that their initiative was so successful that their sales grew over 25%. Learn more about it in the case study below.

Instagram Story Giveaway success case

Instagram Hashtag + Mention contest

The Hashtag + Mention app takes your contest on Instagram to the next level as it imports photos posted by participants on their feeds in real time and displays them in a contest gallery that users access to vote for their favorite entries. This contest provides a dual benefit: the possibility of collecting user-generated content (UGC) and a broader reach facilitated by hashtags and mentions. Make sure that you inform participants that their profiles must be set to public so that their submissions can enter the contest.

Instagram photo contest with user registration

The Instagram Hashtag + Entry Form offers two benefits. On the one hand, you can collect UGC and enable a voting stage to select the winners. And on the other hand, collect user information that will turn your Instagram followers into qualified leads. Start by inviting users to participate by publishing a photo on their feed with your campaign hashtag. After that, participants enter the competition by filling in a registration form with their contact details, choosing which of their Instagram photos to use, and accepting the terms and conditions and content permissions. As an organizer, you can create a public gallery with user-generated content, from which the winner will be chosen. What’s more, by using this app you can ask users for their permission to use the content they submit, and therefore, comply with legal rules and regulations. It is then up to you to decide if the winners will be selected by popular vote, a jury, or a combination of both.

In the example above, the pet treats company Inubu Churu launched a Halloween Instagram Photo contest. The brand posted the giveaway on its Instagram feed and specified the hashtag that users had to use to participate. The post also specified that the link to register was available on the account’s BIO.

 Multi Platform contest shared on Instagram

This last kind of contest differs from the others in the sense that it doesn’t actually take place directly on Instagram but rather is a stand-alone contest. The Voting Contest app allows you to create a photo, video, or text contest that you can then promote across your social media accounts. The contest is hosted on a microsite with its own URL that you can later share on your social media accounts to promote participation. Simply put, Instagram will provide you with a channel to share your promotion and attract participants. 

As an organizer, you can then display entries in public galleries and enable public voting, either to choose the winners or those who move on to a final jury round.

Take a look at the example above. The Eastwood Company is an automotive restoration solution provider that organizes a yearly Before & After car restoration contest. The organizers promote the contest through all their social media accounts. With this action, the brand increases brand awareness and product visibility while engaging its audience both in the entry and voting stages of their competition in this 100% in-house planned, managed, and executed campaign.

Steps to run a contest on Instagram

Choose the right app for your Instagram contest

This might seem obvious, but the first step is deciding what kind of Instagram contest to launch. This will depend entirely on the goal you wish to achieve. I.e., promoting your products, increasing brand awareness, collecting UCG, etc. Take a look at the comparative table below, it will help you choose the contest app that better suits your needs and objectives.

Set clear participation guidelines and requirement for your contest

Keep in mind that to participate, users will need the right motivation. And that comes from two fundamental aspects:

  • Clear and easy participation dynamic and requirements: Keep it simple and clear. For instance, in an Instagram Giveaway, ask participants to comment on your post by answering a simple and specific question and mentioning a friend. For a photo contest aimed at collecting UGC, set clear instructions, i.e.: “Post a picture showing us how you use (your product).” 
  • bOffer an attractive prize. We can’t emphasize this enough, the prize has to be attractive enough to make up for what participants have to do or the personal information they have to share to be able to win it. 

Don’t forget about the Terms & Conditions! Clear T&C’s are a must to keep your contest safe and to protect your hard-earned brand’s reputation.

Promote your contest

Promotion will make or break your contest. Independently of the kind of contest you decide to run on Instagram, its success will depend on its reach, and therefore, participation levels. Make sure you make posts promoting your contest across all the social networks where your brand has a presence, and also on your website or printed flyers.
Facebook, Threads, and X, all allow you to include a link to your promotion in your post. Make sure to include an attractive image of the prize and invite your audience to enter the contest by following the link. And don’t stop at one post, depending on how long your contest is going to run, make periodic reminders to drive participants to your contest.

If you want to use Instagram to promote a contest hosted on an external microsite, you can include a link to access it on your BIO. And make sure you state that on the posts promoting your contest. Stories, on the other hand, do allow brands to include links, so make sure you keep posting stories to promote your contest. Finally, investing in Facebook ADS might be money well spent as it will help your contest get a wider and more directed reach than organic posts.

The Don’ts of Instagram contests

So, now that we’ve gone through all the important things to do to help you create a successful contest, let’s take a look at some of the pitfalls to avoid.

  • DON’T encourage spamming by offering extra entries for additional comments, mentions, or sharing your contest on Instagram Stories.
  • DON’T use likes to determine the winner. Besides going against Instagram’s best practices, using likes as votes poses a major risk to your brand’s reputation as there is no way of preventing fraudulent behavior. 
  • DON’T forget to announce the winners. If you don’t officially communicate who the winners of your contest are, you might lose credibility and trust as some users may simply think that the contest was a fraud – and you don’t want that!

We hope that you find this information helpful to create your Instagram contest. Take a look at the table below for quick reference and to compare the differences between the Instagram contests that you can organize using the Easypromos platform.

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