How to Run a Successful Instagram Contest

Sep 10, 2015

We’ve all seen them: Instagram posts that call followers into action for a chance to win something highly covetable. If you are toying with the idea of running a promotion on everyone’s favorite social media platform, read on for some helpful tips that will guide you along the path of contest success.

In today’s day and age, whether your brand is just taking off or successfully soaring, if it isn’t registered on a platform with an @ sign in front of its name, you might as well be packing it in. Let’s face it: hashtags make the world go ‘round.

So far you’ve done all the right things: you’re doing your research, you’re creating killer content, you’ve identified your needs and you’re even following the right trends.

You've now reached at a point where you’re making things happen and you want to reward your loyal followers, as well as acquire new ones. I've got one word for you: contest.

J.Crew asked their followers to tag posts of their @jcrew accessories with a specific hashtag to win a chance to be featured on their feed of 1 million + followers. Source: Instagram

Reach For the Stars

Running an Instagram give away or contest is a no-brainer option when you’re looking to grow your fan base and customers. It can get you the biggest bang for your buck if you do it right.

Here’s what an Instagram contest has the potential to do for you:

  • Expand your reach

  • Increase your audience

  • Boost your conversions

  • Build deeper connections

There are different ways to run contests and the way you’ll go about it will depend on your goals. Writing those down before starting will help determine your approach, as well as make what you’re working towards tangible.

Instagram contests/give-aways make an ideal conduit for connecting directly with consumers. They’ll drive engagement around your brand, as well as compel them to take action around it, adding an emotional component to your following’s devotion.

J Brand ran a contest this spring asking their followers to tell a tale about their connection to @jbrandjeans. The best story and photo would win a new J Brand wardrobe. This generated UGC while tapping into their audience's emotions. Source: Instagram

Pointers to Apply

Get these things right and be rewarded with high engagement and tons of new followers.

  1. Pick killer stuff

It goes without saying that the better the incentive, the higher your chances of breaking participation records. The prize has to be worthwhile to be able to draw people in and make waves.

What you’re giving away should be determined by:

  • Your Brand:

Your loot should be related to what you offer and the essence of your brand.

  • Your Audience:

You know your customer, you know who follows you, and you should know what tugs at your devotees’ heart strings. The number of entries you get is entirely related to who you’re presenting the contest to.

Urban Outfitters knows its fans better than anyone and teamed up with one of its brands to give away something highly covetable. Source: Instagram

2. Make it easy

Map it out clearly, make things easy and avoid any potential hurdles your followers could encounter. Most people aren’t going to take any action if they have to jump through too many hoops.

That said, the level of effort required to enter should reflect the value of the prize and be tied to your goals. If you’re looking for high engagement and hoping for UGC in the outcome, you’ll be asking your followers to do more, which means the prize should be bigger. Like creating their own post and adding a contest-specific hashtag to it.

On the other hand, if you’re purely looking for numbers, meaning a drastic increase in followers without necessarily needing people to engage around your brand, then make things as simple as can be. You can ask your followers to #regram a specific photo, accompanied by a hashtag, which means that for every regram, you’re exposed to each follower’s audience.

The most efficient way to do this remains capturting the immediate intent to take part by having people engage around your posts. If all they need to do is be a follower and tag friend in a photo to be entered, you'll notice a drastic rise in activity. No one risks exerting themselves with those kinds of instructions, while the tagged friend strategy guarantees bringing new people to you.
We ran a huge give away on the @dashhudson account this spring where the prizes were major and multiple, and the way to enter was easy peasy, making the particiaption level and outcome outstanding.

3. Select the right people to spread the word.

Even if your followers tag their friends in your posts or create their own posts and use the contest-required hashtag, nothing crushes quite like getting a small army of Insta-famous denizens to mention it to their followers.

If it’s in your budget and you need that extra boost, this is a highly effective recourse.

4. Use your other channels.

We’re aware that Instagram is the most important social media platform for your brand, but do not underestimate the power of wildfire. Spread wide to go deep. Be your own advertising vehicle and mention the happenings on your other channels to bring in those you reach on those networks.

5. Be quick to close.

The duration of the contest is entirely up to you and should also reflect your goals, the prize value and the level of effort required to enter. It’s about striking the right balance between giving enough time for people to participate and keeping the momentum going.
Gotta seize the moment and capitalize on the momentum. Source: Instagram

Once your contest is over, it’s important to capitalize on that buzz and select the winner(s) within 48 hours. Any time after that, the thrill will be gone and you’ll find that you’re already yesterday’s news.

We love contests and give aways here at Dash Hudson, so hit us up because we’d love to help you run yours.