Instagram contests can help boost your overall Instagram success through a variety of methods.
I’ve outlined eight steps to help you create and manage a killer Instagram contest without the guessing game.
Savvy business owners know that content is king when it comes to social media.
To build a following, it’s crucial to have content that is enticing. Building a committed and engaged following can work wonders for spreading your brand message far and wide.
And with over 1 billion active Instagram users every month, there is amazing potential to make an impact.
But how do you convince your followers to engage with or share your content?
Or better still, how do you get users to create awesome content FOR you?
Hosting an Instagram contest is a fabulous way to accomplish both of these things.
Why You Should Host An Instagram Contest
FACT: People love free stuff.
So by default, if you offer people the chance to win free stuff, they’ll love you, right?
If you’re looking to win over your followers (and win some new ones, too!), it’s most definitely a step in the right direction.
Hosting an Instagram contest can accomplish a variety of things. It may bring in new followers, or boost your post engagement, making you more attractive to the ever-mysterious Instagram algorithm.
Hosting a contest on Instagram might also set up the possibility of inviting your entrants to create awesome content for you for mere pennies on the dollar, through the magic of User Generated Content which we’ll discuss more later.
However, while hosting an Instagram contest is a great idea for more than one reason, in order to be successful, it takes more than a dream and something free to offer to Instagram-land.
I’ve broken things down step-by-step to help you achieve success through Instagram contests.
You can thank me later 😉
1. Set Goals and Objectives For The Contest
Before you take aim on the focus of your Instagram contest, you need to identify your target.
What are you hoping to accomplish for your brand or business?
As I mentioned above, some of the most common reasons a company might host an Instagram contest are to:
- Increase followers
- Increase brand awareness
- Motivate User Generated Content
You may be interested in only one of the above, or maybe all three.
Whatever your goal, make sure you identify it so that you can design your content accordingly and measure the results.
Creating an Instagram contest takes time and effort. Since time is money, make sure you’re spending it in the right place.
User-Generated Content And Why You Might Want to Use Them
One of the big buzzwords in social media today is “user-generated content”, or UGC for short.
I could write a whole blog post about UGC (stay tuned!), but for now, we’ll touch on the basics.
User-Generated Content is any type of content that is created by unpaid contributors.
In other words, it is content featuring your brand or product that was created (for free!) by your own Instagram followers or fans.
User-Generated Content has a plethora of benefits:
- It’s authentic – Who are you more likely to trust? Your good friend that you know has great taste? Or a complete stranger with a marketing background that is getting paid to create an ad? Hearing from someone you trust is far more effective when it comes to adopting a new product or idea.
- It’s full of valuable information – UGC is a fantastic way to get your finger on the pulse of your market. Seeing how people are actually using your product in their own life can give valuable insight into what matters to your customers and followers.
- It creates a sense of community – Consumers like to see what like-minded people are interested in and doing. Seeing how others are using the same product or service they are can provide motivation and inspiration, and greater loyalty to the brand due to the emotional connection.
- It’s cheap! – User-Generated Content is incredibly cost-effective. Having unpaid users creating content that you can share sure beats spending thousands of dollars for professional marketing campaigns.
Instagram Contest Ideas
Once your goals and objectives have been identified, it becomes easier to figure out what type of Instagram contest you want to create.
Some ideas for different Instagram contests might be:
- Instagram giveaway contest – this is the most basic of the Instagram contests. The purpose of a giveaway is usually to increase followers and engagement.
- User-generated content contest – as mentioned above, stimulating UGC is frequently a goal of running an Instagram contest. With this type of contest, you ask for follower participation by creating their own original photo or video featuring your brand or product. Oftentimes, a smart move is to create an original hashtag that users can add to their post. This will allow you to search the entrants as well as spread brand awareness. You can then repost some of the awesome content created for free by your contest entrants. (Don’t forget to give credit!)
- Photo caption contest – this type of contest is great for boosting follower engagement. Simply post an interesting or funny image and ask users to give their best photo caption interpretation. The prize winner could be chosen at random or selected through a method of judging to determine the “best” or favorite entry.
- Skill contest – perhaps your brand relates to some sort of hobby or skill. Asking entrants to create something to demonstrate this skill as a method of entering a contest is a great way to highlight the strengths of your product as well as create some user-generated content.
- Scavenger hunt contest – there are a couple of ways to host a scavenger hunt contest. 1) Have users search for items and DM (direct message) pictures to you. First to accomplish the outlined objective wins. 2) Leave a prize at particular locations that users have to find. An example of this is Jane.com that does a “Jane Drop” at different major cities around the U.S. A clue is given in the form of a picture and caption, and the first person to physically race there is the winner! A fun way to reward followers and earn new ones hoping to get in on the action.
2. Determine Your Entry Method
The type of contest you run will determine the Instagram contest rules, particularly how a user will enter the contest.
For example, with an Instagram giveaway, it’s common to ask entrants to follow your account as well as tag a certain number of friends (in hopes that they’ll also want to enter and follow).
Whatever method you decide to use, one of the most important things to remember is to keep it simple.
As a general rule, people are pretty lazy when it comes to online activity (which may extend to other areas, too, but we don’t judge).
Unless your prize is really super amazing, potential entrants aren’t going to want to jump through a bunch of hoops.
Make sure the entry method aligns with your goals, but also aim to keep the process as streamlined as possible.
Choosing The Perfect Hashtag for Your Contest
Incorporating a unique hashtag into your Instagram contest is a fabulous way to spread brand awareness and inspire User Generated Content.
As always, we want to set you up for success, so allow us to recommend a few tips for creating the perfect Instagram contest hashtag:
- Don’t over-complicate it. (Sound familiar?) Keep it simple so that it’s memorable and easy to use. Think short and sweet and “readable”.
- Try to incorporate your brand. The hashtag should be relevant to your brand, product, or the contest as a whole.
- Consider your audience. Is this a regional contest? National? International? Your hashtag should avoid using slang or words that might be confusing to certain groups of people that you don’t want to exclude.
- Keep it unique! A good contest hashtag will be relatively rare and applicable only to the contest. Using something like #MotivationMonday is going to be far too saturated and it will be hard to determine who your contest participants are.
3. Select A Prize
It’s time to focus on the star of the show: the contest prize!
Picking an appropriate Instagram contest prize is crucial to the success of the contest. It’s all about balance.
On one hand, you want to ensure that your prize is enticing enough for people to do the work of entering AND spread the word.
A pair of movie tickets is really nice, but might not be enough to accomplish the goals outlined in the beginning.
On the other hand, a weekend vacation package would be outstanding, but a prize worth thousands of dollars might break the bank.
If the return on your investment is going to seriously end up hurting your bottom line, it’s not worth it.
Aim for a sweet spot between the two extremes – something interesting and exciting, but also completely reasonable for your individual situation.
Of course, keep your prize relevant to your brand, as well.
4. Determine How To Pick A Winner
At this point in the process, you may be eager to get the show on the road and make this contest happen!
However, there are a few more details that need to be hammered out.
It’s important to determine how your big winner is going to be chosen.
This is an important detail that you’ll need to include from the beginning so there isn’t any confusion for those entering (or for you later on).
There are a few primary methods for selecting an Instagram contest winner:
- Random selection – this is common for Instagram giveaway type contests, but can be used in other types of contests as well. There are programs that can help ensure that the winner truly is random, inspiring trust in your followers.
- Voting – contestants would have the opportunity to compete for the most likes in order to win. The advantage of this method is that they may ask others to vote for them, increasing your audience’s reach. The downside is that it’s possible to manipulate the system, so the rules would have to be very clear.
- Jury – asking an individual or panel of judges is often the best method for ensuring quality and fairness when it comes to picking the prize.
5. Create Terms And Conditions
Now that you’ve ironed out all the details regarding your Instagram contest rules, a good practice is to make a comprehensive list of the details and outline all the terms and conditions.
This is also a good time to ensure that you are following all legal guidelines for your region. You may want to consult a lawyer to help in this process.
Additionally, I strongly recommend checking out Instagram’s Promotion Guidelines to make sure you’re complying with those rules as well.
Some of the things that you may want to include in your terms and conditions are:
- Who is allowed to enter (i.e. regional or age restrictions)
- How to enter
- Prize details
- How a winner is chosen, announced, and informed
- Dates of the contest
- Any sponsorships involved, or acknowledgment of lack of association
- Name and contact information of the promoting brand
These terms and conditions can be listed and referred to on a blog, website, or social media page.
As I mentioned previously, transparency will go a long way in ensuring your contest runs smoothly.
If everyone knows exactly what to expect at each step in the process there are likely to be fewer disgruntled contestants and/or employees.
6. Promote Your Contest
After all the effort you’ve put forth to organize your Instagram contest, the last thing you want is a poor turnout.
Time to shout it from the rooftops!
To promote your Instagram contest, you want to get as many eyes on it as possible.
This means advertising it in more than one place.
In addition to creating an eye-catching Instagram post, don’t forget other outlets as well.
Blogs, websites, and other social media channels are all good places to let people know about your amazing Instagram contest that they just can’t miss.
7. Pick A Winner
At long last, the time has come to announce the big winner from your fabulous Instagram contest!
As discussed above, there is more than one method for determining a contest winner. That method will depend largely on what type of contest you chose and the outcomes you are hoping for.
Whatever the method, the key is to be timely in announcing and contacting the winner, as well as fulfilling the prize.
It’s typically a good idea to create a public post announcing who the winner is and perhaps a blurb about how they were chosen (so everyone knows you came through on following the outlined rules).
After that, you can either reach out to them directly via Instagram direct message or request that they contact you.
From there you can arrange to find a way to get the prize to the winner.
8. Evaluate the Performance of the Contest
Last but not least, don’t forget to go back and evaluate how your Instagram contest went.
What did you learn from it?
What went well?
Were there things that could have gone better?
Where did you land in relation to your goals? Why?
Each time you host an Instagram contest you will gain more experience and achieve more success.
Following the steps I’ve outlined will help you build on your expertise and become aa master in running Instagram contests in no time.