Instagram Contests


Instagram has become one of the most popular of all social media platforms for online marketing. It’s short and succinct methods and engaging posts increase your brand awareness with greater scope than many other platforms.

One increasingly popular method of online promotion is to run Instagram Contests. What are they all about, and how can you use them to engage your customer base? That’s what we’re going to explain below, but before we start, here are few things you need to know about Instagram contests.

How Instagram Contests Work

Instagram Contests are designed and administered by you. Instagram outright states that they offer no help, it is up to the company or individual. Instagram is a free platform, so one can only expect so much help.

There are certain rules involved in running an Instagram Contest and it is essential you don’t skim over these as you need to stay within them.

One area that can be confusing is the regulations and rules regarding giveaways and competitions. These can differ by state, province or country. We recommend you keep your contest local and understand the laws involved. Also, if you are working with a third party on your contest – an influencer of other business – this needs to be disclosed in the contest rules.

As for the rules, make sure they are clear and concise and displayed openly, and have someone else check them for possible loopholes or problems before you go live. Don’t be put off by the above as usually the laws and regulations will be simple. Instagram requires its users to operate legally or it may be liable. So, let’s check out the benefits of different types of Instagram contests.

Instagram Contest Ideas

The idea of running an Instagram Contests is to engage your audience, boost brand awareness and gain more customers. There are many different types of contests, and with Instagram being an image sharing platform the use of photographs is essential. Here are some of the most effective of the contests we have seen.

Like or Share – if simplicity is your aim, asking viewers to Like or Share a post for a chance to be entered into an Instagram Contest is perhaps the easiest of all. It’s simple to administer, as there is nothing to follow other than the like and share ID’s. It is easy for your audience who don’t have a lot of time to enter. The upside is that you will get a lot of potential leads as a result, the downside is that many of those will be people who simply ‘Like’ everything where there’s a prize on offer. Unfortunately, the quality of leads is not great. Nevertheless, a weekly or monthly giveaway by this method can generate leads, and it’s surprisingly simple to set up.

Tag A Friend – another contest that will generate many leads is Tag a Friend. Ask your visitors to tag one or more friends for entry into a competition – they get an entry for each friend they tag – on your posts, and you’ll increase your leads immediately. Most people will tag at least two, and often they choose those who they know may be interested. It’ not as easy to follow as the above, but is still effective. Your leads might not always result in new clients but you should get some new leads.

Photo Caption – this method of Instagram Contest, in which you ask people to suggest a caption for a photo, is a popular form of promotion for sports teams, hospitality venues and retail outlets. You get to make the choice of winner yourself! Specify how you will choose, for example funniest or most relevant – and you generate leads by doing so. As the entrants are likely to be interested in your products or services this method delivers a reasonable level of quality in terms of leads so is certainly one to look. Caption contests are easy to run if you pick an engaging image.

Skill Based and Trivia – this method may not bring in the most leads, but they will be of a high quality. Often used by travel outlets and businesses selling a specific type of product, the idea is to ask a set of questions relevant to the brand. If you offer package holidays you might ask about the destinations you service. There’s plenty of scope but remember this method can take a lot of time to work out. Do it right, and it is a winner in lead generation.

User Generated – the method that will gain you the best-quality leads is one in which you let your users do the work! Examples include asking people to share photos of them with your product. This can be either using it, or something more original, such as who can send a picture of it in the most unusual location. Instagram users like this sort of contest as it engages them, but you must be sure to let them know in the rules that you will be sharing their pictures with others on your feed and social media networks.

That’s a few of the most often-seen Instagram Contest ideas and there are more, so here are a few tips to make sure you get it right.

Further Tips

Make sure you set out the goals of the competition in the rules: if it’s a photo caption, is it the funniest or the most relevant, for example.

Ensure you set a start and end date. The usual format is typically no more than a few days. This gives you plenty time to get enough entries.

Make it simple to enter – the easier it is, the more people will join in.

Make a sponsored post and cross-promote on your other social media channels for greater exposure.

And finally, don’t forget the reason you are running the contest is to get more leads. Have a close look at those who entered. Analyze the results so you can tailor your future campaigns more locally and directly, and ensure the best leads possible.

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I’ve run a few giveaways hoping to attract more people on my profile and surprisingly it worked. I was expecting for some people to unfollow me once the giveaways ended but this wasn’t the case. I have a makeup account where I post my own makeup techniques and tips on how to achieve flawless skin so they might find my content relevant if they decided to stay. 


Pro tip: always choose the winner live. Pay for an app that allows you to easily go through the comments and post the video on story. This way people won’t comment that the contest was fake, they deserve to win, bla bla. 


Always tag the winner in the initial content post. People can come back and check it plus it gives you more credibility. 

Jocelyn Hall

After having two contests that required users to tag their friends and having to deal with a lot of people tagging fan pages, celebrities or other accounts that for sure weren’t their friends I’ve switched to a different approach. Now I just ask different questions, like what would they do if they’ve won. 


Contests that ask users to share on stories get less comments since not everyone is willing to share the giveaways on their personal account. Plus, some people are crazy when it comes to contests, it’s just like couponing. 

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