Fun fact: An instagram contest or giveaway can help you grow your followers 70% faster in three months than if you didn’t host a contest at all.
We know this, because we did the research!
In our major original study, we analyzed over 60,000 Instagram posts to find out how effective Instagram raffles, contests and giveaways are for your Instagram marketing. Fair warning, the results may shock you!
So grab your favorite notebook and cozy up to learn how to do a giveaway on Instagram that will grow your followers and increase engagement!
We’re also covering how to create Instagram content rules, data to help you fine-tune your contest structure, and some Instagram content ideas you won’t want to miss.
Why Should You Host an Instagram Contest?
If you want to grow your followers and get in front of new audiences on Instagram, an Instagram giveaway in your marketing strategy is the way to go. Why?
Well-run Instagram contests can attract hundreds or thousands of entries!
One of the major reasons for this is how most Instagram contests are structured.
They’re primed for attracting new followers and comments! Our research study shows that Instagram contests get 3.5 times as many likes and 64 times more comments on average than regular posts.
Instagram Giveaway Rules and Structures Lead to Followers and Engagement!
Take a spin through your Instagram for recent contests and giveaways. You’ll notice a lot have contest rules like, following the Instagram accounts participating in the giveaway, liking the giveaway post and to tag a friend in the comments to enter.
In fact, the vast majority of Instagram contests in our study used variations on these common Instagram contest rules. However there’s nothing stopping you from changing things up, as long as you abide by Instagram’s Promotion Guidelines.
These official rules also require you to acknowledge that the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Instagram.
Other types of Instagram contests include:
- Like to enter (double-tap to win)
- Photo contests (Submit photos to enter entry photo with a branded hashtag)
- In-store contests (post a picture taken inside a store and post it with a branded campaign hashtag)
- Successive contests (12 days of giveaways, with a new prize each day and a grand prize on the last day)
So to recap: Your followers see your post > They like, comment and tag friends > more people see it, engage, and tag > the algorithm reveals the post to more people > those people see it, engage, and tag.
Rinse and repeat!
Need some proof? 91% of all of the posts in our study that received 1,000 or more comments were Instagram contests!
Instagram contests get crazy-high engagement. Which leads to better performance in the Instagram algorithm (and therefore even more engagement!)
As your engagement on the initial post grows, the Instagram algorithm shows it to more of your followers and potentially as a top post in the hashtags you used!
How to Run a Giveaway in 10 Steps
Running a giveaway on Instagram is easier than it sounds! Check out these ten thorough steps for planning your Instagram competition or contest from start to finish!
Step One: Define the Goal of Your Instagram Giveaway
The key to a successful Instagram giveaway almost always lies in the planning. You’ll want to figure out what you want the purpose and result of your contest to be before you dive in!
Depending on your audience, brand and business objectives, the most meaningful results for you may be different than others! Decide whether you want to:
- Grow your following on Instagram
- Raise your engagement rate
- Increase brand awareness
- Bring people into your marketing funnel
Once you have clarity on your ultimate goal, you can strategize how to best accomplish it with your contest theme, rules and structure.
For example, if you want to grow your following, this will inform things like the type of prize you pick, the rules for entry and your long-term plan for keeping new followers engaged with your content.
If you want to bring people into your marketing funnel on the other hand, you’ll probably arrange your contest a little differently!
Ways to do this might be counting an entry as signing up for your newsletter or taking an action on your website that allows you to capture their contact information.
Step Two: Get Clear on the Theme of Your Instagram Contest
If you plan to have contestants enter by posting photos or videos and tagging you in them, then you’ll definitely want to establish a theme!
Some things to think about that might inform the theme of your contest are holidays, celebrations or special occasions happening around the time of your contest.
Alternately, you can make up your own contest prompt around a word or phrase that ties in closely with your products or services!
If user-generated content is useful for your brand for promotional purposes, consider making your theme something fun but general enough that you can use the photos and videos on your feed and ads after the contest is complete.
With Tailwind’s browser extension, you can easily save user-generated content to your Instagram drafts to post at any time.
Haven’t signed up yet? Grab a here to easily save the best contest entries to your drafts!
Step Three: Decide How People Will Enter the Contest
As we mentioned above, posting themed photos or videos with a branded hashtag to enter your contest is a great way to source material for your Instagram Feed and Stories.
Depending on the goal you decided on in step one, this may not be the best entry method to get you to that outcome!
You can create any number of actions that followers need to take to enter, but try not to make it too complicated.
One of the most common ways of entering an Instagram giveaway when looking for better engagement or more followers is to create contest rules like:
To enter to win:
- Follow our account
- Like this post
- Tag a friend in the comment section! Each tag counts as an additional entry to win!
As we mentioned before, you can also use Instagram contests to get people into your sales funnel. Simply have them sign up for your email newsletter or enter with their email address!
Step Four: Figure Out How You’ll Pick a Winner
The structure and style of your contest will impact how you organize entries and pick the winner!
For example, if you’re encouraging photo or video submissions, you may select a panel of judges to decide on the winner. Or, you may use a survey system for voting on entries!
Traditional giveaways that involve liking, commenting, tagging friends or using a branded hashtag are a little easier to track!
Our favorite way to organize contests and giveaways is to track every Instagram handle that completes the steps to enter the contest in a Google spreadsheet. We add the handle again for every additional entry (user tag), and then export the list to a randomizer to select a winner!
Step Five: Choose An Award Participants Will Love
Let’s talk about the part everyone loves: contest prizes! The most important thing to consider when choosing your giveaway prize is relevance to your audience.
Choose a prize that fits into your target audience’s lifestyle, is something they want and need, and matches their values and purchasing preferences for the most impact.
And the best part is, your prize doesn’t have to break the bank either!
While our study does suggest that the more valuable your prize, the more engagement you will get on your contest, that’s not the entire story. For instance, lots of contests with prizes that cost less than $99 achieved engagement rates over 5.8.
Trust us, that’s a great score!
So don’t let having a lower value prize stop you from holding an Instagram contest. In our Instagram contest research study, the highest engagement rate for contests with prizes valued less than $99 was just $25 store credit!
Another key takeaway? While
(Of course it ultimately depends on your brand, the size of your business and following, and the average cost of your products.)
Crank Up Total Prize Value By Partnering With Other Brands!
Want to make a splash with your Instagram giveaway prize?
Work with another complementary brand or brands to pool prizes that match your contest theme.
Not only does this positively impact engagement, it also increases your reach!
Your contest post will appear on two or more accounts at the same time, which means exposure to each other’s audiences.
Step Six: Establish Your Instagram Giveaway Rules, Terms and Conditions
While Instagram contests are easy to participate in, that doesn’t mean there aren’t guidelines for participants (and you!) to follow! Establishing clear terms and conditions makes sure that your contest is legal, and protects both you and your followers!
If you have access to a lawyer in your company, they can help you figure out which laws apply to you based on your location and how to execute Instagram giveaway wording.
If you don’t have access to a lawyer, there are plenty of Instagram giveaway templates for terms and conditions.
Just make sure you brush up on your local, state and federal guidelines for sweepstakes and contests. And ask clarifying questions on anything you’re unsure about before publishing the rules!
Here are some common terms and conditions to get you started:
- Name and contact details of your brand (or the brand promoting the contest)
- Contest dates
- Rules about who can participate (age, employees can’t enter, etc.)
- Clear instructions and guidelines for entry
- Transparent guidelines for how the winner is chosen and announced
- Information about how the winner will proceed (days to claim, how the prize will be delivered, etc.)
- Information and guidelines about the prize (descriptions, number of prizes, any exceptions or restrictions for the prize)
Most importantly, you want to follow Instagram’s rules and add in the clear acknowledgement that the promotion isn’t sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Instagram in any way! You also should add similar protections and warnings around any other platform or tool you use to run the contest.
Step Seven: Make a Promotion Plan For Your Instagram Contest
Next, you want to get the word out about your Instagram contest to drum up interest in participating! Outline a promotion plan for the contest, including the social media sites you’ll be posting on, any partners, influencers and affiliates who might be able to help you by sharing a post, and a timeline for when your promotional materials will go live.
One way to increase the reach of Instagram contests and all of your other Instagram posts, is to post them at the best time for engagement. The more people who like and comment on your posts in the first few minutes after they’re published, the better your reach will be.
Step Eight: Announce The Winner and Follow Up
Once it’s time to choose the winner, you’ll also need to plan out how you’ll announce it! You could make another feed post or video announcing the winner and congratulating them, or share it to your Instagram Stories!
Latecomers to the contest can sometimes miss the terms and conditions and explanation of when and how the winner is announced, so it helps to have a permanent post or a Story saved to your highlights that they can easily find and refer to.
Otherwise, you might be getting DMs and questions for months afterwards!
In your announcement post, make sure you reiterate the terms and conditions of how the winner will take next steps with a time period to claim the prize and any contact instructions they need to make for you.
Finally, when you send the prize, ask for a photo or video from the winner! This could be handy UGC to help you promote future contests – or your product!
Step Nine: Review Insights and Lessons Learned
Once everything is said and done, it’s important to review the process to see what went well and what could be adjusted in later contests. Take a few minutes to review the following:
- Process for entry
- Participation rates
- Process for choosing the winner
- How the prize was sent
- Any reviews from participants or collaborators
- Instagram Insights about participants
- Which promotional platforms were the most effective
Reviewing all of these details will help you fine-tune your process and improve your contests in the future!
Instagram Contest Ideas to Inspire You
You get the idea – Instagram contests are great for follower growth.
For further inspiration and ideas, check out the following Instagram giveaway examples that were a smash hit!
Instagram Contest Idea 1: Get Leads From Your Audience’s Network
They are incredibly successful on Instagram, and their contests kill it. Sometimes they get as many comments as 4x the number of their following!
How do they do it? They know their audience, post seasonally-appropriate contests, and use the established ties of sororities to tap into incredible virality by offering prizes to “an entire chapter.”
“We gave away about 120 of those pullovers to one sorority chapter.
Sororities had to enter by tagging their sorority sisters in the comments for entries. It’s a very exclusive product and is seasonal so it was a huge hit.
Probably got us about 1000 new followers. The challenge is retention once the contest ends.”
Lindsey Clawson, Marketing Manager at South by Sea College
Instagram Contest Idea 2: Celebrate Instagram Growth Milestones
@biossance is a clean beauty company most known for their partnership with Sephora!
To celebrate reaching 300,000 followers on Instagram, they opted to give away $300 worth of product to three winners.
In this caption, notice that they clearly spell out the rules of entry, when the winners will be announced, and how they will be selected!
To save space on their feed, they went back and updated the caption to note the giveaway is closed and to announce the winners.
Now that’s smart!
Instagram Contest Idea 3: Grab User-Generated Content With a Unique Photo Challenge
Beauty brand @summerfridays tapped into their brand mission and values to host a longer-running photo challenge with their followers.
In this unique challenge, participants answer a prompt throughout the week to enter to win products.
Although they don’t have to take a photo with a product, this challenge taps into the community lifestyle that Summer Fridays cultivates with de-stressing.
Besides word-of-mouth, tons of engagement for the week and new followers, Summer Fridays is also accessing tons of user photos to potentially add to their Stories and feed.
That’s always a good idea when you’re working on content to visually plan your 9-grid!
Other Useful Instagram Giveaway Ideas
Our Facebook Live on this topic (see below) received 128 comments. A lot of them were great tips from Tailwind members and social media influencers. Here are some of the best ideas they suggested.
- Hold an Instagram giveaway where someone has to tag a friend and then that friend has to enter for the duo to be in with a chance of winning the prize. (Michelle Grey)
- The cheapest tool to use is a spreadsheet or a random number generator to pick your winner. (Kim Vij)
- Use Instagram Stories for giveaways. The more people who message you from your story, the more likely it is that your story will appear as the first story on your followers feed. (Samantha Josephine Lee)
- Adding the word “giveaway” or “contest” into your image may help aid recognition that it is a contest. (Michelle Grey) Although our data has examples of successful contests that do, and do not, do this with their images.
- Make sure you research appropriate Instagram hashtags to use for your contest (Peg Fitzpatrick)
- Shortstack, Rafflecopter, and Gleam.io are some of the contest apps I’ve used in the past. (Jeff Sieh)
Conclusion: How to Host a Giveaway on Instagram
It seems like everybody on Instagram would jump on the Instagram competition trend, yet our study found that only 2% of Instagram marketers actually run regular contests on Instagram!
Most accounts that do run contests only do it occasionally. Our research found that just 0.56% of all Instagram posts are contests.
This spells a unique opportunity to make a splash and attract a lot of attention – and followers – with an Instagram contest!
So what are you waiting for? Start planning your own contest today. And if you need more insight, watch our Facebook Live dedicated to all things Instagram contests below!
Start a Free Trial of Tailwind for Instagram!
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David is Tailwind’s Director of Marketing and Growth. He is a former journalist who wrote for The Times and The Financial Times, a marketing agency co-founder, founder of Confluence digital marketing conference, father of two, and early morning writer. He grew up on The Isle of Wight in England and lives in Oklahoma City.