How to Run an Instagram Competition or Giveaway

March 14, 2016

Running a giveaway or competition on Instagram can be an extremely effective way for small businesses to gain new followers, increase platform engagement, reach new audiences and create brand awareness.

It may seem like a simple promotional tool (which it is!) but it can be a complicated process, so here is a checklist from us to you, to ensure you’re adhering to all of Instagram’s rules and guidelines, and also maximising the positive impact it can have for your brand!

How to run an Instagram competition

1. Is an Instagram competition right for you?

Firstly, you need to determine if this is the right idea for you. If your brand is active on the platform, has a product or service that suits this social channel and already has a little bit of momentum, then chances are, an Instagram competition can work for you!

2. What type of competition will you run?

There are a lot of types of competitions and giveaways you can run on Instagram. Something to be aware of in Australia is “Game of Skill” vs “Game of Chance”. A “Game of Chance” competition means that the selection process of the winner(s) is completely random, like a lottery, or hat draw. Depending on the state you’re in and who the competition is open to, permits may be required for “Game of Chance” competitions. You can find out more info on that here. Because of this, we often find it much easier to run “Game of Skill” competitions, where the winner(s) is chosen based on set criteria, such as creativity and impact.

A few of the most commonly used Instagram competition mechanics are:

Like to win

This is probably the most common and the mechanic is easy. Simply ask people to follow your account, and then like your photo (potentially leave a comment also) to be eligible to win.

Regram to win

Another common mechanic is asking people to ‘regram’ your competition image on their own account for their chance to win. You should set a specific (and unique!) hashtag for this so that you can easily track your entries, plus add an element of skill to the competition by asking people to caption their regram with 25 words or less.

Tag a friend

The concept of this is asking your current fans to tag their friends in an image to hopefully introduce new customers to your brand. It also adds an element of qualified customers – as people who are friends of your existing fans are more likely to also be interested in your product.

Post your own pic

Probably best suited to brands with very large customer databases and a lot of fan advocacy (I have used this method to great success with brands like Sportsgirl and Priceline Pharmacy), this method essentially involves setting a task for your customers to do, such as uploading a pic of them wearing a certain item, or a photo of their pet. This also requires a unique competition hashtag to ensure you can track your entries.

How to run an Instagram competition

Flowers Across Australia have the perfect giveaway prize – gorgeous fresh flowers!

3. What is your prize?

You will also obviously need to decide on what you want to give away. It may be a voucher for your store, a hamper of goodies, or samples of your product. Keep in mind, the more tantalising the prize, the more excitement you’re likely to drum up – which leads to more entries! You can also consider the time of year, for example, a lot of brands run “12 Days of Christmas” giveaways in the lead up to Christmas, or special Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day or Father’s Day competitions.

Another idea is to team up with other compatible businesses to create a bigger, more robust competition. A goodie bag with products from 6 x different brands is definitely more exciting than just the one. Just keep in mind the amount of hoops or potential barriers you put up for your customer. You don’t want to make the competition too complicated to enter, and too many steps can be a deterrent.

4. Let your creativity out!

It’s now time to get your creative hat on and put together your competition image. You want something without too much text, that is visually appealing (especially if you’re asking your fans to repost this image on their own account!). You want the image to stand out from the crowd and also clearly express that this is a competition. Make the image relevant to the prize you’re giving away and also the holiday theme should you have one.

When it comes to captioning your competition pic, it is very important to refer to the Instagram promotion guidelines in your description. You must also acknowledge that the giveaway is not sponsored, endorsed or administered by Instagram or associated with it. You may also need to set up a page of terms and conditions somewhere on your website and have a link to it in the caption so your customers can easily find them, should they wish to.

Ensure you make it very clear who is eligible to enter, what they need to do to participate and when the competition closes and the winner(s) will be announced.

5. #Hashtagging

Hashtagging is a crucial aspect of running an Instagram competition. You can either use the one that you have set up for your brand in general, or you can specify a specific competition one just for this purpose. It makes it easier to track your entries and also see how many entries you’re getting, which may be a KPI you’ve set for this campaign. Make sure the hashtag is extremely specific, and double check it before you confirm one. For example #sunshine already has 28 million photos associated with it. #SunshineFashionComp however, has zero.

6. Promote your competition

Once you have your competition up and running, it’s time to promote it! We recommend utilising all of your social channels to promote your giveaway, plus any other opportunities you have, such as your e-mail newsletter, a banner on your website, printed collateral, etc.

If the competition is being run over a longer period of time, and your mechanic asks customers to post their own pics, it can be great to regram some of the entries as they start appearing.

7. Choose your winner!

Eventually it will be time to pick your winner(s). Be sure to announce your winner – either in a dedicated Instagram post, or in the Comments section. Tag the user in and also send them a Direct Message so you can organise how their prize will be delivered (you may need to find out details, such as their address and phone number, which should only be done via private correspondence and NOT in the public comments section). It may be easier to co-ordinate via e-mail, so you can ask them for their e-mail address too.

Once it’s all over, reflect on what worked well in your campaign, what could have been improved on and then try it all over again! Make sure you keep tabs on how many new followers your promotion generated, and the levels of engagement, so you can properly track and measure the success of multiple competitions over a period of time. Have fun with it! Instagram giveaways are a great opportunity to engage with your customer and get to know them.

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