Steps to Running a Successful Instagram Contest

I used to train on how to run Facebook contests, but they have a lot of rules. Sharing and tagging are not allowed with these, which can me it more difficult to get the results you would like.

Also, businesses really need a 3rd party platform to run a Facebook contest which adds an extra cost.

But, with Instagram contests, there are not as many rules. They are simple and fun. You can also ask people to tag! They can help you grow your brand awareness, engagement and increase your following.

Instagram has become a major focus for a lot of brands and contests can really help you take your marketing efforts there to the next level. In this post, I will cover the basic steps and some examples of what I have helped clients do with their contests. Steps to Running a Successful Instagram Contest

Step 1:

Know the rules
I know I said there are not many rules, but there are still rules. Seems like a lot, but they are actually pretty basic.
  • Acknowledge that your Instagram contest or giveaway is not sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Instagram
  • Include the name of the company hosting the Instagram giveaway or contest
  • Include the dates the campaign will run, including time zone
  • Include participation restrictions — such as age and location
  • Write clear guidelines on how to enter
  • Outline how and when the winner(s) will be chosen
  • Share details about how and when the winner(s) will be announced and how/when winner should claim prize
  • Disclose details about how the prize will be delivered, including whether the recipient is responsible for delivery (shipping costs) or pick-up

Step 2:

Figure out what you want to give away. Create your Graphic.
This should be related to your business.
Jewelry store? Give something away related to jewelry. I suggest something small for this.
For instance, this jewelry cleaner by Connoisseurs is a great giveaway instead of an expensive piece of jewelry, but still relates and makes sense.

Step 3:

Decide on timeline.
You do not want to run these for a very long time. I suggest anywhere from 2-3 day up to maximum of 2 weeks.
The lifeline of a post does not last long on Instagram.

Step 4:

Come up with Key actions you want people to take.
  • Like the Post
  • Like the Page
  • Tag Someone
  • Can add to Comment

Step 5:

Launch your contest.
Now you know what you are giving away, how to word the post and you have your image ready.
Don’t forget to add hashtags! Recommended are 20-30 hashtags on your post.

Step 6:

Promote your post to reach a larger, targeted audience.
We spend anywhere from $50-$100 per contest for small businesses. Depending on the size of your business, you could spend much more. I suggest just using the Instagram Promote button for this and choose a targeted, niche audience that would have a high interest in your product and your business.

Step 7:

Review your Insights
The insights on the post itself can tell you a lot.
It shows you how many likes, comments, saves, traffic, followers, audience and more. Dig deep. Learn. Apply on your next contest from the insights you learned.

Step 8:

Retarget Instagram engagers with a product offer that relates to the give away after the contest ends.
Steps to Running a Successful Instagram Contest – This is the step that most people skip, but this is where the leads and sales can really happen! There is an audience creation area inside ads manager called: Custom Audiences.
Create a Custom Audience of Instagram Engagement. Run an ad with a special offer on the product you gave away or products related to it.
Choose this custom audience.
BAM!!!! You are making sales! 🙂
These are the basic (and advanced) steps to running a successful Instagram contest.


Janet E Johnson has more than 20 years of experience and millions of dollars earned for clients and her own business using online marketing strategies. Her career started on the internet selling on eBay in 1998. She runs a social media agency and training company. She specializes in Facebook and Instagram marketing and social media content marketing.

She is also the host of a popular marketing podcast, Business Growth Time.
In her career, Janet has worked with large brands, as well as local business and entrepreneurs.
She has been featured on National Institute of Social Media, Social Media Today, Social Media Pros, Social Media Strategies Summit, World Youth Forum, Entrepreneur, and a number of other top internet marketing publications.