How to Run an Instagram Contest that Gets Attention in 2020

Everyone loves a good contest. It allows us to outshine our competition and win the grand prize. 

And it’s especially fun when you’re up against chance, such as having your raffle ticket picked. Brands that use social media contests to attract attention and engagement are seeing great results. But only if they carefully plan and execute a solid strategy for their Instagram contest. 

So what does it take to run a successful contest on Instagram?

Let’s take a closer look.

Before You Begin Your IG Contest

There’s a lot of planning to do before announcing your IG contest. For example, you’ll need to decide what type of competition it’ll be. You’ll also have to come up with the terms, rules, and eligibility requirements. These must be clear, so there’s no confusion or backlash when someone’s disqualified. You may also want to use a specific contest app to help you.

Also, you’ll need to make it clear whether your contest is sponsored by Instagram or any other company. 

Deciding On Why You’re Running the Contest

Let’s face it, no brand runs a contest just for the fun of it. There’s an end goal they’re trying to reach. 

For example, they’re trying to grow their number of followers, email subscribers, website traffic, and other forms of engagement. 

Source: Instagram

Once you know what you’re trying to accomplish, you can identify which KPIs you need to be tracking. 

Here are a few examples:

  • Engagement rate
  • Number of purchases
  • Number of followers before and after
  • Number of contest entrants
  • Number of comments about the contest
  • Feedback about your contest (both good and bad)
  • Number of email subscribers
  • Amount of traffic to a landing page or website

Finding the Best Contest to Reach Your Goals

There are many different types of contests brands run on social media. It’s ideal to select something that matches the Instagram platform and audience you’re targeting. For example, creating a contest for the best photo makes sense. 

Here’s a quick look at the different types of contests you can create for your IG campaign. 

Contests for Likes and Follows

Let’s say you’re looking to get more followers and engagement for your profile. Like contests are an excellent way to generate this. 

For instance, you can post an image of your product and ask users to like, follow, and share the post. Of course, in doing so, they earn a chance to win a prize (otherwise, why would they do it?). 

Source: Instagram

Then go through the likes and shares list to randomly pick the winner. The prize could be a free product. 

Contests for Comments

Another option is to go with a contest to generate more comments. The best way to go about this is to ask an enticing question users will want to answer. 

And by leaving a comment, they can win a prize. 

The Photo Challenge

Instagram is the perfect place to host a photo challenge (for obvious reasons). People have no problem submitting their images for a chance to win a prize (and to get a little recognition for their own profiles). 

One popular method brands use is the photo challenge. Some request contestants to submit a photo of themselves with or using your product for a chance to win. 

Theme selfies can also get more contestants for your contest. 

Contests for More Shares

Another way to use contests to build awareness for your brand is to create a reposting contest. This is when brands post branded content and ask users to share it on their profiles for a chance to win. 

Votes and Polls

People love giving their opinions — this is why social media and forums are so popular. Play on this behavior by creating a vote or poll for your audience to partake in. 

You can entice them to vote by offering a free prize to a random winner. You can also use this contest to learn what consumers think of your product. 

Ask about something related to one of your products and use that feedback to make improvements. 

Setting Up Contest Entry

Next, you need to identify the entry process. There are various methods you can use, such as following your account, making a comment, inserting their email into a form, and so on. 

Just make sure to make it clear in your caption on how users can officially enter so they can participate. 

Putting Together the Rules

Who can join the contest? How long will the contest run? These are questions you’ll need to answer for yourself and your contestants. You don’t want people entering long after the contest is over. In your post, include the rules about the contest. For example, you can list age requirements and the deadline. 

Keep in mind that the most successful contests run for at least a week. This allows it to gain traction and engagement. 

Assign a Hashtag to Your Contest

The hashtag you choose for your contest should be 100% unique. This way, when people use it or search for it, they find your content only. Ideally, you want to choose a branded hashtag (a hashtag with your brand name or product name in it). 

This will also help you to track the entries for the contest. For instance, if you’re doing a photo contest, you can have entrants include your unique hashtag in their post so you can easily find them. 

The hashtag should be short, simple, and memorable. Try to make it relevant to the contest. 

What Will the Prize Be?

In most cases, brands offer a free product as the grand prize. But there are other options if you’re looking to do something a little different. For instance, you can offer coupons, gift cards, goodie bags, free services, or other giveaways. Just choose something your audience will find enticing enough to compete for. 

This isn’t the time to get rid of your slow-selling products. Instead, offer one of your more popular or newer products for free. 

Identify the Process for Selecting Winners

The more popular way to choose winners is to do so randomly. You can use a number generator and then see which comment or follower has that number entry. For example, if you choose #105, then you count down to the 105th entrant, and that’s your winner. 

But what if you’re doing a photo contest? In this case, you want to look to see who followed all the rules and did the best job. You can have a team of judges to cast their votes. 

Detail this process in your contest caption, so folks are aware of how winners are chosen. You don’t want to be called out for being shady. 

Don’t Forget to Promote Your Contest

How else will people know about your contest unless you promote it? Your goal is to reach users outside of your follower list, so only posting about it on your feed isn’t going to cut it. 

You should consider paying for boosted posts, so they show up to non-followers. 

Some of the other ways you can build awareness include:

  • Writing a guest blog post
  • Paying an influencer to mention it
  • Creating paid ads for it
  • Posting it on other social media channels

And the list goes on. Find ways to get the word out using whatever resources are available to you. 

Don’t Set it and Forget it

Make sure you’re keeping a close eye on your contest once it starts. You should review whether entrants are following the rules — if not, you can let them know personally in a comment or post a reminder of the rules so everyone can see. 

Then you should also monitor the success of your promotions to see which are working the best. 

After Picking the Winner

Once your contest is over and you choose your winner, it’s a good idea to follow up with them. The idea is to ensure they received their prize and are happy with it. 

You’ll also want to go through your campaign to see why it was or wasn’t a success. So the next time around, you will have a higher chance of success. 

Once you find a good formula, you can rinse and repeat the process. 

What Contest Will You Run?

Running your first Instagram campaign can be fun and scary at the same time. You want to reach the results you’re aiming for, while also giving your audience a good time. 

To help set up your campaign and ensure its success, you can always work with experts. 

At hashtagsforlikes, you get access to a suite of Instagram tools. They can help to build visibility for your profile and contest campaigns. 

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