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5 Tips for a Successful Instagram Contest

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Instagram is one of the hottest platforms for brands right now. Forrester calls this platform, “the king of social engagement.” Compared to other platforms, Instagram blows them out of the water with engagement rates [see graph below]. With 75 million daily users, the potential for brands is nearly limitless.

One way to jumpstart (or revitalize) your brand’s Instagram account is to host a contest. While the specific details of your campaign will vary based on your unique brand and needs, here are some tips we’ve learned from managing our clients’ Instagram campaigns.

1. Think about [what motivates] your audience

This is my first step in any social media campaign: Think about your audience. What would they care about? Is there a certain type of theme that resonates well? (Hint: Look at your recent analytics to see which posts are getting the most traction). On Instagram, it’s especially important to think about visual content. Does your audience love motivational quote images? Maybe they are foodies and can’t help but interact with a photo of a mouth-watering meal. If they respond well to sarcasm or humor, consider how you could incorporate that visually with comic strips or meme parodies, for example.

2. Set a realistic, measurable goal

Ask yourself, “What would a successful contest look like?” Think about your end goal, and it’s ok to make a direct connection to your bottom line – though you certainly can keep it simple. Here are a few examples of Instagram goals:

  • Double followers from 500 to 1000+
  • Collect 75 contest entries (user-generated content
  • Increase website traffic to new landing page by 25% or more
  • Land 5 new customers before the contest ends 
3. Consider the barrier to entry

With your goal in mind, consider how easy it should be for users to participate in this contest. Lower barriers to entry, such as simply liking a post, make it easy for a larger number of participants to enter, but the quality of this engagement will be low. Higher barriers to entry, such as submitting user-generated content, may discourage some users from entering but will typically yield higher quality engagements and content. Remember, that it’s much harder to “share” a post on Instagram compared to Facebook or Twitter because it requires a third-party app; this extra step may deter some users and creates a high barrier to entry on this platform. You may want to start with a low barrier to entry for your first campaign and try different approaches for future campaigns based on how your audience responds. 

4. Include a sharing element

To increase your odds for a successful campaign, include a sharing element in your Instagram campaign. In other words, you want to tap into your audience’s networks. One way to do this is to require users to share your post; another is to require them to tag a friend (or a few friends) in a comment or photo. Another popular approach on Instagram is the loop giveaway, which is where multiple accounts participate in a shared giveaway. The main benefit of the loop giveaway is that you tap into other accounts’ networks and can gain a high number of followers in a short amount of time. However, loop giveaways are sometimes perceived as spam and can result in “vanity followers” who will unfollow your account after the contest ends. If you decide to participate in a loop giveaway, anticipate this drop in your analytics after the contest ends.

5. Remember rules and regulations

This is the part that’s easy to overlook. Make sure to follow Instagram’s promotion guidelines and outline clear rules and regulations, including (but not limited to) eligibility, release of liability, permission to share content, timeline, and prize details and logistics. In addition, make sure your campaign complies with FTC Guidelines, which require social media users to disclose when they are participating in a promotion vs. genuinely endorsing a product, service, or company.

Many of our clients are seeing success with Instagram, particularly engaging directly with customers or influencers. Is Instagram the right platform for your brand? Contact us today to find out.

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