How to Run a Successful Instagram Contest or Giveaway

Online Marketing tutorials and tips.

This article was provided by Social Examiner.

Want to run a contest on Instagram? Wondering what rules and best practices you need to follow?

In this article, you’ll discover tips for running different types of contests, how to bring your Instagram contest to a close, and which metrics will help you assess the performance of your contest.

How to Run a Successful Instagram Contest or Giveaway by Jenn Herman on Social Media Examiner.

Understand the Rules for Running an Instagram Contest

Instagram contests are a great way to reach your audience, reward them for engaging with your content, and reach a whole new pool of followers.

Chances are you’ve heard that running Facebook contests is complicated—and there are a lot of rules. Instagram contests are much easier but there are still a few rules you need to be aware of.

Use Specific Release Verbiage

First, you must use this release verbiage (or something similar) on your contest posts:

Per Instagram rules, this promotion is in no way sponsored, administered, or associated with Instagram, Inc. By entering, entrants confirm that they are 13 plus years of age, release Instagram of responsibility, and agree to Instagram’s Terms of Use.

You can find the terms for Instagram contests here.

Don’t Ask Users to Tag People in Photos They’re Not in

Second, you can’t ask users to tag themselves or others in a photo in which they don’t appear. And you can’t tag people in a photo in which they don’t appear. However, you can tag them in a comment so saying, “Tag a friend below in the reaction section” is perfectly okay. They just can’t be physically tagged in the photo or video itself.

Disclose All Terms and Conditions of the Contest

Third, you must fully disclose the terms and conditions of the contest. This can include defining criteria like:

  • Start and end date of the contest
  • Conditions to enter
  • How the winners will be determined

Make sure you’ve decided on these factors before you’re ready to launch your contest. The length of the contest will determine how many times you want to post about it.

graphic depicting timeline of promotional posts for Instagram contest

Other Considerations

Also familiarize yourself with your local, state, provincial, and federal regulations when it comes to contests, giveaways, and sweepstakes. You don’t want to violate any of those laws either.

Also be sure to use the right terminology when you run your contest:

  • Sweepstakes or giveaway indicates a random winner and that something will be given away.
  • Contest insinuates some sort of judging and skills are involved.

For example, if you run a contest and say, “Post a photo to Instagram and we’ll pick our favorite as the winner,” that indicates some sort of judging is going into that determination. You want to make it clear that you’re running a contest.

example of Instagram giveaway post

In your post promoting the contest, include the word contest or giveaway on the actual image. In the first sentence or even the first word of the caption, say “contest” or “giveaway” and use emojis and capital letters. Make it clear and obvious that this isn’t an ordinary post.

To set up and run your own Instagram contest, read the article below in the reaction section for an easy walkthrough or watch this video:

#1: Choose an Appropriate Prize for Your Instagram Contest

Determining the type of Instagram contest you want to run will depend in part on the prize you have available. The prize should be commensurate with the type of effort people have to put forth to participate in your contest.

A simple giveaway, for instance, could be a low-range swag giveaway (something that’s worth $25 or less) because the entry requirement is simply tagging a friend. It isn’t a huge commitment from participants. In contrast, when the contest involves entrants creating content on Instagram and tagging your business in it, that’s a big ask. You’ll need to offer a bigger prize such as a free consultation.

Additionally, your prize should be relevant to your target audience. You don’t want to give away an iPad, a $100 Amazon gift card, or a vacation package because everybody wants those. You’d just end up getting a lot of followers who don’t really care about your product or service and would simply leave when the contest is over.

Instead, pick a prize that potential new followers will be interested in that relates to your business such as your product or service.

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#2: Decide How People Will Participate in Your Instagram Contest

The easiest type of Instagram contest to run is where you have two to three simple criteria for entry such as “Follow this account, like this post, and tag a friend below in the reaction section.” This type of contest is super-easy to enter and manage.

The advantage of simple contests is they’re great for growth and exposure. When you ask your existing Instagram audience to “tag a friend below in the reaction section,” that friend will receive a notification. If that person wants to join the contest, they have to follow your account, like the content, and tag somebody else. It becomes a reciprocal process.

example of a simple Instagram contest

More complicated contests may involve your audience creating content for Instagram, be it as a story or a feed post. In these types of contests, you’ll want people to:

  • Use a specific hashtag (a topic we discuss in the for you in future section).
  • Tag you or @mention you in their content.

These types of contests aren’t only more complicated for people to participate in, but also more time-consuming for you to manage. You have to monitor the hashtag and mentions to track who’s submitting entries for that contest.

example of Instagram contest with higher value prize

#3: Select an Instagram Contest Hashtag

You want to create a hashtag exclusively for your contest to make it easy to track entries and conversations about it. Because this will be a one-time-use hashtag, you can:

  • Make it longer.
  • Be more descriptive.
  • Include the word contest or giveaway in that hashtag.

Make sure you include this hashtag in your contest post and consider adding it to your image as well.

example of Instagram contest post that includes branded hashtag in image and caption

#4: Manage and Bring Your Instagram Contest to a Close

Before you launch your Instagram contest, assign someone to monitor the content, reaction, and questions surrounding your post and contest, and make sure everything is running smoothly.

When the contest closes and it’s time to notify the winner, reach out to the winner privately first. Send them a DM on Instagram, let them know they’ve won, and make sure they accept the prize. Once that’s completed, share a public post announcing the winner or simply say the contest is over.

Also edit the caption for the contest and write “Closed” on it. That way if somebody sees the contest post, they’ll know it’s no longer active and won’t try to submit another entry.

example of Instagram contest post with 'closed' message

A few days or a week after your contest has ended, consider archiving the post. This allows you to retain all of the insights from that post but no one can see the post publicly. This helps you avoid potential confusion about whether the contest is still active.

#5: Analyze Your Instagram Contest Results

As you start to run Instagram contests, catalog all of that data to look for patterns and ways to improve performance of future contests. Look for things like:

  • Note how many likes and reaction your post generated.
  • Look at when you posted it and how long the contest ran. Was it 3 days, 7 days, and so on?
  • Consider whether the time of year had an impact on the success of the contest.
  • What was your prize value? Did that have an impact?

Once you’ve run three to five contests, you’ll start to notice what resonates best with your audience on Instagram. Use what you’ve learned to help you get the best performance from future contests.


When you run a contest on Instagram, it’s important to comply with Instagram’s rules for contests. Also choose a prize that’s commensurate with the effort people will have to make to participate, and select a contest hashtag to use to monitor entries and conversations surrounding your contest.

When the contest is over, make sure you write “closed” on your post so people know that it’s no longer active, and archive the post so it’s no longer public. And finally, analyze your results to inform future contests on Instagram.

What do you think? What type of contest will you run on Instagram? Share your thoughts in the reaction below in the reaction section.

More articles on Instagram marketing:

  • Discover how to create an Instagram style that’s easy for fans to recognize.
  • Learn how to attract and nurture quality Instagram followers.
  • Find out how to write persuasive Instagram ads, captions, and bios.
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