How to Setup and Run an Instagram Contest

Published on January 4, 2022
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Filed under Shipping Basics
Read time 7 Minutes

Seventh in a series

Running an Instagram contest for your eCommerce business can increase engagement, build excitement about your business, and gain you more followers and customers. A contest is also a good way to recognize and reward your followers.

Here are 7 tips on how to setup and run an Instagram Contest:

  1. Decide what you want to get out of your contest. Email addresses? More followers? New leads for your business? Or simply awareness of your brand? Set out credible goals with numbers attached (such as 50 percent more followers or 100 new leads) so you can measure the success of your campaign once it’s over.
  2. Come up with a theme for your contest that is creative, inviting and resonates with your brand story. For example, in 2012 Tiffany & Co. did a contest around “true love.” You can also choose an upcoming holiday or popular trend.
  3. Set up guidelines for the contest. What has to be included in the picture? Does the photo have to illustrate your brand? For example, if you sell ties, does the tie in the photo have to be one of yours? You also have to determine how many winners there will be and if it’s a one-time or recurring contest. Some companies run contests on a weekly basis or have a weekly vote. You’ll display the rules in the caption of your Instagram image.
  4. Follow Instagram’s promotion rules. There aren’t many, but you must include an Instagram disclaimer: “Per Instagram rules, this promotion is in no way sponsored, administered, or associated with Instagram, Inc. By entering, entrants confirm that they are 13+ years of age, release Instagram of responsibility, and agree to Instagram’s terms of use.”
  5. Select your prize or prizes. A gift card for your business will attract your target audience. A gift card will attract entries from everyone who’s interested in your brand, not just the particular product you’re giving away.
  6. Decide on the kind of contest you want to run. Numerous possibilities exist.
    • “Like” contest. Ask users to like your photo to be entered to win. You can combine this with a “follow to win.” You will need the follow to see entries of people who make their Instagram profiles private.TheCarnivoreClub
    • Tag a friend. Participants must comment on your photo and tag another user in the comment section of the contest photo. Tagging will bring additional traffic – and new followers – to your brand’s Instagram account.BecombingBevswim (2)
    • “Comment” contest. Ask users to comment on your photo in order to enter. You can combine this with tagging a friend.
    • Repost contest. Users must repost the giveaway picture and use the giveaway hashtag in their own post. This gives your brand more control over the message, both in visuals and text.
    • Photo challenge. Followers post entries on their personal account using a predetermined hashtag, so you can find and note the entry. Many brands host selfie photo challenges calling on users to feature their product(s) and/or store in a creative way. Make sure the hashtag isn’t so general you end up with posts that aren’t relevant to your contest. Pick a hashtag that’s memorable, easy to search for, and matches your store name or brand. Hashtags are useful for more than tracking entries. They also give people who resonate with your brand the opportunity to see your posts, expanding your contest’s audience.
  1. Widen the reach of your contest.
    • Create a campaign landing page that houses both your rules and your entry form. Use a third-party service like ShortStack, HubSpot or Wishpond to do this. By making your Instagram contest a campaign, you won’t have to crowd a lot of information into your photo caption. You’ll also be able to collect email addresses to connect with entrants after the promotion ends.
    • Promote the campaign on Facebook, Twitter and any other social media sites you frequent. Send out an email blast to your database. You can even create a Facebook ad.
    • Remind people about the contest regularly. One idea is to “count down” to the date you’ll select the winner. Remind followers and fans that you have a great prize, and encourage them to post their photos and spread the word to their friends.

After the contest is over:

  1. Announce the winner or winners and showcase their photos.
  2. Notify winners through a comment or private message.
  3. Thank all participants for entering. Then send a follow-up email to all entrants to convert them into customers.
  4. Measure your success. There are several third-party apps that allow you to check out your Instagram campaign metrics.

Instagram makes creating and hosting giveaways hassle-free. The reward will be a significant number of new fans and users following your brand. You just have to be creative, and choose an appropriate prize and a relevant hashtag, all designed to attract your target audience.


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Written by


I'm Joey, ShipStation's Content & Social Media Coordinator. I spent over a year on ShipStation's Support team which has given me great insight into our product and our customers. Outside of work, you'll find me writing, getting into one of Austin's great microbrews, or relaxing on a trail with my mutt.

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