How to Run Successful Instagram Contests to Increase Engagement

28 September 2023
13 mins read
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Instagram contest

In recent years, Instagram has emerged as an effective platform for businesses to interact with their audiences. Harnessing the power of this picture-centric platform can significantly augment your engagement and subsequently, conversions. A proven method to achieve this is through Instagram contests—a strategy that when executed well, can prove highly rewarding. This article provides a comprehensive guide to help you run fruitful Instagram contests to boost engagement. 

Before we delve into the actual steps, let's understand why Instagram contests are worthwhile. Instagram contests engage users in a fun and interactive way, coaxing them to participate actively. The more they interact with your brand, the more likely they are to develop loyalty towards your products or services. Besides this, such contests can extend your reach, encourage user-generated content, and ultimately increase your follower count. In summary, Instagram contests influence both engagement and conversions, making it a key tool in your social media strategy. 

"An Instagram contest, while seemingly fun and interactive, is a strategic marketing technique designed to increase engagement, reach a wider audience and foster brand loyalty. The key lies in careful planning and seamless execution."

In the midst of various Instagram marketing strategies, you as a marketer may get confused. This is understandable, given the diverse nature of Instagram features and the constantly evolving algorithm. Fear not, because this article will enlighten you with a systematic approach to help you navigate through this marketing maze and conduct successful Instagram contests. 

The following sections will explore in depth: 

  • Types of Instagram Contests
  • Planning Your Instagram Contest
  • Best Practices for contest execution
  • How to measure your contest's success


So without further ado, let's unravel the secrets to a successful Instagram contest!

Understanding the Basics 

To start, it's crucial to understand the basic logistics and rules of running a contest on Instagram. Instagram demands that all contests meet the legal requirements of the jurisdiction in which they are held. This can cover a wide range of items, from eligibility criteria to prize descriptions. A clear and thorough definition of these terms can ensure your contest complies with the necessary regulations and fosters trust among your followers. 

Planning your Instagram Contest 

With the basics understood, you can now focus on planning your Instagram contest.  A well-planned contest is a surefire way to increase engagement and expand your audience. Here are some key factors to consider when planning: 

  • Define your goals: Are you aiming to increase followers, promote a new product, or enhance your brand visibility?
  • Choose a Contest Type: There are several types of contests such as 'Like-to-win', 'Tag-a-Friend', or 'Photo Caption' contests. Each contest type can foster a different type of interaction with your followers.
  • Determine the Rules: Make sure to explicitly state the rules of your contest, such as entry requirements and deadlines.
  • Decide on a prize: The prize should not only be appealing, it should also reflect the brand or product you’re promoting. Always remember, better the prize, more the participation.

Executing your Instagram Contest 

Now that you've planned your Instagram contest, it's time to execute. Here, consistency and communication are key. 

  1. Announce your contest with an engaging post, let your audience know about the contest well-in-advance.
  2. Periodically remind your audience of the contest during its duration, ensuring it stays top of mind.
  3. Engage with users that participate in the contest. Reply to comments, like their entries, and keep the conversation going.
  4. At the end of the contest, promptly announce the winner. Show appreciation for all the participants, and let them know about any upcoming contests.

Analyzing your Contest's Success 

Post-contest analysis is crucial. By understanding the metrics and feedback from your contest, you can gain insights to improve your future contests. Evaluate the number of new followers gained, extent of brand visibility, audience engagement with the contest, and overall satisfaction of the participants. Be open to constructive criticism and be ready to make improvements accordingly for future endeavors. 

By following these steps, you increase the chances of running a successful Instagram contest, thereby boosting your engagement and expanding your brand's reach.

Setting Clear Goals for Your Instagram Contest

Setting clear objectives for your Instagram contest is a crucial first step in ensuring its success. The goals you establish will guide the overall design and execution of your contest and serve as benchmarks to measure its effectiveness. Generally, Instagram contests aim to achieve one or more of the following objectives: increase followers, drive engagement, promote a product or service, or gather user-generated content. 

Boosting Followers: If the primary goal of your contest is to grow your follower count, the entry criteria might include actions such as following your account, tagging friends, or sharing your post on their stories. This strategy helps to expand your brand's visibility on Instagram and attract new followers. 

Driving Engagement: Prompting engagement can be another crucial objective. By having participants like, comment, or share your contest post, not only do you increase user interaction but also boost your Instagram algorithm ranking, further improving your visibility.  

Promoting a Product or Service: Whether you're launching a new product, promoting a seasonal item, or highlighting an exclusive service, a well-executed contest can garner potential customers' interest and boost your sales. In this case, having participants post a photo or video of themselves using your product or service can be a successful strategy.  

Gathering User-Generated Content: Instagram contests can be a great avenue for acquiring user-generated content. For example, you can ask participants to post a photo or video showcasing creative use of your product, with a specific hashtag relevant to your contest. This not only promotes your product from the perspective of real customers but also gives you a wealth of content to repost on your own channels in the future. 

Remember, having clear and measurable goals helps keep the contest focused and makes monitoring progress easy. It's essential to align your contest objectives with the overall goals of your Instagram marketing strategy for the best outcomes.

Creating Exciting Prizes for Your Instagram Contest

The allure of an Instagram contest would be incomplete without an exciting prize that incentivizes user participation. It's the 'reward' aspect behind the 'risk-reward' concept that ignites interest, encourages action, and guarantees engagement. Selecting the right prize is crucial. It should align with your brand, appeal to your target audience, and be worthy of the effort contestants will put into participating. Here are some strategies to consider: 

Offer Product or Service Prizes 

A traditional yet effective tactic is to offer your own products or services as prizes. This works best if your products are distinct, premium or highly desirable to your target audience. Software companies might give away license keys, fashion brands might offer new-season clothing, and restaurants might provide dinner-for-two vouchers. By introducing potential consumers to your offerings firsthand, this method aids in building brand loyalty. 

Utilize Exclusive Experiences 

If your business isn't product-focused or if you're looking to create a more unique appeal, consider offering exclusive experiences. These prizes might include behind-the-scenes tours, VIP access to events, personalized services, or a meet-and-greet with influencers or key industry personalities relevant to your brand. The prospect of exclusive experiences can be very enticing, as they're often perceived as rare and highly valuable. 

Collaborate with Other Brands 

Partnering with another brand for your Instagram contest can not only increase the attractiveness of your prize but also expose your contest and brand to a larger audience. If a collaboration aligns with your company's vision and appeals to your target clientele, this can be a win-win situation. A shared prize package incorporating products or services from both brands can provide a broader and more compelling reward. 

Remember, the prize you offer should reflect the effort needed to participate in the contest. For a simple like-and-share contest, a smaller prize may suffice. However, for contests requiring user-generated content or other significant commitment, a more substantial and attractive prize should be offered. Ultimately, your contest prize is a key factor in driving engagement, so choose wisely to create a successful Instagram contest.

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