You’ve just closed off a meeting with your clients, and you’ve been assigned one task: come up with a creative way to increase their reach and generate some brand awareness. They are happy with how their number of followers have been increasing, but now want to work with the followers they now have. And if some more new followers get created in the process, that’s just a bonus. So how do you do it? With an Instagram contest of course!

Instagram contests can do wonders for a brand if they are executed properly. It will excite the already existing followers and encourage them to engage even more with the brand. Plus, it has the potential to create awareness about your brand and help develop some positive associations among new potential leads. It all comes down to how you set your contest up. So here are a few points that you can’t miss when planning your Instagram contest.

Decide on Your Contest Hashtag

First things first, you have to come up with a specific branded hashtag that will help you to keep track of how many people are competing in the contest. Go for something that differs from your usual branded hashtag that encompasses the spirit of the contest.


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You’ll be searching for something that’s short, catchy and unique. A hashtag that’s too long may turn off some possible participants who don’t want to put too much effort in. So the best bet is to come up with something easy and memorable. And, we definitely cannot stress how important it is to do research before deciding on your tag! Having a unique hashtag will help you to avoid picking one that is used for some other purpose, but always check it out to be sure. Having a hashtag that is used by another brand will make your tracking a whole lot more difficult and could potentially be detrimental to the brand’s image.

Create a Captivating Visual

Your visual absolutely matters, especially on Instagram. Consider how you personally scroll through posts on Instagram. Are you speeding through them until something really catches your eye? Well, you’re not the only one. Every single other user is doing the exact same thing. It would be an absolute shame if you set up an amazing contest for your brand, and not have anyone even see it because your visual didn’t immediately compel them to stop scrolling and spend a few seconds on your post.

Instead, make it obvious that you are running an Instagram account in the visual itself. Include the prize or other promo material, and add the words ‘contest’ or ‘win’ or ‘giveaway’ in the graphic to garner initial interest and get those eyeballs on your post.  How much text you put into it depends on you, just as long as you keep your audience in mind. Do they like or respond well to text heavy posts on the account? If not, then don’t try it now. Let them know you have a contest running, and if they are interested, they will read your caption to learn all the details!


Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash


By the way, it doesn’t matter if you aren’t a Photoshop wizard by trade; creating a top-notch visual doesn’t have to be that complicated. There are a few tools out there that are pretty good at editing images. Our favorite is Canva, an online editor that lets you create beautiful, high-quality graphics that are perfect for putting together quick, but beautiful images.

Keep it Simple, Relevant and Short

The hashtag driving your contest isn’t the only thing that should be short when it comes to your setup. The contest itself should not run too long. A week or so will suffice. If the contest is too long, it loses its urgency and the chance for it to really go viral.

Another consideration is about the rules of entry. The act of participating itself should be as easy and straightforward as possible for your followers. If the rules of entering the contest include following the account, liking the photo, tagging 5 friends, taking a picture with those 5 friends and signing up via the link in the bio, you’re kind of pushing it.

Keep it simple! The more simple the rules of the contest, the more likely people are to participate. Now, we can already hear your rebuttal: but if they really care about the brand and the prize, they will gladly put in the extra work. On one hand, we agree. The people who engage will turn out to be quality leads. But at the same time, this selection of the population will be low. And if you’re going for brand awareness, having complex rules of entry is not going to help too much with achieving that goal. Don’t ask for them to do too much!

Clearly let your followers know what the rules of the contest are. If you decide to include a ton of rules, then it might be smart to host them on a page on your website that you can link your followers to. It will keep you on the safe side of things if you are clear about how to enter and what the prize entails and so on.

And on that note, we cannot stress enough that you need to ensure the prize is relevant. Yes, giving away a flat screen television will get a lot of people to participate, but if your client sells water bottles, there is no match there between the brand and the prize. The people who participate would just be interested in getting something for free, not actually in the brand. So opt for giving away a product or service, or a gift card that can be used at a later date.

Encourage UGC

We think that contests are a great way for you to leverage user-generated content. It’s not an absolute must to ask people to post photos or videos, especially if there are other actions you would like them to do to enter. But, incorporating user-generated content into the contest is a great way to increase brand awareness.

Once you decide that you’d like to get user-generated content through the contest, there are a few things to consider. First would be the element of your brand that needs to be included in the content. The clearest way would be to include the product or service offering itself. But you can also be a bit more creative and ask them to include some other element of your brand, like the brand colors for instance. Another consideration relates to how the winner gets chosen. The public can either vote or the brand can make use of a jury. On one hand, voting definitely can increase the reach of the contest immensely. If the picture that gets the most likes or comments win, you can bet that participants will be sharing their post to engage all their networks to like or comment and up their chances. On the other hand, using a jury makes the competition more fair. Some people naturally have bigger networks than others, for instance, so this evens up the playing field a bit.

Promote It & Follow Up!

Now that you’ve planned and designed a great Instagram contest, the last thing to do is ensure that everyone gets to know about it. A good starting point is to write a blog about it where all the details of the contest are made available. This can be a good landing page to link to using other channels, like your link in bio. Not everyone will see the post on their feed, or perhaps it’s a new person who has stumbled on your Instagram account. If the contest hashtag and a link to the landing page/blog is displayed, this is a great way that you can get latecomers still in the game!

Another not to be forgotten channel is email. You can put together a nice email to send over to your subscribers to incentivize them to join in. That email may be the push they need to follow you if they haven’t already, or ensure the contest doesn’t miss their eye if it doesn’t show up on their Instagram feed. It’s a win-win.

Keep the hype going by reposting some of your entries on the Instagram account or highlighting how many people have already participated. And once it’s all said and done, publicly announce the winner after you contact them directly. This will show your followers that you follow through with the rules and regulations and help them to look forward to the next contest! So how about it, are you ready to run a contest?

We hope our tips will help you create a successful contest on Instagram! Now it’s time to schedule and auto-post your contest announcement to Instagram with Preppr ?

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