6 Tips for Creating a Successful Instagram Contest

Thinking of running a contest on this rapidly growing social network?


by Peter Coish

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Note: As of late fall 2015, Canadian advertisers can buy self-serve ads on Instagram.

Have you noticed that more and more of your friends are using Instagram? You’re not alone. In the past 9 months the Facebook-owned (purchased in 2013 for a mere billion) social network grew by 33%, adding over 100 million new users. And with the announcement that Instagram has launched a self-serve advertising tool in Canada, there’s no question this is the next big thing for marketers (heretofore, advertisers had to pony up a minimum spend of $50,000 per month to market on the platform).

In the meantime, you can still use Instagram for contests to build your following. Here are 7 tips from the experts on how to execute a “post-to-win” Instagram promotion (involves users posting photos with your contest hashtag):

  • Keep it simple to participate: Especially if marketing to a mainstream consumer audience, don’t ask for elaborate photo compositions or complicated hashtags.
  • Use a memorable hashtag, yet simple and unique enough so it’s effective for use in a contest.
  • Use 7 to 10 established hashtags to extend reach of the contest.
  • Since you can’t currently buy ads on Instagram (or, at least, not for less than $50,000 per month) market the contest outside of Instagram, specifically with promoted posts on Facebook  and Twitter. Also, make frequent (at least daily) posts on IG to remind users of the contest.
  • Create a compelling contest landing page on your website. Also consider creating a gallery page to aggregate all posts relating to your contest.
  • Appeal to emotions, wherever possible. This is essential in “user-generated content” contests. Users are more likely to feel compelled to contribute to a contest if they have an emotional investment in the content they are asked to contribute.