6 Steps to Hosting a Successful Instagram Contest

May 13, 2018
Carolyn Wilman

One of the best ways to garner engagement on any channel is a sweepstake. When executed properly, your followers and fans will spread your message far and wide, consequently increasing brand awareness and social followers. Here are the six steps you need to take to ensure your Instagram contest is a success.

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Step 1: Have a Goal

Why do you want to host a giveaway? What do you hope to achieve? What results do you expect? Do you want to increase social followers, garner engagement, get brand recognition, or promote a new product or service? Your answers will determine the steps you will take to reach your goal, shape the promotion, and find the actions you need to take afterward.

Step 2: Plan It Out

Have you ever shown up at the airport, plunked down your credit card, and said, “Book me on the next flight south”? You don’t do it. You have too many moving pieces in your life: money, time off work, sitter for the dog and kids, neighbor to get the mail. You plan your vacations so when you go, it’s a success.

Marketing is no different. You don’t come into the office in the morning and decide to launch a major campaign by lunch. You know if you did that, the campaign will fail. Instead, look at your goals and create a plan around them. No successful giveaway was ever created on a whim. Even flash giveaways are pre-planned.

Step 3: Have Official Rules

Did you know the official rules are a court actionable, legal and binding contract between you and the entrant? Did you know a poorly executed giveaway could cost you more than just legal fees if things go awry? Include a shortened version of the rules and a link to the full official rules in your post.

When writing your official rules, make sure to include information about eligibility, the start and end date of the contest, and any other requirements such as how the prize will be given to the entrant or how the entries will be judged. Here’s an example of a short contest rule:

The winner will receive one (1) $50 Amazon gift card. Open to residents of the United States and Canada. Contest ends at 11:59 p.m. ET on Saturday, May 5, 2018.

Step 4: State the End and Start Date of Your Contest

Like New Year’s resolutions, your marketing and social media planning should begin in January. Because social media is a fast-paced platform, do not host long giveaways. I recommend no more than two weeks for any social sweepstakes.

When creating your contest, make sure to explicitly state when the contest starts and ends. I constantly see users on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram asking sponsors when the contest ends.

You can avoid confusion by writing clear contest rules. If your rules are clear and easy to understand, the contest will be easier to manage. Plus, you will avoid fielding questions from confused entrants or receive entries that don’t properly match your entry requirements.

Step 5: Be Consistent

Consistency is key in marketing messaging. You do not what any part of the message to be disjointed. When planning out your contests, ensure there is a flow between one promotion and the next.

When people see consistency, they feel they can rely on you. Think of your friends. Who can you rely on no matter what? Why? They have offered you a constant stream of support over time. Now think of the flaky person you know. Would you call on them? No. Why? Exactly. Do not let your marketing present you as the flaky person on your Instagram contests.

Step 6: Announce Winners Publicly

If you don’t announce your winners publicly, your prospective entrants may feel a bit leery to enter your next giveaway. They may even start to think it’s a scam. Announce your winners publicly because it gives you something else to post, and participants may not read the announcement if you post it in the comments section. Additionally, a separate announcement reinforces your message and publicizes you. Plus, if you use new hashtags for each post, you could attract new followers outside of what you perceive to be your target market as you will appear in different recommendations under Search.

Creating an Instagram contest requires advance planning. If you provide consistency, honest contest rules, and winner announcements, your contest will be successful.

About the Author

Carolyn Wilman (aka @ContestQueen) is a digital marketing strategist and sweepstakes specialist. She works with companies to create and viral market winning promotions, maximizing their ROI and increasing their loyal customers while teaching others how to find, organize, enter, and win giveaways.