How to Run a Contest On Instagram the Right Way

Posted by Alicia Doiron

So you’ve decided to run a contest on Instagram; you’re off to a great start. Instagram currently has over 600 million worldwide users and about 70% of those users follow a brand, so it’s easy to see why retailers of all sizes are utilizing the social channel to host contests and giveaways. When done right, an Instagram contest builds brand awareness creates brand advocates and generates new leads. The good news is that creating a stellar Instagram contest is easy.

An excellent example of this is from premium travel business, Luxury Escapes. Using their photo contest as a model, we’re going to show you how an Instagram contest can be put together the right way in only four simple steps.

Instagram Contest for Luxury Escapes

Set Your Goals

The secret to running a successful contest is knowing the purpose of doing so. Do you want to gain more followers, build brand awareness, or collect email addresses? Understanding this will help you build a contest that is in line with your business goals.

Take a look at the example of Luxury Escapes. It’s clear they used a contest to build their followers and increase brand awareness.

Instagram Contest Website

Pick the Prize

Choosing a relevant prize for your contest is closely related to how lofty your goals are. The fancier the prize, the more actions you can ask your audience to take, and you’ll be more likely to gain a higher percent of entrants. In some cases you’ll even be able to gain a lot of valuable data on your customers. But again, it all depends on what your business goals are.

Prizes should also be relevant to your audience. Giving away an iPad if you’re selling t shirts doesn’t make much sense–unless it can be linked back to what you’re selling. The most common prizes from brands include gift cards, products, and services.

Luxury Escapes chose to give out over 100 prizes which included free resort stays to travel purchase credits on The prizes are on brand and exactly what their audience wants.

Choose the Contest type

While there are various ways to run an Instagram contest, the best ones encourage contestants to post a photo to their own Instagram feed. This is more effective than asking participants only to follow you, as they’ll be engaging their own network. In addition, once their own likeminded friends and family see the contest, they’ll want to join in too.

The type of contest you choose depends on the type of prize you’re giving away and how much effort is required to participate. It’s important to remember that because hashtags are used on Instagram to search for photos, it’s imperative to create a unique hashtag so that your entrants can follow along.

Because Luxury Escapes gave away some very large prizes, they were able to ask their audience to do three things in order to enter:

  1. Follow @luxury.escapes on Instagram
  2. Post the best travel photo you’ve captured
  3. Tag @luxury.escapes use the hashtag #BestPicFreeTrip

Create Rules, Terms & Conditions

When creating an Instagram contest, you need to create a clear set of rules. There’s nothing worse than an audience coming back and complaining they didn’t understand what to do. While some may argue any pr, whether it’s good or bad, is great, in this case bad pr is bad pr. So set clear expectations.

You’ll also need to create a terms and conditions guide that complies with your local law. You should also take a look at the Instagram Promotion Guidelines to make sure you don’t violate any of their rules.

Luxury Escapes did a great job of being transparent about their rules and displayed everything an entrant would need to know in order to participate.

Run an Instagram Contest Like a Pro

Now before you go setting up an Instagram contest like a boss, remember that when everything is put together, you need to promote, promote, promote! Be sure to write a blog piece, share the contest on all your social media outlets, and send it out in an email. You want to encourage as much participation as possible.

We want to know; tell us about your successful Instagram contest in the comments below!