3 Steps to Creating an Instagram Contest

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Hosting an Instagram contest is an effective way to build buzz around your brand and increase awareness for your services. Need proof? In one second, Instagram sees 1,000 comments and 8,500 photo likes.

But how can you catch your followers’ attention as they scroll through their photo feeds, especially when content is listed in reverse chronological order? Check out these three steps to create a simple, yet successful Instagram contest:

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1. Choose Your Contest Type

Think about which contest will be most effective for your end goals. If you’ve never hosted a contest before and want to increase engagement, start with the basic like-to-win contest.

Looking for quick feedback on your services? Go with a comment contest. You’ll quickly see where your followers and influencers stand.

Another great option is the tag-a-friend contest. These contests provide you with a multitude of potential new followers, drive traffic to your account and highlight additional audiences you should be listening to when creating new posts.

Beware of overcomplicating your campaign. Avoid confusing your followers with too many rules or by mixing and matching contests. Simplify your game plan as much as you can.

2. Build a Backbone

Think about the details required to launch a contest. Give your audience enough time to learn about and participate in your contest. Instagram suggests a two-month time span.

Offer a prize that is relevant to both your audience and brand to drive engagement. For example, a travel company would most likely see user engagement with an all-inclusive four-day, three-night trip to Maui than a free iPhone 6. Step into your followers’ shoes to brainstorm ideas!

Make your call to action big, bold and captivating! Use arrows and pictures when announcing your contest and rules – otherwise your audience may overlook the opportunity.

Ensure your brand abides by the FTC’s new social media guidelines by requiring entrants to use disclosure statements or hashtags in their posts.

3. Hash Out the Hashtag


Hashtags are a necessity when it comes to Instagram posts. First and foremost, make sure the hashtag you’re thinking of is not already in use. By using a unique hashtag, you’ll have a better chance of effectively tracking and measuring the campaign’s success.

Next, think about how your hashtag could be hijacked or misconstrued. Don’t set yourself up for a social media crisis.

Finally, make sure the hashtag will fit across all social media platforms. Unnecessarily long hashtags are often ignored or cut off, while simple hashtags like #contest are more likely to be drowned out in all the competing noise.

Looking to get your product in this year’s holiday gift guide? Check out our pitching guide for media contacts and pitching tips!

Images: Michael Coghlan; Stròlic Furlàn (Creative Commons)


About Katie Gaab

Katie Gaab is a content marketing specialist for Cision. Previously the senior editor for Help A Reporter Out (HARO), she enjoys connecting audiences to exciting, new content. She's a dancer, avid concert-goer, foreign language nerd and book worm. Find her on Twitter @kathryngaab.

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