5 Tips for Running a Successful Instagram Contest


Because of the changes Facebook has made in the past 2 years, it’s harder than ever for small businesses to connect organically with both new and existing followers.

That’s why many businesses are shifting their focus to another platform: Instagram.

The first rule of marketing is to meet your audience where they are. If they’re on Instagram, then you should be an active part of that community. 80% of Instagram users now follow at least one business, so the opportunity for engagement is there — but there’s also a lot of competition for users’ attention.

peopl-with-social-media-concept-PM4VEXP-1030x639 5 Tips for Running a Successful Instagram Contest  - Clear Partnering Group - Orthodontic and Dental Marketing
There are a few specific best practices that, if you apply them, will help you increase your reach and visibility on Instagram. Learn more about that

Many of our clients have found success in hosting an Instagram contest or giveaway. A social media giveaway is essentially an opportunity to offer something for free in exchange for some specific type of engagement — likes, comments, shares, follows.

When done correctly, this type of marketing campaign will help you establish your business on Instagram, solidify relationships with existing followers, and attract new followers to your page.

Here, we’ve put together the 5 steps to running your own giveaway:

  1. Decide on your goal for your contest.
  2. Choose a prize for your Instagram contest.
  3. Determine the entry-criteria for your giveaway.
  4. Consider partnering with relevant local businesses.
  5. Launch and promote your contest!

1. Decide on the ultimate goal of your contest.

The first step in running a successful Instagram contest is to decide what your ultimate goal is. All other decisions should be made with this goal in mind. This allows you to create a truly engaging experience — and also to track whether or not your giveaway was actually successful.

Do you want to drive more traffic to your website? Do you want to attract new followers? Do you want to increase engagement with existing followers? Do you want to acquire contact information for new leads?

You can choose one or more goals that make sense for your business, but the more specific you can be, the better!

2. Choose a prize for your Instagram contest

When choosing a prize, consider what your target audience would most appreciate. For example, if you’re running a Mother’s Day giveaway, you want to put some real thought into what would make Mom feel special.

Two trends we’re seeing in 2019 is a preference to support local businesses and valuing experiences over stuff.

Here are some local prize ideas:

  • Gift card to a local restaurant or coffee shop
  • Select gifts from a local boutique
  • Meet-and-greet with a local celeb

Here are some “experience” prize ideas:

  • Movie tickets
  • Concert tickets
  • A spa day
  • A weekend trip

The most important things to remember in choosing a prize is to choose something relevant and exciting for your audience — that’s also in proportion to the entry criteria for your contest.

Speaking of…

3. Determine the entry-criteria for your giveaway

Be sure that your entry-criteria is in proportion to the prize you’re offering. For example, it’s totally fine to ask viewers to like your post, follow your page, tag their friends, and repost with your custom hashtag for a chance to win a substantial prize like a weekend trip, spa day, or Yeti. It’s not cool to ask for that kind of engagement for a $5 Starbucks gift card.

Entry requirements should also be aligned with the goal of your contest. So if you want to increase your brand awareness through Instagram, asking for likes and tagging a friend is a quick and effective way to reach more people.

If your goal is to drive traffic back to your website, then you might direct them to a specific page, where they will either submit an entry or get the information to enter through the comments.

4. Consider partnering with relevant local businesses

If you do any research on promoting your business through Instagram, you’ll find a lot of information about connecting with “influencers” in your market. We’ve found that the most trusted influencers for local businesses are actually other businesses that choose to align with you. This could be industry-specific, like a dental referral partner, or it could be any local business that your audience would care about. When you co-brand a contest with a relevant local business, you can both benefit by reaching the other business’ audience.

5. Launch and promote your contest!

Once you’ve outlined your goal, your prize, and how to enter, as well as connected with any potential partners, it’s time to launch and promote your contest! Remember, the time of day and day of the week that you post can have a big impact on how many people see your contest. Read more about that

Be sure to set a time-limit on your contest so users a) have a sense of urgency and b) know that someone will actually win the prize on or after that date.

Finally, cross-promote your Instagram contest on all other social and online channels like Facebook and a blog post on your website.

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