Instagram contests are popular these days, and can certainly help create buzz and awareness around your brand, event or product. There are several ways of hosting these contests, and several things that needs to be considered, in the guide below I have addressed some of these:
(If you’re courious about what Instagram is, or how to use it, check out my guide here.)
Define your target audience
Who is your ideal participant? Who are you trying to engage with the contest?
Event participants, fashion bloggers, mothers with kids under 3 years, students, young girls that are into sport?
These questions are important for determine the purpose, the rules, the prizes and so on. This is the question you have to answer first, before getting started on anything else, and definitely before announcing the contest.
Define the purpose of your contest
What is the purpose of this contest – What do you want to accomplish?
Do you want to gain followers to your Instagram account? Do you want to create buzz about your event or product launch? Or do you want to create more awareness about your brand in general, or the services and products you provide? Or all of the above, or something completely different?
Define the rules
Depending on the purpose(s) of your contest, you need to define some ground rules for participating.
The basic; upload pictures with the hashtag to Instagram.
Some other rules to consider, depending on the purpose of the contest, and the level of engagement you want the participants to have ( this depends on who you are targeting, and the prize):
– Participants need to follow you on Instagram
– Participants need to share the picture to Twitter or Facebook
– Participants need to write a blog post about the contest, their contribution(s) and share the blog post link to their contest picture, or add it as a comment to your contest photo.
– Participants need to upload a series of pictures (e.g. “My top 4 Starbucks photos”).
– A thing I’ve seen several travel agency , hotels etc. do, is having the participants walk around in a city / one area of the city looking for, and taking pictures of, clues and uploading them to Instagram.
Try making the hashtag as unique as possible.
Hashtag(s) are a crucial part of most Instagram contests, both as an easy way of getting an overview of all the contributions and for spreading the word about your brand / product or event.
In choosing the hashtag(s), make sure to choose a unique one. Do a brainstorming and come up with some alternatives – which are related to your brand, concept or event – and do some hashtag searches in Instagram. Are there already lots of uploaded pictures using the tag? Then, rethink and try something else.
(If you’re curious about how hashtags on Instagram works, and why you should use them, check out my blog post about this here.)
Incorporate the name of the brand, product or event.
One of the main purposes of hosting an Instagram contest is creating awareness and buzz around your business, brand, concept, event or product. Make sure the contest hashtag includes the name of your brand, or the product / event you want to create buzz around.
Pictures uploaded to Instagram with the hashtag #SonyLove, more info about the contest here.
Legal issues to consider
Depending on what you want to do with the photos and the scope of the contest, there are some legal issues to consider.
Do you want to use the pictures for a campaign later on? Or have them featured on your web page or blog? And, do you want to use just the winning pictures (is getting featured in a campaign part of the prize), or do you want to reserve the right to use all the contributions?
Either way, make sure to put it in writing, make it one of the contest rules.
Another thing you need to make sure of, is that people only upload their own photos.
Promote the contest
To host a successful contest, attracting a lot of participants and creating a lot of buzz, you need to get the word out there. How you promote it depends on the resources you have at hand, the channels you already have a presence in, and the type and purpose of the contest. Here are some suggestions:
– Blog post: If you have a blog, consider writing a blog post about the details regarding the contest – how to enter, what’s the prize(s), hints about what you have in mind, how you would like to use the contributions, legal issues etc. The same info can also be featured on your web page or Facebook page.
– Event: If the contest takes place at an event – mention the contest and the hashtag at the beginning of the event, and remind people about it frequently during the show. Consider printing flyers / stickers, and installing an “Instagram Wall” where photos with the hashtag are shown.
– Create pictures with brief info regarding the contest, and upload them to Instagram, Pinterest , Facebook – these should include info about the hastags(s), and the prizes and where to get more info.
– Spread the word on Twitter (make sure to add the contest hashtag to all your Twitter communication regarding the contest too).
– Make promotion part of the contest – encourage participants to not only upload their contributions to Instagram, but also share them on Facebook and Twitter.
Picking a winner
Depending again on what you want to do with the photos and the scope of the contest, there are several ways of picking the winners, such as:
– The photo with the most likes and /or comments
– Appoint a jury that picks the winners
– Something in between: appoint a jury that picks the top candidates and have people vote on their favorite, or collect the photos with the most likes and have a jury pick the winners.
– If you asked the participants to write a blog post, share their contribution on Facebook / Twitter, or look for clues in an area, this of course needs to be taken in to consideration.
What else do you think is important to have in mind when hosting an Instagram contest?
Get more ideas by looking at some ongoing contests here.
Pssst – If you’re wondering about how to host a Pinterest contest, check out this blog post.