How to Run a Successful Instagram Contest

Drew Williams | @DrewWillyums A trend that continues to gain momentum when it comes to growing a company’s social media presence is Instagram contests. Whether the company is giving away a gift card, a free product or service, or ever just a shout-out to the winner of the contest so they can be recognized, the contests always seem to be a huge hit. If you’re thinking about going this route to spread the word for your business, here are five simplified tips that are essential to get you started.

  1. First, you need to decide what type of contest you want to run and how you will decide a winner. Are you looking for the highest quality photo? The funniest photo? Will you accept videos as well? Is the winner going to be decided by you, by the fans, or by how many “likes” the photo gets? You need to decide all the rules and aspects of the contest before announcing it to avoid confusion and to get the ball rolling as fast as possible.
  2. Now you need a unique hashtag for your contest. This hashtag will allow you to see all entries into the contest with just one click. A clever or witty hashtag is a good thing, but it isn’t a necessity. As long as the hashtag is unique to your contest and your participants, it will get the job done. Here are some examples to give you an idea of what works.
  3. The first two steps need to be done before you announce your contest, but now that you have them out of the way, it’s time to get started. Step three is starting and promoting the contest. The announcement can be as simple as a picture of your product or your logo with your hashtag in it. Be sure that any picture or text you post for the contest has the hashtag in the description or the comments to help spread the word. After announcing, promote the contest on all of your social media sites, most importantly Twitter and Facebook. Any promotion will help, so if you have a company blog or an email list to spread the word, don’t be afraid to use it.
  4. Re-post. This is your chance to get away with re-posting. And more importantly, this is your chance to get away with free advertising. If your contest is going well, you will undoubtedly have some pretty cool pictures of your product, service or logo. Re-post these on your Instagram, and be sure to tag and give a shout-out to the user who originally created it as well as including the hashtag. This not only gives validity to your contest, but will encourage other users to join in on it and continue to spread your brand’s awareness as well as continue to give you free content to use in the future.
  5. When your contest is over, the final step is announcing the winner. Post the winning photo, along with an optional statement about why you love the photo or why it won the contest. It also doesn’t hurt to announce some of the runners-up, as that could lead to a few more shout-outs for your brand and just adds a little more opportunity to get the most out of the situation. When you reward your winner, be sure to get a picture of him/her and post it to your Instagram. Everyone loves their five minutes of fame, and this will encourage other users to participate in future contests in hopes of getting theirs.

And of course, if your contest is successful, the most important step is the sixth step: repeat.

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