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How to Run a Competition on Instagram

How to Run a Competition on Instagram




Running a competition on social media is a sure-fire way to increase engagement and grow your audience organically. With over 500 million daily active users, Instagram is no longer just a place to share a time capsule of pictures and videos - it has established itself as one of the leading platforms and a force to be reckoned with when it comes to advertising. 

From influencers to brands alike, anyone who is anyone is on Instagram. And if you’re not, then you’d better make a start. If you’re not so clued up with the ins and outs of running an organic social media competition, we’ve got you covered. 

From time frames to the type of content you should be putting out there, here’s everything you need to know about running an Instagram exclusive competition.

Set your goals 🏆

Running a social media competition is all well and good, but it helps to have an initial game plan in place. Outlining goals before you even start planning a social contest is important because it allows you to achieve your goals and predict an outcome. An idea of goals you might already have in mind are:

  • Increasing your initial follower count
  • Increasing brand awareness 
  • Driving sales to a specific product
  • Drawing attention to a brand launch
  • Increasing engagement
  • Promoting a cause or collaboration

Time frames: The pros and cons

Once you’ve established your goals, the next step is to look into time frames and exactly how long you’d like your competition to run for.


The pros:
One obvious pro is that daily contests can be a quick fix for upping your follower count and engagement. They’re also an effective way to piggyback off any marketing dates in your social media calendar.

The cons:
With daily contests being so short-lived, they might struggle to get engagement levels as high as longer running competitions - it also involves a whole lot of planning for such a short-lived time frame. If you’re running a contest for just one day, it might be worth building awareness beforehand or cross-promoting the competition on various social media platforms.

One week or more

The pros:
Running a social competition for less than a week plays on urgency. A strict time limit to enter may serve as a quick and easy way to increase engagement because it creates FOMO; users will enter because they fear missing out on potentially winning the prize.

The cons:
Similarly to daily social media contests, a week isn’t always enough time to reach the number of people you’d like to. You’ll likely receive fewer entries and less attention if it’s not executed the right way!

A month +

The pros:
The apparent pro to running a social competition for longer than a month is that you’ll have plenty of time to promote it. The longer you promote a contest, the more entrants you’re likely to have. Month-long social media contests also work exceptionally well with marketing calendar occasions that last for the whole month, such as Veganuary.

The cons:
A con to running a competition for a month or longer is that you’ll actively work at keeping it relevant. Running something longer than a month can become stale, and users could lose interest after the initial build-up.

Types of Instagram contests 📸

Like to win: Like-to-win contests do what they say on the tin. It’s the process of getting users to like the post to be in with the chance of winning the prize. Once the competition closes, a winner is selected at random from the likes. A like-to-win contest can be most effective when it’s teamed up with another entry requirement such as, “Like this post and tag a friend to enter”. 

Comment to win: Similarly to a like to win contest, a comment to win organic contest relies on users commenting and tagging their friends. These can be executed in several ways, such as commenting with a specific hashtag, emojis or tagging other users.

Share to win: A share to win competition revolves around users sharing the Instagram post with other users. Usually, this is a case of reposting the competition to their Instagram story to generate more impressions and gain traction. This is an effective way to get more engagement. 

Choosing a prize 🎁

Who doesn’t love prizes? Slap the word giveaway on anything, and people will flock no matter what the prize is at stake. Running a successful competition works hand in hand with enticing people to purchase from your brand. So, even though users may enter regardless of the prize, it helps to have a worthwhile reward for the credibility of your brand. 

After all, the overall aim is to convert any entrants into potential customers. Stuck with which prize to offer? We’ve picked out some ideas:

  • Your product or service 
  • A collaboration with another brand
  • A product that is related to your brand
  • Money or a voucher 
  • A trip or an experience

And there you have it, our quick guide to social media competitions! Want to know more about how organic or paid social can help to improve your brand? Get in touch with us today.