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How to Run a Instagram Contest

Gleam is a low cost, impact platform that can help you get the most value out of your ongoing Instagram contests.

A platform built on visual engagement, Instagram is the top social media network for visual branding. Furthermore, because the platform encourages sharing the most interesting moments in life, it has become a driver for social desire and envy. Hosting an Instagram competition can generate significant brand awareness and purchase intent.

Why Run a Instagram Contest

Young Demographic

Marketers looking to target a young demographic need not look any further. Roughly two-thirds of Instagram users are between the ages of 18 and 34.

Aspirational Product or Service

Instagram fuels social envy. It is an image-sharing app that literally allows you to put a 'filter' over real life, highlighting and accentuating only the best moments. For brands, the platform is the ideal place for promoting any aspirational products or services - holidays, luxury, health & beauty.

Ability to Reach Mobile Users

Smartphones and tablets account for an increasingly large percent of total digital time, much of this browsing occurs within apps like Instagram. Running your contest on Instagram is an inobtrusive way to reach your mobile users.

Build Brand Loyalty

Customers like being heard. Contests, especially user-submitted photo or video contests, give fans a platform for expression and interaction.

By rewarding their engagement with chances to win prizes, brands make customers feel appreciated, and thus build loyalty.

Increase Brand Awareness & Grow User Base

Instagram contests are a great way of introducing new consumers to your brand for the first time.

Users may see a friend enter, become intrigued, and join the contest themselves or follow the Instagram account.

Promote An Event or New Product Launch

Contests can be a cost effective way to amplify your promotional reach on Instagram. It can be used to achieve multiple marketing objectives like promoting an event.

What Type of Instagram Contest to Run

The type of contest that you run on Instagram should be determined by your overall objectives. Are you trying to build your user-base, sell to your user-base, promote a specific product or event?

Frictionless Instagram Contest

The first type of contest that is common on Instagram is what we like to call frictionless. These types of contest are easier for the contestant to enter because they never have to leave Instagram, or hand over any additional personal information. They are also quick to setup.

The downside of frictionless contests is the lack of identifiable or marketable information about your entrants - Instagram does not give you email addresses. Therefore, these contests are best for short, engaging campaigns, rather than for driving revenue or sales.

Like to Win

Sweepstakes are simple. They require users to either 'like' a post on Instagram for a chance to win.

Like-to-win contests are very easy to join. By keeping the barrier to entry low, participation rate is maximised. This is a good option for anyone running Instagram contests for the first time or for pages with a small fan base.

Like & Comment to Win

Similar to like-to-win contests, comment-to-win contests require users like the photo, and then comment for a chance to win. Typically, businesses will ask a question to engage users into thinking about how the brand plays a role in their lives.

Keeping barrier to entry relatively low, this type of Instagram contest also gets users actually thinking about your brand.

Like & Tag to Win

Get your followers to like the photo and tag their friends! Paired with a prize that really resonates with your audience, this type of contest can really leverage Instagram's viral power.

By asking users to tag their friends, barrier-to-entry is a bit higher with this type of contest. It is more effective with an already established and active user-base.

User Generated Contest (HASHTAG)

User Generated Contests ask users to submit photos or videos using a contest HASHTAG in order to enter the contest. Users are typically asked to respond to a certain topic, or pose with a product or at a location. A photo or video submission contest will give your brand plenty of shareable user-generated content to work with.

Whereas this type of competition is typically hard to run on most other social media networks, due to the greater effort required to join, the nature of Instagram and its user-base mean that user-generated contests are highly participated. Even still, expect these contests to receive fewer entries than sweepstakes or caption contests.

In-App Contests

The second type of contest on Instagram involves an application to administer the entries - for example, Gleam. This is no longer frictionless, as it requires the user to leave Instagram & enter their details, or complete a set of actions.

However, the advantage with in-app Instagram contests is that you can combine the power of frictionless contest with an app. In this way, the Instagram page not only gains exposure, but you can also ask for an email address & actions across other social networks. No longer limited to just Instagram Likes, Shares and Comments, Gleam is much more efficient at driving actions across multiple social networks.

Consider the following example from a contest that was run on Instagram:

Here is an example of what users saw when they clicked the external link:

Instagram Example Competition

Instead of just Instagram exposure, Gleam can also drive email signups, Twitter & Facebook followers, and more!

Additionally, Gleams provide much improved analytics and user data as compared to Instagram. Allowing you to better understand your users and how your marketing efforts are actually converting into bottom-line result.

Choosing Your Prize

The prize is what will grab the attention of users scrolling past. It is the centerpiece of your campaign. Therefore, it is important to select a prize that immediately resonates with your campaign's target audience and your business.

A prize should also compliment the effort required to join a contest. The harder a contest is to join, the more effort is required, the better the prize should be.

Use Your Own Products

Your fans are already following you for a reason. Leverage your existing user-base and give away your own product or service. It will not cost your business additional dollars, and you get to promote yourself!

Check it out! Try to win a free year! :) https://gleam.io/f8553-doch2R #freestuff #lootcrate #awesomeness

A photo posted by Jen Linkenbach Schoewe (@n8s_gal) on

Giveaway Something Unique (or First)

People love winning unique experiences or limited edition products. Offer your followers something truly special to generate real excitement and viral activity with your campaign. Giving away exclusive passes to an event that resonates with your audience will lead to buzz for both the brand and the event.

Seasonal Prize Giveaways

Conducting seasonal prize giveaways can reinforce your brand by leveraging the emotion and excitement of the season.

Enter my Giveaway video for Sexy Box @sxbox & enjoy my #review & #unboxing 💋😉👙❤️👙😉💋 I have a Lip Art Tutorial LINKED in my IG PROFILE on my YouTube channel! 🎥💻🎥💻🎥💻🎥💻🎥 GIVEAWAY INFORMATION: + the prize: one month subscription to SexyBox for 1 lucky viewer + the giveaway will be open for 2 weeks ENDS February 13th TO ENTER CLICK on this link https://gleam.io/799tp/giveaway-win-a-month-subscription-to-sexybox-1-winner-hosted-by-michtymaxx + the only MANDATORY condition is to FOLLOW Sexy Box on Instagram @sxbox http://instagram.com/sxbox + OPTIONAL conditions: to follow Sexy Box on other social media channels (See below) + SUBSCRIBE to MichtyMaxx youtube channel 💋😉👙❤️👙😉💋 #Sexybox #SubscriptionBusinessModel #Winner #giveaway #Lingerie #Competition #Undergarment #underwear #gstring #nighty #Panties #subscriptionbox #Clothing #Fashion #clothes #Thong #sxbox #bra #subscriptionbox #valentinesday #valentines #valentine #gleam

A photo posted by Michty Maxx (@michtymaxx) on

Instagram contests are highly effective when the brand, prize and event all resonate with the consumer.

Promoting Your Instagram Contest

Once you have decided on the type of contest you are running, and what prize to award, you will need to consider how to promote it.

Promotion is often overlooked when running contests. Often though, the success of a contest will depend on placement and awareness. Maximising visibility is crucial to a campaign’s success.

Announce it to Your Subscribers

The first thing to do is get the contest in-front of your existing email subscribers. Existing e-mail subscribers are the most likely to respond and share the contest with friends.

This will mean crafting a newsletter with imagery & choosing the best time to send. Include the contest link and details.

Include Contest Link in Profile Bio

The profile bio is the only area on Instagram that allows clickable links. Use it to promote your contest - update your profile bio to include the contest link!

Cross-post on Other Social Networks

Post your contest to all your social networks, this helps convert users from Facebook to Instagram (and vice versa).

You can also use your social networks to announce winners & get people pumped for your next contest.

Embed it on Your Own Site

An often overlooked aspect of any contest is that you can run them on your own site, completely outside social networks - but use the social network as a catalyst for driving growth. A Instagram contest can provide great lead generation for your website.

Use Partners

Build a list of partners that can help you promote your contests. Typical partnerships might be:

  • Companies that supply you products
  • Bloggers / PR companies
  • Celebrities or endorsements
  • Complimentary businesses, for example if you have a hair product you might partner with hair salons

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