If you want to increase your audience, thousands of followers at a time—a well-crafted Instagram giveaway is going to be your best option.
But with over a billion users, Instagram is saturated.
What if you drop your hard-earned cash on a prize to only have 20 entries? Talk about an underwhelming result…
In this post, you’ll learn how to make your Instagram giveaway successful and avoid crushing disappointment.
The biggest reason Instagram giveaways fail
Like any marketing strategy, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. This couldn’t be truer for an Instagram giveaway.
Let’s do a quick exercise.
Open up Instagram on your phone and search #giveaway. You’ll see over 40 million Instagram posts with varying degrees of success.
For example, sneaker retailer Above The Loop recently ran a giveaway that attracted over 150,000 comments and thousands of followers and visitors to their online store.
The exciting news is that these results aren’t unique.
Success leaves clues—and after analyzing the best performing Instagram competitions, the patterns become glaringly obvious.
Below is a framework to help you get more Instagram followers and raise brand awareness for your product, service, or influence.
We kick off with the foundations of running an Instagram giveaway before getting into some advanced tips to take your contest game to the next level.
How to do an Instagram giveaway in 4 easy steps
Running a successful Instagram giveaway comes down to 4 steps:
- Setting a goal
- Choosing an enticing prize
- Developing a plan
- Selecting a winner
Let’s look at each step in more detail.
Step 1 – Goal
While it may seem like the only objective of an Instagram giveaway is to increase your follower count, you must take a step back and think about your overarching marketing strategy.
What role does Instagram play in your brand?
Is it to drive sales? Get feedback on ideas? Build a library of user-generated content? Become an influencer?
To give your Instagram competition the best chance to go viral, I suggest you play within Instagram and avoid sending folks off the platform.
Instagram wants to keep people on Instagram and reward you with organic reach for helping them with their goals.
Therefore, your objective should be to build a loyal audience on Instagram, which will buy your products and services over time, join your list, attend your events, and participate in your community.
Step 2 – Prize
I’m going to be brutally honest here, most giveaway prizes suck, and it’s the number one reason why Instagram contests fail.
Tote bags, your company t-shirts, and $20 Amazon gift cards aren’t cutting it.
Price isn’t the only factor either. Just about anyone will enter a giveaway for an all-expenses-paid holiday to Fiji or a brand spanking new Tesla. But it’s unlikely that you’ll retain that audience if those premium prizes have zero relation to your brand.
Your prize needs to stop people scrolling down their feed and take the required steps to join your Instagram giveaway.
The best giveaway prizes have a high perceived value and some relationship to your brand. For example:
- As a retailer, you can package your best-selling products as a prize.
- If you’re a SaaS business, you could give away 12 months of access to your software.
- As a restaurant, you can give away dinner for two.
- Service providers can offer free cleaning, coaching, or consulting.
Choosing a relevant prize will show you the hard truths regarding the value of your brand. Is your core business offering good enough for people to want to win it for free? You’ll soon find out.
Step 3 – Plan
Now that you’ve set your goals and selected a fabulous prize, it’s time to flesh out your plan. While a little overwhelming at first, once you develop an Instagram giveaway template, running future contests will be a breeze.
Entry requirements and guidelines
In this section, write a list of the basic entry requirements for your giveaway participants. Examples include age, gender, private/public accounts, etc.
Perhaps the most important guideline is the location for entrants. For instance, if you’re a dentist offering free whitening services, then you’d want to restrict participants to your local area. Or, if you’re an online store with global distribution, then make it clear that your giveaway is worldwide.
As a general rule, don’t make your giveaways too long. Think about having to follow an Instagram account for three months, waiting to see if you won. The last thing you want to do is annoy your target audience, or worse, have them forget you exist!
The most successful Instagram giveaways are 3-7 days—14 days max. A tighter duration creates urgency while giving you just enough time to win over your new followers, so they stick around after the contest.
Some accounts do flash contests where a winner is announced in 24 hours. This is powerful for established accounts that aim to surprise and delight their followers.
However, if you’re just starting, 24 hours won’t be enough time to build a decent following.
So pick a duration and communicate the date and the time your giveaway will close.
Mode of entry
Your giveaway entry criteria should reflect your Instagram contest goals. But even then, we all want the same things when it comes to Instagram; like, comment, follow, tag, or share.
If you’re running an Instagram photo contest, you could create a unique hashtag that participants must use so you can create a mini-movement.
If you’re going for a sweepstakes giveaway, then you can turn each action into a point system. For instance, each tagged friend is worth an additional point.
Unfortunately, with the popularity of Instagram giveaways, users are becoming increasingly skeptical of the ethics of winner announcements. Some accounts have been known to cheat and give prizes to their friends or not give prizes at all.
You don’t want to do any shady practices as 1) it’s not right, and 2) it’s incredibly damaging to your brand.
So the key here is transparency through your Instagram contest caption.
Is your giveaway a random draw? Or is it a competition where you’ll pick the winner or have your existing audience vote? Communicate your process, and don’t leave it open to interpretation.
Next up, where will you make your announcement?
It’s common practice to announce the winner in the description box of the original Instagram giveaway post. I’ve also seen folks make the announcements on IG lives and stories.
However, I wouldn’t recommend using these methods as they’re not easily traceable.
I suggest keeping your winner announcements on your Instagram feed as part of your original post as it’s clear proof for people interested in future giveaways.
Running a giveaway provides a window of opportunity to make an impression on your new followers and hopefully get them to stick around post-campaign.
The best promotion you can do is to be active on Instagram. Ensure that you’re posting quality content consistently to show people that you’re worth following.
Once you have open and close dates for your Instagram giveaway, you can plan your content schedule. For a seven day competition, your posting schedule could look something like this:
- Day 1 – Announce your giveaway on a post and in your stories.
- Day 3 – Create your usual content but in the caption, mention that you’re running a giveaway and encourage followers to check out the original post.
- Day 6 – Post on your feed and in on your stories to remind that the competition closes in 24 hours.
- Day 7 – Update announcement post with the winner and post stories to thank everyone who participated in the giveaway.
You could ramp up your promotional efforts by posting more quality content across stories, IG lives and tap into the organic reach of Instagram reels. Just be sure to create on-brand content that genuinely adds value to your followers. In other words, don’t just post about your giveaway.
Lastly, don’t forget to cross-promote your giveaway in your newsletter, Facebook page—even link to it in a blog post to boost your Instagram marketing. One of these social scheduling tools will help.
Step 4 – Pick a winner
If you’ve followed the best practices for Instagram sweepstakes, your notifications should be buzzing with new likes, followers, comments, and direct messages. Choosing a random winner at this point will be overwhelming.
Suppose you have an incredibly barebones giveaway with one entry method. Set a minimum and a maximum number of entries and hit generate.
If, for example, the result is 397, then the winner would be the 397th action on the post. In that case, you could get away with counting manually, using a spreadsheet or a free tool like the random number generator on Google.
You could also use a dedicated random name picker like CommentPicker. Just keep in mind that you must have an Instagram Business or Creator account to sync comment picker to select a winner.
If, however, participants tag multiple people in their comments, you’ll need to export all of the comments into a spreadsheet to select a random winner. GetCombot is a free website that can export all of the comments in an Instagram post. Just be sure to change the language to English, unless you can speak Russian, of course.
The great thing about GetCombot.com is that it has a random number generator built-in—so you don’t need to download your list a spreadsheet.
Choosing a tool to host your giveaway
Another option is to host your Instagram giveaway using a powerful tool like SweepWidget. SweepWidget completely automates your entries, reporting and makes choosing random winners a breeze.
Perhaps the greatest benefit of using a tool like SweepWidget is that you can easily combine entry methods within Instagram and across other social media channels taking your social media marketing to another level. In a single giveaway you gain user engagement on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Youtube, TikTok, and many more.
This is a definite edge over doing a native Instagram giveaway where you’re limited to just Instagram.
Imagine your investment in giveaway prizes growing your Instagram and TikTok audiences simultaneously. Pretty cool!
Instagram giveaway ideas (advanced tips)
By following the steps outlined so far, you’ve already set yourself up for success. But if you’re looking for the best way to do a giveaway on Instagram, read on for some more advanced strategies.
Use bonus points
As we’ve covered, the standard entry methods for an Instagram giveaway are to like, comment, tag, and follow. But there’s one critical action that’s sure to get more followers for your giveaway; sharing on Instagram stories.
Getting participants to take a screenshot of your giveaway or other digital asset and sharing it on their stories is a big ask. It means Instagram users are putting their reputations on the line by sharing your brand with their friends. So by including it as a standard entry will result in fewer entries.
However, you could incentivize users to share stories by offering, say, five bonus points. Include this as a bonus action.
Offer multiple prizes
Another way to boost your Instagram giveaway is to offer secondary prizes to the tagged accounts of the winner.
For example, Above The Loop offers Jordan sneakers for the primary prize and a $50 store gift card to each tagged person from the winners’ comments.
Adding more prizes through sharing creates more excitement and community around your giveaway campaign.
Collaborate with influencers
If you have a useful product but a limited presence on Instagram, you could work with influencers with large followings who also share a similar ethos to your brand.
You’ll need to provide the free prize and likely pay the influencer, but in exchange, you get in front of their audience, receive some user-generated content and grow your following.
Q: Are Instagram giveaways legal?
A: Although Instagram is a global company, giveaways are often lumped under state gaming laws which could have legal ramifications—so be sure to follow the Instagram giveaway rules. For the most part, Instagram giveaways are legal, providing that your prizes don’t exceed a particular value and that you publicly disclose your entry requirements. In saying that, it’s always best to be on the safe side and read Instagram’s rules, and even consult legal advice in your local jurisdiction.
Q: What’s the best day and time to post an Instagram giveaway?
A: The best time to post your Instagram giveaway will depend on when your followers are most active online and in which timezone. Under the audience insights report on your profile, you can see which hours and days your followers have been most active in the last seven days. You can use this data as a hypothesis to see if you get better engagement by posting in those time slots.
Q: How do I keep track of an Instagram giveaway?
A: If you’re running a campaign under seven days, you can count up your entries at the end of the contest. However, if you want to monitor your progress, you can export your Instagram comments into a spreadsheet using GetCombot. Or, if you’re using self-hosted landing pages for your contest, you can get automated reporting in an app like SweepWidget.
So that’s how to do a giveaway on Instagram
When you executed thoroughly, Instagram giveaways present a unique opportunity to build your audience and influence quickly on social media.
And the exciting part is that you’ll get better with each contest you launch. Follow this framework, rinse, repeat, and you’ll grow your Instagram account faster than ever before.
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