• How to Do an Instagram Giveaway

How to Do an Instagram Giveaway

A great way for your small business to increase social media engagement, get more followers, and attract new customers is to run an Instagram contest or giveaway. If you haven’t already, now’s the perfect time to start using Instagram for your business! Instagram has proven to be a great resource for carrying out contests and they’re easy to do. Here are some tips on how to do an Instagram contest or giveaway for your small business.

Related: Examples of Facebook Contests and Instagram Givewaways (free download)


How to Do an Instagram Giveaway

What Do You Want to Get Out of Your Contest?

Before doing an Instagram contest, decide on a goal that you want to get out of it. Is it to obtain email addresses for your email list? Grow followers? Expand brand name? Connect with other local businesses? How long will the contest run? Your goal will guide the contest.

Decide What Type of Instagram Contest to Run

There are several different ways to run an Instagram contest or giveaway. If you’re running a giveaway for the first time, keep it as simple as possible. You will need to keep track of the participants’ entries so the easier, the better. Depending on which type of contest you run, it may be difficult to monitor if the participants are completing all the required tasks.

Types of Instagram Contests

Like to Win

Like to Win is the easiest type of Instagram contest. In this type of contest, the participant must follow your account and like the photo to enter. If someone likes the photo but doesn’t follow you, they are not eligible to win. Easy, right?

how to do an instagram giveaway

Like to win Instagram giveaway by @delightinmedesigns

The purpose of like to win is to get both followers on your account to see more of your brand posts as well and engage users with beautiful visual content.

Tag a Friend

Tag a Friend is another easy contest to run on Instagram. In this type of contest, participants must comment on your photo and tag one or more users in the comment section of the contest photo.

How to do an instagram giveaway tag a friend

Instagram Contest by @bluetiquelex_

The purpose of a tag a friend Instagram contest is to increase the reach of your brand through your followers. By tagging someone else in the comment section of the contest photo, your followers are helping introduce new potential customers to your business.

Post Your Own Picture + Hashtag

A Post Your Own Picture Instagram contest works by encouraging participants to post an original picture related to your brand with a custom contest hashtag. For example, a company may host a selfie contest encouraging users to take a selfie (picture of themselves) at their business or with their product and use a custom hashtag. These contests have a high participation rate because they are easy for people to do.

how to do an instagram giveaway talalla yoga

Post your own picture Instagram giveaway by @Talall_Yoga


The purpose a post your own picture giveaway is increasing user engagement and creating a buzz about your giveaway. The more buzz the more people who can become customers. The more people who participate, the better!

Repost + Hashtag

Another common type of Instagram contest is a Repost contest. In this type of contest, participants must repost the giveaway picture and use the giveaway hashtag in their own post.

how to do an instagram giveaway

Repost Instagram giveaway by @mod_ontrend

The purpose of a repost + hashtag Instagram giveaway is to use your followers to increase the reach of your brand by reposting your contest on their Instagram accounts. A repost + hashtag giveaway will not only reach your followers, but your followers’ followers.  You will know when someone enters the contest by receiving a notification in your account that someone tagged you in a photo.

Decide on a Prize

Depending on your customers, merchandise, and budget, there are a variety of different prizes you can give away. Some ideas include discounts, free items from your business, and gift cards. Market to your customer and give away a product or service that they would want.

If it’s around the time of a holiday, utilize that theme. Many business use fun, unofficial holidays to run an Instagram contest. For example, a bakery may run an Instagram giveaway for National Cookie Day, encouraging customers to take a picture with cookies in order a win a cookie basket.

To increase the reach of your contest, team up with another local business to engage their customers and give away something bigger and better. Once you have decided what works best for your business, you can post your picture and run your Instagram contest! Check out this guide with examples of Instagram Giveaways for more information.

Determine How You’ll Pick Your Winner

There are many ways to fairly pick your contest winner. To learn more, head to our post below:

How to Pick a Winner for Social Media Contests

Pick a Theme

Pick a theme for your Instagram contest—choose an upcoming holiday, current season, or popular trend. For more ideas, check out our Marketing Calendar.

Once you have your theme, take a creative and original picture to post on Instagram. Instagram is all about the cool pictures and graphics, so post something high quality and eye-catching to your followers! You want your photo to stand out to followers. It is imperative that the photo is visually appealing to generate interest.

Keep words off your picture, and instead post relevant contest information in the description box. Keep it short and sweet. Clearly define all the rules so that people can enter correctly. Make sure to include all of the eligibility guidelines in the comment of your photo such as, “Like to Win a Summer Tote Bag filled with beauty products! Must follow our account and like a photo to win. Contest ends on June 25th at 1 pm Eastern Time.” Be polite in the description so that you seem personable.

It is very important to refer to the Instagram promotion guidelines in your description. You must also acknowledge that the giveaway is not sponsored, endorsed or administered by Instagram or associated with it.

Instagram Contest Hashtags

Perhaps the most important part of running an Instagram giveaway is to create a unique hashtag to post in the description. Using a custom hashtag for your business or contest will help increase engagement. This is especially important if the rules require others to repost the picture or post their own original photo as it files the photos together for easier access to find the entries.

The purpose of a hashtag is so that you can search the hashtag and find all of the post related to your contest. The hashtag needs to be original so that unrelated pictures to the giveaway are not included. For example, a contest with #icecream is not specific enough. JP Lick’s #LIXPIX is unique and affiliated only with their photo contest.

A unique hashtag specific to your business separates everything else. You can also include hashtags that are relevant to the giveaway post to generate new, organic participants and potential customers. It’s important to research these hashtags ahead of time to ensure that the right audience is finding the picture. You want to make sure that the hashtag you use does not direct participants to irrelevant or negative content.

Promote the Instagram Giveaway on Social Media

One of the best ways to use Instagram for your small business is to cross-promote your posts on other social media channels. After you post your giveaway, make sure to spread the word about it on your other various social platforms. This notifies customers that might not follow your Instagram that you’re running a contest. Post the details on your Facebook or Twitter account to encourage followers to check it out and enter the contest.

Write a blog post about the contest related to the theme in order to further describe the entry details. If your company is connected to relevant bloggers, maybe ask them to write a post about it or share it on their social media.

After the Instagram Contest is Over

How to Pick a Winner

For most contests you should pick a random winner. You can pick a name out of a hat, but for a more scientific approach, use a website like Random Name Picker. This is the fairest way to blindly choose a winner.

Photo contests are subjective so you can pick a winner based on the photo that you like the best or best fits the theme of your contest. When you announce the winner to these types of giveaways, make sure to tell the participants why you chose the winning photo.

How to Announce the Winner of an Instagram Contest

After your Instagram giveaway is over, make sure to announce the winner. Notify them on Instagram through a comment or private message.  Thank the participants for entering and share winner on Instagram in a separate post.

If you are running an Instagram photo contest, share their original picture and explain why you chose it. Engagement between you and your followers is important in making personable content and acquiring more followers or potential customers. Also make sure to thank everyone that participated! Let them know that you appreciate the support of your business. This is important in ensuring future participation and support of the business.


instagram contest winner

How Often to Run an Instagram Contest

Run the contests regularly! Instagram contests are great ways to frequently offer special promotions to your loyal customers that follow you. You could also link up with other local businesses and contribute to a group giveaway that reaches more of your target market.

Have you run an Instagram contest for your small business? Let us know in the comments how it went!

ThriveHive combines easy-to-use tools and expert guidance to help businesses stand out and get found online. Learn more about our guided marketing and advertising solutions here.


  1. My Top Fans says:

    I am constantly impressed with the high value content of this blog. Well done!

  2. Dominique says:

    i definitely needed this. Just started a new business!

  3. Shinmila says:

    If you are a small business doing a contest, how can you tell if the participants are in your local area to receive the prize (like a discount at the store)? Thanks.

    • Emily Weisberg says:

      Hi Shinmila – Great question! You can sometimes tell where a user is located based on their profile and posts, but the best way to narrow your participants down by geographic location would be to use local hashtags to attract people who are in your same geographic area. This is why it’s important to search for relevant hashtags for your geographic location and industry like #bestfoodcleveland or something similar to make it easier for local customers who use and search for that hashtag to enter. You can always incorporate rules into the giveaway limiting participation to local customers too!

  4. matt kin says:

    how do you export the names out of instagram so you can use a random name picker? what if there are thousands of names? i feel like a lot of winners are predetermined :(. how do you even know?

  5. Lauren says:

    Hi Emily~ would you recommend running contests on Instagrams with ONLY services that can be done say, over the phone or email instead of geographically based? I’m a sleep coach and I can work with anyone in the world via phone/email, but something like a Kid’s Gym in Los Angeles where you have to live to redeem the prize might not reach as many people (or be as exciting?) Does this make sense? Maybe I’m thinking too much into it! 🙂

    • Emily Weisberg says:

      Hi Lauren – You can run contests regardless of the type of business you have. While some might have more success than others, it’s worth a shot to try it out. Some good prizes for your business might be a free consultation or some sleep accessories like a sleep journal, soft blanket, or lavender scented pillow. If you’re working with other businesses for the contest, definitely collect everything before or during the contest. This way, you avoid the risk of a promised prize backing out or delaying the delivery of the prize. Another reason it’s good to have the physical prize in hand is so that you can post a photo of the prize package to show participants what they will be getting!

  6. Lauren says:

    and lastly, does the “host” of the giveway/contest actually ship the prize(s) to the winner? Therefore I need to collect all participating shops coupons/products before announcing the winner?

  7. krissy says:

    This was a really helpful read! Many thanks, Emily!!


  8. Julia says:

    what do you do if the winner never responds?

    • Emily Weisberg says:

      Hi Julia, great question. If the winner doesn’t respond within a reasonable time frame, I would pick another winner.

  9. Bal says:

    Great read! How can you check if the participants followed all the criteria of the contest? Ie. Followed you, shared, shared on Facebook, hashtaged, etc?

    • Emily Weisberg says:

      Hi Bal – Great question that’s easy to answer depending on the criteria for your contest. I recommend keeping the contest on one platform to make it easier to check. So if your contest is a like and re-post from Instagram, participants will only share on Instagram. It can be hard to track once you cross platforms since many people have different business handles across social media. Once you pick a winner, simply go to their profile or scroll through the comments on Instagram to make sure they followed the directions to enter the contest. It’s wise to keep the contest rules simple both to encourage users to participate and make it easy for you to run the contest. You should be able to see everything from either your notifications, the profile of the user, or an app like Crowdfire that can tell you who is following you.

  10. Jillian says:

    What’s the best way to actually send the prize to a winner? Are there cpmanies that you can send mail through without using your personal address?

    • Emily Weisberg says:

      Hi Jillian – We recommend mailing the prize through USPS or another mail shipping company like FedEx or UPS and using your business address for the return address. If you work out of your house and are worried about your personal address, you can set up a PO Box for all of your business mail and use that as a return address!

  11. Clara Rosaline says:

    This is really helpful.

  12. Yasmeen says:

    Im having a competition on instagram with 19K+ comments . How can i pick a winner ? I need an application for that like a pick a winner spinner or something similar i want to be fair . Please HELP!!

  13. KK Mac says:

    Great article! I just posted a giveaway / contest that runs until 1/29 – how do I keep the contest front and center while continuing to post each day my regular content? Do I link back to the post somehow? Repost it regularly? If I do that though how can I reassure entrants that they don’t need to re-enter on each new post? There’s got to be a better way ?

    • Emily Weisberg says:

      Hello – Great question! A good way to remind people is to post a photo or graphic every few days to remind people to enter. You can include a note that people only have to enter once in the details. Also, if you’re cross-promoting the giveaway on Facebook or Twitter, you should pin the promotional post to your page/profile to direct participants to the original post on IG. I hope that helps!

  14. Andrea says:

    Easy and straight to the point info. I’ve scoured through page after page and ended up with info overload. Thanks for making it all clear.

    • Emily Weisberg says:

      Thanks for your comment, Andrea! I’m glad the post was able to help you make sense of Instagram giveaways.

  15. Kristine says:

    Quick question…I am looking at hosting an IG giveaway with the method of entry being to follow my account. Once I have selected the winner, how do I easily check if they are following me or not? Cheers.

  16. Marcella says:

    I am just starting a business and want to have a giveaway but don’t have that many followers. Is it better to ask a more popular person to include my item in a group giveaway? If so, how does one go about finding someone to do that through Instagram?

    • Emily Weisberg says:

      Hi Marcella –
      It’s always good to do a giveaway but you want to make sure that you’re getting enough of a reach for the items that you’re giving away. I would grow your following a bit by using relevant hashtags like local and industry hashtags. This will help you get followers and give you more people to engage with when you do run the giveaway. Always ask your giveaway winner to share a photo of their prize and share it with your followers everyone can see how great it is!

  17. Michael M. says:

    This is a really good read. I’ve been scouring the blogs looking for an answer to my question. You’ve come the closest. Do you know of any third party app that will keep track of reposts for an IG Giveaway? I’m asking folks to FOLLOW, repost and tag friends as conditions for entering my prize giveaway. With some type of tracking app, I can match reposts with FOLLOWS to keep track of entrants. Thanks.

  18. Blail Cabal says:

    Hi, Thank you for the info. I was wondering about how long a contest should run for?

    • Emily Weisberg says:

      Hi Blail – The length of the contest depends but generally a week is a good time frame. This give you enough time to promote it so that people can enter. I hope that helps!

  19. Lexi says:

    Thank you so much for this info! I’m looking to do a giveaway centered on health products. I have
    popular cookbook and a reusable tote – would I have to get permission from the author of the cookbook and the person who made the tote I order to give it away?

  20. Sasha says:

    Hi there! I am thinking of hosting a give away with a few makeup products and a gift card to a beuty store. I onky have around 400 followers, do you think this is a good enough count to do a giveaway, or should I get more?

    • Emily Weisberg says:

      Hi Sasha – It’s hard to give an answer as to what will work for your business. We always suggest starting small and experimenting when trying new marketing activities. Instead of giving away something very valuable during the experiment phase, maybe put together some extra items that you have laying around for your first giveaway and then, once you get the hang of it, do another with the more valuable gift card as a prize. Let us know the results!

  21. Channing says:

    Hi there, great article! I just started a new etsy based business and I’m going to do a giveaway on my Instagram soon, but my question is how would I get the winner’s information in order to send them their prize? Thank you!

    • Emily Weisberg says:

      Hi Channing, thanks for your note. To get the winner’s information you can tag the winner in the comments of the post asking them to email you or send you a direct message with their contact information!

  22. Heather says:

    Where is a good place to add words to photos like “giveaway!” Or “200 follower giveaway!”?

  23. Ariel says:

    Hi! What is the best day of the week to start a giveaway? And what is the best length of time to host one?

    • Emily Weisberg says:

      Hi Ariel –
      The best day to start a giveaway depends on your target audience and their engagement on Instagram. I would make note of your most popular and engaged posts and post a giveaway around the same time/day of those posts. For example, a college audience may active and engaged on Instagram late at night whereas an audience of moms may be more engaged at 5am when they’re up with their children. Week days may be more active than weekends; but it depends on your audience. I would recommend doing a 5 days to a week or so for the length of the giveaway. Any shorter and you might not get enough engagement and any longer and the giveaway grows stale. Hope that helps!


  24. doris says:

    You article is very informative. I am having a problem that you may be able to resolve for me. I tried to use Instagram for a contest for the first time. The problem is I could see we had #posts but I couldn’t view all of them. I finally figured out (I think) If our company doesn’t follow a person who has private settings and that person posts with the # of the contest then we can’t view the post. Is there a way to circumvent that in future contests?

    • Emily Weisberg says:

      Hi Doris – Thanks for your question; it’s a good one. If you’re doing a contest where you’re asking people to post a photo of their own or share a photo using a hashtag, then you’ll be unable to view the submissions from private accounts unless you’re following them. One way to prevent this issue is to engage users in a “tag a friend” or a comment contest on the original giveaway post. I hope that helps answer your question!


  25. doris says:

    Thanks, Emily. It does answer the question. I’ve seen contests where people are asked to post a picture with a logo and hashtag it. That will only work if the user is not private or I follow them. Correct? I’ll revamp and do a tag a friend. Thanks

  26. Ellya Brill says:

    Can I repost the giveaway post on onstsgram the next day or after 2 days before the giveaway expired? Meaning lets say the giveaway runs for 4 days; can I repost that giveaway again after it has been posted for 2 days. Because ..I am afraid people will not know there is a giveaway snd still running. Thank you..

    • Emily Weisberg says:

      Hi Ellya – Yes, it’s a great idea to promote the giveaway more than once on Instagram! One way to do so is to post a photo of the product or service that you’re giving away to get your audience’s attention and encourage people to enter. Great question!

  27. SK says:

    I want to run a instagram contest where I am asking them to tag a friend in comments and they both win. Is there a tool to randomly select from comments?

  28. w lin says:

    i have question regarding after you pick the winner, what are the logistics, such as liability, shipping charges, etc.? thanks!!

  29. toby says:

    i started a giveaway before seeing this post and i think i messed up i want to restart the giveaway but i dont know how ell that would work also should i have a cash prize or no ? i want to promote my company and im wondering if i should just use products to promote my company or cash please respond soon .also check out my ig @fish_skate_co

  30. Elaine Perez says:

    How do you export or get through the comments of participants on IG? Is there an easy way?

  31. Kemal Kaya says:

    This is a really helpful read! Many thanks, Emily!

  32. When I dm the winner, should I just ask them for their address?

    • Kristen McCormick says:

      If you are able to mail the prize, then definitely ask for their address. You could always offer to do an in-store pickup in the event that they are not comfortable providing their address.

  33. Austin says:

    This helped me quite a bit. Great advice that is much appreciated. Thanks!

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