• Instagram Contest Ideas

Instagram is a great way to market your business and grow your sales. With over 300 million monthly active users, and more than 75 million use the app on a daily basis, small businesses who are already active on the social media platform can further increase engagement on Instagram. With such a large potential audience for your business, there is no reason to leave this channel untapped.

If you’ve been considering getting an Instagram but haven’t done it yet – now is the time. Getting started on Instagram and using it as a small business marketing tool is easier than you think. Whether your company is new to Instagram or already using the platform, you may be unaware of just how much Instagram can benefit your company when it comes to engagement. Out of all the social media platforms, Instagram gets by far the most engagement. Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and most other major platforms clock in at a very low engagement rate: 0.1%. Instagram, though, blows them out of the water with an unheard-of 4.21% engagement rate. Instagram delivers 58 times more engagement per follower than Facebook and 120 times more engagement per follower than Twitter. Those are some serious numbers!

instagram contest ideas

What’s the secret to boosting engagement on Instagram? One tried and true method is running or hosting contests for Instagram. According to psychologists, the appeal of “FREE” cannot be understated, and contests and giveaways on Instagram are the perfect way to leverage that inclination towards free stuff.

Related: Instagram Marketing for Small Businesses

Types of Instagram Contests

There are many kinds of Instagram contests, but it can be said that there are three major ones:

1. Like to Win Contests

This type of Instagram giveaway is one of the simplest styles of social media contests out there. In a “like to win” contest, companies simply ask Instagram users to like a photo in order to be entered into the contest. A winner is then randomly selected among the “likes.” These are also known as “double-tap to win” contests.

These types of Instagram giveaways have a few benefits, chief among them being that they present a very low barrier to entry and are very easy to set up. On the other hand, these types of contests have low customer engagement, and while they don’t take much effort to enter, they don’t get customers very engaged in the brand either.

Related: Getting Started with Instagram for Small Business Marketing

2. Hashtag Contests

For these types of Instagram contests, you need to create a unique contest-specific hashtag. You then ask participants to share a photo or upload a video using that hashtag. This generates engagement and spreads a link to your Instagram profile to many profiles across the platform. Hashtag contests deepen the emotional connection between consumers and your brand because the participants are posting their own photos that pertain to your unique hashtag. 

The hashtag provides a common viewing grounds for all entries. Plus, by encouraging users to submit their own photos and videos, you generate unique, genuine content that others can relate to. Of course, this is a considerably larger barrier to entry than other types of contests. Be sure to make sure that you keep the contest simple: keep the hashtag short, and don’t ask for too much (for example, don’t ask entrants to take and upload a pic, hashtag it and tag friends.

3. Email Gated Contests

These types of contests for instagram combine email and Instagram to help you generate leads for your business. They are run by asking participants for their email address to enter. This contest has a two-fold benefit: it’s a great way to build your email list and get unique user-generated-content.

This type of contest has a higher barrier to entry, where most users want a quick and easy method of entry. In order to make sure email-gated contests are successful, there should be a very attractive and somewhat large prize such as a shopping spree or large prize package.

The Prize is Key

There are many ways to use and implement social media contest ideas, but in order to ensure that your contests for Instagram are successful, you need to keep your eye on the prize you give away for your contest. Depending on your budget and audience, there are many different types of prizes you can give away. Make sure the prize is enticing.

The prize of your contest should relate to your business—it could be a product discount, free items from your brand, or gift cards. If you’re running the contest around a holiday, try to market it around that theme. You can even team up with another local business to get double the audience and double the engagement. Read this article for more information about prizes and choosing a winner for social media contests.

Related: 50 Creative Holiday Marketing Ideas

Contest Ideas for Instagram

Contests are a great way to boost a brand or small businesses. Small businesses in particular can find great success on Instagram.

Take a look at these cool Instagram contest ideas for inspiration for your own Instagram contest:

1. Om Nom Nom Cookies—Boutique Vegan cookie companybakery instagram contest

Om Nom Nom ran a hashtag contest, in which they asked entrants to take a photo of themselves with an Om Nom Nom cookie and tag the Instagram post with a brand-specific hashtag. The prize was an Om Nom Nom shirt.

The contest was successful, and is a good model to follow. The contest is simple to enter and has a short entry period, giving a quick and substantial engagement boost. This typs of contest could be used monthly or even weekly and be integrated into various themes or holidays.

2. Frank Body Scrubs—Skincare companyproduct instagram contest

Frank Body has made the rounds on social media channels and has exploded on Instagram in the past year alone. With 663,000 followers and over 5000 likes and nearly 100 comments per Instagram post, they’re certainly doing something right.

Frank Body has a running contest in which he encourages users to submit photos of themselves using his products and his brand’s hashtags. He then features the photos on the brand’s Instagram page and gives the users a free product as a reward. The contest works fantastically, encouraging constant engagement and providing Frank Bod with original content at little cost!


3. Kabuki Hollywood—Japanese restaurantrestaurant instagram contest

Kabuki Hollywood restaurant makes great use of giveaways on Instagram.  They run contests frequently and the contests reward both regular loyal customers and newcomers.

In the contest above, Kabuki encourages diners to take a photo of their meals and hashtag it with #KabukiHollywood to be entered to win a gift card to the restaurant. The prize is the most clever part of the contest, as it encourages patrons to come back to the restaurant. Most patrons will end up spending more than the $50 gift card, bringing in revenue to the restaurant!

Related: 10 Examples of Facebook Contests & Instagram Giveaways


Run Your Own Instagram Contest

The only way you’ll learn what works best for your business is to try it! Try different Instagram contest ideas over the course of a month or two.  Record the results—how many likes, shares, comments, and participation does each type of contest get?

Keep a careful tally and use this information to help you determine what kind of contests are best suited to your brand. And remember: though many contests run themselves, it’s essential that you market them as well. Cross-promote your Instagram contest on your Facebook and Twitter pages, and send word through your website and email list. Use every method of advertisement you can think of to boost engagement and see real results!

Have you done an Instagram Contest that worked for your business? Share your results in the comments below!

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