A 6 Step Guide to Running the Perfect Instagram Competition

With more than 300 million users and 80 million posts per day, Instagram is a terrific way to get your brand out there. With so many potential customers all you need is something to make it worth their time sharing.

How about a holiday? Is that enough to get you to quickly like and share a post? In my opinion it’s enough to seduce anyone. That’s why Instagram competitions have the potential to be so effective, the only problem is finding the best means of conducting them.

If you have been thinking about running a competition, here is the 6 step guide to doing it right.


Set Goals and Objectives

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. A key to a successful contest is to have a clear purpose, it needs to be relevant. Dobni (2016), explains that in the changing business environment, a lack of understanding of yourself or the target audience can lead to objectives not being met. This can be in the form of not engaging the intended audience and an overall waste in time and investment.

Without a clear goal, you won’t ever know if you were successful. This RACE model by Chaffey (2012), will help you find key metrics in analysing your performance.

Source: SmartInsights

However, always remember that this industry is ever changing, keep updating your metrics regularly to keep up with the times.


Choose Type/ Entry Method

Thekissagency (2016) have identified three of the main contests used to get attention.

  • Like to win – Users have to like a post and are then automatically entered into the competition.
  • Hashtag Competitions – These tend to be user-generated content (UGC), where they have use a specified hashtag and share their own photo or video.
  • Email – Gated Contests – Competitions tend to ask for a like or follow and then require an e-mail account to enter.

Source: Instagram

Set the Rules

When running your competition, you can make the rules as loose or as broad as you want. The only thing you must ensure is that you are lawful and adhere to these promotion guidelines by Instagram.

Other than that, it is up to you. However, one thing that should be considered when running these competitions is how much information you ask for. For your brand, the more information about consumers the better, nevertheless asking for information is a barrier for consumers entering. Hoffman (1999), found that 95% of web users have refused to provide personal information when a website has asked for, and that most people distrust websites with their information.

Create the Hashtag

When people enter or discuss the competition, they will be required to use a unique hashtag to help you identify the entrants. Two of the factors to consider when choosing a hashtag is that it is firstly relevant to the brand and competition and secondly that it is easy to remember and search for.

If you want to analyse hashtags of other competitions, Tedwalker is a great tool to let you search and compare hashtags.



Just because the competition is on Instagram doesn’t mean that you can’t advertise it elsewhere, let everyone know on all your other social media websites like Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr and put a more detailed description on your website.

This infographic below shows the best times to post content on Instagram. However, if you want to know when is best for your audience, using tools like google analytics will let you know when is best to post for your customers.

Source: Later

Measure and Report

Analyse the performance in relation to the goals set at the start, have they been met and if not why not. Analysing the performance may lead to further ideas on what needs to be considered more. Using applications like Iconosquare will help with the tracking of the desired metrics.


Imstash discussed some of the factors to consider whether it will be beneficial to use social media competitions

Time, money and effort: These ventures can require a lot of time and be quite taxing for small firms, if the competition distracts you from more important efforts it may not be appropriate.

Temporary Results: These should be seen as temporary results as these contests do not last forever, for longer lasting results other marketing ventures may be more appropriate.



Dobni, C.B, Klassen, M, and Sands, D., (2016) Getting to clarity: new ways to think about strategy. Journal of Business Strategy37(5), pp.12-21.

Hoffman, D.L., Novak, T.P. and Peralta, M., (1999) Building consumer trust online. Communications of the ACM, 42(4), pp.80-85.

Thekissagency (2015) 3 winning Instagram constests [online] < http://www.thekissagency.com/3-types-of-winning-instagram-contests-and-how-to-use-them/&gt; [accessed 9 May 2017]

Chaffey, D. and Patron, M., (2012) From web analytics to digital marketing optimization: Increasing the commercial value of digital analytics. Journal of Direct, Data and Digital Marketing Practice14(1), pp.30-45.

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