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TFD Tips: Running a Successful Instagram Competition

Whether you want to boost engagements, grow your following or encourage the creation of UGC, these tips will ensure the seamless running and execution of your next Instagram competition.

With 200 million users visiting a business profile each day, competitions are a great way for brands to promote themselves on Instagram. Running an Instagram giveaway can drive an increase in engagements, greater brand awareness, improved follower growth and a higher chance of content being picked up by the Instagram algorithm.

Before you get started though, there are a few things you need to consider, from establishing your goals and entry method, to implementing a set of terms and conditions that fall within Instagram's guidelines.


Creating a set of rules and regulations might not be the most fun part of arranging a competition, but its incredibly important to get it right. Depending on where a user or brand is based, laws and regulations can differ greatly - throw in a global platform and a competition with viral appeal and you've got a legal minefield on your hands. With the help of a solicitor, research local laws and regulations relevant to the country or region the competition is being hosted, to ensure that all bases are covered.

When creating the terms and conditions, consider the following:

  1. In which jurisdisction/where will the terms and conditions be hosted?

  2. Who is eligible to enter?

  3. What is the prize?

  4. What do users need to do to enter?

  5. How long will the competition last?

  6. When is the precise deadline?

  7. How will the winner be selected?

  8. How many entries are allowed per person?

  9. What happens if the winner doesn't claim their prize?

  10. When will the winner be announced?

We've included Instagram's guidelines below, but you can also find them here (on the Instagram website), too.

Instagram's Official Promotion Guidelines

1. If you use Instagram to communicate or administer a promotion (example: a contest or sweepstakes), you are responsible for the lawful operation of that promotion, including:

  • The official rules;

  • Offer terms and eligibility requirements (example: age and residency restrictions); and

  • Compliance with applicable rules and regulations governing the promotion and all prizes offered (example: registration and obtaining necessary regulatory approvals)

2. You must not inaccurately tag content or encourage users to inaccurately tag content (example: don’t encourage people to tag themselves in photos if they aren’t in the photo).

3. Promotions on Instagram must include the following:

  • A complete release of Instagram by each entrant or participant.

  • Acknowledgement that the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Instagram.

4. We will not assist you in the administration of your promotion and cannot advise you on whether consent is required for use of user content or on how to obtain any necessary consent.

5. You agree that if you use our service to administer your promotion, you do so at your own risk

Competition Ideas

Now that the rules and regulations are out of the way, its time to come up with a competition idea and set some KPIs. A brand's goals will determine a number of factors including the entry method, how to monitor results and the length of the competition. The competition entry process should be simple to encourage as many users to enter as possible. When hosting a competition, brands should be clear, concise and keep the number of steps to a minimum.

The most common Instagram competitions are:

Tag to Win

Brands will encourage followers to post an photo or a video (to Instagram) of themselves wearing or using said brand's products. Users are required to tag the brand and sometimes use a specific hashtag. This particular initiative works well for generating UGC and will help to build brand awareness in the most authentic way.

Nobody's Child runs an incentive called 'You Wore It Best'. They have multiple winners each time and reward every person featured in their carousel posts with a gift voucher. Each carousel is themed and relates to a specific product. They then tie this content in with on-site promotions to maximise sales at the time of posting. (TFD's own Ruby Naldrett was a recent winner, as you can see below!)

Like/Follow/Tag a Friend

This type of competition will help brands reach a larger audience by encourage users to follow them, as well as boosting engagements. The mechanism is simple; people must like the post and tag a certain number of friends in the comments section, as well as follow the account to be in with a chance of winning. More often than not, the friends tagged in the post will often enter the competition themselves too, thus increasing the post's popularity, helping it to place higher in newsfeeds.

Take inspiration from ASOS Man and host a weekly or monthly Instagram competition. The e-tailer's #sneakersunday giveaway features a different pair of trainers each week. Ultimately, the prize is what motivates people to enter. Products are always a great place to start - however, gift vouchers or experiences can also prove popular, too.

This particular concept also works well when two complementary brands with similar target audiences collaborate. We recently helped manage a collaboration between Madeleine Thompson and Wild at Heart; the cashmere label and florist joined forces to give away a sweater and a bouquet. To enter, users simply had to follow both accounts, like the post and leave a comment, tagging a friend to double their chances.

By joining forces with a similar business or influencer, brands can harness the power of two audiences and ensure that all new followers are relevant and engaged.

Picture Competitions

A picture challenge can sometimes be alienating to audiences, especially if they don't possess the relevant skillset to enter. So, brands should bear this in mind when considering this type of competition.

An example of a brand doing it right is GANNI, they asked followers to submit an original image or artwork that incorporated the theme 'home is where the heart is'. Followers could enter using the #GANNIWFH hashtag or via email.

When a competition involves an extra layer of work on the entrant's behalf, the prize must befit the entry requirements. The winner of GANNI's competition would see their work featured in a pop-up exhibition in Copenhagen and also receive a €1500 GANNI gift card (runners up with get a gift card worth €500).

Instagram Stories

OFFSPRING recently used a combination of feed posts and Instagram stories to host a UGC competition. In order to enter, followers had to upload a picture to Instagram and use the hashtag #offspringhqfrontrowWFH. Each user's handle also needed to be visible in the image that they uploaded.

The brand then selected 32 men and 32 women to proceed to the next stage. Dubbed the 'poll battle' round, OFFSPRING hosted a series of polls on Stories, which saw images from each category go head to head until a winning man and winning woman was crowned.

Logistically, this kind of competition might require more work than a simple 'like to enter' contest, but the interactive element on Stories was a great way to engage the community, encourage participation and ultimately promote products through UGC.

Selecting a Winner

A tool such as AppSorteos will help to randomly generate a winner. The website allows users to collate entries from multiple posts, accounts and hashtags to ensure that all entry requirements are met. The tool even produces a certificate as proof of the winning entrant.

Words Daniel Flay


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