EYES ON THE PRIZE: Why your company should consider an Instagram contest this year

Instagram Contest How To - National Digital Academy

Instagram Contests & Sweepstakes

Everybody loves a chance to win. So if you’re looking to get people excited in a way that’ll help to grow your business online, you should consider an Instagram contest or sweepstakes.

Giveaways on this network are an easy, fun, affordable and effective way to connect with your target market — keeping existing fans excited and reaching (and converting!) new target audience segments — and build awareness and buzz around your business, increase your social following, and boost engagement.

Do they really work? Yes! 

From a recent Tailwind App study: “Instagram accounts that hold contests grow +70% faster” than those that don’t”, and contest posts get 64x more comments and 3.5x more likes than regular posts. And the opportunities to grab that great engagement for your own business are there: Instagram boasts over a billion active monthly users, but in 2020 only 2% of Instagram marketers are actually running contests there.

If it’s thoughtfully planned and executed, a single Instagram contest or sweepstakes post could result in more engagement than any Instagram post you’ve published before. Even more than that, Instagram contests and sweepstakes can:

  • Build brand buzz and reach your target audience
  • Connect with existing fans, followers and customers
  • Attract the attention of a whole new group of people
  • Demonstrate good social citizenship; give back (which can create a very loyal following)
  • Grow that following
  • Get people excited; increase engagement
  • Drive targeted traffic and generate leads

With a well-conceived contest can come a rush of engagements – great! This increase will work with Instagram’s algorithm to provide your post with further attention, displaying it to more people, which in turn, results in more contest entries, more followers, and expanded brand awareness.

What’s more, you can run a contest on Instagram for fairly cheap (the network is free to use, after all), there are myriad DIY contest-builder tools to choose from, and we know that people are apt to get excited over just about any chance to win a prize.

But free as it may be to get started, it’s possible to make missteps. Avoid wasting your business’ valuable resources on a promotion that either doesn’t earn engagement or – worse – breaks the rules:

Running a contest or sweepstakes online carries with it some important legal considerations. Both Instagram and your Province/State have rules that must be followed to the letter or you risk getting into some legal hot water. Make sure that you have a full understanding of those rules and laws and commit to complying with them. So look to the experts as you plan, build and launch your first social promotion.

With this guide from National Digital Academy, How to build and launch a winning Instagram contest before the end of the day, you could have an Instagram contest or sweepstakes online before the end of the day.

How? Follow these 12 simple steps: 

  1. Consider your goals, target audience and resources
  2. Choose a prize
  3. Choose a contest type
  4. Come up with a creative concept
  5. Nail down the specifics
  6. Create your Official Rules
  7. Design your graphic
  8. Write your copy
  9. Make plans for paid reach and cross-promotion
  10. Publish/launch!
  11. Measure success
  12. Wrap-up (close contest)

Instagram Contest How To - National Digital Academy

The guide provides important info about each step.
Meanwhile, here are some important considerations:

Keep your eyes on the prize

Obviously the more exciting the prize, the more excited people will likely be to enter. But remember that one of your primary goals should be to engage your target market in particular (not everyone on the planet). So make sure that your prize is something they’ll want to play for — your ideal customer. And then, make sure that your contest’s concept/theme, name, graphics and copy all tie in together to create a more engaging and memorable experience.

About those goals…

If any of your goals are about growth, make sure to take advantage of the opportunities to get fans, followers and entrants to help spread the word about your contest (and, in turn, about your business). Encourage (or require) entrants to tag, post and share.

Content, content, content 

A simple sweepstakes is in many ways easier to execute than a contest, but a contest can have bigger rewards for you. Here’s how:

You can ask (or require) sweepstakes entrants to tag a friend on your promotion’s post. When they do, they’ll have alerted that tagged friend about your contest (thereby doubling the eyes on your prize). But if you run a photo contest, for example, where entrants publish content to their own feeds in order to enter, they’ll be helping to cross-promote your contest to all of their own followers — increasing the visibility of your contest exponentially.

Sure, you’ll have to find, collect, manage and judge all those entries, but the added exposure will be worth that extra effort. What’s more, you can make use of all that user-generated content (ie: the photos entered in the contest) for further contest promotion and/or future marketing. (Just ensure your contest rules lay out the details around how content will be used.)

And cross-promote! 

Your contest or sweepstakes may reside on Instagram, but once it’s live you can share the link to your post all over the place — on your other social channels, in your email newsletter, on your website, in a blog post. Get the word out any way you can.

Speaking of other channels…

It’s not just Instagram. While Instagram is one of the easier networks on which to run a promotion, you can run promotions on all the top social networks, or with one of the many great digital promotion tools (where the contest resides on a microsite or a landing page on your website).

Really any kind of contest or giveaway will be a valuable addition to your digital marketing toolbox. Online contests and sweepstakes, no matter where you run them, help to demonstrate goodwill — showing both your existing and future fans that you care about them, and care about creating fun experiences for them. The result can be a happy, engaged and loyal following.

An Instagram contest or sweepstakes will help to build brand buzz, grow your followers and increase engagement. Other kinds of digital promotions can help you to do even more:

  • Grow your email database
  • Collect customer information
  • Drive targeted website traffic

So explore them all.

Keep it going and growing

You’ll likely get a flurry of good engagement and new followers as a result of your contest. Make sure to keep building on that momentum by making ongoing Instagram posting and engagement a part of your plan. Keep giving that engaged audience content of interest and value — things to get excited about (maybe even another contest in the future!).

Not sure how to make the most of your limited time to truly grow on social? Invest in some training from social media marketing professionals like National Digital Academy. Our popular Intro to Social Media for Business Growth helps entrepreneurs and small businesses plan and build a powerful social media presence across all leading social networks including Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Ready but not ready?

If you feel inspired but aren’t quite ready to do this all from scratch, check out National Digital Academy’s Instagram Contest Essentials Toolkit. It includes everything you need to DIY an Instagram contest or sweepstakes super-simply! With:

  • Official Rules Template
  • Instagram Contest Graphic & Caption Templates
  • Promotional Email Template
  • Promote-A-Post “How-To”
  • Instagram Contest Examples

If you want to run an Instagram promotion but just don’t have the time or confidence (yet), hire a social media marketing agency to plan, build and manage a winning Instagram contest or sweepstakes for you!

Instagram Contest How To - National Digital Academy

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