How to Host your First Instagram Contest

How to Host an Instagram Giveaway and Grow Your Audience

Have you ever seen an Instagram contest and wished that you’d be the one winning all that cool free swag? Instagram contests are a huge trend among business accounts and influencers everywhere. It’s a fun and exciting way to get your followers engaged with your Instagram account. Instagram contests can significantly raise your follower count, attract loyal followers, and promote your business.

An Instagram post of a giveaway contest
Check out this perfect example of an Instagram contest! In this case, the prize entails an exciting VIP trip for two.

What are Instagram contests?

Instagram contests are also commonly called giveaways. Contests are not specific to Instagram. In fact, contests and giveaways are very popular on YouTube and Twitter as well. But in this article, we are mainly going to cover contests on Instagram.

Instagram contests are hosted by an Instagram user who starts it by making a post. The post contains components such as: what the winner will receive if they win, how to enter, and when the winner will be announced. The image in the post should be a picture of what prize(s) the winner will receive. The caption should include all relevant information so followers know how to enter.

One lucky winner (or multiple winners, if you so choose,) will be sent the items promised from your Instagram contest. However, many Instagrammers wonder if the investment to giveaway free things is worth it. Here at Upleap, we believe that Instagram contests are awesome for so many reasons. Keep reading to find out why!

For more Instagram marketing tips and tricks, check out this article: How To Use Instagram Influencer Marketing In Growing Your Brand

Why host Instagram contests?

First of all, Instagram contests are fun! It’s a great and fairly easy way to market your own goods and spread brand recognition. Secondly, its a chance for your followers to win something for free. You’ll feel glad knowing that you made someone’s day by sending them your free swag.

Of course, it will cost you to lose a small portion of your item inventory, but it will increase your brand recognition because a well-curated Instagram contest will result in high engagement rates. In effect, you will likely gain more traffic to your website!

Instagram contests are also super effective in increasing your follower count! Many Instagram contests require users to follow the account that is hosting the contest. That way, you’ll attract more followers who are interested in your account. It is very possible that you will attract many new loyal followers just for hosting an Instagram contest.

6 steps to hosting your first Instagram contest

Creating the perfect Instagram contest takes planning, time, and research. Some questions you may want to consider would be:

  • What will I give away to my followers?
  • How much money should I spend on the prizes?
  • How long will the contest last?
  • What should the requirements be for entering?

Consider these questions before making the Instagram post. Be creative with it!

We’ve come up with 6 steps to hosting your first Instagram contest.

Step 1: Figuring out what to give away

Figuring out what to give away should be the first thing you decide on. Think about what your followers would want to receive. If you give away something that your followers wouldn’t like, you would not get many entries. Instead, consider some of these tips:

  • Attention businesses: give away some of your new or best-selling products. Hosting giveaways for your own products are a great way to advertise on Instagram. It’s likely that your current followers are aware of your business, so why not give them a chance to win something?
  • Give away a sponsored product. It is very common for influencers to monetize their Instagram by obtaining sponsorships. If a company agrees to let you advertise their product in exchange for free products, consider asking if you could as a giveaway element into the sponsored post.
    • Tip: If you are hosting a sponsored contest, make sure the products are something that your followers would like!
    • Check out this article to learn more about sponsored posts on Instagram: #GetPaid How to Get Sponsors on Instagram

Giving away products from your business or sponsored products are of course not the only things you can give away. Be creative! Want to give away something just to say thank you to your followers? Go for it.

Step 2: Establishing a time period:

Before making your post, figure out how long you want the contest to run for. Don’t make the contest too short or else you will not get many entries. On the other hand, don’t make it too long either! A contest that runs for too long will likely be forgotten about by followers.

That being said, a period of time that is short enough for followers to feel a bit rushed but not too short of notice is idea. A time period of two weeks should be suffice. Having an Instagram contest last over a month is usually too long.

Step 3: Making the post

Instagram contest Example 01
Example of a recent Instagram contest hosted by @kathleenlights and @colourpopcosmetics

You’ve gotten through the hard part of figuring out what to give away and the time period. Time to plan the Instagram post!

The initial Instagram post is the central hub of where the contest takes place. All information will be listed here, and all entries should be made in the comments section.

Many influencers advertise their contest through Instagram photos and stories posts. The posts should include the following content:

  • Picture of what will be given away
  • Optional: the word ‘giveaway’ or ‘contest’ to catch people’s attention

The caption of that post should include all relevant information. It’s important to not leave out any info! To prevent making your followers confused, add this information to the caption:

  • What will be given away
  • How to enter
  • When the giveaway closes
  • When the winner will be announced
  • How the winner will be announced (via DM, etc.)
  • Optional: How to make additional entries

Once you’ve made the initial Instagram contest post, its time to watch all your entries come in!

Step 4: Sharing the contest

It’s not time to sit back yet! Sharing the contest can result in more entries. More entries will lead to more followers! Getting as may entries as you can is vital to a successful Instagram contest. Maximize your entries by following these tips:

  • Set reminders to your followers– Post reminders via Instagram stories about your contest. This way, users who didn’t see the initial post may see your story, thus making them go ahead and enter.
  • Use entry rules to your advantage- Every Instagram contest has tasks you must complete in order to enter. It’s not unusual to see one of the rules be “tag 3 friends in this post” or “post this picture to your story.” If you make this a required rule, you’ll potentially multiply the amount of entries!

During this time, keep track of your entries. Make sure that each person who enters leaves a comment on the initial Instagram post.

Step 5: Choosing a winner

Once you’ve made it to the end of the giveaway, it is time to choose a winner. If you stated that the winner will be chosen randomly, you’ll have to use a random name or number generator to pick the winner fair and square.

Check out sites like or Random Thing Picker to fairly pick your winner.

Instagram Contest Winner
Contacting Instagram Contest Winner

Step 6: Contacting the winner and sending the prize

The last step of how to host an Instagram contest is to contact the winner via Instagram Direct Message.

You should tell the winner to DM them their address. Once you get the address, ship the package as soon as possible.

Check out this article for a refresher on sending Instagram Direct Messages: A Guide to Getting the Most out of Instagram Direct Messaging

Optional: post the winner’s username to your Instagram story. That way, other people who entered will (sadly) realize they have  not won.

After you’ve completed this last step, congratulations! You’ve conducted your first successful Instagram contest.

Ready to host your first contest?

Now, you should be ready to host your first Instagram contest. Be creative with your prizes and have fun!

For other tips and tricks to make your Instagram as best as it can be, follow Upleap!

💡 Related Post: Everything you need to know about Instagram search


By Kim

My name is Kim Hanna. I am a college student at Monmouth University. Writing has always been a passion of mine. I like writing about current trends that have to do with social media and fashion.

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