How to run a contest on Instagram

Instagram is a fun photo app for android and iphones, and it’s not just for taking sweet shots of your family or sharing what you ate.

Instagram can be a great outlet to create even more of a community with your readers, clients and potential customers.

One way to really grow your community on Instagram is to run a contest or giveaway. The big boys such as National Geographic, Surf Magazine and Bliss have all ran an Instagram contest.  So why not you!

Here’s the skinny on how to throw a contest on Instagram

1. Get yourself an Instagram account. (hopefully you are already on there, if not, get the app and have fun!)

2. Load some pics in your account. If this is a company account, take fun photos of where you work, the weather outside, yes, even what you ate. Give your company a personality.

TIP! Don’t go all marketing on Instagram. People want visuals that evoke feeling, not a billboard. This doesn’t mean you can’t share a cool shot of your latest gadget you’ve created or book you’ve written, but do it in a fun artsy “let-them-see-your-personality” kind of way. (if you have questions about this, leave a comment and we can give you the yay or nay on what to share on Instagram)

3. Figure out what you are giving away. For example, if you are on etsy, giveaway a product of yours. Are you a Realtor? Giveaway a Starbucks card or gift card to a local restaurant. Do you create info products? Give one away.

4. Announce your contest. Write a blog post announcing your contest. Share your post on Twitter, on your Facebook Page and email your subscribers to announce the contest. In the blog post make sure you cover the following:

  • How they enter. We suggest making the following mandatory…
  • They must follow you on Instagram
  • They must upload a photo (choose a theme – this could be a color, an emotion they need to capture, a sunset, you name it)
  • They must use your hashtag when they post their photo
  • Dates the contest will run
  • How you will choose the winner
  • Rules and terms (for example, photo must be an original photo, they can only enter once, they must be located in {enter city, country, etc}”)

Don’t get all crazy with it and keep it simple.

TIP! What’s a hashtag? It’s a word or phrase that you choose preceded by the pound sign. This could be your company name, for example #tadahsocialmedia or #tadah. Hashtags make it easy to find all the photos that are being uploaded using the search function on IG (that’s Instagram for short).

5. Interact with your new followers. Once you’ve announced the contest and people start to post, search Instagram for your chosen hashtag. Then you can like and comment on the photos that have been entered into your contest.

After the contest ends

Once the contest has ended, announce the winner and their photo on your site, in a blog post and share it on Twitter and Facebook. You can even share a fun photo that reads “we have a winner” on Instagram with a link to your blogpost as the description.

To let the winner know that they won, write them a message on their Instagram.  (i.e. comment on one of their photos, they can see messages in their IG news feed).

Send out the prize and ta-dah!, you have just run your first ever IG contest!

Have questions? Are you going to run a contest? Let us know in the comment below!

Sign up for quick & smart social media tips from Tadah

Join us to receive free and fresh content delivered each time we publish.

Your privacy and email address are safe with us!


  1. Fab idea! Thank you for the tips!

  2. This would be a great idea for a restaurant! Thanks Sarah

  3. I noticed that Salesforce is running an Instagram contest related to its Dreamforce event. I’ll be curious to see the results.

  4. Johanna says:

    How do you share a contestant’s photo on your blog or Facebook page??

  5. Fabulous idea! But after announcing to the IG user through comments, etc. How do we ensure it is the winner who collect the prize and not someone who pretends to be the winner? How do we verify?

    • SarahB says:

      Hi Eddy, great question! Most times I trust people but you could aways take the conversation to email and then have them upload something you tell them to, just to be safe.

  6. Hi there!

    How do you “randomly” select a winner from all the hashtags?

  7. I am not positive where you are getting your information, but good topic.
    I needs to spend some time studying much more
    or understanding more. Thank you for fantastic information I was in search of this info for my mission.

  8. How do we send out the things?

  9. Hello there, I thinbk your website could be having browser compatibility
    problems. When I take a look at your website in Safari, it looks fine
    however when opening in IE, it has some overlapping issues.
    I merely wanted to give you a quick heads up! Other than that, fantastic

  10. What’s Happening i’m new to this, I stumbled upon this I have discovered It positively helpful and it has helped me
    out loads. I’m hoping to contribute & assist other
    users like its helped me. Good job.


  1. [...] has talked about how to throw a contest on Instagram, the smart phone app that is increasing in users and popularity on a daily basis. But what about [...]

  2. [...] great to use before uploading a pic to Instagram (say to announce some business news or an Instagram contest that you are running) or to create a banner for your blog posts. Phonto has a ton of fonts to choose from and allows you [...]

Speak Your Mind


More in Apps, Blog, Social Media tools (48 of 68 articles)