How To Run an Effective Competition on Instagram

How To Run an Effective Competition on Instagram

Facebook’s big acquisition, Instagram, is growing in leaps and bounds. Even though there was a little hiccup regarding their terms and services recently, the photo based social network boasts over 90 million active users.

The reason for Instagram’s success is quite simple. It’s visual. Not much text to read and it is easy to scroll through your feed and get your fix for the day. It’s extremely easy to skim through all the content and all it takes is a double tap to like a picture, as opposed for searching for a little button.

Knowing how to run an effective competition on Instagram can be valuable if done correctly, by increasing a brand’s visibility.

Get Started

Firstly, companies should look at getting started on Instagram some time before the competition gets started. This will get the brand’s audience aware of their account and by posting regularly, it will also familiarise them with the platform.

Be Social

Sharing enticing photos is half the work done, but getting them seen is another. By sharing their competition to relevant social networks, like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and even their blog, brands can create more awareness. Instagram also allows users to share to Twitter, Facebook, Facebook Pages, Tumblr, Foursquare and Email.

Integrate Instagram With Your WordPress Blog

There are plugins available for WordPress that allow for Instagram integration, whether in blog posts or in the sidebar. These plugins are easy to configure and can also be set up to only feature photos that have a specific hashtag.

Be Patient

Let the contest run for an extended duration. This allows for contestants to prepare themselves for the competition and submit their photos.

#Hashtag It

Creating a unique hashtag for a competition allows for it to be searched for on Instagram. This will allow contestants to see the other work that has been submitted and create more interest. Make sure that the hashtag isn’t being used by doing a quick hashtag search on Instasgram.

Feature The Contestants

The contestants are what make the contest. Feature the best picture submitted the previous day. This adds to further motivation to enter, as features often bring more likes, comments and followers for the featured contestant, and further exposure for the contest.

Be Specific

Setting rules can be helpful as it can get contestants to create awareness. I’ve noticed that by instructing contestants to use the contest’s hashtag, challenging three friends to take part and directing them to the brand’s Instagram profile, the brand gets more followers, which in turn creates more awareness for the brand.

Give Away Awesome Prizes

Everyone loves winning something. The more awesome it is, the more popular the contest will be, resulting in greater participation. Remember that awesome does not necessarily have to mean expensive.

Knowing how to run an effective competition on Instagram can be a great benefit to brands, and with every new contest come new challenges. The points that have been discussed are a great framework to get started.



  1. ChrisM

    March 7, 2013 at 7:53 pm - Reply

    Great post Alessio, I think there is so much potential here. Facebook, Twitter and a few of the other big social network type sites have been hugely exploited already and the room to run a competition and get a good return is becoming incredibly difficult. Do you have any examples of competitions that have been run on Instagram that have done well?

    1. alessiolr

      March 8, 2013 at 10:32 am - Reply

      Thanks, Chris.

      Instagram’s growth is crazy. I think that the simple UI is definitely a factor.

      There are a couple of competitions that individuals run to get more followers, with nothing more on offer than a feature on the given account or a $10 iTunes card. I’d have to say that @mattscutt has run a few of these contests successfully.

      More on the corporate front, Ford ran a very successful contest in the States in 2010 (, with a local version that took place last year.

      The Nike/Jordan brand also ran a successful conest in the build up to the London Olympics last year ( The brand claims that this was their most successful digital campaign to date.

  2. jamesm

    March 8, 2013 at 11:59 am - Reply

    I love how all these new tools are being created that help general marketing teams. It is all so simple, but it all depends on how you actually run the competition/campaign. It no longer takes a massive budget to build brands. #winning

    1. ChrisM

      March 10, 2013 at 8:26 pm - Reply

      I think another one to watch is Vine – slow uptake, but I reckon it’ll get more popular with time. Social Media Examiner published a post the other day on how businesses are using it:

      I look forward to see what the next big thing is though!

  3. alessiolr

    March 11, 2013 at 8:03 pm - Reply

    @ChrisM, I’m going to have to disagree with you on that one. I think Vine is a great social network, and like you mentioned, the uptake is a little slow. My main concern, at least from a local viewpoint, is that load times and buffering are holding Vine back. I hardly ever open the app because it just takes too long for a video loop to load. Maybe when LTE is properly functional and more widespread, it could catch on a little faster, but at the moment, I don’t think it’s ready. Locally at least.

    1. ChrisM

      March 12, 2013 at 11:29 pm - Reply

      @alessiolr Wait a minute, which part are you disagreeing with? 😉

      In terms of its uptake here, agreed, it’s going to be even slower because of bandwidth and such, but as you rightfully said, LTE will enable this sort of video interaction far more. I was at the V&A Waterfront the other day when I latched onto LTE and the speeds were absolutely incredible!

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