An Instagram contest is an effective way to increase your brand awareness, the amount of followers as well as the engagement within your community. At the same time, such a contest enables you to receive User-generated Content which you can profit from afterwards through different marketing activities.

What kind of contest are there?
1. Like to Win:

Within this type, the Instagram users are asked to “like” a specific post. Afterwards, the winner is randomly chosen out of all the people who liked it.


Benefits: This kind of contest is easy to set up and does not ask for a large interaction from the participants. This way, you can expect lots of people to partake in this contest.

Disadvantages: The benefit of Like to Win is also the disadvantage. The user does not have to deal with the brand in detail, neither do they need to interact a lot. This results in a lot of people partaking in the contest who are not connected specifically to your brand or can be turned into potential customers.

2. Hashtag-Contest for User-Generated Content:

Be creative and develop your own campaign-specific hashtag according to an interesting topic and ask your community to post their own content using this hashtag. This way, you will receive a wide variety of diverse content which will simultaneously allow you to find out more about your customers and how they use your product.


Benefits: This kind of contest strengthens the emotional relationship with your brand. Furthermore, the branded hashtag generates unique User-generated Content that can be published within different marketing campaigns after asking for the license. Additionally, the implementation of a branded hashtag will improve the findability of your content which will eventually raise your brand presence.

Disadvantages: When it comes to this kind of contest, the barrier to be a part of it is quite high, as it requires a larger amount of engagement and interaction. Avoid asking for pictures that are too detailed and hashtags that are too long as those will only make the barrier even higher. Stick to short and memorable hashtags and provide your users with short and explicit requirements for the pictures.

3. E-Mail-Integration:

Within this kind of contest, users are asked to submit their e-Mail address in order to participate. An example of this kind of content would be to share one of their own pictures and submitting their e-mail address as a second step.


Benefits: This method enables you to grow your e-mail list while you also receive high quality User-generated Content that is related to your brand.

Disadvantages: To ask a user for his or her e-mail address can be a tough job because most of the users do appreciate the anonymity of social networks. Quite often, these kinds of contests are only successful when offering interesting rewards such as vacations or a sample of your products.

In general, one can say that companies can start whatever contest type they want. These three types are simply common contests you come across on social media. But it is quite possible that another kind of contest is even better and more interesting for your company. Do not limit your creativity and start developing your own contest ideas!

How to Start a Contest
#1 Planning

First, you should be thinking about the goals that your company is trying to reach with a contest. Write those down, this makes them more tangible. The more specific these goals are, the easier the analysis of your success will be afterwards. Do not bristle to set up some number values.

An example: You want to get 200 new User-generated pictures with the contest.

Of course, detailed research is a must-do while setting up your contest. Search for comparable campaigns of competitors and try to learn from their mistakes. Search for running contests on Instagram and get inspired!

#2 Target Group

The next step should be the definition of who you want to participate in your content. Do you want to get pictures of young fashion bloggers or of nutrition-focused fitness trendsetters? Your approach will change with the definition of a target group. Define your target group regarding demographic as well as psychographic attributes.

#3 Choose a Contest Type

Now you need to choose a specific contest type for your goals. If you want to start a quick and easy contest, the Like to Win type is probably the best. If you are more interested in pictures you should think about a Hashtag-Contest for User-Generated Content. If you need E-Mail addresses as well, the last contest type is probably the best.

#4 Topic

When it comes to a contest the topic is crucial. The more inspiring the topic, the higher the engagement within your community. Make sure to keep the topic simple enough to ensure that most users will be able to implement it. A creative new approach will only work as long as it allows the majority of your users to actually follow the approach.

#5 Contest Hashtag

A campaign hashtag or a branded hashtag is a common procedure on social networks. It needs to be memorable and should sum up the whole contest within one word. Do some research and find out more about the meanings of specific hashtags in a variety of languages and additionally ensure that you are the only company using it.

#6 Promotion

The success of your contest depends on the right promotion. The more people are addressed on different platforms, the higher the potential for interaction. Publicize your contest over social networks, within your blog, integrate it on your website or publish some online advertisements. Furthermore, you can integrate a QR-code in your print-ads or your newsletter. It does not matter how, but try to make as many as possible aware of your contest.

#7 Monitoring

When you start the contest, specific tools enable you to analyze your campaign in real time. You can analyze your latest data and redefine some aspects if necessary. Some possible tools are Google Analytics, Facebook Analytics or Twitter Analytics. Of course there are also third party companies that are specialized in the analysis of those contests. Inform yourself and decide which analyzing tool is the best for your company.

#8 Follow-up

Once your contest is finished and you have chosen a winner, the work is not finished. Re-use the contest to strengthen your community. Highlight your winner over your social networks and try to maintain a high level of engagement. An E-Mail to each participant is another option to build a personal connection between brand and consumer.

#9 Repeat

Start contests on a regular basis and get your community accustomed to interaction and engagement. Doing this, will allow your company or brand maintain a long-term presence for your consumers and will strengthen your brand image.