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How to Advertise and Promote Your Instagram Giveaway

Posted by on May 4th, 2018

A lot of work goes into planning a giveaway on Instagram. Whether you’re doing a sweepstakes, a contest, a giveaway, or even just a coupon offer, you have to think pretty hard about your audience, your rules, and your promotion.

How will people participate in the contest? Instagram doesn’t have integration with Gleam or the other typical contest apps, so you need to do something like create a unique giveaway hashtag for people to use when they submit content, or just a specific post for people to comment on.

What kinds of prizes will you offer? A good Instagram contest needs a good prize, particularly if you’re asking people to go out and take a specific kind of picture to enter. The better the prize, the more entries you’ll get, and the more time you’ll have to spend judging them. You also need to make sure the prize for your giveaway is relevant to your brand, if you want that contest to grow your account. As we mentioned with Twitter contests, if you’re just giving away a laptop, you’ll get a ton of people entering just to get a laptop, and who won’t care about your brand for a second longer than the end of the contest.

Do you want to work with a sponsor? If you’re in an influential position, you can work with a sponsor to run your giveaway. A company can provide their product as the prize, in exchange for the leads they get when you send people towards the contest page to register. On the other hand, that provides a lot of value to someone else, so what are you getting out of it?

Of course, all of this is about setting up and running an Instagram giveaway. What I’m more concerned about today is with promoting such a giveaway.

Pick the Right Type of Giveaway

There are a bunch of different kinds of giveaway formats you can use; pick the one that’s most likely to work for your brand and your goals.

  • Like to Win: The user must like the contest photo post in order to be entered to win the prize.
  • Tag a Friend: The user must leave a comment on the photo post tagging a friend in order to enter themselves to win the prize. It’s up to you whether to award the prize just to someone who commented, to anyone who commented or was tagged, or to both the user and their friend.
  • User Content: The user must submit a photo of their own using your contest theme, with the contest hashtag, so you can browse all entries in that hashtag feed. You can feature user content each day if you wish.
  • Repost: The user must repost your contest photo using your contest tag, whereupon you can pick a winner. Be careful with this one; it can result in scam-looking spam in some cases.

Pick your format according to the kind of engagement and benefit you want. Certain types are better for post engagement than others, and some are better for follows and new users than others.

Instagram Promotion Guidelines

Instagram – and all social networks, for that matter – has a specific page with rules regarding running any kind of promotion on their site. If you don’t follow the rules, Instagram might delete your contest posts, or they could even suspend your account for egregious violations. The rules are generally meant to prevent exploitative contests that encourage detrimental behavior and spam, but there are other rules as well.

Promotion Guidelines Example1: You are responsible for following any applicable laws. You need to have a public set of terms and rules for the contest, so that you can be held accountable for your selection of a winner and fulfillment of the prize. You need to have publicly visible age and residency restrictions if there are any; you can’t just let a bunch of Europeans enter an America-Only contest, even if it would be nice to have the engagement. You also need to make sure you don’t violate laws against lotteries and local contest regulations, including seeking approval if necessary.

2: You cannot misuse tagging of images, or encourage misuse of the tag system. If you’re not in an image, don’t tag yourself, and don’t encourage users to tag themselves in images they are not in.

3: You must declare a complete release of Instagram by each participant, and you must acknowledge that your promotion is in no way endorsed by, sponsored by, or administered by Instagram themselves. Your contest has no association with Instagram beyond being hosted on the platform.

4: Related to the above, Instagram will in no way help administer or promote your giveaway. They will not advise you on whether or not your contest is following the rules; they will merely take action if it is not. It’s not their job to make sure you’re complying with the law.

You can read the guidelines here, and I encourage you to do so. It’s always possible that Instagram has changed their promotion guidelines since the last time I updated this post. Always double-check that you have the most recent information when you’re starting any project.

Techniques to Promote an Instagram Giveaway

There are a lot of different ways you can promote a giveaway on Instagram. I’ll give you a rundown of various techniques I’ve seen or used to great effect in the past.

First of all, consider working with a sponsor. A sponsor can help by advertising your giveaway with their audience. A sponsorship or a partnership with another brand can pool your audiences and your marketing techniques to reach more people than merely the sum of your parts. A complementary influencer, influential members of your target audience, or even just people willing to donate a prize can all be of great help. Of course, you need to find people willing to work with you. Apple or Microsoft are unlikely to just work with some small Instagram influencer; they don’t benefit from it. You also need to make sure you’re willing to work with them; you don’t want to try to partner with your competition for a contest.

Contest Sponsored By

You need to make sure that you’re announcing your contest at least once per day as long as you’re running it. Generally, you’re going to want one specific “hub” post, which has an image relevant to the giveaway, including links to any relevant information, instructions on how to enter the giveaway, and details about the prize. This is where you need your links to your terms of service and any other external pages that are required in your area.

Each day, you should make a new post – not a reposted version of the contest post – that reminds people that the contest is still ongoing. Make sure people know how to submit their entry to the giveaway; if they need to comment on the original post, make sure they know that instead of commenting on the new post.

Make sure to post with more urgency on the days leading up to the end of the giveaway. When time is short, press with urgency, so people will realize they’re running out of time and will make sure to get their submissions in. Do everything in your power to make sure as few people as possible miss the deadline due to not knowing about it.

Include the main link to the contest – either the Instagram post or a link to a website post – as your Instagram profile link. You can change this link when the giveaway is done, but as long as it’s running, a good link can go a long way towards getting more interest. My favorite technique is to use a custom shortlink in this space, something like www.brandlink.com/EnterNow. The URL can be a call to action on its own.

You can also consider editing your profile information to point out the fact that you have a contest, as an additional call to action. As with the link, make sure you edit it back when the giveaway is over, so you don’t get people thinking they can still enter after the deadline has passed.

Make use of your other media channels to promote your Instagram giveaway. You can cross-post your Instagram posts directly to Twitter and Facebook with built-in integration, or you can make unique posts on those sites. Any other social network you’re using can have promotions as well. Just make sure that your users know it’s an Instagram giveaway, so that they go to Instagram to enter rather than just trying to enter on Facebook or Twitter. That is, unless you want to use a cross-site promotional tool like Gleam, which can encourage visits to all of your social profiles in exchange for further entries into the giveaway.

Cross Promoting on Social Media

Don’t forget to use non-social media channels as well. Blog posts, complete with embedded copies of the Instagram post, can work well for capturing parts of your audience who don’t normally follow you on Instagram.

While Gleam can go a long way towards promoting a giveaway, remember that they often only have a “visit this profile” integration. If you want specific Instagram actions, like sharing a post, commenting on a post, or using a specific hashtag in user-uploaded posts, make sure that’s part of the entry requirement. Whenever you can make a mechanic of the giveaway do double duty as promotion, do so.

For example, you might create a dedicated hashtag for your giveaway, and encourage users to use it. You’ll get plenty of posts that just include that one hashtag, but the more savvy Instagram users will use several different hashtags, which can get further exposure. You also want to use many different hashtags to get as much exposure as possible.

In the usual hashtag categories, you’re going to want to minimize your use of branded tags to just one or two. Use your giveaway hashtag, and fill the rest of the space with relevant niche hashtags. Geographic hashtags are ideal when you can use them, but don’t just use geographic tags that aren’t relevant to the contest. Otherwise, use broad-use tags that can get a lot of exposure, and even contest-related hashtags that can get interest from people who just use Instagram for the contests.

Branded Hashtag Example

If you’re hosting an Instagram giveaway that encourages users to submit their own images, you can use the opportunity to share user entries throughout the day. This can serve double duty; you can use those posts as a way to promote your contest, and you can make those users feel more likely to share the contest because they were featured. If you like, you can also have minor sub-prizes for each user whose content you choose to feature, to add additional value – and make more people want to submit.

If you have the budget to spare and you think you can get a decent amount of engagement and new followers from your giveaway, it can be worthwhile to actually pay for some advertising for the giveaway itself. Make the primary contest post into a promoted post and pay for additional visibility throughout the time between announcement and deadline. As long as you target your advertising appropriately, it won’t cost too much, and you can get a lot of additional interest for that minimal investment.

Do everything you can to encourage users to follow and engage with your brand. You can’t make “follow this account” the entry method, of course; then existing users won’t be able to enter. On the other hand, you can make “must follow this account” one of the requirements for an entry to be valid.

If you want to see what a good contest looks like in action, Wishpond wrote a great critique of several different Instagram giveaways over here. They have some great advice to help you run one of your own.

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