How to Run a Perfect Instagram Contest: A 10-Step Guide (2/3)

Last Updated on November 7th, 2019 at 10:47 am

a perfect Instagram contest

Continue with some next steps to run a perfect Instagram contest…

4) Clearly define a theme.

Because a perfect Instagram contest is UGC-based, it’s vital to select a theme so your users know what types of images and videos to post.

Ideally, you wish to pick a theme that aligns with your market, product, or services. However, you could also benefit from holidays, seasons, and events that align with your product or brand.

An example of an effective theme:

Last summer, D Magazine, a city and lifestyle magazine based in Dallas, used the Texas summer heat to make an effective #StayCoolDallas contest. The contest encouraged participants to submit images of ways to stay cool in the Dallas heat. Submissions included everything from cold drinks at favorite bars and restaurants to fun summer activities.

Perfect Instagram Contest

This contest and hashtag worked particularly well due to the double which means of the word “cool” — which ultimately left room for participants to get creative with their interpretations. It is a great example of how to make engagement super simple.

While the hashtag was not totally brand-specific, the theme was very much in line with their brand and passion for all things Dallas. And as a result of the contest, they were left with lots of new material to get ideas for their next issue.


5) Decide how winners will be chosen.

Part of a well-designed contest is informing your participants of how the winner will be selected. Most contests are determined based on one of two methods: a vote or a jury. Let’s discover how each option works …


An effective way to boost the virality of your contest is to have participants compete for the most Likes. If the prize is valuable enough, your participants will likely share their posts with their friends across channels in order to get as many Likes as possible.

This technique helps maximize your audience’s reach. At the same time, it could be detrimental to your contest, as you run into issues with folks utilizing “Like bots” to achieve artificial Likes. To keep away from any complications here, you will want to put forth very particular rules that address using these kinds of workarounds.


For the sake of quality and overall fairness, the jury method is the clear winner. With the jury technique, you choose a group of experts to decide upon a winner, rather than relying on a voting system.

There are pros and cons to votes or juries, however, no matter the way you select, be sure to clearly state your method so your users know what they are vying for. Many brands select to have a mixed-method strategy and use a mix of voting and jury to determine the winner.

6) Select an appropriate award.

When figuring out what the award for you contest needs to be, you should consider your target audience, your budgetary constraints, and how aggressive your goals are.

Keep in mind that by asking your audience to participate in the contest, you are asking them to take action on something. As with any effort like this, you will need the value of the prize to outweigh the fee and energy required to enter the contest. While people may gloss over a chance to win a free t-shirt, it is likely that they’d be willing to jump through a few hoops for something like a free trip.

While your prize needs to match the entry action, it should also align with the interests of your target audience. Ask yourself: What may my target audience like to have? Your list of answers for this — budget not considered — may be large. Sure, everybody desires that free trip we mentioned earlier, however, that is not the point. The purpose is to find a prize that is both valuable and relevant to your brand.

Gift cards, free services, coupons, giveaways, and product goodie bags are all common prizes that brands use for contests, however, we are always in favor of getting creative, too.

Example of a creative contest prize:

One of our favorite examples of contest prizes was Sperry’s Photo Real Design Contest. Sperry inspired users to publish “epic images” that represented an “odyssey.”

Participants then submitted images of all types of things — nature shots, colorful art, real people, and many others. — to be judged based on creativity and the number of Likes it got.

Perfect Instagram Contest

The winner that was selected received a unique pair of Sperry shoes that includes their picture. Talk about a creative prize, right? Not to mention, it served as a great instance of how brands could use contests to inspire real product ideas.

7) Create terms & conditions.

Remember that once you create a competition with a prize, you should follow legal guidelines. The laws that may apply to you rely upon where you are based and who you permit to enter your contest, so you need to consult your lawyer for help drafting your terms and conditions. Making a terms & conditions page is a must.

Here are some common terms people include:

  • The name and contact details of the promoting brand
  • The dates of the contest
  • The rules of who could enter (such as age and employee restrictions)
  • The rules for how people enter
  • The rules for how a winner is chosen
  • The date and method winners will be introduced
  • The date and method the winner will be informed
  • The time period the winner has to reply and claim their prize
  • The specific of the prize (including a number of prizes, description of prizes, and any caveats)
  • The details of how the prize will be delivered
  • Acknowledge that the promotion isn’t sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or related to Instagram or any other social media used throughout the contest.

Note: Try Instagram’s Promotion guidelines and ensure to comply with their rules before running a perfect Instagram contest.

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