Instagram Giveaway: Marketers’ Nuclear Weapon to Brand Awareness
The concept of an Instagram giveaway is fairly recent, but the concept of social media is not exactly new.
Facebook was launched in 2004 and had something that other social networks didn’t have at that time: transparency.
It was-still is-against Facebook’s policy to create a profile using aliases or personas (not that it was impossible, of course).
But the logic behind that, was the creation of original bonds between people, of an actual peer-to-peer network with people on both ends of sending and receiving, instead of computers.
Of course, in order to remain relevant, Facebook never shied away from changes, even when these changes didn’t need to be done-ie changing the (infamous) Facebook wall to Facebook feed.
But even with those risky moves, Facebook’s dominance was still threatened.
If you do not like History Lessons click here to skip to the Instagram Giveaway section!
The birth of Instagram
I remember having explained what Instagram was to my mother, somewhere around 2013: “It’s a platform for people to upload pictures of their food and think they’re photographers” #fail right?
Back then, Facebook was all the rage and I wasn’t a fan of change or food photography-but change can sneak up on you.
And boy did it sneak up on me, now I can’t get over how pretty the Dogpatch filter makes my photos look! But how did we get to this?
Instagram is a social networking app that was created in 2010. Its creators had one thing in mind: to allow the users to share creative imagery.
In its essence, Instagram is a photo and video sharing social app, in which Facebook saw huge potential and went ahead and bought it in 2012 for 1 billion dollars-only a fraction of what the app would be worth today-making one of the riskiest-but at the same time, most rewarding-investments in the history of social media.
But what is it that makes Instagram so popular?
Well, this would be a tough question to answer. Instagram is the only app I use-and I mean the only app that works better than the corresponding website.
Which means it’s designed (and not simply optimized) for mobile.
Therefore a huge #win!
Also, it hopped on and took over the photo and video sharing bandwagon so quickly and successfully, that it will simply remain relevant.
Of course, this doesn’t mean the app ever rests, what with new features coming every so often, some good (looking at you, Instagram TV!) and some very, very bad (being unable to see who viewed my story after 24 hours? How is that a good idea?)
All in all, the mindset that put Instagram on the map and managed to earn the app one billion users as of June 2018 was the fact that everyone hides an artist inside.
The graph below explains things in more detail:
So, it’s safe to say that the creators’ vision of all people expressing their visual creativity was more than successful. So much so, that it created a whole new marketing philosophy.
Instagram as a marketing tool is all about interaction
The marketing logic nowadays is people selling to people/buying from people/offering services to people-see how many times I said “people”?
H2H is all the rage now, and don’t think that social media had nothing to do with it!
Just sit back and think of this: as an Instagram user, how many stories, IGTV videos, and posts do you interact with, each day?
Now how many of these stories and posts are from friends, family or people you know?
How many of these are the posts that come from brands or brand ambassadors/influencers and what is the product in question?
Are the brands you’re interacting with, fun and exciting? And if so, in what ways?
Are they taking advantage of current trends to remain relevant and stand out, like many did during the #10yearchallenge?
How many times have you interacted with a product you didn’t think you’d like, just because the aesthetics of said product were simply too good to pass up?
And how many times were you intrigued and lured into buying, only because something you’re already a fan of was behind that product?
Yes, I am looking at you and your collaboration with Game of Thrones, Urban Decay Cosmetics! And of course, I openly blame you for making me consider buying a highlighter that I wouldn’t ever use.
These are cases of fantastic Instagram marketing!
I am also looking at you, Too Faced Cosmetics for making me interact with your stories and engaging me to the point where I now have to check out what shades of lipsticks I have and decide whether I really need these:
I won’t even pretend to think about it, I do need these, it’s fate.
These two examples are basically two great ways to “trick” users into interacting with each brand.
But interaction goes a long way, with user-generated content, influencers and brand ambassadors and one of the most beloved marketing techniques that have been a game-changer.
The Instagram Giveaway!
Of course, contests have been a staple in every buyer’s life since the beginning of time and business.
But still, an Instagram giveaway, much like Instagram marketing itself, brought new elements to the table.
In the old days, people had to enter their data into a form (in the days of yore, it was a written form) and hit “send” (or go to the post office), then wait for the winner to be announced…
In 2019 though… Let me express my feelings about these long-lost practices with some visual aid:
An Instagram giveaway is a fairly simple concept: the business/influencer/account owner/whathaveyou decides on the specifics (keep reading to find out what these are), a CTA is created and then, the giveaway goes live.
The free prize is enticing and the people are asked to perform, more often than not, a very simple task: tag, like, follow and sometimes share.
No muss, no fuss, no long forms to submit and huge benefits to the company itself, as an Instagram giveaway serves for social proof amongst other things: the brand cares enough for the followers to give out prizes and the more the people that enter, the higher the chances of the product being useful and of value.
And when we say social proof, we mean the important kind of social proof that will get your brand going, seeing as social media is really important in the decision-making process:
“What other benefits are there, though?”, I hear you ask. Well, an Instagram giveaway, as we said, creates engagement.
Engagement creates buzz.
Buzz and Instagram’s algorithm are two peas in a pod.
See where I’m going with this?
High engagement rates makes Instagram “think” that your content is of value.
Which means that it will want the users to know about it. Which means that it will show the content to more of your followers and, potentially, help it end up on the “Explore” page.
And the “Explore” page will definitely get you more exposure, which will get you more followers.
But I mentioned something earlier: The specifics. So let’s go check them out, shall we?
How to do a giveaway on Instagram – Instagram giveaway 101
I think that by now, you’re convinced that you need to go through with a giveaway. So, let’s discuss a thing or two about the hows and whys.
We said that an Instagram giveaway is a simple concept. But if you think that not a lot goes in its planning, then…
So, without further ado, let’s go!
Take your time to study the competition
Even though we think that all brands run giveaways, there is a lot of space for marketers to evolve and create something original and fun. So, don’t sit around and wait to come up with an idea.
Check what your competitors have been up to.
Maybe they haven’t run an Instagram giveaway yet-even better for you.
But if they have, just go ahead, check them out anyway and come up with something more fabulous to get back the spotlight!
(See how I didn’t say steal? You don’t steal something that’s yours, to begin with, and this is the attitude of a winner, my friend!)
Explore the hashtags used by contests that are similar to what you’ve imagined as a concept or similar to your account, product and aesthetic-wise.
See what prize your competition has decided to give and give something better.
Are free samples their thing? Well, try and tackle that by giving a full-sized product.
And here’s a tip: Since more expensive prizes create more engagement, why not give away something that wouldn’t be too affordable otherwise?
For example, if you’re a hotel brand and everyone’s giving away free stays in a plain room that fits the guests, give away a free stay in the honeymoon suite just because!
You can also use a Social Media contest tool that will help you streamline all the above.
Make sure that what you’ve come up with, complies with the Instagram giveaway guidelines
Instagram’s guidelines on sweepstakes and contests are quite strict and, frankly, quite clear.
Apart from your contest following the laws and regulations of your location (well, duh!), there are some other things to keep in mind as well:
- Instagram giveaway rules and regulations are important and should be right there where anyone could see them. Make sure to be strict about following said rules, by pointing out that unqualified entries will be eliminated. Oh, and don’t forget the deadline!
- Be careful with tagging. You can ask people to tag themselves or your brand in their own photo, but you can’t ask them to go around and tag everything and anything. Instagram won’t like that.
- Instagram is not a part of your contest in any way. And you should have a disclaimer that makes this crystal clear.
- Also, Instagram won’t offer you any help whatsoever with the contest. You’ll need to figure out how to plan it yourself, but you’ll also need to tackle any issues-legal or otherwise-that may arise.
Here’s the full list, in case you have more questions:
So, your business should follow these no matter what, really. Otherwise, no Instagram giveaway for you.
And here’s a little something on GDPR for further reading. Just in case you have any questions on that as well.
Know your brand
Take your time to really look into this.
- What is it that you’re offering?
- Why would your audience and people looking for the hashtags you use as the prize?
- At what point in the year would your product be most useful?
Makeup brands go crazy during Valentine’s and Christmas, but not the same can be said for sunscreen brands.
So, make sure that your Instagram giveaway actually fits with your brand and your aesthetics. No user likes content that is messy and inconsistent.
A brand like Chanel won’t bother with anything less than classic and, of course, classy.
Vibrant, but not too vibrant colors, a bio that goes straight to the point and a voice that straight up screams “class”.
The exact opposite would be Benefit cosmetics:
Vibrant pastels, neons, emojis in their bio, this is a youthful, contemporary brand that sets trends.
Know your audience
Try and check out their behavior and how they interact with your brand. What do they like? When do they interact more? What do they interact more with?
Also, keep their ages in mind and how different ages use different products, especially if your brand’s age spectrum is broad.
Know your goals
Why did you think an Instagram giveaway would be a good idea? What are you aiming to do?
Is it followers that you’re after? If so, you can showcase the value of your brand instead of that of the prize alone.
Is it brand awareness? Try and create more buzz.
Is it sales? Offer the winner(s) a coupon or a discount code.
Keep your goals in mind when going through your data, and go through your data to determine your exact goals but keep something in mind.
Focus on one goal but don’t think that you shouldn’t try and hit three birds (the aforementioned ones) with one stone.
Know your hashtags
It’s easy to fall into the trap of too many hashtags, which looks a bit tacky in my not-so-humble opinion. Go for quality and not quantity.
Tarte Cosmetics is one gem of a makeup brand and they know their business pretty well. Look at the hashtags they’ve used.
Yes, #giveaway is to be expected, but the other two are the two hashtags that are consistent with their brand.
Important: They are consistent but not constantly used. Try and avoid repeating the same hashtag over and over again and maybe try and “hide” some hashtags in your comments.
This helps attract the right crowd that won’t engage just for the competition, but will be able to be led further down the funnel.
Don’t forget that it’s easy to just follow a hashtag. In order for your brand to stand out and earn more followers, you’ll need to think outside the box.
Let the games begin!
I think the research you need to do beforehand is perfectly clear now, what with the instructions and all (if not, tell us in the comments please!).
So, now you’re all set and ready to decide on which idea of yours is the million dollar-or followers, up to you-idea!
So, you’ve got your simple contests, your more complicated contests, contests that work kind of like easter-eggs… Oh, what? You thought there’s only one type of Instagram giveaway?
Well, my friend… Here’s how to do a giveaway on Instagram. Just check out our list of ideas!
The #plainjane one
It’s nothing too fancy, just the type of giveaway we see out and about every day: the user is asked to like the picture, follow the account or accounts linked to the Instagram giveaway and maybe tag one or two people, for bigger outreach.
Kind of like this:
Simple, effective, but with one significant flaw: tagging people could potentially drive “spammy” traffic. There is no reason to have ten thousand followers if only two hundred are going to engage with your posts.
The #plainjaning strategy is not just likes and tags though.
It could be a comment with a hashtag, instead of tagging a friend. In the aforementioned example, it could be a comment with what the follower’s favorite breakfast is, followed by a specific tag set by the brand.
The #influencer input
You’re not above that one, no brand is. Ever. And there’s a reason behind that.
Influencers serve as social proof that your product and your brand are useful for people like your buyers (see what I did there?).
And this is the reason why you should know your audience first, before deciding on anything.
Case in point:
This post wouldn’t have worked for someone like me, as I don’t do #cooking, so I’m not the brands’ Neo.
And while I am sure I am a good fit age and budget-wise, the things I find interesting in this post are the colors and the copy.
The copy calls people to enter, sure, the CTA is clear BUT there is a bonus.
The influencer asks her followers to engage differently by asking what is their favorite jam (hit song, for those who have no idea).
So, even if someone isn’t particularly interested in your brand’s Instagram giveaway, you can work around that by asking something that will entice people to answer, no matter their preferences.
Because engagement is the name of the game. Here is a great guide to
The three words you need: Instagram #loopgiveaway
Don’t worry if these words sound unfamiliar, I’ve got your back! Terminology aside, it’s one of the most common types of Instagram giveaway.
They include up to fifty (sometimes even more) accounts that partner up and host a competition.
The main requirement is following all of the accounts that participate, like the picture(s) and then the user is all set and ready to claim their prize.
This creates a loop (hence the name) and helps with the Instagram algorithm, as it creates engagement.
And if the brand is fairly new, it helps with it gaining more popularity, as it’s allowed to ride the fame bike with the “big boys”.
Of course, an Instagram giveaway like that one needs a lot of planning beforehand.
As with everything, the result has to be homogenous and the brand voice needs to be consistent.
This means that you’ll need to find accounts that will be willing to participate and have similar aesthetics as your own, get in touch with each other, negotiate and decide on a prize.
Pro tip: Decide on a gift bundle that will include products from all those brands, in order to turn followers to potential buyers and lead them further down the funnel.
This image shows an example of what I just mentioned, with a little twist: In order to follow the rest of the accounts, you need to tap on the image and follow the loop.
Therefore, this giveaway comes with a fun Easter egg hunt.
Now take a look at what their gift bundle consists of:
All brands have to do with children’s products and activities, which creates a fantastic bundle that covers both basic needs-ie meals-and fun activities.
That way, each prize complements the next, creating a need for more.
The #ugc one
What is #ugc, you ask? Oh, it’s user-generated content and it can take many forms.
And help your Instagram giveaway skyrocket!
Basically, user-generated content is content created by the followers or people who interact with your brand.
The content can be anything, which is why user-generated content has a wide variety:
Anything posted on social media that shows interaction with your brand falls under this category.
Now let me show you.
The brand Frank Body might as well be the king of word-of-mouth and user-generated content, with Frank-their main persona-encouraging everyone to post about them, creating a tribe called “Frank babes”.
Frank is relatable. A little cheeky. And boy oh boy does he love his followers! So much so, that he uses his bio to encourage them to tag him in their posts. Check it for yourself:
I really don’t need another exhibit, I think you get the gist.
Now imagine taking this kind of engagement and using it in your favor in a contest. I can hear Instagram’s algorithm clapping in enthusiasm! So, let’s discuss the hows and whys.
Why do you need it?
The answer is more than obvious: People trust people and not brands. Don’t believe me? Well, you should believe the statistics, then.
User-generated content is 35% more memorable and 50% more trusted than traditional media in general, when it comes to millennials. And millennials comprise the majority of the buyers’ population today.
Also, it’s a great way to make the followers feel important to the brand, as user-generated content makes the community the center of attention, brings people with one common key interest closer to their peers and allows them to talk about themselves in a way that is commonly acceptable.
By asking users to create content for you, you essentially gain their trust. It’s a no-brainer, really. Followers are asked to help your brand out, boosting brand awareness and, in some cases, serving as social proof. What could be better?
Oh, yeah. The huge engagement and the zero cost (money and time-wise) that goes with it!
How can you do it?
First of all, you’ll need to decide on the theme. Is it a #valentinesday contest? Or maybe a #halloween one? Or is it run just because?
Once you decide the theme, it’s time for the prize. What is it that you’re giving out? Is it worth the effort of someone actually creating content for you?
If, for example, your prize is a sample-sized product, then better go for something simpler. The bigger the prize, the more intricate the set-up.
And now, for the tricky part: your Instagram giveaway will need a unique hashtag. Dunkin’ Donuts, for example, ran a Halloween-themed contest in October:
Simple, minimal copy, clear instructions and #DunkinDressupContest was good to go!
And look at some of the entries, the brand couldn’t have come up with content of such high quality, all on its own!
You could always ask your followers to post their creations in their stories, tag your account and use the contest’s unique hashtag, seeing as stories seem to have even more engagement than plain old posts.
And now for some #more_instagram_giveaway_ideas
We’re not done yet! There are some more Instagram giveaway ideas you can incorporate to your giveaway-or your strategy altogether!
You can redirect your users to your landing page with a clever CTA, seeing as a competition is not something that will work forever, but conversion is. For example, if you say “Click here for more” and include a link in your bio, you’re good to go.
This will entice users to subscribe.
You want to keep them hungry for more benefits and prizes? Include a little something-something in your newsletters that will make your followers-now subscribers-feel like they’re part of your brand’s family.
So, get them playing and get their emails, all at the same time!
It’s a win-win situation, as you’ll use something extra to entice them and get their emails, generate your leads, build your list and your followers will interact, feel like they’re part of the brand’s family and compete with one another for that much-desired prize.
Or maybe you would you like to boost interaction levels, pre-competition. Good call!
All you’ll need in that case would be to run a poll or a Q+A in the stories section of your account. It can work wonders, it will make users engage and keep them on their toes.
Would you like some more action and anticipation?
Break the entire contest into parts, then!
You can announce that a little somethin’-somethin’ is coming, by asking users to complete a poll, a survey or answer some questions, through your stories.
(And maybe this would be a good time to revisit the landing page thingie we mentioned before!)
Then, you can post a cryptic image on your stories, with a CTA that will keep users engaged.
The third step would be the main body of your contest.
And lastly, you can announce your winner, either through your stories page or your posts or both!
This technique could also be used like a makeshift double opt-in, as users who want the prize will complete each and every step, whereas users who don’t really care about what you have to offer, won’t be bothered.
Here’s another idea (since you made it this far and I like you): If you’re running a contest around Christmas, do a #twelvedaysofchristmas giveaway, with a different mini-prize for each day and a truly #grand winner!
Learn the rules like a pro…
And no, I am not referring to the rules you read above, that had to do with Instagram’s guidelines for sweepstakes and contests, even though you will definitely need to point those out.
I am referring to the rules that every Instagram giveaway participant has to follow, that will have to comply with the aforementioned ones.
The first rule you’ll need to be extra clear about, the one that gets ignored the most, would be inaccurate tagging.
And while the “tag a friend in the comments” technique doesn’t fall under this category, you shouldn’t encourage people to tag others in pictures they don’t appear in and you should be quite clear about that.
Rule number two would be to encourage your entrants to repost your Instagram giveaway.
That way, you’ll get more engagement and more outreach. And if you use the landing page magic trick I mentioned before, you’ll get more emails. And the more emails, the better.
Do not forget to make following your account, mandatory. That way, people who have found you through #giveaway will have to get into a quid pro quo situation: give a little bit to you, so that you’ll give a little bit to them.
Oh, and include restrictions! You don’t want angry entrants or angry followers.
Be clear on these thingies: age and location restrictions and when the Instagram giveaway will close. The rules simply need to be somewhere where people won’t miss ‘em.
And while we’re at it, I’d like to showcase how my beloved Benefit Cosmetics decided to do it, it’s a wee bit of a seperate part but bear with me, you’ll love it!
So, let’s begin:
And since the rules were a bit too many, because of course, a company like Benefit Cosmetics needs to make sure they comply, they have included all the rules a follower and entrant has to know, but with a twist: there is a link to the
Also, please take your time and study the screenshot above. You get tonnes of value right at the beginning: The winner gets the entire collection and exclusive products worth $250.
But the Instagram giveaway, as we’ve already said, is useless if it doesn’t cause engagement and effectively trick Instagram’s algorithm into boosting the post because of its value.
So, take a look at what our friends at Benefit Cosmetics did. Their rules are simple-follow both accounts, like the post and tag three friends-but with a twist!
An emoji or a share of the post in their stories grants the entrants extra chances of winning, which means interaction, which means engagement, which is a win on both sides
Now, check Quay’s take on the Instagram giveaway collab:
There are bits and pieces that are slightly different, correct?
Well, let’s just take a step back and think…
Would that make users engage with both brands? Oh yeah.
Would that drive more traffic to both websites?
Is it a genius move?
I don’t think you need an answer on that one, as it’s fairly obvious.
The answer is “Yup, it is!”
Okay, rant out. But not before I point out how these two posts are connected with this rule:
Be super clear on how the winner will be picked out and how and when the winner will be announced, just like Quay did!
Fact is that they could’ve specified how the winner can claim their prize. But this won’t keep anyone from joining and I’ll admit it’s a bit of nitpicking on my part.
#OMG what went wrong?
This is dedicated to all of you, who have come to this article for help. To those of you who have done an Instagram giveaway, or two, or five (!) and they… Well, let’s say didn’t go as planned?
Don’t fret, precious! I’m here and I have got a list to share with you. A list of don’ts and improvements. It’ll change your life, your outlook on things, your… Nah, it’ll only change the way you do Instagram giveaways, but that’s more than enough!
So, without further ado:
Why your Instagram giveaway ideas were a huge #nono
1. Your prize was meh
Maybe it was irrelevant to what your followers like or need, or maybe it was not worth the effort, to begin with.
Or maybe, just maybe, your prize wasn’t even obvious in the giveaway picture you chose, as it wasn’t the center of attention.
2.Way too many steps
You can’t have people follow your account, follow your collaborator’s account, like your picture, tag people, repost the contest, come up with a hashtag, post original content with that hashtag, cook some- No, wait, what?
It’s 2019 and it’s an Instagram giveaway. Keep it simple.
3. Your account is too small and you didn’t collaborate with anyone
Well, I’m not sure I need to explain that one, but I will anyway.
Giveaways, much like anything, need a crowd to work.
If your followers are under five hundred, consider a collaboration with bigger accounts that will give you the desired traffic and engagement.
4. You thought a giveaway would do all the work all on its own
Rookie mistake, but I bet you’ll get over it.
Engagement doesn’t happen overnight and your followers shouldn’t feel neglected after entering.
Entice them with a teaser first and keep them on their toes during the time it takes to announce the winner.
Also, a giveaway won’t make up for the fact that your content may just not be something worth looking at (sorry for putting it that way, but you should think of that possibility as well)
5. Bad timing
Why you would run an Instagram giveaway for a hot pink lipstick mid-winter, a scarf during summer or a couple’s trip when it’s not Valentine’s day, is beyond me.
Do you know what else is beyond me? Not studying your data before setting out to do anything.
Consistency is key in everything, and timing is no exception. If your followers are more active between 5-8:00 pm, then this is when you’ll post, otherwise, you won’t trick the algorithm effectively.
There are various Instagram analytics tools to help you with this!
6. Your efforts didn’t match your followers’ efforts
I wanted to do a separate bullet point for this case, seeing as there are more than enough accounts that think like that.
Again, keep ‘em keen by posting, updating and so on and so forth but don’t put in less effort than what your followers are doing for the prize.
If they’re generating content, for example, take the time to do something just as time-consuming for them.
7. Copy is important
And probably what will make your followers think about you constantly.
Make them say your name in a sing-song voice by creating catchy CTAs that show the prize’s actual value.
8. Did you get their email?
If you did, but didn’t send a follow-up email just to check in and maybe entice them with something bigger and better, then shame on you.
And double shame on you if you haven’t decided to use an email marketing software like Moosend for your business.
9. Poor visuals
Same as the poor copy, really. Poor visuals or visuals that are inconsistent with your brand tone will be forgotten at best.
At worst, they’ll give you bad publicity and confused followers who won’t hesitate to hit the unfollow button.
10. Too many accounts to follow
This one is for the loopers out there.
There is a limit to everything, and the accounts tagged to your loop giveaway were too many, too irrelevant with the reason why your followers have chosen you or too… Well, loopy!
Are you now thinking of prizes that won’t break the bank?
Would you like an idea or two on how to do a giveaway on Instagram without going bankrupt?
Well… Here we go:
- Free shipping
This can be used by more than one winners or it can be the second prize, if the first prize is the product.
This will make the winner go to your website, buy and voila! If they’re anything like me, they’ll make sure to find a product with a price that will match (exceed!) the shipping cost.
- Discount codes
Same benefits as free shipping apply. People will save money, so they’ll spend more money on products.
- Limited edition products or brand classics
Oh, how I dream of the day Chanel makes a giveaway where the classic black flap-bag is the prize.
- Free services
Could be used in any kind of business. Free fittings (clothes), free classes, free consultation, free tone-matching, free makeover tips. All businesses have services that go with their products and they could definitely consider this option.
That’s all, folks!
I think that after this article, it’s safe to say that an Instagram giveaway is no rocket science. On the contrary, it’s fun, easy to create and non-technical.
It can boost your interactions, help you end up in the “Explore” page (and who doesn’t want that?) and make your followers’-and potential customers’-list grow.
But be careful. Too many contests are tacky and a wee bit boring.
Do you feel all set and ready to do a proper Instagram giveaway now, help your business grow, generate leads, get those much-needed interactions and create traffic in your website?
If so, then chop chop, waste no more time!
And don’t forget to share the knowledge!