5 Pro Tips for Better Instagram Giveaways

Learn how to level up your Instagram giveaways with pro tips, including setting clear goals, using terms and conditions, and keeping entry requirements simple.

By Jessica Miller-McNatt ・5 min read
Campaign & Contest Ideas
ShortStack Tips & Tricks
Social Media

Pull out your phone and do a quick scroll through your Instagram feed. You’ll probably see at least one post announcing a giveaway and asking you to comment and maybe tag a friend. The reason a giveaway is most likely awaiting you in your feed is that 33.5 million Instagram posts are hashtagged with #giveaway right now.These simple Instagram giveaways are popular for a few reasons - they’re really easy to set up, and they’re a great way to get a bit of engagement from your audience. They’re such a go-to, in fact, that you’ll see brands of all sizes and types using quick Instagram giveaways as a tool in their marketing arsenal. But what sets the pros apart from the rest are a few simple elements that any business can use to improve their giveaway.Check out some of these pro tips to level up your next Instagram giveaway to get the results that will best benefit your business.

First, have a goal in mind

To sit down and do any kind of strategizing for a simple comment to enter contest may seem like a waste of time, but I promise you that your effort will be put to good use. No matter how trivial, setting a goal before executing your contest is an important step to gaining real success from it. The reason for this is simple - how do you even know what a successful contest will look like if you don’t know what you want to get out of it?Take, for example, this giveaway that asks participants to follow not one profile, or even two, but everyone they follow. For this Instagram profile, that’s 45 people! I don’t know about you, but I still enjoy seeing posts from friends and family in my feed and could do without the content of 45 strangers and businesses I’ve most likely never heard of.

Example of a contest with a difficult entry requirememntI’m not sure if the host of this giveaway had set a goal, or if they had, what that goal might have been. But what I can guess is that those who comply with these steps to participate are either using a secondary Instagram profile that they only use for this kind of thing, or that they will go right back through and unfollow all of those profiles once the giveaway is over. So, what is this host actually gaining from this step?In other words, creating a clear goal will help you make better decisions when setting up your giveaway. Are you looking for more followers or just to boost engagement with your audience? If you’re looking for engagement, ask participants to caption a photo in the comments or to answer a trivia question, but nothing more. If you’re looking to gain new followers, ask them to tag a friend (but certainly not more than one, because this practice can feel a little spammy). Keeping the requirements in line with what you’re looking to gain will yield the best results.

Use terms and conditions to protect your business

Another important, yet often overlooked step, is to include some rules or terms and conditions. If this step seems overwhelming to you, or you’re afraid you’d have to get a lawyer involved, don’t worry. There are plenty of online resources to help you write some boilerplate T&Cs that can go a long way in helping combat cheating and protect your business from any legal funny stuff.

Even a short paragraph with simple rules can assist in setting your giveaway up for success. Even a simple paragraph with a few lines of text can assist in setting your giveaway up for success. You’ll see a great example of simple T&Cs in this post explaining when the giveaway will end, some entry requirements, as well as the all-important release of Instagram.You may not be worried about potential cheaters (and I applaud your positivity), but having worked with contest marketers for over seven years, I’ve seen cheat happen in giveaways both large and small and of all types. From church fundraisers to children’s art contests, no one is immune.This isn’t meant to dissuade anyone from hosting a giveaway, but instead, as a reminder to be proactive when setting things up. Think of all of the ways someone might want to take advantage of your giveaway and include verbiage to circumvent these circumstances. For example, include a line saying something like “anyone suspected of cheating will be disqualified.”If you’d really like to heighten security measures, navigate giveaway participants off of Instagram and collect entries in an online entry form. Have participants click on a link (in your Instagram bio) to navigate to a landing page where the entry form will display. By doing so, you can enable a captcha, send autoresponder emails to verify email addresses, and also verify entries by IP address. As a bonus, you can collect an opt-in to build up your email list.

Collect emails with a landing page giveaway like this one built with ShortStack

Keep the barrier to entry low

As I mentioned before, asking giveaway participants to follow multiple profiles can really tank participation. The reason? It sets the barrier for entry far too high. Similar to a lengthy entry form, asking someone to navigate to and follow more than one profile is work. Similarly, asking participants to tag multiple friends is another common practice that can deter entering.Think back to your goal and what you’re actually looking to get out of running this giveaway. If your priority isn’t to grow your following, then asking participants to tag even one friend isn’t necessary at all. In other words, base the entry requirements on your goal, but keep them as simple as possible. The more work it is to enter has a direct impact on the results of your giveaway.

Use a branded hashtag and encourage participants to follow it

It’s true that you’ll want to keep your barrier to entry low, but you’ll also want to leverage the engagement you get from those who participate in your giveaway. A great way to do this is to create a branded hashtag and encourage (not require) participants to follow it. This hashtag can be a means for you to share news about a specific product line, or where you announce new sales, promotions, or your next giveaway.The cool thing about a branded hashtag is that your followers can use it to help you promote your business. For example, a skincare line called RevitaGlow could use a branded hashtag such as #revitalizeyourglow. Then, encourage followers to not only follow the hashtag but to post their results with that same hashtag after using their product. Now, you not only have another tool to help boost brand awareness, but also a steady stream of user-generated content acting as customer-converting testimonials. The reach of this type of marketing can go far beyond a follow on your profile.Take your branded hashtag marketing to the next level by pulling all of the hashtagged posts into a feed and displaying them on your webpage or a landing page. User-generated content can be very influential when converting new customers, so why not use it where you drive the most traffic?

The Chemical Guys use the branded hashtag #mycgarsenal to pull in user-generated content to display on a landing pageIn this example, auto-detail supply company The Chemical Guys use the branded hashtag #mycgarsenal to pull in user-generated content to display on a landing page.

To summarize…

Instagram contests can be small but mighty in their ability to help you build a strong following of engaged brand loyalists. But don’t let their simplicity fool you. A successful giveaway requires a bit more thought and effort than simply putting up a post. To get the best results, remember:Setting a goal is an all-too-important first step that will shape your giveaway and ensure you get the results that will actually benefit your business.Implementing some terms and conditions can be as easy as customizing a template and getting in front of ill-intentioned participants.Keep your giveaway fun and simple to enter - asking too much of participants will drive Instagram scrollers right on by.Think outside of your profile and create a branded hashtag for your audience to follow. To boot, you’ll broaden the base of those promoting your brand.

Create your first hashtag contest now

Get Started Today Sign up for our free trial today. No commitments, cancel anytime.

About the author

By Jessica Miller-McNatt ・5 min read

Jessica Miller-McNatt has been with ShortStack for over a decade and has served in every role from Marketing Team Lead to Customer Success. Her journey in martech continues to fuel her fascination for what drives growth. Jessica's favorite weekends are spent in the North Georgia mountains, chasing waterfalls and exploring with her family.

Get marketing tips straight to your inbox

Thank you!
Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
We’ll email you 1-3 times per week—and never share your info.