With over one billion Instagram accounts active every month and 90% of those accounts following at least one business, Instagram is an essential part of your marketing playbook.
Running Instagram contests is an effective way of achieving a range of sought-after outcomes for your business. Whether you’re looking to increase brand awareness, connect with influencers and partners, acquire leads, or simply grow your following – contests and giveaways can help.
But what type of contests work on Instagram? How do you ensure your giveaway isn’t a flop?
For inspiration, I’ve put together a list of the best Instagram contests from 2019. Check them out and see what you can take forward with your contest strategy this year.
#1. Valentine’s Day
Valentine’s Day giveaways are regularly used by businesses that support gift-giving and celebrations between couples. Florists, restaurants, and jewelers are three examples.
However, other businesses don’t need to miss out on a great opportunity to engage with their prospects. As long as you can find an angle that aligns with your product offering and customer base, why not run a Valentine’s Day contest on Instagram too?
For example, @targetbullseyespot, an Instagram influencer who reviews Target products made the most of this event by running a contest for Target’s heart-shaped waffle maker.
Valentine’s Day Contest – See this post on Instagram
#2. Super Bowl
The Super Bowl attracts over 100 million viewers around the globe. Incredibly, that number doesn’t include the reach of the event in terms of buzz and excitement from non-viewers.
With such large-scale reach, this sporting event is another enticing opportunity for businesses to run an Instagram contest. For example, wholesale and home delivery biscuit-maker, Carrie Morey, gave away a platter of every single item in her product line. Perfect for a Super Bowl Sunday party!
Super Bowl Contest – See this post on Instagram
#3 & 4. Mother’s Day
A day to give back to our moms, Mother’s Day is also an opportunity for businesses to do the same. Thoughtful giveaways that ease the financial burden on a family or mom-themed swag are great ideas for Instagram contests.
Sustainable clothing brand, Conscious Clothing, used Mother’s Day to reward moms with a dress of their choice. It may sound simple, but with over 2,500 likes and comments, the awareness this contest raised was significant for the brand and their cause.
Mother’s Day Contest 1 – See this post on Instagram
For an example of a mom-themed giveaway, check out the one below from MCLC where they show off their ”Mama” product line. This was a huge success for the brand.
Mother’s Day Contest 2 – See this post on Instagram
#5. Father’s Day
If your brand is targeted at men more so than women, Father’s Day may be an appropriate time to host a contest.
I chose the contest below, from video imaging company Gudsen MOZA, because it’s a good example of how to pair a prize with a target audience. This company is looking to attract video creators, so what better way than giving away quality video equipment. Not to mention this post alone had a whopping 6,500+ likes and 4,300+ comments!
Father’s Day Contest – See this post on Instagram
#6. St Patrick’s Day
St Patrick’s Day is an Irish celebration to remember Saint Patrick, the first patron saint of the country. But, as you know, this celebration has gone far beyond the borders of Ireland. Today, this holiday is epitomized by lime green costumes, red beards, pots of gold, and a whole lot of, well… celebrating.
Healthy pet food company, Pet Wants, made the most of St Patrick’s Day by launching a product giveaway with a sprinkle of lime green.
St Patrick’s Day Contest – See this post on Instagram
Like other holidays with religious backgrounds, Easter has turned into a commercial event, driven by consumerism and indulgence. From digital easter egg hunts to chocolate gift basket giveaways, brands love riding the Easter wave.
The contest below, from Pippa Goetz, takes a unique approach to this holiday by giving away a decorative egg uniquely painted by her.
Easter Contest – See this post on Instagram
#8. Cinco de Mayo
Cinco de Mayo, a commemorative Mexican celebration, has made its way onto western calendars with sombreros, tacos, and tequila often on the party list.
Kristy & Kelsey from The Painted Nest ran a Cinco de Mayo themed giveaway powered by a fun and humorous letterboard.
Cinco de Mayo Contest – See this post on Instagram
#9. Memorial Day
Memorial Day giveaways emphasize the emotional connection individuals have with their country and freedom. There is nothing like a bit of patriotism to bring out the best in your audience!
Wood and steel sign designer, Pine and Birch, have a huge 85k strong following on Instagram. They utilized this audience to give away a steel sign depicting the American flag on Memorial Day.
Memorial Day Contest – See this post on Instagram
#10. Independence Day
Along the same lines as Memorial Day, Independence Day is an extremely patriotic and proud celebration for Americans. Goose Hummock Shops created a unique bundle of US-styled accessories to tap into the American spirit and generate buzz for their business on the 4th of July.
Independence Day Contest – See this post on Instagram
#11. Labor Day
As with all of the Instagram contests in this list, it’s important to pick a theme or event that matches up with your products and ideal customers. Blue Fox Cheese Shop has done exactly that with its Labor Day cheese plate giveaway. They know that people will be gathering together on Labor Day weekend with friends and family and will need a party platter to share!
Labor Day Contest – See this post on Instagram
#12 & 13. Halloween
We all love a good Halloween contest, right? For some reason, people go crazy (pun intended) for free candy and scary paraphernalia.
In the Instagram post below, Plato’s Closet attracted over 2,300 comments from engaged prospects. Considering they have just over 8,000 followers, that is a significant engagement metric.
Halloween Contest 1 – See this post on Instagram
Vegan cosmetics brand, bioClarity, went for a more subtle and personal approach with their Halloween giveaway. But it was still a raging success with their 100k followers.
Halloween Contest 2 – See this post on Instagram
Thanksgiving is an opportunity to engage with your potential customers on the eve of the biggest sales frenzies of the year, Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
In this giveaway, micro-influencer Sierra Honeycut teamed up with Motorola Baby to reward the winner with a halo and baby monitor. It’s collaborations like this that show how quickly your reach can explode when you work with complementary brands and influencers.
Thanksgiving Contest – See this post on Instagram
#15. Black Friday
For many businesses, especially those that sell consumer products, Black Friday spells the beginning of the silly season. The holidays, from Black Friday to Christmas and beyond can generate a year’s worth of sales in a couple of months. Running a contest at this time of year allows you to collect more leads, grow your following, and have additional people to market to when the sales ramp up.
I love this Black Friday giveaway from Shein because it plays right into the desires of a customer in the lead up to Black Friday. They were giving customers the opportunity to win everything on their wishlist! The wishlist giveaway is a great idea to generate engagement at other times of the year for eCommerce brands, too.
Black Friday Contest – See this post on Instagram
#16 & 17. Christmas
The last two Instagram contests on the list get into the Christmas spirit. For many, Christmas is a joyous time filled with gift-giving, celebrating, and spending time with loved ones. Giveaways are an attractive way for people to get their hands on the gifts they want without the big price tag. They also give businesses all-important buy-ready leads.
This contest from Hype Kids offers a customized pair of Vans to the winner. The element of exclusivity is an extra incentive for participants.
Christmas Contest 1 – See this post on Instagram
As another example of a Christmas giveaway, photography brand, Before and After, used the familiar visual of a Christmas tree with a range of their products in front of it.
Christmas Contest 2 – See this post on Instagram
As you can see, Instagram contests provide a platform for brands to organically grow their audience by leveraging partners and the psychology of consumers who simply want to win something.
If you want to increase brand awareness, grow your following, and improve the ROI of your Instagram marketing this year, plan a series of giveaways that complement key events throughout the year. For inspiration, draw from these 17 examples.