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How to Grow Your Brand through Instagram Contests – and 4 Contest Ideas to Get Inspired

If you want to grow your brand on Instagram, organizing a contest is the way to go. Contests get followers engaged and can help generate buzz for your brand. Get inspired with the following examples!

Did you know that Instagram accounts that hold contests can grow their following up to 70% faster than accounts that don’t hold contests? Contests are fun and engaging, and they attract hundreds of users, which makes them perfect for increasing the reach of your brand and gaining new followers.

In this guide, we will look at the different types of competitions, give tips on how to start your own, and look at four inspiring examples from different brands.

Competitions, raffles and giveaways

Most contests on Instagram come in one of the following forms: competitions, raffles, or giveaways.


Competitions usually refer to any type of contest. For example, you could ask your followers to complete a challenge, such as sending in a funny dance video, and then choose a winner.

You could also have users send in ideas for future products. For instance, you could ask users to send in their ideas for the most sustainable packaging, and then implement the winning idea.


Giveaways are very popular on Instagram, since freebies always attract many people. So, giveaways allow brands to promote their products or services to bigger audiences.

For example, your company could give away samples of a new product or a service to the first 10 people that comment under a post. Ideas for giveaways can be a t-shirt, a dinner for two, or free tickets, depending on what works best for your business and the specific product or service you want to promote.


Raffles are essentially product giveaways where a winner is selected out of a pool of participants. Raffles can be great fun during the holiday season for giving away small gifts throughout several days in an advent’s calendar raffle.

No matter what type of content you choose, you can be sure that it will create some buzz around your brand. So, how do you go about starting your own contest?

How to start your own contest

The first thing you need to know is that Instagram has several rules for contests, so make sure you have read their policies.

Instagram has put these policies in place mainly to make sure that if something goes wrong, you are liable, not them. Here are Instagram’s most important guidelines for running a contest:

  1. Any contest you run on Instagram will be at your own risk.
  2. Instagram will not help you with your contest.
  3. You are responsible for making sure that your contest is lawful. This includes setting eligibility requirements, such as age or residency restrictions, and setting up official rules.
  4. When running a contest you always need to lay out clearly that Instagram is not sponsoring, endorsing, or organizing it in any way.
  5. Any promotion has to include a full release by each entrant or participant.
  6. You are not allowed to tag content incorrectly or encourage users to inaccurately tag content or users.

Most brands include a short disclaimer with their contests to explain all the rules and guidelines.

Apart from following Instagram’s policies, there are no other limitations to your contests, so don’t be afraid to get creative. The following examples can be an inspiration to help you get started.

Valdo’s cocktail contest

In a cocktail contest, Valdo, a family-owned winery from Italy, decided to have users send in their favorite Valdo prosecco cocktail recipes and pictures of the finished drinks.

The winners won a trip to Italy worth 7,500 dollars. The big prize naturally resulted in very high engagement numbers, and it got a lot of people talking about the brand. And, since the competition required participants to use Valdo prosecco, it most likely also triggered sales.

Valdo’s contest was particularly well-designed because it added another twist: they let other users choose the winners, thus boosting engagement and interactions even more.

Pink Lime’s makeover contest

The Vancouver hair salon Pink Lime regularly organizes makeover contests, where winners win free hair and makeup makeovers.

In this back-to-school makeover contest, participants had to like the post and tag at least one friend in the comments. With this strategy, Pink Lime more than doubled the number of likes they normally got under their posts and greatly increased the visibility of their brand. It was also smart to have users tag friends since it exposed the brand to new potential customers.

Simon & Schuster’s Valentine’s day contest

The book store Simon & Schuster has built their brand’s image around books being a means for self-love, and they always find ways to incorporate brand-centered themes into their contests. In their Valentine’s Day contest, for example, they partnered up with several other brands to give away self-care packages containing books, cookies, flowers, and wine.

In order to win, participants had to like the post, follow all the partner brands in the post, share a self-care ritual, and tag a friend. In a special twist, Simon & Schuster let participants enter multiple times, as long as they tagged new friends. This contest shows how you can get the most out of collaborations while also supporting your business partners. At the same time, allowing people to tag multiple friends got the brand a lot of exposure, so they gained many new followers.

The W hotel’s giveaway

In their giveaway for a two-night stay with breakfast and a free spa treatment, the W hotel in Amsterdam incorporated multiple layers of clever marketing.

First, in order to find out how the competition worked, participants had to follow the link in their bio. This link then took users to an article in Elle magazine, W’s collaboration partner in this competition. The article described in great detail what visitors can expect at the hotel, which helped participants to connect more with the brand and get them excited about winning. Third, in order to win, participants had to fill out a contact form, which gave both brands detailed contact information to reach out to new potential customers in the future.

Extra tip: contests on Instagram Stories

While a lot of brands like to publish contests through posts on their feeds, we recommend switching it up every once in a while and starting a contest on Instagram Stories.

Stories is perfect for short competitions since by default, stories are only visible for 24 hours. Stories is one of the features with the highest engagement on Instagram, so even running a 24-hour competition could really boost the visibility of your brand.

Tips for starting a contest on Instagram

While running an Instagram contest is a lot of fun for users and will help you to grow your following, there are a few details you should keep in mind before starting a contest.

1. Set a clear goal

Set a clear goal before starting a contest and define what you want to achieve Do you want to increase engagement? Do you want to gain more followers? Do you want to reach a different audience? Or, do you want to promote a new product or service? An Instagram contest can serve many different purposes, and the type and setup of a contest will vary depending on your goal. So, make sure you know what you want to achieve beforehand.

Don’t forget that part of having a goal is to also evaluate at the end if you have achieved it. In order to evaluate the success of your contest, set up metrics you want to monitor over the course of the contest, such as the number of participants, reaching a certain target group, clicks on a website, or sales. Analyzing the results of your contest will give you valuable insights for the future.

2. Define a theme

Once you decide on a goal for your contest, set a theme. This could be a seasonal topic such as Christmas gifts or Valentine’s Day. Or, you could pick a theme that represents your brand mission, such as female empowerment. The theme could also be centered on a new product or service. Also: don’t forget to pick relevant hashtags that will help spread the word about your contest.

3. Be clear about the rules

Who will be able to enter the contest and how? How will the winner be determined? How will you announce the winner? Before you get started, you need to set very clear rules for entering, participating and winning, and communicate them as clearly as possible so there will be no confusion or argument.

4. Choose a prize that motivates users

Instagram users love contests, so you will definitely see more engagement than usual. However, if you choose a good prize, you can increase participation even more. So, take a moment to think about what might really motivate your target audience.

5. Promote your contest

If you want to increase the number of participants, make sure to promote your contest before it starts. You could for example post announcements about your upcoming contest on your feed, or use Instagram Stories to get users excited about your content.

Stories are a great way to promote contests because users check Stories very frequently, and with the different interactive stickers such as the countdown sticker, you have many ways to get users’ attention. As a way to save time and to also make sure that your promotional posts are on point, use a scheduling tool for your stories.

Storrito, for example, is a really easy-to-use, free online tool for scheduling Instagram stories. You can use Storrito on any device, work on posts together with a team, and schedule stories to be posted at set times, even in bulk. Especially when running time-sensitive campaigns, this can be a great help.

Check out how it works and get started on your first story today!

Tobias ManrothAuthor image
Tobias Manroth
CMO at Storrito

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