How to Run an Instagram Sweepstakes: A Step-by-Step Guide


Thinking about running an Instagram sweepstakes?

Awesome – they’re a great way to engage your social following, find new potential customers, and generate leads and sales for your business. You just need to take one look at your Instagram feed to see that businesses everywhere are running sweepstakes to promote their products.

In this guide, I’ll show you exactly how you can put together a successful Instagram sweepstakes, with best practices and examples that will give you some sweepstakes inspiration.

Step 1: Pick your prize

One of the key factors that determines the success of your Instagram sweepstakes is your prize. When it comes down to it, your prize is usually what ultimately gets a potential participant to enter your contest.

Remember that depending on your entry method, your contest entrants may be required to give up their personal information (like their email address). You need to make it worth their while – so pick a prize that’s exciting to maximize the number of people that enter your contest.

Here’s some prize-picking best practices and prize ideas

  • Pick a relevant prize: You could give away a trip to Mexico – you’d probably get a ton of entrants that way. But unless your business is travel-related, you won’t end up with a list of people who are interested in your brand and products, meaning the leads you generate won’t be worth much to you. Give away a prize that’s relevant to your brand – like your products or a gift card. This ensures everyone who enters your contest is actually interested in what your business offers, maximizing your ROI in the long run.

instagram sweepstakes

  • Offer a prize package: Strength in numbers, right? Offering multiple prizes – like other related products or a selection of items from your different product lines – can be another way to up the value of your prize while making it more exciting. This makes it more enticing to viewers, increasing your sweepstakes’ conversion rate.

instagram sweepstakes

  • Partner up with another brand: One way to make your Instagram sweepstakes even more enticing is to partner up with another brand to host it. Pick a brand with products that complement yours. For example, your travel agency might partner with a brand that sells luggage to create a luxury getaway prize package. Doing this allows you to market to each others’ lists and split the cost for ads. It’s a win-win!

instagram sweepstakes

Step 2: Create your sweepstakes rules

Instagram is such a popular platform for giveaways because it’s a lot more lenient when it comes to giveaway guidelines and regulations. For whatever reason, Instagram is much more flexible with sweepstakes than Facebook is, even though Facebook owns Instagram.

Whatever the case, you have a lot of options on Instagram when you’re building your sweepstakes. There’s a ton of different entry methods, and you should pick the one that’s best for your business objectives.

Here are the different types of Instagram sweepstakes rules. I’d also like to note here that you should always ask people to follow you to enter, though you don’t need to require it – it’s just a good practice so you can market to your entrants in the future on Instagram.
* Like-to-enter: The simplest kind of Instagram contest, you can simply create an Instagram post with a caption that tells participants to like the post to enter (go figure). Though this is a great Instagram sweepstakes type because it’s easy to enter – it literally takes a double-tap – I don’t like it all too much because it’s easy to get a ton of uninterested people or bots in your list of entrants.
* Tag/comment-to-enter: This is the most common type of Instagram sweepstakes I see. Ask entrants to comment on your contest post and tag a few of their friends to enter. This works well because they’ll often tag people who would be interested – meaning those friends will enter too, tagging their own two friends. This helps to increase reach drastically, all through a method that’s organic for the most part.

instagram sweepstakes

  • Share-to-enter: Like the names implies, a share-to-enter contests requires entrants to repost your contest image on their own Instagram profiles to enter. This is great because your image will spread organically through Instagram, exposing your brand and products to your followers’ connections. This isn’t always effective, as people tend to care greatly about what’s on their feed – and that usually doesn’t make room for giveaway posts.

instagram sweepstakes

  • Sweepstakes: Though these are all technically sweepstakes, you can use a third-party Instagram contest app to run a more professional-looking sweepstakes giveaway. On top of this, using an app will allow you to collect entrants’ emails, meaning you can market to them later on through email, which is much more effective at converting these people into sales. This is the type of sweepstakes that will drive the best ROI for your business.

instagram sweepstakes

Step 3: Build your sweepstakes

Depending on the type of sweepstakes you’re running, there are varying levels of effort required here. If you’re simply running your sweepstakes right on Instagram using a comment-to-enter or share-to-enter model, then all you need to do is find a great photo to use for your giveaway.

Take a great-looking photo (or use an existing one) of your prize to entice viewers into entering your sweepstakes. You can add some text (“ENTER NOW” or “WIN”) to the photo to make it more clear, which can make it a little more directly engaging on people’s news feeds.

instagram sweepstakes
Something you can also try is a video, with one of your employees showing off the prizes and urging viewers to enter. I’d say as a general rule, however, images work better because they’re not reliant on sound and they can be skimmed.

instagram sweepstakes
After this, you’ll want to create the caption. This is where you need to outline all of your rules. It’s best to do it in a step-by-step format, as you can see below:

instagram sweepstakes
If you’re running your sweepstakes using a third-party app, you’ve got a little more work to do. You’ll want to build your contest page and optimize it for conversion to make sure as many people enter as possible. Here’s some sweepstakes page best practices:

  • A good headline: Creating a headline that draws people in is the first step towards maximizing your conversion rate. Write one that’s attention-grabbing and benefit-oriented – for example, “You could win a trip for two to Puerto Vallarta!” is an engaging headline that clearly communicates the sweepstakes’ benefit.
  • Strong visuals: Make sure you have a photo that communicates your contest and company well on your sweepstakes page. Showing people exactly what they can win is a great way to get them engaged with your sweepstakes.
  • Minimize form fields: Keeping the number of form fields in your contest page low maximizes the number of people who will enter. Don’t ask for any info that’s unnecessary, like your entrants’ phone numbers and addresses. I’d keep it to their emails, and maybe their names.
  • Social share buttons: Making it easy for people to share your contest is a great way to increase social engagement. It makes it simple for them to spread the word about your contest on social media, helping it spread to other people.

Step 4: Promote your sweepstakes

Now that you’ve built your sweepstakes, you’re pretty much ready to go! You’ll want to post your giveaway on Instagram and then share the post on all of your other social platforms.

Though this is a good start, it’s definitely not all you should be doing to promote your giveaway to potential participants.

Here’s a couple other organic promotion methods:

  • Change your banner on Twitter and cover photo on Facebook to promote your giveaway, with a link to the Instagram sweepstakes post.
  • Send a newsletter to your email list informing them of your contest. Though these people have already shown interest in your business before, running a contest can help to re-engage some of the people who have since lost interest after signing up.
  • Add a popup to your website to direct website traffic to your Instagram profile, where they can enter your giveaway.
  • Put your sweepstakes link in your bio, with text that tells profile visitors where they can enter to win.
  • Promote your sweepstakes on your Instagram Story.

Beyond this, your best bet is to go paid: running ads. Instagram Ads are awesome because they allow you to target precisely and serve ads to potential customers, in a style that looks native to the platform.

instagram sweepstakes
Use the Instagram Ads platform to target people within your target market – people you can see becoming customers in the long run. If you’re not sure where to start, you might even want to try targeting people who like your competitors on Facebook.

As far as ads go, the same best practices apply. Create an eye-catching image and short, simple caption that links people to your giveaway page or tells them how to enter. Ads are great for sweepstakes hosted on an external page because they allow you to have a link, which isn’t normally available for regular Instagram posts.

All that’s left to do now is let your contest run!

Step 5: Follow-up

Once your contest is over, you’ll need to pick a winner. Because it’s a sweepstakes, you’ll want to do this totally randomly – it’s not skill-based, meaning everyone should have a chance to win your contest. If you’re simply running your contest on Instagram, just drop all of the names into a randomizer (Google for one) and you’ll be good to go!

You’ll want to announce your giveaway winner on Instagram, too! Though most contests end here, you have an additional opportunity if you ran your sweepstakes using a third-party app.

Email your list of entrants with a follow-up – tell them you’re sorry they didn’t win, but give them a consolation prize, like some sort of discount or coupon. This is the best time to market to your entrants – they’re sad they didn’t win, but they can still be a “winner” if they take advantage of the offer you’re giving them.

Make sure you continue to market to your new list once the contest is over with additional offers or future contests. This maximizes the chances they’ll go from being leads to real customers for your business.

Wrapping it up

There you have it: a step-by-step guide to running your Instagram sweepstakes. We love social media contests here at Wishpond because they’re awesome for generating leads – and therefore sales – for businesses of all kinds.

Planning to run an Instagram sweepstakes soon? Got any questions about how to run an Instagram contest? Let me know in the comments below.

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