How to run an Instagram Competition or Giveaway (The Definitive Guide)

Want to know how to run a competition or giveaway on Instagram?  Read on.

Use Hashtags as your entry method

  • Unlike Twitter Hashtags, Instagram Hashtags do not expire and thus are a better way of recording entries than using their Twitter equivalent
  • Whilst Instagram posts can accept a maximum of 30 tags, use a single Hashtag as your entry identifier otherwise you risk entries being incorrectly tagged
  • Don’t specify symbol characters (like & or !) as these break hashtags (numbers are fine)
  • Consider the impact that private posts will have on Hashtag visibility (they won’t show up on Hashtag pages)

Make it a creative competition/contest

  • As a reminder, here’s the difference between a competition and a giveaway (or a contest and a sweepstake).  Instagram is an inherently creative platform, much more so than Twitter.  Take advantage of Instagram users’ inherent creativity and make the competition a skill-based  creative competition
  • In certain territories (the UK for example) you will need to show that there is an impartial judge.  Other territories may require an official with winner selection (Italy for example)
  • Consider the impact of cheating!  Users can appropriate other users Instagram images (or regular images and feed them through their Instagram account).  It is important to not only actively prohibit misappropriated images in your terms and conditions, but also check using a reverse image search service (Tineye is a good example of a free service that can help) to identify if the image has been used before

Include terms and conditions

  • Your contest will need terms and conditions – link the landing page hosting your T&Cs in your tweet using a short URL ( has good tracking) to minimise space
  • Include in your T&Cs your start and end dates, demographic and geographic entry requirements, full details of prizes to be won, dates of draw/contact/prize delivery, and all prohibited actions – like entries from multiple accounts, entries using copyrighted images or unoriginal images taken by someone else
  • Users are more willing to participate and share a competition they believe has rules and is fairly administered
  • In the event of a dispute, the promoter will need to be able to demonstrate that rules and regulations were established and followed
  • Your jurisdiction is likely to have rules/laws requiring adequate terms and conditions for any competition (in the UK it’s the CAP Code, section 8)

What will you use the winning image for?

  • Consider your brand’s use of the winning Instagram image.  Will you regram it on your profile?  Use it in display media or social media elsewhere?
  • Entrants can be encouraged that their work can become an “official” representation of your brand, but consider how the winner has been rewarded (they will want to feel that sufficient value is given to their work) and who retains copyright over it.  Instagram infamously suffered backlash when announcing that all images on the platform were to be made available for advertising purposes
  • Make sure you clearly state not only in your competition description but also in your T&Cs what the winning image will be used for

Follow these best practice tips and your Instagram contest will be off to a solid start!

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