How to run a successful Instagram contest

Instagram contests help boost brand awareness, increase post engagement and boost fan counts for the contest owner.

Instagram contests are very popular with brands and consumers alike. Brands like Instagram contests as a quick method to boost engagement, learn more about their audience and grow the fanbase. Instagram users love contests because they are free and require very little effort to be in with a chance of winning.

However, creating a successful Instagram contest requires more than a hashtag and a great offer.

At Postchup we support global brands looking to measure their contest performance, benchmark hashtag performance or index post comments. We’ve seen some great contests and some not so great.

From our experience we have created this free guide.

How to create a successful Instagram Contest

Read through the guide or skip straight to the part that interests you .

  1. Read the Instagram Contest Rules
  2. Choose your Contest Type
  3. How will users enter?
  4. How will you record the entries?
  5. What is the winning criteria?


1. Read the Instagram Contest Rules

The Instagram rules are quite simple. You are the lawful contest owner, you need to clearly state the rules, acknowledge that the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Instagram.

These rules may change so check this link for the latest details.

2. Choose your Instagram Contest Type

The different types of Instagram contest are dictated by the method in which a user can enter. Think carefully about what you want to get from the contest before choosing the type.  For example, comment-to-win contests can provide you will qualitative data which is great for market research, tagging a friend will increase your post visibility.

Contest Types: 

Like-to-win: One of the most popular competition types. Like-to-win Instagram contests simply require a user to like the competition post and are an easy way to drive engagement. Other users can also see friends liking posts in the activity feed so competitions of this type can also reach a larger quantity of users.

Comment-to-win: Comment-to-win contests are easy to run and can provide more valuable data. These competitions may require you to provide an answer to a question, such as stating your favorite product, color, car; the outcomes here are almost endless. This contest type can provide richer insights into your followers and audience. By providing qualitative data, this can be used as market research to further enhance your brand/products, and influence the type of posts you share in the future, which could lead to more engagement and social revenue.


Follow-to-win: Another simple contest type. All Instagrammers have to do is follow the account. A growth in followers could see a higher engagement rate in the future and for a prolonged period of time. Competitions of this variety can also increase brand visibility.

Tag-to-win: This method of entry normally requires users to ‘tag’ other users in the competition post for a chance to win. Benefits of this content can raise account awareness and increase audience size.

[TERMINÉ] C’est parti pour le live #BlackFridayCdiscount ! 😍 Rappel de la mécanique : pendant tous le live, @perfecthonesty et @yokonailart vous présenteront des cadeaux, accompagnés d’un mot secret ! Pour participer : – Suivez le compte @cdiscount – Laissez en commentaire sous ce post le mot secret associé au cadeau qui vous fait envie. – Pour chaque lot, la DERNIERE personne à avoir publié, avant 8 heures demain matin (jeudi 23 novembre), un commentaire contenant le mot secret associé remportera le lot. – Chaque gagnant ne peut remporter qu’un seul lot. – Les commentaires comportant plusieurs mots secrets ne seront pas pris en compte. – La participation au jeu-concours est limitée aux personnes résidant en France métropolitaine. Bonne chance, les Roses ! #jeuconcours #concours #jeu #rosecarpet #blackfriday #cdiscount

A post shared by Rose Carpet (@rosecarpetyt) on


Post-to-win: These contests have become more popular. Since switching from a chronological feed to a new algorithm based on popularity, post-to-win contests help spread content across multiple feeds, thus increasing account visibility, which could encourage more entries and result in follower growth. Often these competition require the use of a hashtag where all entrants can be viewed in the search area. Essentially this is a hashtag competition.

Repost-to-win: Like post-to-win, sharing the contest post helps increase brand awareness as well as promoting the specifically-generated hashtag.

2. How will the users enter?

In most contests, the user will simply comment to be in with a chance of winning. If you run a ‘comment and follow’ campaign you will need to ensure the user is also following the account as part of your winning criteria.

If you are the contest owner, make sure you have access to the account to check the follower/following status.

3. How will you record the entries?

A small contest can be easy to manage. You simply scroll through the comments and pick a winner at random. But what happens when you have 70,000 comments? Have you ever tried scrolling through 70,000 comments? You probably have not, because Instagram stops loading them after a while.

If the entrants need to include a phrase or hashtag with their contest entry, will you be able to record their entries to filter out the successful entries.

Is there a contest cut off date/time? Have you stated which timezone you are using?

How will you handle private comments? Instagram may not show all comments from accounts that don’t follow you. This is not truly black and white but you have to expect a certain % of your comments may not appear.

With Postchup you can export all of the comments on any public post. However, there are some limitations you need to consider. Instagram doesn’t easily provide more than 40,000 comments on any post so you may struggle to record tens of thousands of entries.

Second, Instagram’s servers return dates and times in UTC format (check this timezone converter if you need to) so make sure you are clear the cut off time and timezone.

4. Define the entry and success critiera

Try and make the criteria for contest entry as simple as possible – for both the entrant and the contest owner. An easy contest – comment to win – is going to be much easier to manage than asking for comments with tags at specific times.

If your contest is age restricted make sure you can successfully identify and filter out ineligible users.

You can be as complex as you wish, so long as you can successfully record the results.


How Postchup Can Help

Our hashtag analytics can help you analyze the success of your Instagram contests or identify performance of other hashtag based campaigns.

Instagram Hashtag Analytics

We can also provide all* the comments on any public Instagram post. We charge per post based on the number of comments. There are no subscriptions with Postchup.  Click here to read more about our Instagram comment exports.

Our sister product, BirdSong Analytics can provide an export of Instagram followers and following for any public account.

We hope you found this guide useful.

*the number of comments stated by Instagram can be different to the actual number of comments posted or made available by Instagram. We will index and supply all the comments provided by Instagram.

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Read the full story here.

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Update your app to access Instagram’s newest Stories feature.

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Read the full story here.

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The Guardian has reported that Facebook stated: “We have no current plans to roll this out globally.”

Read the full story here.