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July 27, 2016

Instagram Part III — Running Instagram Contests to Attract Customers

In the first part of this Instagram series, I shared five apps you should download (all free, too!) to help grow your business on Instagram. In Part II, we discussed hashtag best practices. Now I’m going to discuss running a contest on Instagram to attract followers and engage with your audience.

Enter To Win

Running a contest on Instagram is fairly straightforward. Instagram doesn’t have contest rules like Facebook does, but frankly, there aren’t a variety of options available either. There are a couple guidelines to follow:

  • Always offer a prize your ideal customer would love to receive.
  • Keep the mode of entry level on par with the offer. For example, if you are offering something small, like a hat, less people are likely to take action to enter, so make sure the entry method isn’t complicated.

You can go “off site” of Instagram with your contest, such as pointing a contest you post there to Facebook — this might be a good idea if you have a huge and interactive following there — but that requires you to update your link in your Instagram bio and direct people off Instagram to another website. That could lower your entries, as people simply won’t take action, especially if they don’t deem the prize worth the effort.

Since running contests is all about engagement, and if you’re worried your Instagram followers won’t enter because you’ve asked them to go off-site, for example, there are some things you can do to improve contest interaction.

  1. Tag Three Friends

    • This is the easiest way to improve contest interaction. In fact, most contests on Instagram require users to tag three friends in the comments, “like” the post and follow your feed. This accomplishes many things at once. It attracts new followers to your page via the tagged friends (and their tagged friends, and so on) and the action by the user of liking and commenting on your post. This, in turn, demonstrates to Instagram your post has an increased level of engagement (this is, of course, similar to Facebook, because remember, they are one in the same company now), which will hopefully recognize that higher engagement and ensure your posts are pushed out first in a user’s feed.Example: XYZ Company just delivered its new ABC product to our store — so why not give one away to our fans? Simply Like this post and tag three of your friends you think need this NEW PRODUCT before this Friday to be entered to win! #ABCProduct #XYZCompany #LoveMyBusiness2Win(Of course, you tagged the product’s maker and used the product hashtag as well as your own business hashtag, right?)
  1. Photo Contests 

    • Instagram is all about photos so use that to your advantage. A contest design that requires more work on the part of your entrants (thus, for giving away something better than a ball cap), this method requires users to follow you, engage with you by uploading a photo to their feed per your requirements and then use your unique hashtag so you can find all the photos.Example: We want to see who taught you how to shoot! Follow the directions to enter and we’ll randomly select one winner to receive XYZ from MY STORE. Follow MY STORE, then tag us in a photo of the person who taught you how to shoot and use the hashtags #goodschooling and #MYSTORE. Contest ends DATE and you can repost old photos.
  1. Group Contests

    • These are more complicated contests from the end-user standpoint, and I suggest holding them only if you are giving away a prize of significant value (something in the range of $1,000 or more). In these contests, you “group” with other like-minded businesses with all working together on the giveaway. For example, if you own a retail store, go in with the product manufacturer, maybe a range, and other ancillary beneficiaries, such as a local butcher shop if your store services a lot of hunters. (You would not include your direct competitors in such a group contest.) You can run a group contest with as few as two businesses — or as many as 50 — just remember, the more you ask people to do, the better the prize needs to be.In order for a group contest to work, the entrant has to like all the pages of the businesses in the group. The entrant must also comment on the contest post in each of the business feeds, or whatever other instructions you want them to follow. If you have a valuable enough giveaway and enough businesses on board, I recommend creating one contest image for all the group businesses to use on their pages as a way for entrants to easily locate them and identify they’ve met the requirements to enter.Example: We grouped together with our favorite partners to give away a major prize pack worth more than $1,000! Just follow the instructions below to enter to win by DATE.
    • Like this contest post you’ll find on each of their pages.
    • Comment why you’re most excited about winning in this prize pack with the hashtag #1000dollarSTOREgiveaway.

Though contests require some dedication on your part to administer*, they can produce tremendous response. That response is truly where the real work on your part comes in though, because now you have the opportunity to turn those entrants — many of which you’ve likely never interacted with before — into customers. With a giveaway you have their interest, now continue engaging those folks — on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and all the other social media platforms you use — and work to draw them to your online store and through your store doors.

This concludes the Instagram series! Next up, a deeper dive into Facebook.

*Remember that with almost any contest or sweepstakes, you’ll need to follow all local, state and federal laws regarding such giveaways. For those contests that give away more than a ball cap, it is recommended that you consult your attorney for the creation of official language, as well as advice on the dos and don’ts of how, what, when, where and to whom you can give something away.

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