If you’re searching for a scalable Instagram strategy for more followers, sales and long-term brand engagement, look no further than an Instagram giveaway campaign.
People can’t resist the power of “free,” can they? It’s one of the oldest tricks in the marketing playbook. Even so, the numbers don’t lie in regard to just how much Instagram users are obsessed with giveaways and contests.
According to a recent case study by Tailwind for Instagram, brands that regularly run giveaways and content boast insane metrics in terms of engagement.
The numbers don’t lie in regard to just how much momentum an Instagram giveaway provides. For starters, Tailwind noted the following striking stats:
- Instagram accounts that run regular giveaways and contests grew 70% faster than those who don’t
- 91% of Instagram posts with over 1,000 comments are related to a giveaway or contest
- Contests and giveaways on Instagram receive 3.5 as many “likes” and 64 more comments than an average post.
But perhaps the most striking statistic of all?
Despite these staggering numbers, only 2% of Instagram accounts run contests or giveaways.
The takeaway here? If your direct competition isn’t running an Instagram giveaway at any given point in time, there’s probably chance for you to snatch the spotlight. Even if they are, what’s holding you back from doing a better giveaway yourself?
When to Run an Instagram Giveaway or Contest
Giveaways and contests come in all shapes and sizes. From all-inclusive vacations to free swag for your followers, just about anything is fair game if you can afford to give it away. This sort of freedom spells good news for brands in terms of the “what” and “when” of their giveaways.
For example, brands such as Birchbox run Instagram giveaways on a bi-monthly basis with prizes ranging from gift cards to free products. Most of the time such giveaways coincide with the release of a new collection or in celebration of Birchbox partnering up with another brand.
Again, there is no “right” time to run a contest or giveaway. Product launches are perhaps one of the most common catalysts for an Instagram giveaway, which makes perfect sense on paper. Think about it: you want to create a sense of hype around your launch and you want to fire up your followers at the same time. Conducting a giveaway alongside a new release makes perfect sense to build buzz around your product before it hits the public.
That’s not to say you can’t run giveaways for existing products “just because.” In fact, creating the expectations of regular giveaways is a great way to encourage and existing followers to keep an eye on your feed.
Giveaway posts like this one from CLUSE attract the attention of their current follower-base, but also encourages new followers to stick around after the giveaway is done (and hopefully long enough to catch another one).
How Often Should Brands Conduct an Instagram Giveaway?
Sure, one-off giveaways and contests can inject some new life into your Instagram presence. That said, giveaways and contests have a huge potential ROI when they’re run consistently as part of your overall content strategy.
Consider how such posts represent a sort of snowball effect. The more contests and giveaways you run, the more followers and traffic you can potentially land back on-site or into your sales funnel.
How Long Should an Instagram Giveaway Last?
Timing is an important yet overlooked factor for your Instagram giveaway. Events that only last a few days inevitably miss out on potential entrants and engagement. On the flip side, people might forget about or ignore a giveaway with an entry date that seems far too distant (think: a month-long event). Note how this giveaway alert from Beautycon has a clearly defined entry process and end-date:
Generally speaking, most contests and giveaways sport an entry/deadline period that lasts between one and two weeks. This allows some flexibility for brands looking to integrate an Instagram giveaway into their content calendar. For example, you could run a monthly giveaway that lasts two weeks or two weekly giveaways a month. Either way, you can promote your giveaways on a regular basis without serving as the sole focus of your content.
So, let’s say you’ve decided to take the leap and have a vague idea of what a giveaway requires. What do you need to get started in terms of setting up an Instagram giveaway from scratch?
The 3 Things You Must Do to Set Up Your Instagram Giveaway
Running a successful Instagram giveaway doesn’t have to be rocket science. Beyond sticking to Instagram’s promotional guidelines, brands need to know exactly what to look out for prior to crafting their campaign.
1. Set Your Goals
Giving something away for free simply for the sake of it isn’t exactly smart business, is it?
Even if you’re willing to part with a product for your giveaway, you should be getting something in return for your campaign, whether it be…
- More long-term followers, comments or “likes” on future posts
- Branding opportunities via user-generated content, using those photos to promote your brand
- Driving traffic to your site and getting more eyeballs on your products or storefront
Any of these goals are totally fair game. All that matters is that you’re tracking something that’s measurable.
Site traffic. Email sign-ups. Followers. You name it.
Understanding what exactly you’re after will better help you track the KPIs for your next giveaway.
Here’s an example of a recent Instagram giveaway from Pinup Girl, the purpose of which was to drive traffic to the brand’s Facebook page:
An Instagram giveaway that sends traffic to Facebook. Hey, why not? If Facebook traffic is their goal, that’s all there is to it.
For most brands, sales and email sign-ups are the holy grail of a contest or giveaway campaign. Check out how this recent giveaway from Urban Decay required contestants to enter on-site which boasted this opt-in:
Once you have a goal in mind, you’ll not only know what to keep an eye on in terms of metrics but also how you’ll set up the entry to your giveaways.
2. Pick a Prize
What good is a giveaway without a prize?
The beauty of an Instagram giveaway is that any brand can get on board regardless of their niche or industry. Anything from physical products to free subscriptions is totally fine as long as there are no strings attached to your followers.
Check out this giveaway example from Plated which includes a variety of prizes including a gift certificate, Birchbox subscription and other goodies:
As long as your giveaway item isn’t going to break the bank, you’re golden. If you’re in an industry that doesn’t sell physical products or have a trial to give out, something such as an Amazon gift card can do the trick. Albeit not as sexy, gift cards giveaways are known to drive engagement on their own.
Remember, though: don’t offer up a giveaway if you can’t follow through with your prizes. Giveaways and contests are commitments, which leads directly to our last point…
3. Be Ready to Commit
This might seem like a no-brainer, but you can’t simply post about a giveaway and totally fail to deliver upon it when it’s over. Unlike your one-and-done posts on Instagram, giveaways require your attention to…
- Track entries and respond to follower questions or concerns
- Set specific deadlines for your giveaway and sticking to them
- Choose a winner, post an announcement and follow up with their prize
Here’s how BoxyCharm thanks their giveaway contestants and provides them with clear-cut instructions on how to get in touch:
Although you don’t need to overthink your specifics of your Instagram giveaway, these three points should be clearly defined before you get started.
But once you have them down, you can finally figure out which type of giveaway to conduct.
4 Effective Types of Instagram Contests and Giveaways
Again, there is no “right” way to run your giveaway campaign. Below we’ve outlined four types of Instagram giveaways that are common and can easily align with any of the goals noted above.
1. User-Generated Content Giveaways
A good chunk of Instagram giveaways out there require user-generated content as a form of entry. Coupled with a branded hashtag, these giveaways are easy for marketers to track and allow followers to show off your products in action.
Here’s a solid example from Fender which requires entrants to tag a Fender guitar in their photo using the giveaway-specific #HereForTheMusic hashtag:
Beyond customer photos, other creative ideas for user-generated content giveaways include caption contests or video clips as means of entry.
2. Tag-a-Friend Giveaways
If you want to run a giveaway that’s specific to a single post, tag-a-friend giveaways are the way to go. Rather than rely on hashtags or curating user-generated content, the only requirement for entry is to, well tag a friend.
Short, sweet and to the point, these types of giveaways are ideal for those looking to provide a quick freebie to the followers without too much legwork involved.
Here’s an example from Sincerely Jules, promoting a giveaway on behalf of CLUSE:
3. Follow-to-Win Giveaways
Not unlike tag-a-friend giveaways, follow-to-win entries don’t require much work on behalf of your followers, either. That said, they are a simple way to encourage new followers and discussion in the comments section of any given post. Check out this giveaway from LoveStoriesTV which asks for follows and tagging simultaneously, to win up to five prizes:
As a side note, multiple prizes obviously means more chances to win. This spells good news for your followers who might otherwise think that they don’t stand a chance, especially if you’re managing a crowded feed. Granted you can keep up with the action, don’t be afraid to be generous.
4. Enter-to-Win Contests and Giveaways
Not inherently different from running a contest, these giveaways drive your followers back to your site via your bio link.
Whether you’re leading them to an email opt-in or entry form, keep in mind that you’re taking your followers beyond the realm of Instagram to enter. This extra step could potentially increase the likelihood that your contestants drop off, so make sure that you keep the opt-in process as short as possible.
This recent example from TOMS displays the power of a well-crafted Instagram caption to encourage entries on-site:
In terms of how often you should run giveaways, it’s totally up to you. If you aren’t spreading yourself too thin and have a dedicated social media manager to monitor your campaigns, you can continuously experiment with giveaways until you get into a groove.
Just like with any type of content on Instagram, planning in advance and having an idea of what your giveaway is going to look like is a better approach than just winging it.
How to Guarantee That Followers Trust Your Giveaway
Trust is a key component of any Instagram giveaway. This is especially true if you’re trying to attract attention from followers who’ve never engaged with your brand before. There’s no quicker way to sour your relationships with your followers and potential customer than by botching a giveaway or failing to follow through with your prize delivery. In fact, a failed giveaway could potentially backfire on you as disappointed fans take to social media with negative posts.
Define Your Terms and Conditions
The best way to establish trust within your giveaway from the word “go” is by clearly defining your terms and conditions. You might notice that many giveaways and contest posts include body copy that refers entrants to a set of rules and guidelines in their bio.
Here’s a good example from Lonely Planet for a recent contest:
Pointing your entrants to specific terms and conditions signals that you mean business about your giveaway. Putting your legalese on site doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated, either. As displayed by Lonely Planet, a simple landing page or blog post detailing the specifics of your contest is more than enough.
You can also use a terms and conditions template such as this one from Wishpond to get started with sorting out the fine print of your giveaway.
Provide a Point of Contact Beyond Instagram
The more opportunities you have for your entrants to get in touch with you about your giveaway or contest, the better. Whether that means providing a contact form on-site or an email address specific to entry queues, accessibility signals that you’re not going to potentially go ghost on your entrants.
Be Specific with Your Copy
Your entrants shouldn’t have to second-guess the rules of entry format of your giveaway. There’s no reason to skimp on details or be vague in your contest copy: you’ll notice that contest and giveaway posts are more verbose than your typical Instagram caption.
Here’s an example from Crave Naturals which highlights when their giveaway is ending, how specifically to enter and what followers should do after being tagged as winners:
Don’t worry about being too wordy. If your followers are interested in your giveaway, they’ll read the fine print until the end. When you’re specific in terms of your post copy, followers are more likely to enter and engage rather than sit there asking questions.
The Keys to Promote Your Instagram Giveaway
Promotion is one of the most important pieces of the puzzle when it comes to your giveaway.
Don’t assume that all of your fans and followers will learn about your giveaway from a single post. In addition to other social channels such as Facebook or your email list, anything you can do to promote your giveaway beyond Instagram is a plus.
In fact, one of the best places to promote your giveaways is on-site. Check out how LinksofLondon took advantage of Photoslurp’s visual commerce platform to promote one of their contests:
Pretty cool, huh?
If you have a relatively small following, you may be able to monitor entries on your own. When dealing with a few dozen entries, it’s easy to eyeball and pick potential winners or see who shared your hashtag.
That said, those with tens of thousands of followers are likely going to need some extra help in promoting and tracking the performance of their giveaways.
Luckily, there are tools and platforms to help with that.
For example, Shortstack allows brands to create giveaway entries on-site based on pre-existing templates. Additionally, Shortstack’s solution monitors the analytics and performance of your giveaway, too.
To take your giveaways and contests a step further, platforms like Gleam allow for multiple entries to provide your campaign a sense of competition. Gleam can pick winners at random or based on their entry actions as noted below.
Either of these tools can help build awareness for your giveaway. Regardless of your promotion strategy, simply make sure you integrate Instagram into your website in some way, shape or form so that your on-site traffic stays in the loop.
What to Do After Your Giveaway is Over
Okay, so the deadline for your big giveaway has finally come. What now?
Choose a Winner
For starters, it’s time to pick a winner. Thankfully, there’s an app for that.
If you aren’t using any of the aforementioned tools or choosing a winner manually, apps such as Easypromos allow you to pick winners at random based on specific parameters. For example, you can exclude entries after your deadline or discount any entrants that did not include a specific mention or hashtag:
Follow Up and Congratulate
Once your winner is selected, a quick follow-up is in order. It’s common for brands to tag their winners in a congratulatory post which is a win-win for you and your followers. Not only do you instantly inform and get the attention of your winner, but also get to show your followers that you’re willing to show fans some love.
Here’s an example of such a post from MVMT which tags and says “thanks” to entrants after their contest is closed:
After tagging and requesting a DM, simply ask your winners for their name and email address. You could communicate delivery of their prize via DM, but email is definitely preferable if you plan on going back-and-forth with your winners.
As noted earlier, it’s your responsibility to keep track of your entrants’ information and ensure that their prize gets from Point A to Point B. Keep your winners in the loop regarding when they should expect their prizes and don’t be afraid to ask for a shout out of confirmation once they’ve received it.
Mind Your Metrics
Last but not least, no Instagram giveaway is complete without reviewing the metrics and KPIs. Again, you may decide to use giveaways purely for branding; however, understand how your giveaways perform in terms of followers, engagement, conversions, sign-ups and traffic will all clue you in on whether or not your content was a success by the numbers.
There are tools out there specifically tailored for Instagram contests such as Woobox and Wishpond, both ideal if you’re looking to run frequent competitions given their respective price tags. Additionally, social tracking tools such as Sprout Social can help you understand your level of engagement and how many new followers you score during any given Instagram campaign:
Finally, you can use a unique tracking URL in your bio to assess how many followers and fans you’re funneling back on-site, especially important to note if you have a giveaway-specific landing page. As always, pay close attention to your referrals in Google Analytics to see if you’re noting a surge in traffic on-site during your giveaway periods.
By understanding these numbers, you can better refine your strategy for your next giveaway when it comes to messaging, productions and promotion tactics.
Recap: The Anatomy of an Irresistible Instagram Giveaway
Although it may seem like there are a lot of moving pieces to a giveaway, much of your campaign’s success comes down to three factors:
- Your prize. Ask yourself: what sort of giveaway items are enticing enough to drive entries?
- Your caption copy. Be specific in terms of what actions entrants must take. Do what you can to make the barrier to entry relatively low. Snapping a picture or tagging a friend only takes a couple of seconds, after all.
- Your promotional strategy. From the type of giveaway you’re running to promoting and following up with entrants, you can’t afford to lose track of your campaign by the numbers.
Set your goals. Pick your items. Choose a giveaway. Promote it.
Reward, review and repeat.
Between the examples noted above and the hard data surrounding the power of Instagram giveaways, brands on the fence should definitely hop on board sooner rather than later.
Giveaways have become an expectation for many modern followers; however, so few marketers are actually taking advantage of them.
Why not change that?
What Type of Instagram Giveaway Should You Consider?
Simply put, Instagram giveaways represent easy pickings for modern brands. They can drive massive engagement without taking up too much of your time or budget. If you run giveaways and contests consistently, chances are you’ll organically grow your Instagram audience over time.
And the more giveaways you run, the more you learn.
With the freedom and options available for brands looking to get started with giveaways, you can tailor your campaigns to the specific wants of your audience and industry.
So, what would you want to gain from your next hypothetical Instagram giveaway? If you haven’t run one yourself, what’s holding you back? Let us know in the comments below.
Brent Barnhart is a freelance content marketer and writer for visual commerce and marketing platform Photoslurp. From tackling the latest buzzwords to teaching marketers how to craft more compelling content, he’s willing to take on just about anything involving the written word.