How to Run an Instagram Contest: Giveaway Rules and Best Practices


With over 1 billion monthly active users, Instagram is on the throne with the rest of the giants of social networks in today’s digital world. This mobile photo and video sharing app quickly gained popularity among Internet users, and it wasn’t long before it became such competition to Facebook that they decided to buy it. Now, together under one roof, Facebook and Instagram have been unstoppable for the last couple of years with new updates and features being added to Instagram every couple of weeks and months.
With Instagram algorithm being a big puzzle to a lot of Instagramers, they are always on the lookout for new and creative ways to reach their audience and engage them. Contests, sweepstakes, and giveaways have been highly effective for a boost of presence on any social media, including Instagram. They generate tons of engagement and can be very beneficial for growing Instagram following base. The problem is, not everyone knows how to organize an Instagram contest or giveaway and are struggling to figure out a way to even start with one.
That’s why I’ll highlight some key points what you CAN do if you want to organize an Instagram contest, but also what you SHOULDN’T do while we’re at it.

Instagram Contest Guidelines

Believe it or not, Instagram is not strict with its rules as Facebook is. According to their Promotion Guidelines, there are only 5 simple rules you have to follow.

  1. You are in charge of the lawful operation of that contest, which means you need to have clearly stated official rules (including eligibility requirements such as age restrictions if there are any or residency restrictions in case you only want to host a giveaway for citizens of your country only)
  2. You mustn’t inaccurately use tagging of content as a way to participate in the contest in the first place. This means you CAN’T ask participants to tag themselves in photos in they aren’t in them, but you CAN ask them to tag a couple of friends below the photo in the comments as a way to participate in a giveaway
  3. You need to acknowledge that your Instagram contest or giveaway is not sponsored, endorsed or associated with Instagram in any way.
  4. State that Instagram will not assist you in the administration of that contest or on how to obtain any necessary consent
  5. You need to realize that if you use Instagram as a platform to administer your contest or a giveaway, you do so at your own risk and Instagram is excluded from it.

Best practices

The first requirement most Instagram giveaway hosts do is to set a rule that you must follow their profile if you want to participate in a giveaway. It is one of the most effective ways to grow your following base on Instagram: merely require users to follow you as part of the official rules of your contest.
The second thing most giveaways have as a mandatory rule is to like a picture or a video used in a post that hosts a giveaway. Once again, it’s great for boosting your engagement, AND it’s increasing your chances of ending up on the Explore page of Instagram which will make your profile even more visible to interested users. Later, once your giveaway is over and you’ve selected to winners, it’s quite easy to check out if they’ve liked your post by simply clicking on Likes under your post and searching their username, as well as checking if they’ve followed your profile.

Aside from that, you can always ask them to tag a friend (or more) in the comments (as I’ve stated before) which might pique their interest, so they’ll possibly participate as well.
Another great idea is to ask them to use a specific hashtag in the comments if you have a particular hashtag you want to promote a bit more or if it’s related to something close to your brand, product, service or company in general.
Lastly, many giveaway hosts let users have bonus entries by sharing giveaway posts on their Instagram Stories. However, keep in mind Instagram Stories last only for a day so you might have trouble tracking back users who got bonus entries vs. those who only participated once under your contest post. That’s why this might be a better idea for those with a smaller number of followers OR if you’re doing a flash giveaway that lasts only for a day (most contest on Instagram last for at least a couple of days).

Good luck with your next giveaway and happy Instagramming!