The Ultimate Guide to Running an Irresistible Instagram Giveaway

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The Ultimate Guide to Running an Irresistible Instagram Giveaway

If you’re searching for a scalable strategy for more followers, sales and long-term brand engagement, look no further than an Instagram giveaway. All you need to do to run an Instagram giveaway is:

  1. Set your goals
  2. Pick your prize
  3. Be ready to commit
  4. Track your results

Because 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 case study by Tailwind for Instagram, brands that regularly run giveaways and content boast insane metrics in terms of engagement.

instagram giveaway

The numbers don’t lie in regard to just how much people will go nuts for an Instagram giveaway. For starters, Tailwind noted the following striking stats:

  • Instagram accounts that run regular giveaways and contests grow 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

Crazy, right?

But perhaps the most striking statistic of all?

Despite these staggering numbers, only 2% of Instagram accounts run contests or giveaways. 

Two percent.

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?

In this post, we’re going to detail not only how to run an irresistible Instagram Giveaway, all the way from promotion to delivery, but we’ll also give you the tools to pick the best kind of giveaway for your content strategy.

Let’s do this!

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.

instagram giveaway

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 contests “just because.” In fact, creating the expectations of regular giveaways is a great way to encourage and excite 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):

instagram giveaway

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 funnel.

How Long Should an Instagram Giveaway Last?

Timing is an important yet overlooked factor for your Instagram giveaway, though. 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:

instagram giveaway

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-Must Do’s 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 yourself
  • 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:

instagram giveaway

An Instagram giveaway that sends traffic to Facebook. Hey, why not? If Facebook traffic’s 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:

instagram giveaway

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’s a giveaway without a prize, anyhow?

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:

instagram giveaway

Here’s a list of prizes that could help inspire your Instagram giveaway:

  • Free shipping for a year
  • “A few of our favorite things” – a gift box with the brand’s favorite products
  • A trip or experience that surrounds the use of your product
  • Refer a friend benefits for a year (for every friend referred they get a special discount)
  • A free product with the chance to be featured on the website
  • And of course – credit to buy more products from your eCommerce!

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 in regard to…

  • Tracking entries and responding to follower questions or concerns
  • Setting specific deadlines for your giveaway and sticking to them
  • Choosing a winner, posting an announcement and following 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:

instagram giveaway

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.

The 4 Types of Effective Instagram 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. UGC Giveaways

A good chunk of Instagram giveaways out there require User Generated Content as a form of entry. Coupled with a branded hashtag, UGC 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 #FenderInspirationContest hashtag:

instagram giveaway

Beyond customer photos, other creative ideas for UGC giveaways include caption contests or video clips as means of entry. Check out these winning customer photo examples.

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 UGC, 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:

instagram giveaway

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 win up to five prizes:

instagram giveaway

As a side note, multiple prizes obviously mean 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 Giveaways

Not inherently different from running an Instagram 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:

instagram giveaway

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 to put you on blast.

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:

instagram giveaway

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 ghost your entrants.

Be Specific with Your Copy

instagram giveaway

Your entrants shouldn’t have to second-guess the rules of entry for 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, by the way. 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 Promoting 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 Flowbox’s visual commerce platform to promote one of their contests:

instagram giveaway

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 pre-existing templates. Additionally, Shortstack’s solution monitors the analytics and performance of your giveaway, too.

instagram giveaway

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.

instagram giveaway

Either of these tools can help build awareness for your giveaway. Regardless of your promotion strategy, simply make sure you integrate social media 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. Here are 5 different ways for you to pick a winner of our contests depending on how you’re choosing to conduct them!

  1. Choose a winner at random – you can do this by using an app like this one!
  2. Choose a winner based on the comments left on your post – Google’s random number generator is a great tool for this.
  3. Choose a winner at random who have commented or liked the post
  4. Ask people to vote who should be the winner (based on likes)

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 you 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:

instagram giveaway

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, understanding 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:

instagram giveaway

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.
instagram giveaway

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?

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.

Looking for more Instagram tips? Head to our complete guide to Instagram Marketing, where you’ll find everything you need to know about promoting your products on this crucial platform.