Instagram contest? Think about this!

You have probably scrolled through your feed and seen the message "Competition! Like and share this post for a chance to win our product". And maybe you have become curious about organizing one yourself? Social media competitions can be a way to generate engagement, sales, reach and brand awareness. Here are our tips on how to plan and execute an Instagram contest with successful results!

Four questions to answer

To have a successful competition, there are some pieces of the puzzle you need to put in place. We recommend that you plan your competition according to these four questions:

  • Why? Clarify why you should have a contest on Instagram. Purpose? Your goal or goals?
  • What? Decide what kind of Instagram contest you're going to have.
  • How? Clarify how to participate and how to win.
  • When? Decide when the contest will take place.

Once you have the above in place, it will be much easier to evaluate your activity. We will help you here, step by step, to reach the goal of your competition!

Review your purpose of the contest

When you're organizing an Instagram contest, it's important that you know your purpose. An elaborate purpose will help you set clear goals for your activity and facilitate follow-up to answer whether the contest was successful or not. So start by thinking about what you want the contest to achieve. Is it perhaps an extended following group? Or broader brand awareness?

Best practices for your contest

Make it easy to participate

An important aspect when it comes to contests is that it should be easy to participate. Whether your participants should interact with your posts or post their own. And this is especially true if your goal is to get greater reach. An increased engagement in likes and comments boosts your activities on Instagram and you reach out to more users.

Keep in mind that the profit must also correspond to what you ask for in performance. Too high demands will give you a reduced participation.

Customize the contest to Instagram

No matter where you arrange a contest, you need to adapt to the platform. Maybe a given for some, for others not. Think about what features Instagram offers and how to normally use them. So here you should think about your own contributions in the form of images or simple videos such as posts or events, or interactions with your activity such as comments or shares.

Design your contest by your audience

Be sure to target your contest. You have to think about how they use the platform and what it takes for them to participate in your particular contest. For example, encouraging users to share an image can be a difficult challenge if they are very concerned about how their profiles look.

The prize shall correspond to the performance

Don't skimp on the prize, it should be worth competing! However, the value of the prize should be in line with the performance requirements of the contest. A tip is to link the prize to the company. For example, it is more relevant for a company that sells home furnishings to raffle a floor lamp than a trip. Otherwise, there is a risk that you as an organizer and your brand will not remain Top-of-mind to the participants longer than the time the contest itself is going on, as there is no clear association between the brand and the prize.

Spread the word in other channels

Depending on what's appropriate for your company and your channels, it might be worth spreading the word outside of Instagram. Probably you do not have exactly the same followers on your different platforms. You thereby increase the chance to get more participants and also new followers. By all means, don't forget to link to the contest.

A tip is also to create paid campaigns where you can to ensure that the activity reaches your intended audience for the contest. Again – think about the purpose and evaluate if it's worth the money!

Test and evaluate before publishing

Let someone else review and test your planned contest before you publish. Ask the person to review the conditions to compete and make sure it's easy to understand how to participate. Take the opportunity to refine the contest so that you get the maximum effect.

Follow laws and rules

Maybe not the funniest episode, but so important. Contests can be appreciated activities and with good returns if you do it correctly. So to protect the brand and not risk going on a fine or having the account suspended, there are some guidelines to take into account. But don't despair, it's actually easy to do right. Here we go through the Law of marketing (SE. Marknadsföringslagen), Gambling Act (SE. Spellagen) and Instagram's own guidelines and policy for competitions.

Provide clear contest terms and conditions

When you arrange contests on Instagram, you need to follow the rules of the Law of Marketing. It should be clear that it is a contest and who´s the organizer. All essential information shall also be provided at the activity itself. In other words, it should also be clear what the rules apply.

For your contest you need to establish contest conditions. Here are examples of questions that are useful to answer in the terms:

  • What is the task?
  • How many contributions can you participate with?
  • How long will the Instagram contest last?
  • Who can participate? Age limit and residence
  • What is the prize and what is the value of the prize?
  • How is the prize awarded? Are shipping costs added?
  • Who is responsible? Who's the jury?
  • Who do you contact if you have any questions?
  • Where, how and when is the winner presented?
  • How do you process personal data?

In addition, you also need to inform about any profit tax. Also, be sure to notify participants that they may need to have a public profile, based on how your contest is designed.

As you will understand, full terms are hardly included in your Instagram post. But a tip is to refer to a page on your site with full contest terms. For example, see how Mekonomen has done!

The swedish Gambling Inspection do no longer separate competitions from lotteries

On January 1, 2019, a new Gaming Act was established that no longer distinguishes between competitions and lotteries, as was previously the case. In the past, permission from the Swedish Gambling Inspection was required to arrange competitions where it was luck that determined who won, like a lottery. The luck in this case was competitions that did not require any performance, e.g. in the event of a competition. "like", "share" or "comment". Competitions, on the other hand, which required a competition where it was possible to distinguish the participants' performance in comparison with each other, did not require permission. But with the new Gaming Act, it is no longer a distinction between competitions and lotteries. You can thus arrange random competitions with prizes in the pot as long as the prize itself is not money.

Follow Instagram's own rules

In addition to the Law of Marketing and the Gaming Act, you must also follow Instagram's own rules on how to use the platform. Here you have to follow their campaign guidelines, which summed up governing contests through:

  • Tagging: You may not incorrectly tag content or encourage users to incorrectly tag content (for example, don't encourage people to tag themselves in photos unless they're in the photo).
  • Existing users: Each participant must have a full version of Instagram.
  • Independent: The promotion must include confirmation that it is not sponsored, supported or administered by or affiliated with Instagram.
  • Terms and conditions: The terms and conditions of the offer (e.g. age and residence restrictions).
  • Clarity: Applicable rules for the promotion and the prizes offered are complied with (e.g. registration and that you have all the necessary permissions).

Here you can read more about Instagram's Campaign Guidelines. Be sure to keep yourself updated as these may be updated and changed.

We recommend that you keep your Instagram contest to Instagram only. The disadvantage of doing a contest that extends over several channels is that the engagement will be scattered, it will be more difficult to get an overall picture of the participation, more difficult to customize the target group and that you do not take advantage of the characteristics that are unique to Instagram.

Different types of Instagram contests

Once you have taken the above points into account, you have a good chance of success. Now it's time to decide what kind of Instagram contest you want. We'll talk about the most common Instagram contests, their pros and cons, and give some real-life examples. Most types of competitions overlap and can be combined to your advantage as an organizer and the participants. The only limit is your imagination.


A hashtag contest usually asks participants to post their own post under a specific hashtag. The advantages of this type of Instagram contest is that as an organizer, you can get a wide viral spread through the participants' feeds as well as via the tag. Your hashtag also makes it easy to follow the contributions. The disadvantage of this type of competition is that it requires relatively high commitment. This means that if you as an organizer do not already have an active and engaged following group, this type of Instagram contest tends not to be in the company's favor. Unless you're a big company like Coca-Cola, of course!

Be sure to choose the hashtag with care. It should preferably be unique to your Instagram contest and I recommend you to include the brand in it. Make sure to double check that your tag doesn't already exist!


A contest where you encourage engagement on your own posts. As an organizer, participants are usually asked to follow your company, like and share the contest post, tag friends or leave a comment on the post, perhaps an explanation of why you are the right person to win. Either all steps are required or some of them.

Which one should you choose? If your purpose as an organizer is to generate followers, only the requirement to "follow", "like" and "tag" can be enough, but keep in mind that the quality can be accordingly. You run the risk of getting a list of people who are only interested in free stuff and consequently not of your brand. However, if you require "share" and "comment with a motivation", you prevent the participation of only "profit-hungry" people, as this requires a little more time and commitment from them.

The advantages of this type of Instagram contest are that you as an organizer, thanks to greater potential spread, increase your chances of more followers. The downside is that it can be somewhat more difficult to market. It tends to look like advertising. It can be especially difficult with contest where you are prompted to share a picture. Remember – the performance should correspond to the prize.

Example of 3 friends' ice cream contest


You can also arrange a contest through the story function. A story is a series of videos or images that you can access through the circles that are located at the top of the app. If you've gotten acquainted with stories before, you'll know that they're only active for 24 hours. So you have 24 hours to show your contest. But you can always choose to "store" it in Highlights and suddenly you have extended the time. Don't forget to let us know that you're saving the contest there!

You can save your story in "highlights" on your profile

One advantage of a story contest is that you reduce the barriers to participation. Not everyone feels comfortable including advertising in their profiles, but the resistance is not experienced as strongly when the split becomes temporary. The disadvantage, however, is that you as a company may not take as much space on your participants' profiles. But if you think about the set-up of the contest and tags in a thoughtful way, you can get good exposure anyway.

Inspiration for your contest on Instagram

We can probably all recognize an idea drought. So we thought we'd share some different suggestions where creativity has spoken its clear language and where you can hopefully get some new ideas. Stay tuned!

Skill-based contests

Test your target audience's knowledge and skills! You can perform this contest in a number of ways – for example through quizzes or challenges. Quizising is also suitable for stories, where the tool has just such a function.

Tour operator TUI is an example that created a skill-based contest. To participate in the contest, you had to show your "pool skills". And the prize? Yes, visibility on their account!

Tui's challenge generates "UGC" (User Generated Content)

The benefit of this type of contest is that it is based on User Generated Content (usually abbreviated UGC). This type of material can then be reused into your account, which also boosts your company's credibility.


As the title reads, you as an organizer can design an Instagram contest like a treasure-hunt. It can be done in different ways, but of course it should be required that you are involved and committed to win. Mecenat is an example that arranged an Instagram contest over Christmas designed as a Christmas gift hunt. By using the map in the Mecenat app, users were able to see where Christmas presents worth thousands of SEK were hidden in town. You just had to go out and search– in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Uppsala.

Mecenat conducted an Instagram contest as a Christmas gift hunt

Design like a game

OLW conducted a contest with Instagram stories during Easter. When the easter bunny was in the middle of the frame, you would stop it with your finger and take a screenshot. The picture would then be shared in your own story along with a comment about why you were a worthy winner and tag OLW in the picture. "Snacky" prizes were in the pot.

OLW's Easter contest was about catching the easter bunny in their story

Be involved during the contest

Once your contest is up and running, you have to be engaged and make those who participate feel seen. If you're not engaged, why should your participants be? Like, comment and encourage. However, be fair and solidarity, in other words distribute evenly. Otherwise, the risk is that new potential participants will not want to participate if they see that some are receiving encouragement and others do not.

Keep in mind that you are now forming a relationship between you and several new contacts. Make sure they get a good impression of your company and your account, and you might get new loyal followers.

After the end of the contest

First of all, you need to select your winner and announce who won. Try to get the person to shine! Here you have as a brand the chance to make an impression with minimal cost. In a larger contest with a bigger prize, it might be an idea to do that little extra. Why not do as the Swedish Postcode Lottery and go home to the person with a bouquet of flowers? This can of course be used as your own content in your own channels.

When the contest is finished, it is also time to evaluate the contest according to the purpose. What were your results? What worked vs did not worked? What lessons do you take with you? If you have a business account, you can use Instagram's own statistics tool. See how much reach your activities have given you, how many new followers, how much commitment, etc.

One last tip, hopefully your Instagram contest will generate new interactions. Use these to build a new Custom Audience that you can promote to during your next contest, through paid campaigns. In this way, you will remain visible to people who interacted with your Instagram contest but didn't start follow you.


When arranging a contest on Instagram, there are four questions you need to review; Why should you arrange a contest? What kind of contest should you have? How to participate and how to win the contest? When will the contest take place?

It is important that you design your contest so it responds well to your purpose. If the idea is to get maximum exposure, you need to keep that in mind. In addition, you also need to make sure that it is suitable for your target audience,so you get a good participation. Think about what competition rules you should have and that they respond well to the prize you can win. Your contest should of course follow current laws and regulations. As of the turn of 2019, the Swedish Gaming Inspection no longer distinguishes between competitions and lotteries, which allows you to lower the requirements for performance.

Once you've decided which type of Instagram contest (ex. hashtag contest) is best suited to your purpose, it's time to review the design itself. Feel free to review and test the contest by following your rules before you publish.

After the competition is completed, pay tribute to the winner and evaluate your activity. Was it a successful contest or not?

Help with your contest?

We hope to have given you new knowledge, insights and ideas. Remember, an Instagram contest should be fun and can be a powerful way to create engagement and grow your following. Do you have questions or need help managing your Instagram contest? Do not hesitate to contact us at Anegy. We will help you with your activity.

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Blog of the year - Young Marketing Professional of the year, Sabine Ljunggren.