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Have you ever run a competition on Instagram? How did it go? Did it leave you jumping for joy or pulling your hair out?!

Running a stress-free Instagram competition is about more than just posting that you’re running a giveaway and watching the followers stack up. Here’s our top 5 tips for running a stress-free instagram competition…

1. Be strategic.

You could have more than a million followers, but if they never like or comment on your photos or click the link in your bio to check out what you do, do they even really exist?

To avoid the frustration of having all the followers but no sales, you’re going to need to be strategic to make sure your competition attracts the right people and keeps your stress levels low.

Start by working out:

Once you’ve worked these out, the rest is easy… well, easier.

2. Plan your content in advance.

Whether you’re collecting entries directly on Instagram or you’re directing your Instagram followers to your website to enter, you’re going to to need some awesome content to let your followers know you’re running a competition, what they can win and how they can enter.

Remember that at the end of your competition, you need to be able to quickly and easily pull all entries together to pick your winner; so when you’re planning your content, try to keep entries to one single post only if you’re going with a like and/or comment competition.


  • Countdown posts. Count down to the launch of your competition with fun teaser posts to ensure you get plenty of entries on day one.
  • Regular reminder posts. Your followers aren’t going to know you’re running a competition unless you tell them, or remind them multiple times. Posting once and crossing your fingers won’t get entries.
  • Countdown to close. Don’t overdo it with the countdown posts, but at least let people know when they only have a day left to enter.
  • Thank you/competition closed post. Thank your followers for entering, tell them the competition is closed and let them know when they can expect to be announced as the lucky winner…
  • Winner announcement. There’s nothing worse than entering a competition and not being able to find out who won, it totally destroys trust and is a chance to lose credibility (and followers).

Ensure you announce your competition winner, simply mentioning their first name and initial of their surname.

TIP: Scheduling your content in advance will give you one less thing to worry about…

3. Promote the heck out of your competition.

Now is not the time to be shy. There’s a direct correlation between the amount of promotion a business does for their competition and the number of entries a competition receives.

Competitions are not a set and forget marketing activity, to ensure a steady flow of entries to your competition, you need to post regularly and make it clear that you’re running a competition.

We’ve already covered how to promote your competition at great length in our How to promote your competition post, so we won’t rehash promotion here, except to encourage you to promote your Instagram competition or giveaway absolutely everywhere you have access to – including your website, social media channels, paid advertising and any third parties you have relationships with.

The more you promote, the more entries you’ll receive. It’s as simple as that.

We mixed regular posts with competition posts for our client Elements Pole Aerial Fitness.

If you’re not so hot with Photoshop or don’t feel comfortable shouting about yourself or your business, let us do it for you

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4. Think about how you’ll pick your winner.

Picking a winner from Instagram is no easy task and is bound to cause you stress.

For starters, Instagram won’t let you export a list of post likes so you can’t use a random number picker to pick your winner and third party apps can’t seem to pick a winner from post likes either. So if you do run a like to win competition, you’ll have to manually copy and paste your post likers into a spreadsheet or do the highly dubious close-your-eyes-and-scroll to pick a winner method. Not exactly fair to all entrants, or exactly legal, but we know you do it.

Instagram can also be a nightmare when it comes to hashtag competitions. If an entrant has set their account to ‘private’, their posts won’t appear when you search for your competition hashtag. If you want to run a hashtag competition, be sure to tell entrants to set their profile to public if they want their entry to count.

Thankfully, third party apps can be real stress-busters when running competitions on Instagram.

Apps like Easypromos and Woobox can however, help you pick a winner from comments on a post and apps like ShortStack can import posts tagged with a certain hashtag on Instagram, though you will pay a pretty penny for the privilege.

TIP: make sure you incorporate these costs into your budget if you do plan to use a third party tool to help pick your winner.

5. Do something with your entrants.

One of the most stressful parts of running an Instagram competition (well, besides the four things we’ve already covered of course…) is keeping your entrants engaged post-competition.

Followers are all well and good, but if you don’t tell them what to do next, you risk losing their attention and engagement – and that means you can forget all about sales.

We weren’t kidding when we said ‘tell them what to do next’. Give them clear, explicit instructions in the form of a call to action. If you’re super dedicated, you could message each entrant with an offer code or link to your website or post an offer open to everyone who entered.

The perfect opportunity for this is in your winner announcement post – when you tell the world who has won (after confirming with the winner that they’re happy to accept of course) let them know that everyone’s a winner with a special discount/value add/offer etc.

Running a stress-free Instagram competition is as easy as coming up with a strategy, creating your content in advance, doing enough promotion to encourage entries, giving a thought to how you’ll pick your winner and finally, doing something to engage your entrants post-competition.

Of course, for a completely stress-free Instagram competition, you could always let the experts handle it. Get in touch with us to find out how we can help your next Instagram competition hit the mark.