How to Run a Successful Instagram Giveaway

If you’re looking for a simple but extremely effective way to increase brand awareness, boost engagement, gain new and relevant followers, and get more conversions on Instagram — consider an Instagram giveaway!

Everybody loves free stuff, and you can leverage the incentive to get them to engage with your content, tag their friends, or perform some other action that takes little effort on their part, but can make a big difference for your business.

So how do you run a giveaway? Below are 10 steps to guide you through running a successful Instagram giveaway campaign.

Step 1: Define your goal

The first thing you need to do is decide on your goal. Do you want to increase brand awareness? Get people to sign up for your email list? Gain more Instagram followers? Drive traffic to your website?

Picking a concrete goal will help you decide on your entry criteria and overall strategy.

Step 2: Consider teaming up

It’s not essential to team up with another brand or influencer when running a giveaway. However, partnering with another brand gives you both access to each other’s audience, and since you’ll both be chipping in, it means you’ll be able to offer a better, more valuable prize.

Here’s an example of a successful collaborative giveaway, from @rawwcosmetics & @thrivingonplants:

Step 3: Pick your prize (or prizes)

The beauty of social media giveaways is that they’re super simple and easy to enter, and people will be willing to participate even for a modest prize. You don’t need a huge prize to run a successful giveaway.

The obvious choice would be to give away one of the items or services your business sells. But you could also give away an item that relates to your brand. For example, if you’re a makeup artist, you could give away a free makeover — or a free makeup product that you like to work with. You could also give away an experience, like tickets to a concert or a weekend at a hotel.

One important thing to keep in mind is that people are willing to do more for a bigger prize. If you’re giving away a $10 item, people might be willing to like your post and tag a friend for that, but they may not be willing to create and share their own content for it. So the more you’re asking of contestants, the bigger your prize should be.

Also consider whether to offer just one prize, or multiple prizes. One prize takes less investment, but multiple prizes give contestants a better chance to win something, which might motivate them to participate.

Step 4: Pick your entry criteria

Now you need to decide on the contest rules. Choose your entry criteria according to your end goals.

For example, if your goal is simply to boost engagement, you can ask followers to simply like the post to enter. If you want to promote brand awareness, you might ask your contestants to follow your account (and your partner’s, if you’ve teamed up with another brand) and tag a friend in the comments on the announcement post. You might also ask them to share your content on their own feeds, or challenge them to a photo contest, where they have to post photos of themselves with your product and tag you or use your contest hashtag.

If you want to drive traffic to your website, you can ask them to leave a comment on a blog post, or withhold some of the details of the contest from the caption and ask followers to follow the link in your bio to see more details. (Don’t forget to update your bio link to a landing page or blog post explaining more about the contest!) You could also use the giveaway to get people to sign up for your email list.

Step 5: Decide who will be eligible to enter

Will anyone be able to enter the contest? It’s especially important to consider this if your prize is a physical object: you could end up investing a lot more than you planned if a contestant from a country on the other side of the world wins the prize! If you’d like the contest to be open to anyone but don’t want to cover international shipping costs, you can add that international contestants are free to enter but will be asked to pay for shipping if they win.

Step 6: Decide how you’ll select the winner (or winners)

Will you pick one at random, or judge each entry and choose the best one? The first option is a lot easier, but the second option creates more investment on the part of the contestant.

There are a few ways to pick a winner at random. One is to use Google’s random number generator. Count the number of entries that were made, then type “random number generator” in the Google search box. Set the minimum number to 1 and the maximum number to the number of entries, then hit “generate.” Then head back to your list of entries and count until you reach the random number.

You could also use a random name picker, like this one.

Neither of these are very practical for very large contests, though, because you have to count and record usernames manually. (It might help to enter usernames into a spreadsheet throughout the day as entries come in.) If these methods are too unwieldy, you can use a sweepstakes app to help you organize your contest and pick a random winner.

Step 7: Create a unique giveaway hashtag

Pick a unique hashtag for your contest. This is especially important if you’re asking contestants to share their own content, because it will allow both you and your followers to view the contest entries by searching the hashtag. A unique hashtag can also help boost your campaign’s visibility.

If you can come up with something creative and interesting — go for it! Your hashtag could also be something simple like #[your brand]giveaway.

Here’s a recent contest example from @EnlightPixaloop that incorporates a unique hashtag:

View this post on Instagram

⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀🎁EXCLUSIVE PIXALOOP GIVEAWAY 🎁 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Anybody want a new iPad Pro? 🎄🎉⁠ Design the best holiday greeting cards for a chance to WIN BIG (we even have a Tripod for our second place winner 😉)⁠ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ How to win:⁠ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 1) Make a holiday card with Pixaloop twist⁠ 🎀 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 2) 📱Post it with #JollyPixaloop and @enlightpixaloop⁠ 🎅🏻 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 3) Tag 2 friends below ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 4) Stay cozy & keep your fingers crossed 🤞 ⁠ Contest valid for US, UK, Germany, Canada, Italy, France, Russia, Spain, Brazil, Argentina, Australia, Netherlands and Japan residents only⁠ Terms & Conditions apply⁠⁠

A post shared by Enlight Pixaloop (@enlightpixaloop) on

Step 8: Define the time frame of your contest

How long should your contest run? In general, it’s best to keep it to a few days, because this increases the buzz and sense of urgency that will motivate people to participate. However, if you have a relatively small audience and want to be sure you get enough entries to make the giveaway worth it, you may want to give it a little more time — up to a week.

You should also decide when you’ll announce your winner. If you’re planning to select a winner by judging the entries, be sure to give yourself enough time to review all the entries and make a decision.

Step 9: Launch & promote your giveaway

Now it’s time to get the word out! Create a compelling and colorful Feed post announcing your giveaway, and state the rules of the contest in the caption. Don’t forget to announce the contest in your Stories, too!

Be sure to include the following information in your announcement post:

  • What the prize is
  • What the entry criteria are
  • Contestant eligibility
  • When the contest is starting and ending
  • When you will be announcing the winners

Note that Instagram has a few rules and guidelines about running promotions, and one of them is that you need to add a disclaimer to the caption that states that your promotion is not associated with or supported, endorsed, or administered by Instagram. You can read the full guidelines here.

Your post can be a still image of the item you’re planning to giveaway, or an illustrative photo, or text on a background. Even better, it can be a video. Boosted has some templates that are perfect for giveaway promo videos, and you can use the same template on your Feed and in your Stories. 

This is a good time to get your feet wet with paid Instagram promotion if you haven’t tried that yet. Boosting your campaign with paid advertising may cost more, but it may also help your campaign achieve its goals more effectively.

Step 10: Select and inform your winner

When your contest deadline is up, it’s a good idea to edit the caption of the contest and add “GIVEAWAY CLOSED” in big capital letters so people don’t continue trying to enter. (You’d be surprised how many people don’t actually read the rules!)

If you’ve decided to select a winner based on the quality of the entries, you’ll need to set aside the time to consider them. If you’re selecting your winner at random, use the method you decided on ahead of time.

Once you’ve found your winner, make sure they followed all the entry criteria — and if not, pick the next name on the list. Then, contact the winner to share the good news and arrange the delivery of their prize.

Lastly, announce the winner on your Instagram Feed and stories, and be sure to tag the winner!

Action Items:

1. Decide on a goal for a giveaway based on your overall marketing goals for this quarter.
2. Choose a prize and pick the criteria and parameters outlined in steps 3 through 8.
3. Create compelling Feed and Story posts to announce and promote your giveaway.
4. Launch your giveaway and watch your numbers climb!

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