Instagram Contest: A Surefire Way to Multiply Likes and Engagement

Profile photo of Heidi Lang, author

Heidi Lang

Instagram Growth | Oct 20, 2022

Want More Real Instagram Followers?

Contests are a time-tested strategy that guarantees eager participation from your target market. When you run an Instagram contest, you can expect your follower and engagement numbers to continuously shoot up for its entire duration. You can go with the simple formula of “Follow, like, comment, and share” or be as creative as you like! Here’s your comprehensive guide to up your Instagram game, both literally and figuratively, and get more likes on Instagram with an Instagram contest.

A woman firing a party popper into the sky for an Instagram contest winner.

How To Create A Contest On Instagram

First things first, know the basics of how to create a contest on Instagram. Here’s a guide to help you plan your contest.

  1. Decide on what kind of Instagram contest you want to run. Will it be a raffle with a set of prizes or a single giveaway? Will your audience participate by simply following your page and liking, commenting on, and sharing your post? Or will your contest involve photo/video entries?
  2. Pick a prize for your contest. As much as possible, the prize must be relevant to your brand and something that your target market will want to have. Alternatively, you can partner with another brand and offer a prize that’s not related to your brand or industry but will still greatly appeal to your market. It can be tickets to an event, a spa treat, or even a getaway. 
  3. Define your contest’s goal. Do you want to get more followers, promote a new product, or build brand awareness?
  4. Figure out how long your contest will run. You have to determine the length of time that’s adequate to reach as many users as possible and achieve your goal.
  5. Create a promotion strategy and schedule. How will you announce your contest? Ideally, you should promote your contest on all your social media platforms, just make sure to redirect your participants to your original Instagram post. And then plot a daily and weekly contest promotion schedule. Make sure you know the best times to post on Instagram.
  6. Create the content for your Instagram contest. This will include an enticing photo/video, your contest mechanics/instructions, and a call to action, among others.

After you launch your contest, make sure to set aside some time to promptly respond to inquiries about your contest.

An Instagram giveaway featuring essential oils.

How Do Instagram Contests Work?

How do Instagram contests work to deliver your goal? A successful contest can attract hundreds or thousands of participants, and a big percentage of them may become long-term followers. One study found that a simple Instagram giveaway can help an account’s follower numbers grow 70% faster within three months compared to not hosting a contest for the same period. It’s important that you plan a contest that appeals to your target audience to make sure that most of those who join are genuinely interested in what you have to offer and are going to be highly engaged followers even long after the contest is over.

Instagram Contest Rules

Your Instagram contest rules must be clear-cut and easy to understand and follow. It’s best to have them numbered or in bullet points so that people can simply follow the steps to participate. Place the rules in your post’s caption to make them highly visible and always accessible to anyone who wants to join. 

Alongside the contest rules, the caption will also include the purpose of the contest, the prize, the contest duration, and how the winner will be picked and contacted. If your contest has specific conditions and exclusions, such as geographic limitations or age restrictions, you must also state these clearly in your caption. You may also want to mention that your contest “is in no way sponsored, endorsed, administered by, or associated with Instagram.”

Here’s an example of a basic Instagram contest: 

Sample Instagram contest with basic rules.

Here’s another example with Terms & Conditions included in the caption:

When sharing the contest on other social media platforms or on your website, you may also want to include the rules in your main caption, or give clear instructions that interested participants must go directly to the original post on Instagram to read the rules and join the contest. 

How To Tag A Friend On Instagram Contest

An Instagram contest is a no-fail strategy for reaching more of your target audience and gaining new followers. If you have a tag-a-friend Instagram contest, each participant can deliver new followers straight to your doorstep — and how many friends they can tag is up to you! Again, always keep in mind that you should prioritize genuinely interested potential followers for lasting growth. 

Here are some ideas on how to run a tag-a-friend Instagram contest:

  1. Tag a friend with whom you’d want to share the prize in the comments.
  2. Like and share the post and tag 3 friends to celebrate <Insert the purpose of your contest>.
  3. Follow our Instagram page, like our post, and tag 2 friends in the comments with a funny caption/favorite movie quote.
  4. Follow us on Instagram and Facebook, like this post, and tag 3 friends in the comments section and get them to follow us.

How To Pick a Contest Winner On Instagram

Knowing how to pick a contest winner on Instagram fairly and squarely is critical to your contest’s success. For simple giveaways or raffles, you can use an automated system/third-party app that randomly selects a name from all the entries. For a contest that involves getting the most likes for photo/video entries, you may have to manually check all entries to pick your contest winner.

A woman with arms raised in victory after winning an Instagram contest.

Why Instagram Giveaways Are a Winning Strategy

An Instagram contest requires time and effort to successfully pull off, as well as some investment in the form of the contest prize, a sponsored post, a brand/influencer partnership, or any combination of these. But it’s a winning strategy in terms of hitting growth milestones for your Instagram account and other KPIs.

  • Increase in follower numbers. Whether or not this is your primary contest goal, your contest will deliver new followers to your page. The trick you should learn is how to reach potential followers who will stick around and regularly engage with your content.
  • Increase in engagement. An Instagram contest effectively encourages eager interaction from both existing and potential followers. You’ll experience a significant surge in your overall number of likes, comments, and shares for the entire duration of your contest, and even after.
  • Increase in brand awareness and appreciation. Whether you have experienced a drastic drop in visibility and engagement following an Instagram algorithm update, want to celebrate a milestone on the platform, or make your presence known to a new audience, an Instagram contest will put the spotlight on your brand. It’s a great way to reinforce your brand’s value and show your appreciation to your loyal followers. It’s also the perfect opportunity to create buzz around your branded hashtag.
  • Gather user-generated content. Your contest can be an opportunity to encourage your audience to generate creative content for your brand. And you can use and reuse UGC for future posts. Sharing UGC is a win-win for both you and your followers; it shows that you value your community and their contributions and your followers will love having their content shared.

A gold trophy to represent winning on Instagram.

Final Thoughts: Draw Attention to Your Brand and Experience Huge Growth With a Contest

An Instagram contest is a gift to your audience, and a gift to your brand that keeps on giving. It generates excitement among your followers, encourages enthusiastic engagement, and draws in new crowds. Opt for the basic and time-tested trifecta of like, comment, and share; juice it up and come up with a fun and task-based contest; or simply celebrate a milestone and show your gratitude for your followers’ continued support. You can stimulate organic growth and activity and reinforce your brand’s presence with a well-planned Instagram giveaway, photo caption contest, or a themed UGC competition.


Growing on Instagram requires continuous effort; but you can make it more interesting by hosting a regular Instagram contest. For organic growth that delivers lasting rewards, you can also team up with an expert in Instagram growth strategy — a company like Path Social. Take advantage of Path Social’s advanced audience targeting capability and the strategic content promotion of their in-house team of social media specialists. Start growing and gaining Instagram followers today!