by Carolina Beltrán, Digital Media Supervisor

Sum­mer is here and it’s a great time to engage your cur­rent Insta­gram fol­low­ers with a pho­to con­test. Sum­mer is chock-full of images, occa­sions, and hol­i­days you can draw a con­test con­cept from – prom, grad­u­a­tion, Father’s Day, Memo­r­i­al Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, and BBQs to name a few.

Despite what some might tell you, run­ning your own basic Insta­gram con­test is easy; it’s not nec­es­sary to out­source the man­age­ment to a social media con­test plat­form unless you antic­i­pate hun­dreds or thou­sands of entries. Assum­ing you already have an Insta­gram account, con­test con­cept devel­op­ment is your very first step. instagramHol­i­days and occa­sions make good themes, but you don’t need to use these. The impor­tant thing is to tie your con­test theme and prize to your brand in a mean­ing­ful way. Don’t make your fol­low­ers won­der what the con­nec­tion is.

The sec­ond step in cre­at­ing an Insta­gram con­test is the hash­tag. The hash­tag is what your fol­low­ers will use to enter the con­test and what you’ll use to col­lect entries. Your hash­tag should be unique to your brand and con­test and not some­thing just any Insta­gram user would use (like #sum­mer or #summer2013 for exam­ple – you’ll get too many “acci­den­tal” entries this way). You’ll need to ask con­test par­tic­i­pants to use your hash­tag when enter­ing and also fol­low you on Insta­gram. Many peo­ple make their Insta­gram pro­files pri­vate – which means if they enter your con­test and don’t fol­low you, you won’t be able to see their entry and it doesn’t count.

Once you have your con­cept and have a unique hash­tag, your third step is to des­ig­nate a page on your site to tell your fans and fol­low­ers about the con­test. Go into lots of detail here (where there is plen­ty of space) and make sure you set rules. Some things to con­sid­er:

  • How long does the con­test run?
  • Who is eli­gi­ble to enter?
  • Do par­tic­i­pants have an entry lim­it?
  • How will the win­ner be select­ed?
  • How will he/she be con­tact­ed?

Put your lawyer hat on for this and make sure to cov­er all your bases.

With your con­cept, hash­tag, con­test details and rules ironed out, you’re ready for step 4 – pro­mo­tion! Now, you could pro­mote to only your exist­ing Insta­gram fol­low­er base, but if you have fol­low­ers on Twit­ter and fans on Face­book like I know you do, you should engage these peo­ple, too. The more you engage, the more like­ly your con­test could go viral and expose new cus­tomers to your brand.

Dur­ing the con­test, peri­od­i­cal­ly remind peo­ple of it – peo­ple log in to their social media accounts at dif­fer­ent inter­vals and may miss your ini­tial announce­ment. Con­sid­er “count­ing down” to the win­ner selec­tion date – mean­ing, cre­ate a sense of urgency among your fol­low­ers and fans. Prompt them to enter their pho­tos and tell their friends to do the same by remind­ing them how many days are left to go in the con­test and how cool the prize is.

When it comes time to select a con­test win­ner (step 5), brands use all types of selec­tion meth­ods; Every­thing from draw­ing names from a hat to online ran­dom inte­ger tools to using a pan­el of judges to sub­jec­tive­ly choose the win­ner. Once you choose your method, all that is left to do is noti­fy your lucky win­ner!

That’s it! That’s the basics of run­ning your very own Insta­gram con­test. If you antic­i­pate over 100 entries, use a tool like Stati­gram or Nitro­gram. These types of tools not only help you man­age large and/or mul­ti­ple con­tests and select win­ners, they also offer robust engage­ment ana­lyt­ics.

Need help with one or all of these steps? We got you. Give us a call!