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!