With 600 million monthly active users, it's no wonder Instagram is constantly gaining in popularity with businesses, especially if they are in a visually driven industry and target millennials, as 90% of Instagram users are younger than 35. 20% of the Internet uses Instagram, and with an average monthly follower growth of 16%, it doesn't look like Instagram is going away anytime soon. Contests are, of course, an amazing tool for customer loyalty and retention, but with the target audience of Instagram being on the younger side, you need to make sure the contest ideas you decide to run with are geared towards that specific age group to ensure they aren't a huge flop.

Contests are all about engagement and giving your customers a reason to interact with you, and in return, they'll have a reason to promote your brand to your friends and family (nothing helps wrangle in a new customer like a recommendation from a loved one), so it's a win-win situation for everyone involved. Running contests on a consistent basis will keep Instagram users coming back to your profile time and time again and give them multiple chances to engage with you. So lets dive in and review a few Instagram contest ideas you can work on implementing right now that will engage your followers, drive interaction, create excitement surrounding your brand, and ultimately help bring in new followers and new business!

Like-To-Win Contest

Consistent post likes is key to having success on Instagram. A rather easy way of accomplishing that is by creating like-to-win contests, where Instagram users simply have to like your post in order to win. Typically the graphic you post will explain the contest, tell people to like the post to win, then based off whatever deadline you set, pick a random winner from the likes you have received, comment on the post with that winner's handle, and you've run a successful like-to-win contest! Here is an example of such a contest from Social Media Examiner (note in this contest, they also required entrants to follow them on Instagram):


As you are crafting your post, it is recommended you include several hashtags related to your industry, as shown in the above example, as well as #contest and #giveaway. This will help expose your contest to a wider audience and help you pick up some new followers along the way. You'll want to make sure you pick a prize that matches the interests of your target audience, as this will have a tremendous impact on the success of your contest.

Hashtag Contests

Hashtags contests are all about creativity and engagement. All you have to do is come up with a hashtag, ask Instagram users to post photos, and require they use your hashtag in their post. When you're ready to pick a winner, just use the search tool on Instagram to search for your hashtag and randomly choose a winner out of the bunch. If you're looking for a contest to help with branding and getting your name out there, this is the way to go.

In this example from Second Street Lab, a florist ran a Mother's day contest giving away a huge flower bouquet for mom, and entrants had to submit a selfie with their mom and post it to Instagram with the hashtag #MyAKMom (and they're picking up followers at the same time by saying you needed to follow them to see if you win):


Selfie Contests

With a selfie contest, you get the perfect mix of engagement and brand promotion. Instagram users post selfies of themselves using your product or showing off your logo, and post the photo to Instagram using whatever hashtag you specify. Selfie contests help customers feel more connected to your brand and showcase that connection on social media. Selfie contests are one of the best ways of generating user-generated content, especially if you specify in the contest rules you are free to use the entries in your other marketing.

In this example, Lou Malnati's Pizzeria had users across multiple platforms post selfies of themselves eating their deep dish pizza and post them to their preferred platform using the hashtag #DeepDeshSelfie (even better they connected it to National Pizza Month), and they also had to mention the pizza joint in the post:


Voting Contests

With a voting contest, you simply ask Instagram users to post photos to Instagram, along with the hashtag you supply, and then other Instagram users vote for the winner, either through likes or comments, or both. A voting contest typically involves a larger, more compelling prize than other contest ideas, as you are asking Instagram users for more involvement than with other contest ideas. But on the flip side, voting contests can produce better results, as Instagram users are becoming more involved with your product, like with the example from Wishpond shown to the right.

With this contest, entrants are having to design a screen print, and there are multiple ways of winning: through voting, as well as through company selection. Due to time invested in designing the screen print, no doubt entrants are going to spread the word on this contest and encourage their friends and family to follow the company, join in on the fun, and vote for their design. With voting contests, just make sure your rules are crystal clear (specifically as to how you can enter, how many times, etc., to help eliminate cheating, and make sure there is a easily visible link to the rules within the contest itself).


Caption Contests

Caption contests are one of the most popular types of contests run across social media, and also one of the easiest to run. All you have to do is post a photo, and ask Instagram users to comment with a caption based off that photo, then randomly pick a winner from the comments. Pretty simply, right? As a result, the prize doesn't have to be very elaborate with this contest idea, making it easier to run on a consistent basis, especially for smaller businesses. You could also ask users to share the photo once they have commented with their caption for an increased chance of winning the prize, to help expand your reach and bring in new followers. Here is an example of a caption contest from Boostlikes: