Guide to Instagram Giveaways 2018

It's no secret that giveaways and sweepstakes can help you grow your social media following. When used in moderation, giveaways can increase brand awareness, lure in new followers, and let you give back to your loyal customers. 

However, running a social media giveaway is easier said than done. There are a number of considerations you need to take when conducting a giveaway in order to stay within legal guidelines and the terms of service of the social platform. Additionally, your brand needs to be transparent about how it plans to pick a winner.

In this article, we'll give you a number of guidelines for running an Instagram giveaway in 2018. These tips keep U.S. regulations and Instagram guidelines in mind so that your brand can run an Instagram giveaway without any hiccups. 

1. Know Instagram's Official Guidelines

Instagram Guidelines 2018

Instagram lays out a number of guidelines for giveaways in its terms of service. These guidelines are mostly unobtrusive and are in place to prevent spam and protect the company. However, they're worth noting so that your brand isn't penalized or suspended by the network. 

Here's a quick list of Instagram's guidelines: 

Do not encourage users to inappropriately tag photos

Instagram's guidelines state that brands should not encourage its audience to tag themselves in photos they're not photographed in. Likewise, you're not allowed to inappropriately tag other Instagram accounts in your photos for publicity.  

Acknowledge that Instagram isn't involved in your giveaway

Instagram requires that you state that it's not involved in your giveaway's rules. Something as simple as "This promotion is not endorsed by Instagram" in the photo caption should fulfill this requirement. 

You're responsible for keeping your giveaway within local guidelines

Instagram won't help you develop rules for your giveaway. Make sure to add official rules and whatever else your local government requires in the description of your giveaway.

2. Keep Local Guidelines in Mind


Is this not the most satisfying site? Being fully stocked on @rxbar?! If you want your pantry to look like mine, enter this stellarrrrr ✨GIVEAWAY✨ for a chance to win a variety box 📦 I also have never tried the kid bars but I’m obsessed, they are actually the perfect size pre-workout because I usually only eat half before anyway! • • What you have to do: 1. 👍🏻 like this photo 2. Follow me! @loandlemons 3. Follow the geniuses @rxbar 4. Tag 2 friends, 3 for bonus! 5. Multiple entries allowed Giveaway closes Friday March 9th at 5pm, good luck!! 🍀 #giveaway #healthygiveaway #loandlemons #rxbar #healthytreats #quicksnack #f52grams #eaaaaats #healthydessert #cleanfoodshare #eatin #snacking #vege #fitspo

A post shared by Lauren Sharpe (@loandlemons) on

Laws regarding giveaways vary from country to country, and in the United States, state to state. Make sure to do your own research on these laws and regulations before hosting your giveaway. For our US-based readers, here are a few things to note:

  • You're required to post official rules for your sweepstakes. These rules must note:
    • Odds of winning
    • When the drawing will take place
    • Method of picking a winner
    • "Purchases won't increase the odds of winning"
    • "Void where prohibited"
    • Judging criteria, if applicable
    • Publicity rights regarding the use of participant’s information
    • Your brand's physical address
  • Make it clear that the brand of the item you're giving away is not a cosponsor (for example, if you're giving away a cellphone you cannot use "Apple" or "Samsung" in the contest name)
  • Private lotteries are illegal, so make sure you note "No purchase necessary" in your terms and conditions
  • You may be required to issue a 1099 form to the winner of the prize—make sure you check with your lawyer

Further, here are a few state laws to keep in mind: 

Florida and New York: 

  • Prizes worth $5000+ must be bonded and registered before the sweepstakes begin (7 days prior to the sweepstakes beginning in Florida, 30 days in New York)
  • Must provide a list of winners to anyone that requests it

Rhode Island:

  • Brands must register the promotion with the state if the prize is worth over $500


  • Brands cannot require an entree to visit a physical location to enter

This list is not complete or updated regularly, check with your lawyer for more info!

3. Establish How You'll Pick Your Winners

Legally, you can host two types of giveaways in the United States: sweepstakes and contests. Sweepstakes is when you pick a winner randomly. Generally, brands will require entrants to Like the giveaway's photo, follow the brand, and tag a friend in the comments (but not the photo) to enter. This increases brand awareness and reach with little involvement from your team. 

Contests, on the other hand, require something to be judged. For example, your brand can host a photo contest where users submit a photo and the top five photos win a prize. Make sure to set transparent judgment guidelines if your brand chooses to go this route. 

4. Pick Your Prize

Don't break the bank to host a giveaway. Your brand can give away something as small as a $10 Starbucks gift card to increase engagement with a giveaway. In fact, having regular giveaways of smaller prizes may actually be more beneficial than hosting one large giveaway. 

5. Ask For a Testimonial

Politely ask the winner to post a photo of him or herself with the prize. This proves to your audience that the giveaway is real and increases engagement by keeping the buzz about your brand going after the giveaway ends. 

6. Now, Reap the Benefits!

And that's the basics of running a giveaway on Instagram! Giveaways are a great way to increase brand awareness and social engagement while giving back to your Instagram following.

Have you entered a good giveaway recently? Let us know on Twitter!

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