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How to do an Instagram giveaway [+4 tools you’ll need]

12 min

Every single day, the number of people logging onto Instagram grows.

No wonder the platform now has over 1 billion monthly active users, making it one of the fastest-growing social media networks. 

And as the number of Instagram users grows, so do your chances of growing your customer base.

But how can businesses like yours attract those users and convert them into engaged followers, potential customers, or even paying customers?

There are several ways to go about it but running Instagram giveaways is one smart strategy to build an engaged following and boost sales.

A study by Tailwand has shown that Instagram accounts that run contests can grow your following 70% faster than if you do nothing at all.

Instagram research on follower growth for companies that use giveaways.

With some planning and the right tools, you can run a simple, effective Instagram giveaway — and pick up a ton of new leads or customers in the process. 

Here’s how to run a successful Instagram giveaway and four tools you need to do it. 

1. Know the Instagram giveaway rules

Like any platform, Instagram has rules. 

And while it’s relatively simple to run giveaways on Instagram, you need to include entry requirements and conditions for entrants based on Instagram’s rules. 

Here’s the full set of contest rules from Instagram’s website: 

Official Instagram giveaway guidelines.
Source: Instagram’s official guidelines on promotions

The easiest way to enforce these rules when hosting a giveaway is to add a statement of conditions in your giveaway post. Here’s an example of how blogger Rachel-Jean Firchau outlined the rules in one of her Instagram giveaways: 

Instagram post featuring the contest guidelines.

And if you are asking people to enter your Instagram contest by rerouting them to a landing page (instead of entering on the Instagram post itself), you can even have a link that takes them to Instagram’s promotion guidelines. 

Pro Tip: Make sure that you don’t use the word “lottery” anywhere in your giveaway copy. Under State law, private lotteries are actually illegal, so you need to avoid labeling your campaign a lottery, otherwise you may risk legal action.

2. Be specific with your goal for running your Instagram contest

Once you have the legal jargon out of the way, the next thing to address is your goal for running the contest.

For small businesses, consultants, and freelancers, running giveaways and contests should have a specific goal. Common goals for Instagram giveaways can be :

  • Increasing your Instagram follower count.
  • Boosting brand awareness before you launch a new product or service.
  • Getting testimonials and case studies from user-generated content posted by your followers. 
  • Building up your email list and fan base.
  • Increasing your website traffic and engagement.

Once you decide on a specific goal, you can build a giveaway strategy and tailor your entry requirements around it. 

For example, when Coconut Bowls launched an Instagram giveaway, they had some lofty goals: to generate emails, social awareness, engagement, and sales around their product. The brand did this by creating a custom landing page for their contest: 

Example of a landing page featuring a giveaway contest from Coconut Bowls.

The landing page not only gave contestants clear steps on how to enter, but it also asked for their email address as part of entering. This allowed Coconut Bowls to engage with them while the contest was running and allowed them to: 

  • add messaging and a thank you to an email once a person entered.
  • add a reminder to share the contest with friends in all emails.
  • send updates and engagement emails every 3-4 days.

This level of engagement helped Coconut Bowls achieve their goals. Not only did they collect 41k new subscribers to their email list, but they also generated social awareness and engagement: 

Giveaway case study summary from Coconut bowls.

Pro tip: Always set a goal before building your giveaway strategy so that your contest’s “ask” will help you meet your goal. 

3. Get a campaign hashtag and make it memorable

One of the key parts to any Instagram giveaway is a contest hashtag. 

A content hashtag allows you to track a giveaway and identify people who have entered it so you can pick a winner when the giveaway is over. 

It’s also a great way to build and track engagement around your brand and even create brand advocates. These people can amplify your business to those around them.

This is important because studies show 92% of people trust brand advocates. Long story short: if somebody is using your hashtag in their posts, their friends are more likely to take a look. 

Hashtags can also help boost campaigns through likes and engagement. And Instagram posts with at least one hashtag can increase likes by 70%

Picking a hashtag for your giveaway isn’t rocket science; it just has to be unique to the contest. But because of how large Instagram’s platform is, it’s hard to know if a hashtag has been used in the past. 

To avoid this, you can use a tool like Tagboard to ensure the hashtag you’ve chosen for the giveaway is unique.

Image showing what Tagboard looks like.

A perfect example of a business that did this is UpWork.When they launched a $1000 giveaway on Instagram, they chose the unique hashtag #UpworkSuccess to track its entrants and engagement. 

Example of an Instagram post announcing the Upworksuccess contest.

The giveaway was a success. As you can see in the image below, more than 4,500 freelancers entered the contest. So using a giveaway hashtag helped them easily track the number of entries and engagement. 

Image showing the number of times a particular hashtag was used as a result of an Instagram contest.

Even more, research suggests that the more you engage your potential contestants, the more likely your target audience will participate in your contest. 

SproutSocial’s Alex York says businesses can do this with a unique feature of Instagram’s hashtags: you can use up to 30 per post, but hide them at the same time. This helps your post use the benefits of the Instagram algorithm without getting repetitive. 

4. Have your Instagram contesters join an email list

Building an email list using an Instagram giveaway isn’t the same as doing it on Facebook or Twitter. 

Unlike other social media platforms, you can’t add links to posts. Although this hurdle makes it harder to collect emails, you can still add contest links to your bio (there are also other ways to make your Instagram bio stand out).

So instead of asking people to enter your giveaway by tagging or liking your contest’s post, you can direct them to a link in your bio, which should lead to your contest’s landing page.

That’s exactly what Hydro Flask did in their Instagram contest. 

Example of an Instagram contest from Hydroflask

Once a person entered the competition, they automatically got added to Hydro Flask’s email list. 

This helps them communicate with contestants even after the giveaway is over which, according to Outgrow, 33% of contest participants are open to. 

And to help with this, you can use a tool like GetResponse’s custom landing page builder to collect emails:

GetResponse Landing Page Creator.

And if you don’t want to build an entire landing page to gather the contestants, you can set up a simple popup form instead. This is also possible with a tool like GetResponse webform builder.

Here’s an example of how The Dog Book Company collects data from their contestants using this specific tactic.

Popup form collecting data from visitors wanting to participate in a contest.

Once you’ve collected your entrant’s email address, you can then send out automated emails to keep them engaged during the giveaway and encourage them to share it with their friends and family.

Editor’s note: Please keep in mind that under GDPR, you’ll need additional consent to contact these email subscribers for marketing purposes outside of the contest. You can collect that consent, e.g. using an additional checkbox in your contest signup form.

And after you pick a winner, you can announce it to your email list like this: 

Example of a followup email you could send to those who win in your contest.

5. Use the “tag a friend” tactic

People are conscious about what they share with their friends. A New York Times study found 94% of people carefully consider how useful content will be before sharing it or tagging others, while 68% of people consider what that piece of content will say about them when they share it.

Gretta van Riel runs Hey Influencers, a company that helps brands get traction on social media channels. And she has found that the “tag a friend” tactic can significantly boost a company’s followers. 

Because not only is the “tag a friend” tactic easy for people to understand, but it’s also easier for them to enter rather than having to take a photo or create a post of their own. 

This tactic can also boost your profile’s organic reach and can set off a ripple effect. Once a person tags a friend, that friend can tag more people…. You see how it can quickly lead to your profile getting a lot of attention (and new followers!)

When Hey Influencers launched a giveaway for Calming Blankets, the company teamed up with influencer Shameless Podcast to boost its tag a friend approach to the competition:

"Tag a friend" campaign example from Hey Influencers and Shameless Podcast.

The results of using the tactic speak for itself: 

  • 7000+ comments from people tagging their friends
  • Calming Blankets’s Instagram account gained 3200 followers in 48 hours
  • The branded hashtag #ShamelessPartner helped track engagement throughout the giveaway
Some of the results of the "tag a friend" campaign example from Hey Influencers and Shameless Podcast.

6. Announce your winner(s) with tact

While some contests (like the UpWork example from earlier) look through each entry and judge a winner manually, others who run giveaways can use a random generation tool, like Woobox

Whichever way you choose the winner, make sure you stick to your original contest guidelines. For example, when The Dog Book Company, whom we introduced a moment ago, runs contests, they make sure winners are notified within 28 days of its closing:

Contest rules from the Dog Book Company.

Once you’ve chosen a winner, the next step is to announce it and notify them. If you laid out a deadline for announcing the winner, make sure you follow through. 

And since you’re running the contest on Instagram, the easiest way to notify people is with a new post announcing the winners with a @tag. SMT Teatox + Program did this with their contest winners:

Winner announcement on Instagram from SMT Teatox + Program.

You should also follow up with your winners privately, either through Instagram direct message or email, to give them a detailed rundown of their prize 🎉

4 tools you need to run your Instagram contest effectively

I. Woobox


Why is this a great tool for Instagram contests?

Woobox helps you run online contests smoothly. 

Not only can you run hashtag photo sharing contests from the dashboard, but you can also link other platforms (like Twitter and Facebook) to the contest. 

And to make sure your giveaways comply with Instagram’s rules, you can set age requirements and entry limits before you launch a contest. You can also approve entries manually. 

And once your giveaway is over, Woobox will randomly pick a winner for you. 

Best features in this tool

  • Woobox makes it easy to comply with Instagram’s rules and regulations.
  • It manually approves entries for more detailed competitions.
  • Their random winner generator allows you to easily and quickly pick a winner.

Who is this tool best for?

Small businesses, consultants, and freelancers who want an end-to-end tool to help them run Instagram contests. 

II. ShortStack


Why is this a great tool for Instagram contests?

ShortStack has all the tools you need to run Instagram giveaways using likes, tags, and shares. 

The tool can instantly pull all the comments on an Instagram giveaway post and gather the entrants’ username and comment. 

It uses its random entry selector to draw one or multiple winners and announces your contest’s winners on your Instagram profile. 

If you want a tool where people can enter your Instagram contests without leaving the platform, ShortStack is your best choice. 

Best features in this tool

  • There’s no learning curve.
  • It gathers the details of entrants and tracks whether they’ve stuck to your contest’s guidelines.
  • Their random entry selector notifies entrants after form submission if they won.

Who is this tool best for?

Small businesses, consultants, and freelancers who are running straightforward Instagram giveaways using unique hashtags, mentions, or likes. 

III. GetResponse

Marketing automation workflow for contestants.
GetResponse Marketing Automation Builder

Why is this a great tool for Instagram contests?

If your goal of running Instagram contests is to gather lead information like emails of your contestants so you can follow them up post-contest and convert them into customers, GetResponse is a great tool to use. 

You can use it to build custom giveaway landing pages, track visitor behavior, and automatically email entrants to tell them if they’ve won. If you’re advertising your giveaway, you can also use GetResponse to launch your campaign quickly: 

GetResponse Facebook and Instagram ads.
GetResponse Facebook and Instagram ads

Once an ad is created, you can then choose whether you want it to show on Instagram feeds, stories — or both.

Best features in this tool

  • It automatically gathers emails from giveaway entrants.
  • You can advertise your giveaway for a wider audience reach through.
  • It lets you keep contestants engaged after a competition is finished using email campaigns.

Who is this tool best for?

Businesses of all types can use the platform, especially those looking for a simple and effective solution to run Instagram contests. 



Why is this a great tool for Instagram contests?

Gleam is a tool that embeds Instagram contests (and not only) directly into your online store or website.

This lets you capture entrants’ data and drive email subscriptions directly from your Instagram channel.

The subscribe tool is specifically built for this, as it allows you to sync your campaign with up to 40+ supported email providers, including GetResponse.

By collecting emails in real-time, you can keep entrants informed about the contest and other products and services you can offer them. 

Here’s an example of how Sabaton, a Swedish heavy metal band, used to run a competition and not only collected email subscribers but also got their fans to follow them on other sites, like Spotify, YouTube, and Twitter.

Sabaton Zoom Call contest set up with
How music bands can build their email lists and engage their audience

Best features in this tool

  • You can easily capture data like names and emails from entrants.
  • You can run Instagram giveaways using your own Domain/Page/URL.
  • You can launch a giveaway across multiple social networks but keep the same entry point.

Who is this tool best for?

Small businesses, freelancers, and consultants who are running contests specifically to gather data like names and emails. 

Wrapping Up

By running Instagram giveaways, not only can you tap into the opportunities the platform provides, but you also open your business up to a massive new pool of potential customers. 

And with the right toolkit, it’s easy to launch a successful Instagram giveaway. All you have to do is follow the rules, set up your strategy — and watch your new followers come to you. 

Ada Durzyńska
Ada Durzyńska
Ada is a Content Marketing Specialist who is passionate about providing marketing knowledge and discovering its more human side. In a short time of 2 years she has swiftly gained experience and expertise in all things marketing, as she is already trusted as the GetResponse Blog editor — reading, analyzing and editing articles from hundreds of renowned authors to share them with everyone here. You can also hear from her in our weekly newsletter (subscribe, if you haven’t already!). If you have new content ideas or some blog feedback, Ada’s the person to connect with.