Running an Instagram contest is easy and the rewards it can provide your business can be huge. Use this opportunity to build better relationships with your customers by encouraging them to produce content that will promote your business.

By Kate Bregovic

Target different groups within your audience by running competitions with different entry criteria to increase the number of benefits you can reap from this particular tool. And don’t forget that this is one of the most effective methods of using social media for boosting your SEO.

All you need to succeed with this endeavor is to launch a contest that will be engaging and will garner a response from your specific target audience.

1. Set a specific goal

What exactly do you want to achieve with this contest? Do you want to advertise your new product? Do you want to increase your exposure? Do you want to boost conversions? Or do you want to generate more leads?

The answer to these questions will determine what kind of competition you will need to run. For example, if your goal is lead generation you will need to launch a contest focused on getting people to share information about you with their own circles of followers. If it’s a product you want to promote with this marketing campaign, you should devise a contest which requires participants to use the product and relate some kind of story about it. In this case, the contest might go hand in hand with a giveaway where you actually offer the product for free to a batch of your most influential Instagram followers.

Set the goal before you start working on the contest and be sure to have a means through which you can measure your success in achieving it. This precision will help you to design a contest that is better tailored to actually achieving that goal.

2. Focus on user-generated content

Do not demand shares or reposts when running a contest on Instagram. It’s one of the more important differences in Facebook vs. Instagram marketing strategies. Despite both being popular social media where visual content rocks, the reposting mechanisms they offer are quite different and Instagram does not come off the winner in this case.

However, it is an amazing platform for contests focused on customer-generated content. Note that over 500 million people use their Instagram accounts every day and 400 million of them create stories. This means that you only need to encourage them to create content which will benefit you. The prize you set for the contest will provide a suitable incentive.

Bear in mind though that you need to choose the prize very carefully. It’s essential to make sure that the targeted audience will be genuinely interested in it as well as in the type of content you want to create. Thus you should always begin any marketing campaign by researching your target audience in some detail.

3. Go all out on the hashtag

The hashtag is, arguably, the most important element of an Instagram contest. In fact, without it there is very little marketing value to the content because no-one will know all that cool content posted by your customers is related to you.

Therefore, you need to launch a perfect hashtag, and it must be out there before you launch the contest itself. Include it in several posts that you publish before the launch, where you explain terms and conditions.

The best hashtag will be short, to the point, and memorable. You should create something yourself as unique tags always make a better impression and provide more marketing benefits. It also has to be simple enough to ensure that your followers can understand exactly what it relates to.

4. Be consistent with your contest theme

First, your contest must have a theme which will make posts about it stand out by default. That theme must also remain the same for every post related to the topic and, if you are using it, to any user-generated content.

The theme makes this particular type of post easier to notice. It also helps a small business to appear more professional. And remember that you can get creative with individual contest themes. For example, check out how D Magazine did it in Dallas, TX.

5. Promote the contest as if it were a product

A contest is a marketing tool, so it must be promoted as you would a piece of prime content. In fact you need to work even harder on this because reaching the maximum number of people is the key to increasing your chances of success.

In Conclusion: Know Your Customers and Succeed

All in all, an Instagram contest is a most efficient marketing tool which can boost conversions or attract new followers in droves, because everyone loves a chance to win. The best thing about them is that you actually need very little to make your contests a success. As long as you know exactly what your target audience needs and wants, you will be able to design contests which will go right to the heart of the audience, thus producing great results for a small business with a very small investment.

Kate Bregovic is a wife, mother, freelance writer, and fitness enthusiast. She covers many topics – from business management trends to fitness regimes. When she’s not writing, she’s planning outdoor activities for her family, cooking, or working out at the gym.  Follow her on Facebook.

Instagram stock photo by pepsee30/Shutterstock