How to run an Instagram giveaway
Would you like to start running competitions, prize draws and giveaways on Instagram? This step-by-step guide shows you how to host a giveaway on your profile for FREE – and advises on how to choose a winner fairly and in compliance with the CAP Code, the rule book for UK advertising.
An Instagram promotion is an easy way to gain new followers and get existing followers interacting on your posts – and you only need to invest in a small prize to get people interested!
There are many different ways you can ask people to enter a giveaway on Instagram – you can combine these, but beware of making it too complicated, as you’ll struggle to keep track of the entries.
You could ask entrants to:
Like a post
Follow an account, or multiple accounts
Comment on a post
Tag one or more friends
Share the giveaway post to their own feed (a regram/repost)
Share the giveaway post in their own Instagram story
Upload an original photo, video or story tagging the promoter or using a unique hashtag
What’s important is that the winning entry is chosen fairly – either in a random prize draw, or (for a competition) by an independent judging panel. There are plenty of paid tools that can choose a random winner – Woobox, Easypromos etc. – but if you’re a small business, a blogger or influencer then you’ll want to keep costs low. In this post I’ll focus on how you can save time and money by using free tools to choose a random winner. Choosing a winner manually by scrolling through comments or notifications is not CAP Code compliant. If challenged by the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority), you must be able to show evidence of how you kept track of every single entry and used a randomiser tool to select a winner from those. Make sure you can do this!
Here’s a step-by-step guide to how I created my own Instagram giveaway.
Step 1. Choose a prize
First of all, decide on the prize – it doesn’t need to be super expensive, in fact lots of Instagram prizes are handmade craft items, children’s toys, clothing or stationery! Just make sure it’s something relevant to your account, that your followers will appreciate. Ideally, take a photo of the actual prize to use in your post.
Step 2. Write the instructions
The simplest way to run a giveaway is to ask your entrants to Follow, Like and Comment on an Instagram post – and to restrict to just one comment per entrant. It’s common to see the request ‘tag as many friends as you like, each comment is an extra entry’ but this encourages people to spam, looks unprofessional, and can be frustrating for those followers who don’t have hundreds of Instagram friends, or who simply aren’t keen to annoy their friends with tags. Asking entrants to tag one or two friends is enough to spread the word – or why not ask for one tag per comment and set a maximum of ten comments?
It gets more complicated if you ask people to share a post (regram/repost) or upload a new photo, because it’s tricky to keep track of the entries in order to choose a winner fairly. Make sure the instructions specify for entrants to tag you in their entry caption/photo so you get notifications of their entries.
Be sure to use the correct terminology – in the UK, if you’re choosing a random winner, it’s a prize draw. If you’re choosing a winning comment or photo entry based on judging criteria (which you must specify!) it’s a competition. In the US, a random draw is a sweepstakes and judged is a contest. Most Instagram prize promotions are advertised as a ‘giveaway’ which is fine – just make sure you specify how the winner is chosen.
Step 3. Create a graphic
Take a photo of the prize (if required) then add the word WIN! or GIVEAWAY! to help it stand out. Add this text using Photoshop or Canva – or simply add the text to the photo in an Instagram story, then share that as a post. If you don’t add text to the photo, use WIN, COMPETITION or GIVEAWAY in the first line of the caption. Only a couple of lines are visible on an Instagram timeline – so a lot of giveaways get ignored because they’re mentioned too far into the caption!
Step 4. Add some Terms and Conditions
Instagram doesn’t allow links in captions, so you should include as many T&Cs in the post caption as you can – you might prefer to leave a longer set of T&Cs as a comment. Here’s what should be covered:
- What is the prize?
- When is the closing date, time – and time zone, if appropriate!
- Are there entry restrictions? ie. age or location
- How do people enter?
- How is the winner chosen? eg. random or judged
- How will the winner be informed – and when?
If your competition is more complicated you might prefer to host full T&Cs on a blog post, a Google Doc or even on the Notes app on your Facebook page. You could change the link in your Instagram bio to the T&Cs link for the duration of the promotion, or use bitly.com to create a custom shortlink to include in your caption text.
On the Instagram Help Pages, there are a few rules for running prize promotions, the most important being the inclusion of this: The promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Instagram.
Here’s the full text of my competition post:
Win a lucky comping stationery bundle!
As you may know, I’ve recently published a FREE e-book guide to Instagram comping – so I thought I’d host a little giveaway to give you some practice! The prize is the Little Book of Positivity – perfect for writing your wishlist in – plus some super cute Japanese Good Luck rubber bands, sticky notes and pens!
You can gain an entry by following these three easy steps:
Step 1 – Follow @superluckydi
Step 2 – ❤️ this post
Step 3 – leave a comment, tagging one friend
You can also earn an optional bonus entry in the draw by doing ONE of these:
• REPOST this post to your profile, tagging @superluckydi in the caption and using the hashtag #SuperLuckyGiveaway
• or SHARE the post in your story, adding a @superluckydi tag
Not sure how to share the post on your profile or story? Watch my YouTube guide to Instagram comping! (link in bio)
T&Cs: closing date 17.9.18 at 11pm, open worldwide to anyone age 16+, winner chosen at random & contacted by Direct Message.
This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Instagram. Good luck! 🍀
Step 5. Add hashtags
Add hashtags to your caption, or as a comment – popular ones are #giveaway #competition #prizedraw and if it’s in the UK, #ukcomp, #ukgiveaway #ukcompetition
Step 6. Spread the word
If you’ve asked people to tag in the comments of your post, word should spread quickly on Instagram – but there are places you can promote your new competition for free. Use bitly.com to create a custom shortlink to share – eg. bit.ly/MyInstaComp
- Add to my monthly list of UK Instagram giveaways
- In the UK, list your giveaway for free at www.competitiondatabase.co.uk, www.loquax.co.uk or www.theprizefinder.com – both sites appreciate a backlink from your website/blog, or a mention on your Facebook page.
- Tweet or DM a link to me at @superluckydi and I’ll share it on Twitter!
- Check my blog post where to promote a competition for more tips
You can also embed your Instagram post into a blog or website – click on the photo then hover over it until the menu appears at the bottom. Click options then embed post and copy the code; people will be able to Like a post without even leaving your website! Don’t forget to share on Twitter and Facebook too – use a link directly to the competition post so people can click to go directly to it.
Step 7. Track entries
If you’re hosting a simple giveaway which only involves interactions on a single competition post, you can skip this part!
If you’re asking for regrams or original photo uploads, as you get notifications of a new tag, save the entry by tapping the bookmark icon underneath it. Add the saved post to a new collection for your competition entries – you can see your saved collections by tapping the small 3 line menu at the top right of your profile page.
For my own giveaway, a regram or a story share was a bonus entry, and I tracked these entries by taking a screenshot of every notification as it popped up – then I created a simple Google spreadsheet listing the username on each screenshot. You’ll need to be checking Instagram regularly to track this way – it’s time consuming!
Step 8. Choose the winner
If you’re choosing your winner at random from comments, a great website to use is www.getcombot.com. Input your email address and a link to your Instagram competition post, then wait for the results page to load (it may take a while).
- If required, filter valid entries according to how many friends are tagged in the comment (0, 1, 2, 3)
- Click the Unique by user link to remove all multiple comments – so only one comment per user will be counted. Obviously, if you’re running a prize draw where each comment with a tagged friend gives a new entry, then you shouldn’t click this option!
- If your giveaway was as simple as commenting, you can now click Get Winner to generate a random winner – GetComBot also shows you if they’re a follower. Click the link to visit their profile and message them.
In my case, I had added an optional task – to share the post on your profile or story – so there were entries on my own spreadsheet which I had to include in the prize draw. When the competition finished, I sorted the spreadsheet of usernames into alphabetical order and deleted any duplicate names (ie. people who did both tasks) as there was only one extra entry available.
From the GetComBot results page, I clicked 2Excel at the top to download a CSV file of the entries, and then copied and pasted entries from my own spreadsheet onto it, totalling 451 entries. Then I used random.org to choose a number between 1 and 451 and went to that line on the spreadsheet to get my winner’s name!
Remember when you have your winner’s name, to check that they correctly completed all entry methods – are they following, did they like the post, did they use the correct hashtag on their regram, etc.
If you’ve saved entries into a collection and want to select a winner for your prize draw, then count how many entries are in your collection – use random.org to choose a number, and count until you get to that photo in your collection.
Judging the winner of a competition? Make sure you specify the criteria (most original, artistic, creative, etc) and use an independent judge – I’m usually available!
Step 9. Contact the winner
Do not post publicly and ask the winner to contact you – believe it or not some people have set up email addresses and cloned social media accounts in order to claim big prizes! The safest way to get in touch is for YOU to message the winner privately on Instagram, and wait for their response. It’s sensible to state in your message the time your winner has to respond – the CAP Code suggests allowing 28 days. If you don’t get a response to the message, try tagging them in a reply or comment on your original competition post. If there has been no response after 28 days, and you’ve tried at least twice to reach them, you can select another winner.
Step 10. Tell people who won!
When your winner has responded and accepted the prize, you can add a comment to your competition post to congratulate them – or edit the winner’s name at the top of the caption. See my example below
View this post on Instagram
🍀COMPETITION NOW CLOSED – winner is @kazzywazzyb 🍀Win a lucky comping stationery bundle! As you may know, I’ve recently published a FREE e-book guide to Instagram comping – so I thought I’d host a little giveaway to give you some practice! The prize is the Little Book of Positivity – perfect for writing your wishlist in – plus some super cute Japanese Good Luck rubber bands, sticky notes and pens! You can gain an entry by following these three easy steps: Step 1 – Follow @superluckydi Step 2 – ❤️ this post Step 3 – leave a comment, tagging one friend You can also earn an optional bonus entry in the draw by doing ONE of these: • REPOST this post to your profile, tagging @superluckydi in the caption and using the hashtag #SuperLuckyGiveaway • or SHARE the post in your story, adding a @superluckydi tag Not sure how to share the post on your profile or story? Watch my YouTube guide to Instagram comping! (link in bio) T&Cs: closing date 17.9.18 at 11pm, open worldwide to anyone age 16+, winner chosen at random & contacted by Direct Message. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Instagram. Good luck! 🍀 #giveaway #competition #prizedraw #ukcomp, #ukgiveaway #ukcompetition #superlucky #SuperLuckyGiveaway #Stationery #StationeryLovers #sweepstakes
You might want to share a congratulations post on your Instagram post so everyone knows about it! You don’t have to do this, but if someone privately requests it, the CAP Code states you must tell them the winner’s full name and county. In my experience, announcing the winner keeps everybody happy because they can see the prize was awarded and that you’re not out to scam people!
Step 11. Send out the prize promptly
Finally, get your prize to the winner as soon as you can, but certainly within 28 days – use a tracked delivery service if possible – or at least get a free certificate of posting at the Post Office. You could also ask them nicely if they would post a photo of their prize on Instagram, and then you can share that in your story.
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