How to enter Instagram competitions
Instagram is a free mobile app designed for people to share original, creative photos with friends and followers. Take a picture or video, transform it with filters, then share to your followers – you can also choose to post the photo to Facebook or Twitter.
Lots of brands like to use Instagram for competitions and prize draws – entry might be as simple as liking or sharing a photo, or you might need to upload a ten second video or photo on a set theme.
This blog post and video tutorial have been updated for 2016 and will help you get started with Instagram comping!
If you’re new to Instagram, the best place to get started is on their own Help Pages. Although you can view, like and comment on Instagram photos on a computer at www.instagram.com, you can’t upload photos directly to the Instagram website. You have to upload photos via a mobile device – unless you download the desktop app Gramblr.
Watch my 12 minute YouTube guide to entering competitions on Instagram – ideally, have your phone or tablet in your hand and play the video on a different device.
Download the app, and sign up using Facebook log in or your email address. Choose a username and edit your profile (click the gear icon) to add a photograph and a ‘bio’ – a few words for your profile page.
Note: If you set your profile to private, only your followers will see your photos – promoters won’t be able to check your competition entries!
From left to right, here’s the Instagram navigation icons:
- Home – a feed from the users you follow, plus sponsored content (adverts). Instagram feed used to be reverse chronological order, but recently they have introduced an algorithm similar to Twitter which guesses the posts you’ll be most interested in and shows them at the top of your feed.
- Search – tap the magnifier to search by people (usernames), places or tags (hashtags). A hashtag (#) is a way of assigning a ‘theme’ to a photograph, eg. #sunset, and can be used to track competition entries, eg. #SuperLuckygiveaway.
- Camera – tap to access your library (camera roll), or to take a new photo or video. Double tap to go straight to your library to upload an existing photo (switch albums by tapping the top of the screen).
- Activity – shows your latest likes, comments and followers (you can also access this list at www.instagram.com). Tap Following to see activity from the people you follow.
- Profile – return to your own profile page.
- To follow, find a user by searching or following a link, then click Follow
- To like a photo, double tap it or tap the heart underneath
- To comment, tap the speech bubble, type a comment and tap Send
- To mention (or tag) another user, use the @ symbol then type their username – it will feature as a notification on their activity list.
- To send a direct message, go to your Home page, tap on the ‘in tray’ icon at the top right then the plus sign – then type the recipient’s username
How to regram
A regram or repost is the Instagram equivalent of a Twitter retweet – you’re sharing someone else’s post to your own followers. Instagram don’t like this, which is why there’s no share function built into the app – send a regram by taking a screenshot or using an app.
Regram with a screenshot
- With the competition photo on your screen, take a screenshot. On an iPhone or iPad hold down the Home button and then press the Power button. On an Android it’s usually the Power and Volume Down buttons together – for other devices, you might need to Google to find out what method to use.
- A photo of the screen will now be saved on your camera roll/gallery
- Double tap the camera icon
- Move the screenshot with your finger to crop it, removing the surrounding white and text so it looks like the original shot
- Tap Next twice, skipping the filters
- Add a caption with the competition hashtag (if there is one) and tag the promoter – the tag might not be compulsory but it lets them know you’ve entered!
- You may also choose to tag the promoter in the photo – tap tag people to do this.
- Share the photo!
Regram with an app
- Download a regram app to your device – I use Repost
- In Instagram, tap the heart on the competition photo to add it to your Likes
- Open your app and tap Likes
- Find the competition photo, and tap the Regram/Repost button
- Choose an option for the overlay bar – this displays the original user’s name
- Tap to export the photo to Instagram
- In Instagram, tap Next
- Add any required hashtag or @ mentions – you might want to add your own caption!
- Share the photo!
How to upload a new photo for a competition
- Before you enter, read the T&Cs to see if it’s random or judged, and check how many entries you can make.
- Write down the hashtag and any @ tags/mentions you need to use in your caption – it’s really easy to make a typo in a hashtag, and your entry won’t even be seen!
- Take a photo by tapping the Instagram camera icon, or navigate to your camera roll to choose an existing photo
- Use your fingers to zoom in if required. Your photo doesn’t have to be square – tap the ‘corners’ icon in the bottom left of the photo to use its original ratio.
- Use tools to adjust contrast, brightness, etc. and add filters – tap and hold your photo to see the difference the filters make to your original shot.
- Tap Next and add a caption, tagging the company and using a competition hashtag if required
- Share the photo!
How is the winner selected?
- Entries will either be judged (creative competition), decided on popularity (voting) or selected at random (prize draw/regram) – usually entries will be collected using a search on the specific competition hashtag. This could be done simply by swiping through search results or importing hashtagged entries into a spreadsheet or photo gallery.
- Some promoters may choose regram winners from comments rather than a hashtag search (explaining why private accounts sometimes win regram comps) – it’s worth leaving a comment just in case.
How is the winner informed?
The promoter might…
- post a congratulations photo, tagging the winner’s name in the caption and asking them to send a direct message or email
- comment on the original competition photo, tagging the winner’s name and asking them to send a direct message or email
- send a DM (direct message) – to check your inbox, go to your Home page then tap the ‘in tray’ icon at the top right of the screen.
- tweet the winner, which is why it’s best to have the same username on Twitter and Instagram
If you want to know who won an Instagram competition, message the promoter, tweet them or comment on the original post, tagging them. If there weren’t many entries for a hashtag competition, you could tap each one to see if there’s a ‘congratulations’ comment. You might also get a clue from the accounts a promoter has followed most recently – they usually follow a winner, then send a direct message.
Stay out of ‘Instagram jail’
Like Twitter and Facebook, Instagram will punish those users it considers to be spamming and ban them from liking or commenting. Stay safe by uploading regular new content (not just liking and commenting), not tagging lots of names in your comments and not doing too many likes and follows in one go. Read more about an Instagram block on Mobilivious.