What's your strategy for building your Instagram audience? Many profiles focus on the number of followers - they're desperate to break that 5k, 500k or 1 million ceiling. But in the long term, your Instagram will thrive or fail based on engagement, not just numbers.

There are now 1 billion registered users on Instagram, and it continues to grow. And as the platform looks for new ways to make money, your feed is filling up with more ads and recommended posts. Long story short: if someone just clicks "follow" on your page, they may never see your posts again.

So how can you get active fans instead of passive followers? How do you get users to like, comment, and share? One tried and tested method is an Instagram giveaway. In this post, we'll talk about how to get the most from an Instagram contest, what you can achieve, and what you should avoid.

Upright Trainer 10k Follower Instagram Giveaway



Get your Followers Talking

The best giveaways start with an open-ended question. Share a post and ask your followers to comment with their ideas, opinions, and stories. Here's a cute example from a babywear company, which asked parents to share stories of special memories and clothes:

Pish Posh Baby Dot Com Instagram Giveaway

Or you could run a contest where followers can pick the prize. You've seen the Insta craze for stylish water bottles - gotta get that hydration! This brand ran a giveaway where followers had to comment with the water bottle design they'd like to win.

Mamas Fuel Instagram Giveaway

We love giveaways like this. The photo has a neat design, and explains the whole giveaway without using too much text. When you organize a giveaway, make sure your posts and Stories look tempting. Show off the prize, and make it seem exclusive and valuable.



Bring a Friend

You can ask your followers to mention a friend in the comments. This is one big advantage of Instagram: other platforms, such as Facebook, don't allow tagging in giveaways. Just make sure that the giveaway is something with wide appeal - you don't want to be responsible for users spamming their friends.

For example... food seems like a safe choice! This Papa John's franchise gave away 5 deliveries of their Cinnamon Pull Apart bread. Their followers just had to tag the friend they like to snack with. And that big, glossy photo was carefully designed to trigger cravings. We're getting hungry just looking at it.

Papa Johns Hawaii Instagram Giveaway



Mix your media

Remember that most of your followers are using several different social networks. And chances are, you're posting in multiple places too. Use a giveaway to bounce users between your different social media profiles and content.

Sound complicated? It doesn't have to be! Here's a simple example from a leading French cookware brand. They shared a cooking video on their app. Then, they asked their Instagram followers to answer a question about the video, to win an automatic food processor.

Moulinex France Instagram Giveaway

If you'd like to combine followers from your different socials, then try a multi-network giveaway. You'll get the same benefits for your online audience, without the hassle of organizing contests on each individual network.



Now Follow Up

Of course, it's not enough to run a single giveaway and then forget about your followers. You need to keep the conversation going and maintain the relationship. Here are a few things to try:

  • Run a giveaway series, with a weekly trivia contest or theme,=.

  • Create puzzles for your followers. One simple method: share part of an image in your Stories. When followers find the full photo on your profile, they can enter the giveaway in the comments.

  • Share live updates in your Stories: count down to the prize draw, announce winners, and post their reaction.

  • Ask your followers what the next giveaway should be.

Here's a great example of following up, from a craft liquor distillery. First, they shared a giveaway with tickets to an exclusive event, and asked followers to tag their friends:

Eauclairecraft Instagram Giveaway

Then they used their Stories to share winners' reactions, drinks and menus from the event, and other guests' snaps:

Eauclairecraft Instagram Giveaway



One Last Thing

Instagram giveaways are a fantastic tool: they're quick, affordable, and effective. But there are limits to what you can do. Social networks are cracking down on spam accounts right now. Make sure you know the rules, or risk having your account suspended.

Here's what you can't do with an Instagram giveaway:

  • Require users to follow you. There's no way to confirm who follows you as part of a comments contest.

  • Require users' friends to follow you. Again, there's no way to confirm followers - and asking users to spam their friends is an unpopular move.

  • Require users to repost your photos and Stories

Of course, you can invite followers to do all these things. And if you're offering great prizes, many people will choose to follow you, all on their own. But you can't push or demand. And as we said at the beginning… that kind of forced engagement is no good for your audience in the end. When you create a genuine connection, then your online users become more than just followers. They become fans. And that's when your audience will really start to grow.

Khan Academy Instagram Giveaway



Author Bio

Corinna is an English marketing writer and translator at Easypromos. She writes about inbound marketing, social media engagement, and best practices for online contests.