Are you thinking about running an Instagram giveaway to promote your brand and grow your reach?
Here’s what you need to know to make sure you get the most out of it.
Let’s start with the first question you’re probably thinking:
Why should I run a giveaway on Instagram?
Instagram can be a difficult beast to tame. It takes time and effort to start getting traction on the platform. And, let me take a wild guess: as a small business owner, you probably don’t have all that much time and effort to spare.
So how do you get exposure for your brand (without shelling out piles of cash on ads)?
One of the best ways I’ve found to increase brand awareness and get more followers is to run a giveaway.
I used to do this a couple times a year, until I finally realized how easy and inexpensive they are (especially compared to running ads). Now I host a giveaway at least once every 1-2 months.
As an example, here’s one I ran around Christmastime:
Giveaways have been really successful for me, with a high return on investment. I never spend more than $10-15 on a giveaway, and I’ve always gotten lots of new followers and several new customers.
But you’ve got to do them right. Nobody wants to give away free stuff for no reason!
To save you some time on trial and error, here are some things I’ve learned about how to run a successful giveaway on Instagram.
1. Decide what to give away
This can be a product (physical or digital), or you can give away something intangible like a service. I’ve also seen giveaways for gift cards or store credit.
Whatever it is, it needs to be related to your business in some way. That way, you’re attracting the right type of people (potential customers), instead of random people who just want free stuff.
If you’re giving away something physical, try to pick something inexpensive and light, because you’ll also have to pay to ship it to the winner.
2. Decide on the entry requirements
You’ll need to decide how you want people to enter your giveaway.
This can be asking them to like and comment, tag their friends, share the giveaway post in their story, or repost the giveaway post to their own account.
Or, it can be a combination of any of those. Use a point system to rank shares & reposts higher than comments, because those get you more reach.
You can download the exact templates I use for my own giveaways below (including some legal requirements for running a giveaway on Instagram).
The point of a giveaway is to spread awareness about your brand and products, so you want others to enter your giveaway by tagging their friends and sharing your giveaway on their own accounts. If it works, it’s like a snowball effect.
Your ultimate goal (for the highest reach) is to get on the top posts of a hashtag, or on the explore page for people interested in your niche. And the way to do that is to make sure your entry requirements encourage people to like, comment, share, and tag their friends.
The more likes & comments your post gets, the more likely it will appear in either of the those two places.
Instagram doesn’t count a comment as engaged unless it has at least 4 words in it. So, be sure to ask users to answer a question in addition to tagging their friends.
For example, I’ve asked users to comment with the most recent book they read, or the best book they read last year.
But it doesn’t have to be directly related to the giveaway item itself. When I gave away a copy of Charles Dickens’ Christmas Stories, I had people comment with their favorite holiday movie.
3. Take an attractive giveaway photo
When it comes to Instagram, quality imagery is KEY.
You’ve got to catch someone’s eye in order to get them to start reading your caption and learn more about you. Otherwise, they’ll just scroll on by.
Your giveaway post is no exception. Make sure your photo is attractive, and place the focus on the item you’re giving away.
It’s okay to use a couple extra props, but don’t go overboard or you’ll muddle the point of the post. (Unless those props are included in the giveaway, of course.)
Remember to use natural light if you can. Adobe Lightroom is a free photo editing app that can work wonders – if you know how to use it!
I usually use a free graphic design tool called Canva to add text overlay like ‘Giveaway!’ so it’s super clear what the post is about.
You can learn all about how to take & edit kick-ass Instagram photos in my Insta Phone Photography Guide. (On sale for just $7 right now, but the price goes up soon!)
4. Decide when to run the giveaway
If you have a product that fits with a holiday theme, that’s a great time to do a giveaway. But it doesn’t have to be centered around a specific date.
You’ll also need to decide how long to run your giveaway. If it runs too long, the excitement will fade. People may put off entering because they have so much time, and then forget about it. But you also want to give them enough time to enter.
Typically, I stick to 3 or 4 days maximum, unless it’s a really big giveaway.
Flash giveaways can work really well, too. That’s when your giveaway lasts a short time, such as 24-48 hours. This can entice people to enter quicker, which boosts the engagement of your post.
5. Choose a giveaway winner
Once your giveaway entry period ends, you’ll want to use a random generator site to select your winner. The giveaway has to be fair, right?!
Announce the winner in your stories and ask them to send you their name & shipping address.
How do I increase the reach of my giveaway?
You don’t need a ton of followers to run a successful giveaway! But if your account is new or very small, your giveaway post may not be seen by enough people.
Here are some ways to increase the reach of your giveaway:
1. Collaborate with Instagram influencers
Instead of running the giveaway on your own account, you can ask influencers in your niche if they’d be willing to run the giveaway. You’d just need to send them the giveaway item.
They may want compensation or an additional free product that they can keep for their efforts. You can decide what you have the budget for.
If you partner with brand representatives, you already have this piece built in. You can post the giveaway on your own account, then ask your brand reps to share your giveaway post in their stories.
Or, send them an item so they can host a giveaway on their own account. Just consider that you’ll want them to include following your account as one of the entry requirements.
2. Use hashtags in your post
Be sure to use at least 15 hashtags in your post (at the bottom). Even more is better. That will give your post a higher chance of making it in the ‘top posts’ section, and more people will see it.
Avoid generic, uber-popular hashtags like #giveaway and #love. These won’t help you attract people who are actually interested in your niche.
Look for hashtags that are relevant to your products and are medium-sized (usually less than 2 million posts). For example, I use hashtags like #bookgiveaway, #bookcollector, and #vintagebooks.
3. Share the giveaway post in your Instagram story
Make sure your followers are the first to know about your giveaway. They are your loyal fans, after all!
Share the giveaway post to your story at least the first and last day the giveaway is running.
>>>>>>> Related post: 11 Instagram Story Ideas to Increase Your Engagement Rate
4. Partner with another brand
Find another brand that’s complementary to yours and reach out to them. I recommend building a relationship with the brand before doing this – you’ll get a better response that way.
You would both post the giveaway on your account. The entry requirements should require entrants to follow both of your accounts.
And that’s it! I hope this has been helpful. To save yourself some time and hassle, you can download the exact templates I use to run giveaways on Instagram below.
Good luck hosting your own fabulous giveaway!
Want to know how I grew my online shop to over 5k followers (and over 2,800 orders) on Instagram? I wrote an eBook that walks you through the best growth & engagement strategies I’ve found! Learn more.