Instagram Giveaway Guide: How to do a giveaway on Instagram
Sales & Marketing

Instagram Giveaway Guide: How to do a giveaway on Instagram

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In this guide you'll learn everything you need to know about running Instagram giveaways, contests, raffles, competitions, and sweepstakes (we will use these terms interchangeably) to earn more followers and drive more engagement than you ever thought possible.

In addition to learning the tactics, you'll also learn the reasoning behind them so you can make the best decisions to grow your business based on your industry and target demographic.

In this guide you’ll learn 🤔
  • How to set up your giveaway
  • Which giveaway rules maximize growth
  • How to pick giveaway winners (the easy way!)
  • How long your giveaway should last
  • How to get leads and email subscribers with your giveaway
  • How to get the most out of your giveaway campaign
  • Which Instagram giveaway apps to use & why
  • How to make money with Instagram giveaways
  • The biggest Instagram giveaway mistakes to avoid
  • And much more!

We've even included the ultimate Instagram giveaway checklist to ensure you don't miss anything when hosting your Instagram contest.

Instagram followers and engagement are getting harder to come by, so learning how to do an Instagram giveaway to gain followers is one of the most cost-effective, highest ROI marketing tactics you can learn. Let's get started!

In case you want to skip around, below is a detailed table of contents for this guide.


What are Instagram giveaways?

What are Instagram giveaways and why do they matter?

Instagram giveaways are the lottery tickets of the digital age; low investment, high reward, and everybody wants in.

Instagram giveaways are promotions (usually sweepstakes, but also called raffles, contests, or competitions) that last for a short time. At the end of the giveaway period, a winner(s) is selected based on the giveaway's entry criteria.

Instagram giveaway entry criteria can include things such as following the host's profile, liking the post, commenting, tagging friends, and more. We'll talk more about how to choose entry criteria later.

Instagram contest and giveaway prizes can include anything from gift cards to free company products and services. If a brand is hosting the contest, they will typically give away their products. We will cover in detail how to pick an Instagram contest prize in a later section.

Instagram Giveaway by nutpods
An Instagram Giveaway by nutpods

How do Instagram giveaways work?

Instagram giveaways work by creating an Instagram post that offers a chance of willing a prize (e.g., a gift card or product) in exchange for taking actions such as liking the post, following the host, and leaving a comment on the post.

Instagram giveaways often offer bonus entries for additional actions taken. For example, tagging more friends or leaving more comments earns bonus entries, which means more chances to win.

When the giveaway ends, the giveaway host tallies up all of the entries (including bonus entries) then randomly selects a winner to receive the prize.

Once you know how to run an Instagram giveaway, you can modify it to fit your business goals, like collaborating with others, getting email subscribers, and even growing your followers on other social networks like YouTube, TikTok and more!

Why do Instagram giveaways?

Nobody reads ads. People read what interests them. Sometimes it’s an ad.

- Howard Gossage

Let's be honest: Instagram giveaways are ads.

  • If you're a Creator, they're ads for your content.
  • If you're a Business, they're ads for your products or services.

Ads should get people interested in what you do: capture attention and generate engagement, especially directed engagement. Nothing does this better than a well-run Instagram giveaway. Here's proof:

  • Instagram accounts that do giveaways grow 70% faster than those that don't.
  • Instagram giveaway posts get 4X more engagement than non-giveaway posts.
  • In a survey of over 50,000 Instagram posts, of those that received more than 1,000 comments, over 90% were giveaways.
  • Giveaway posts on Instagram get 60X more comments than regular posts.
Instagram accounts that run giveaways grow faster.
Instagram giveaway posts get more engagement
Instagram giveaway posts get more comments
Source: Tailwind

What we'll answer in this guide is how to run a giveaway on Instagram that delivers killer results like these.

Who does Instagram giveaways?

Everyone that wants to grow their Instagram following does Instagram giveaways. That includes everyone from small businesses to big brands and the smallest Creators all the way up to celebrities like the Kardashians. Even individuals may do personal, noncommercial Instagram contests and giveaways just for fun.

What's the difference between an Instagram contest, lottery, sweepstakes & giveaway?

It's common to use these terms interchangeably, and it's usually no big deal (we do it in this guide), except when you're running a giveaway! Why? Because there are legal implications to each that we should be careful about. "Giveaway" is the most appropriate term in this case. So when you run your Instagram giveaway, call it a giveaway. Here's a quick summary of what each one means:

  • Contest: Based on some type of skill or merit where the winner is decided based on competition.
  • Lottery: Requires a purchase or payment to be eligible for entry to win a prize. Think state lotteries, Powerball, etc.
  • Sweepstakes: Winners are chosen randomly (by luck/chance) and can enter for free. You cannot charge a fee for entry; otherwise, this becomes a type of lottery, which can have legal implications.
  • Giveaway: Giveaways are a type of sweepstakes (just a more modern twist). Thus, entry must also be free (like sweepstakes), with a random winner.

To reiterate, it's common to use these all interchangeably as we do in this guide, and that's fine. But when you run your Instagram giveaway, just call it a giveaway in your post to protect yourself legally.

📚 References & additional resources on Instagram event terminology

Who can do an Instagram giveaway?

Anyone can do an Instagram giveaway! All you need is a prize, entry criteria, to post about it, and to pick a winner (we'll talk more about each of these steps later).

When you do an Instagram sweepstakes or giveaway, consider converting your Instagram profile to a Creator or Business account if appropriate (it's free!). This will give you better analytics and other useful tools. Find more information about Instagram Creator and Business accounts here:

Instagram Business and Creator Accounts
Switch to a free professional Business or Creator account in the Instagram app.

📚 References & additional resources on Instagram account types

Why do an Instagram giveaway?

Instagram contests and giveaways are among the best ways to grow your followers, increase engagement, and build loyalty with your customers. Creators, big brands, small businesses, and more all do Instagram giveaways due to the excellent ROI.

5 reasons why Instagram giveaways should be part of your marketing strategy:

  • Those who do giveaways grow 70% faster than those that don't.
  • Instagram giveaways are the #1 way to generate leads at scale
  • Giveaways get 60X more comments than regular posts.
  • Of posts that get more than 1,000 comments, nearly 90% are giveaways.
  • Giveaway posts get 4X more engagement than non-giveaway posts.
Instagram accounts that run giveaways grow faster.
Instagram giveaway posts get more engagement
Instagram giveaway posts get more comments
Source: Tailwind

Let's talk more about the benefits of giveaways in detail.

Increase your marketing ROI

There are millions of new Instagram posts a day. Why should people engage with your content?

Instagram users love giveaways, so running an Instagram way is one of the best ways to attract users and drive engagement.

But here's the most important thing about Instagram giveaways: They are a killer incentive.

Instagram is great, but you know what's more valuable than Instagram followers? Email subscribers. Why? Because it's much easier to track, nurture and convert email subscribers than Instagram followers. And it turns out that running an Instagram giveaway is the #1 way to get Instagram followers to join your email list. If you want to learn more, you can go directly to that section here.

Using Instagram giveaways as an incentive to drive meaningful actions (like growing your email list) significantly improves your marketing ROI so you can get more more out of your marketing dollars.

Get new followers with Instagram giveaways

Giveaways are among the best ways to grow followers. But the type of giveaway you do (especially the entry criteria) has a significant impact on how well it will perform.

For example, to drive growth, you'll want to include entry criteria that require entrants to tag multiple friends. Why? Because their friends are likely to be similar to them, which means a good fit for your brand.

You want to attract followers that'll stick with you long term (not unfollow immediately after the giveaway) and are interested in your content—not just any followers. Giveaways focused on your niche are best at achieving this, which we'll talk more about later.

Increase engagement with Instagram giveaways

Giveaways are among the best ways to increase engagement on Instagram. The type of giveaway you run will also factor into your success here. For example, you'll want to include liking, sharing, and commenting among your giveaway entry criteria to increase your engagement rate.

Reward loyal followers/customers & build stronger relationships with giveaways on Instagram

If you have a loyal customer base, you'll want to reward them from time to time with giveaways they can enter to win. For giveaways like these, sometimes it's more effective to give away lower-priced prizes to more people (multiple winners), especially for local businesses with local customers and simpler logistics for distributing prizes.

Celebrate milestones with your customers & followers using giveaways

Celebrating milestones like 1,000,000 followers (see example below), new releases, or other personal or company milestones, it's a great time to celebrate with your customers and followers. It also gives your giveaway purpose, which creates more momentum and excitement around your giveaway.

Instagram Giveaway by Black Rifle Coffee
An Instagram Giveaway by Black Rifle Coffee

Get email subscribers with Instagram giveaways

Little known fact: Instagram giveaways are the best way to turn Instagram followers into email subscribers. That means converting lower-value social followers into higher-value email subscribers where it's easier to make sales. We wrote a separate guide on converting Instagram followers to email subscribers if you're interested since you'll need more than just a free giveaway app, you'll need the features in our POPSMASH paid plans. Is it worth it? Well, email marketing ROI is 10X higher than social media ROI.

Increase your Shopify store's sales with Instagram giveaways

Most brands use Instagram giveaways to grow followers, hoping they will one day lead to sales. But it's much more profitable to use Instagram giveaways to convert your followers into email subscribers. Why? Because it's much easier to drive sales for your Shopify store via email marketing than through Instagram.

Additionally, email marketing gives you a direct line to your customers' inboxes to deepen and nurture the relationship without paying for more ads. It's one of the best Shopify lead-generation tactics out there.

The effectiveness of running Instagram giveaways to grow your email list and drive Shopify store sales varies based on your social following and industry size. So, we built a Shopify revenue and ROI calculator to help see if it'll work for your store. And if you're looking to do a Shopify Instagram giveaway, try our Shopify quiz app.

Why Instagram is the best place to do giveaways

According to the data, Instagram is the best social media platform to engage with your audience and do giveaways. A social media benchmarks study analyzing 22 million posts across Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, found that the engagement rate was four times higher on Instagram.

Social engagement benchmarks from SocialInsider
Studies show Instagram giveaways drive more follower growth and higher engagement.

This study tells us you're likely to reach 4X more people on Instagram than on other networks like Facebook and Twitter. That's why Instagram is the #1 platform to do giveaways!

Instagram giveaways are a cost-effective marketing channel

As advertising costs creep higher with more competition, Instagram giveaways are becoming increasingly attractive since you're not paying an advertiser. Instead, you're just covering the cost of the prize and going directly to your audience—the only other cost is your time.

Instagram giveaways are easy to set up, run, and repeat for consistent growth

Giveaways are also easy to set up, run, and frequently repeat to drive consistent long-term results. Once you have your process down, giveaways are very fast and efficient to run.

Instagram giveaways are the #1 Directed Engagement marketing strategy

We all want brand awareness, better performance, buyer reach at lower cost, and effective ways to generate interest. We've all heard of content marketing and engagement generation tactics, but as time passes they get less and less effective. That's why Directed Engagement is the new go-to marketing strategy that's still relatively underutilized.

What is Directed Engagement?
Directed engagement is how you meaningfully connect with your audience by engaging them where they are, in ways they love in intentional ways that generate actions & insights

Directed Engagement is similar to other marketing engagement strategies but highly targeted with the type of engagement it drives. Directed engagement focuses on driving the actions that create the most value for your brand--everything has a purpose. Here's an example:

The most popular form of Directed Engagement is Instagram giveaways. Why are Instagram giveaways best for Directed Engagement? Three reasons:

  1. Instagram because it has 4X higher engagement than any other social media platform.
  2. Giveaways because you specify how you want followers and prospective customers to engage with you in exchange for the chance to win.
  3. Using an existing platform with billions of users like Instagram lets you engage customers and prospects where they already are.

What does this look like in action? Let's do an example: If I run an Instagram giveaway, I might specify four entry criteria, each with a specific purpose:

  1. Follow me: Grows your audience and seeds future engagement.
  2. Tag 2 friends for bonus entries: This exposes your brand to more people like your existing customers (lookalike audiences) to increase your brand reach and awareness.
  3. Subscribe to my newsletter in the bio link for 10 bonus entries: Grows your list since email addresses and leads are worth way more than followers.

The above are example Instagram giveaway rules & entry criteria.

It's not often that you get the opportunity to specify how customers engage with you in such a cost-effective and scalable way, so give it a try with Instagram giveaways.

Instagram giveaways are the #1 way to generate leads on Instagram

Instagram users love fun, engaging content. That's why Instagram giveaways are increasingly popular.

The hard part about lead generation is that you need an incentive for people to provide their contact information.

It turns out that the chance to win an Instagram giveaway is a fantastic incentive. For example, giving users 10 bonus entries if they enter their email address works well.

From our data, on average between 30% and 55% of Instagram users who comment on your giveaway post are willing to also provide their email address as part of an Instagram lead generation campaign.

We wrote a separate guide on Instagram lead generation in case it'd be beneficial.

Why give away something for free in an Instagram giveaway?

Two words: Cheap advertising. How much was the last major advertising campaign you ran? Hundreds of dollars? Thousands? Tens of thousands? Well, with giveaways, you can get results spending much less.

For example, if you sell products, consider using some of your popular but lower-cost products as giveaways. For example, a product that wholesales (costs) for $25 and retails (sells for) at $50 is the perfect giveaway prize.

Your most popular products are also great giveaway prizes because they are recognizable and encourage more entries and engagement.

Do I have to use an expensive prize for Instagram giveaways?

Not at all. Like we mentioned previously, your most popular products are often your best giveaway prizes. For example, see the high level of engagement Hydro Flask drove just giving away a few $40 water bottles. Insane ROI, right?

Instagram Giveaway by Hydro Flask
An Instagram Giveaway by Hydro Flask

Why Instagram giveaways sometimes get a bad rap (and the #1 mistake to avoid with your giveaways)

Just like with anything, there's a right way and a wrong way to do Instagram giveaways. The two general types of giveaways differ based on the prize: 1) Niche-specific giveaways and 2) Generic, untargeted giveaways.

  • Niche-specific giveaways: Giveaways with a prize specific to your niche that only your target followers would like.
  • Generic, untargeted giveaways: Giveaways with a generic prize that anyone would be interested in, like an iPad or an Amazon gift card.

Most of the time, niche-specific giveaways will have a much higher ROI and deliver better long-term results than generic giveaways. Why? Because with Instagram giveaways, you don't want to attract just any new followers. You want new followers who are interested in YOUR content and who will engage with it long-term.

Attracting new followers interested in your content likely means 1) they will continue to follow you after the giveaway ends, and 2) they will engage with your content.

The sign of a lousy giveaway is a high unfollow rate after a giveaway and lower engagement. For example, loop giveaways are a common type of bad giveaway. Loop giveaways include several accounts (often dozens) and expensive prizes. Entrants must follow all accounts to enter. These giveaways attract many entrants as new followers, but they quickly unfollow afterward since they just wanted the prize.

Maria of The Chic Pursuit shared a story of bad results with a loop giveaway:

During the [loop] giveaway, my engagement was the best it had ever been. However, as the giveaway ended, so did the engagement. Before the loop giveaway, my engagement rate was at around 3%. Afterwards, it hovered around 1.8%. At first, my account grew almost 10k in a matter of days — to 58k followers. Afterwards, the followers started dropping off slowly. 2 years later, my account is now at 45k.

To summarize, stick with niche-specific giveaways to grow and avoid loop giveaways. Generic giveaways are only useful in specific situations that are few and far between for most of us.

Do Instagram giveaways work?

In short, yes, they do—and more than you might think! Here's a summary: A research study by Tailwind analyzing over 60,000 Instagram posts found just how effective Instagram giveaways can be:

  • Instagram accounts that do events like giveaways grow over 70% faster than those that don't.
  • Instagram giveaway posts get more engagement than those that don't: Over 60 times more comments and almost four times as much engagement!
  • Of Instagram posts that received more than 1,000 comments, over 90% were giveaways.

Crazy, right? Those results are phenomenal, especially with how cost-effective we showed that Instagram giveaways could be. Examples might help here, so let's review a quick case study.

A real-life example: An Instagram giveaway case study

One example of a successful Instagram giveaway is Molly-Mae's giveaway in September 2020. It earned over 1 million likes and nearly 3 million comments.

Instagram Giveaway by Molly-Mae Hague
An Instagram Giveaway by Molly-Mae Hague

It also earned her hundreds of thousands of YouTube subscribers and subscribers on her brand's Instagram profile. She spent $10,000 on prizes, which equals less than $0.01 per new follower/subscriber (and we're mentioning her here, for even more reach).

Molly Mae Instagram Giveaway Results
Source: Marketing Examples Case Study

What tips can we learn from this giveaway to apply to future giveaways?

  • Timing: She celebrated reaching 1,000,000 YouTube subscribers to give her giveaway purpose.
  • Encourage sharing: Including follow, like, and subscribe on YouTube plus tag a friend as entry criteria, with sharing to stories for bonus entries.
  • Use an Instagram giveaway app to pick a winner fairly. Unfortunately, Molly-Mae received blowback from followers for not picking a winner fairly and randomly. It's hard to do, so use an Instagram giveaway app to make it easier.
Molly Mae Instagram Giveaway Results
Source: Marketing Examples Case Study

The most interesting thing about this giveaway is that she used her personal Instagram profile to grow her YouTube channel and brand Instagram profile. We wrote this guide months after her giveaway ended. Her YouTube channel already grew another 50%, showing the long-term growth and momentum that her giveaway created. Very impressive.

Are you excited? I sure am. So, on to the fun stuff—next, let's talk about how to make a giveaway on Instagram.

How to do an Instagram giveaway

This next section will walk us through each step of running a giveaway (including examples). Towards the end of this 'how to' section we've put together an Instagram giveaway checklist to summarize the steps later in this guide.

Before you begin

First, if you're a business/brand or creator, we highly recommend you have an Instagram Business or Creator account. Switching your Instagram account to Business or Creator is free and gives you advanced analytics and other tools. Learn more here:

📚 References & additional resources on types on Instagram accounts

If you're new to running Instagram giveaways...

If this is your first Instagram giveaway or you're still relatively new to them, it's important to manage your expectations: don't expect to get it right the first time!

Rather than making your first giveaway a big one with an expensive prize, plan for more giveaways with low-cost prizes. This will allow you to experiment. It's only through trial and error that you'll figure out what works for your brand and your audience.

You shouldn't rely on Instagram giveaways for your main source of growth, but they are an excellent part of a well-rounded marketing strategy due to their effectiveness at driving engagement.

How to keep new followers from an Instagram giveaway after it ends

To keep your new followers from your giveaway long-term, you have to plan for success. We recommend content planning a couple weeks in advance to share high-quality content after your giveaway ends to ensure you retain your new followers.

Now let's dig into the fun stuff!

What are some Instagram giveaway ideas?

You can run an Instagram raffle or giveaway any time, but sometimes a little extra inspiration helps spark fun ideas, so here are some of our favorites.

Instagram follower milestone giveaways

When you hit a major follower milestone (500, 1,000, 10,000, 25,000, etc.), it's always a fun time to celebrate and thank your followers by running an Instagram giveaway. This also has the benefit of giving you a follower boost to get you to the next milestone even faster!

Pick it & win it Instagram giveaways

This is a fun kind of giveaway for your followers. It works by posting multiple options (e.g., multiple styles of products) in an Instagram image carousel and asking users to comment with their favorite and why. At the end of the giveaway, the selected winner wins whichever one they commented about. This also has the side effect of generating users feedback for your products.

Instagram holiday giveaways

Holidays are always a great time to run giveaways. Mother's Day, Easter, Memorial Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, you name it! People love holidays and love giveaways, so take advantage of it and run a holiday giveaway to celebrate!

Seasonal Instagram giveaways

Businesses often have different products and offerings for different seasons. Doing seasonal giveaways is a good way to draw attention to your offerings for the upcoming season and generate some buzz.

Trend & momentum giveaways

Trends are always changing, but if you're lucky enough to have a product or service related to a current trend, take advantage of it and run a giveaway. For example, as people get more environmentally friendly, if your business sells reusable water bottles then do a water bottle giveaway to spread the message above how reusable water bottles reduce plastic waste.

News-jacking Instagram giveaways

Like the above, take advantage of a timely news story that everyone is talking about to run a giveaway. There are dozens of opportunities with memes, skits, and more about current events at any given time. Pick one and run a timely giveaway to take part in the fun and ride the way to attract attention.

Multiple winner Instagram giveaways

Giveaways don't have to have just one winner. Try running a giveaway with multiple winners to spread the love. For example, in the entry requirements tell people to tag two friends, then all 3 will win the prize to celebrate together!

Instagram creator & influencer partner giveaways

If there's a popular Creator or influencer in your niche, team up with them to give something away: you bring the prize, and they bring the audience. It's a win-win!

Local business Instagram collab giveaways

Team up with local businesses to run giveaway collaborations on Instagram since larger prizes often attract more followers. For example, if you team up with 5 other businesses, each business can contribute a product or service as a prize. It's much more affordable for each business, and the winner gets more prizes!

Related product partner giveaways

If you know a business with complementary products, then consider teaming up to run a, Instagram contest or giveaway together. For example, a hair salon and nail salon can team up to give the winner a full beauty package prize.

Prize bundle giveaways

If there are multiple businesses with complementary products, consider teaming up to offer a prize bundle to take the above example further. For example, a Summer Survival Kit is always a fun one that can include a range of different products or services from multiple businesses. If it's big enough, you can even get the local news to talk about it!

Instagram free trial giveaways

Free trial giveaways are best for software (e.g., SaaS) companies and startups. Why? Because since most software has zero marginal costs, it is cost-effective to give away an extended free trial (e.g., software free for X months). This is especially great since the winners sometimes end up converting to paid users at the end. Startups are always looking for cost-effective ways to grow, so Instagram giveaways are a great tactic.

Regularly occurring giveaways

If you see giveaways consistently driving results, then consider doing them regularly (weekly, biweekly, or monthly) so your followers know what to expect. This works well if you have a low-cost, high-high demand prize that you can repeatedly giveaway. Once setup, build this into your regular marketing budget.

Experiment with different ideas to see winch ones work best for your business, then build them into your regular marketing plan.

How to set up a giveaway or contest on Instagram

Now we're going to get into the details of planning and setting up your Instagram giveaway. Of course, not all of these will apply to you, so it may help to skim through and create your own Instagram giveaway setup checklist customized for your needs.

We also created a full, end-to-end Instagram giveaway checklist for you towards the end of this how-to guide.

How to pick a goal for your Instagram giveaway

If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there.

- Lewis Carroll

What's the goal of your Instagram contest or giveaway? The goal is the most important thing to decide because your giveaway's goal influences the prize and rules you use for your giveaways.

Most giveaways on Instagram have growth as a primary goal, with secondary goals of increasing engagement and rewarding followers. Since follower growth is the most common goal for Instagram giveaways, we'll use it in this example.

How to pick a prize for your Instagram giveaway

One of the most important parts of hosting a successful Instagram contest is knowing what to give away as a prize. When picking an Instagram giveaway prize, you need to strike a balance between two key factors:

  1. A prize that accomplishes your giveaway goals
  2. A prize that attracts your target followers

The intersection of these two is our goal: Attracts more followers in your target audience to ensure you get the right followers to keep your engagement high.

iPads and Amazon gift cards are bad examples of Instagram giveaway prizes in most cases (but not always!) because they may attract many followers, but they won't attract the right followers since they are generic.

If you're in the beauty niche, a make-up kit might be a much better example of a prize that will accomplish your goals and attract the right followers.

For giveaway prizes, your products and services are a great, cost-effective example that also attracts your target customer. For example, Hydro Flask drives huge engagement giving away their $40 water bottles.

As another example, gift cards are usually a bad example because they're a generic prize that anyone would want. But here's an example of how gift cards can be a great prize: Gymshark ran a giveaway with their gift cards, which works because it's targeted to their niche.

Instagram Giveaway by Gymshark
An Instagram Giveaway by Gymshark

Many things can be great giveaway prizes, but just make sure they 1) achieve your giveaway goals and 2) target the right followers.

How to get email subscribers & generate leads during your Instagram giveaway

Due to the strong incentive to win your giveaway prize, Instagram giveaways are also a great way to get email subscribers for your newsletter and generate leads.

But to use Instagram giveaways to collect email addresses and get more leads, you’ll need to use an Instagram lead generation app since a simple giveaway picker app won’t be enough. An Instagram lead generation app will verify entries as well as validate email addresses, provide conversion performance data and more. You learn more about getting leads and email subscribers in our Instagram lead generation guide.

How to pick rules & entry criteria for your Instagram giveaway

When setting Instagram giveaway rules, the most important guideline to keep in mind is this: keep it simple!

With your rules, you need to be clear, concise, and keep them simple. That'll encourage more people to enter your giveaway and share it with their friends.

Recommended Instagram giveaway rules template

A good rule set that we encourage most people to use is:

Example Instagram giveaway rules template

  1. Follow me.
  2. Tag 2 friends in the comments.
  3. Subscribe to my newsletter in my biolink for 10 bonus entries

Now, let's break down why we use each rule:

  • Follow me: More followers drives follower growth. When people tag their friends, they will also follow if they want to enter.
  • Tag your friends in the comments: This helps your post go viral and grow faster—all entrants will tag their friends, who will, in turn, tag more friends.
  • Subscribe to my newsletter in my biolink for 10 bonus entries: This is how you grow email subscribers and get leads. You'll need an Instagram lead gen tool for this step.

These rules are clear, concise, and simple to follow while meeting your giveaway goals. Feel free to use these entry criteria on your next Instagram giveaway!

Though our recommended rules above will work for most giveaways, the rules should fit your giveaway's goal and circumstances. For example, suppose you're offering a valuable prize with a longer timeline. In that case, you can get away with a more complex set of rules. However, if your prize is low end or the giveaway period is short (e.g., 24hrs or less), you should keep your rules simple.

Want to use your Instagram giveaway to collect email addresses?

Email marketing ROI is 10X higher than social media, so you'll likely eventually want to start collecting email addresses from your followers to drive more sales. Our premium plans can help you do that if you're interested.

How long should an Instagram giveaway last?

So, how long should your giveaway on Instagram last? It depends on multiple factors, but most giveaways on Instagram should be 48-72 hours. If your goal is to generate urgency and create a spike in engagement, 24hrs may work better for you.

For more extensive collaborations where it takes more time to mobilize audiences, you can use extended giveaway periods. These generally also have more expensive prizes.

Remember to include your giveaway's start and end date and time (including time zone) in your giveaway caption.

Does paying for ads impact giveaway length?

Paying to boost your post absolutely has an impact on giveaway reach, so it can be quite beneficial.

The Instagram algorithm deprioritizes older posts, so if you want to run a longer giveaway, then paying to boost the post can help get more entries.

Should you ever do giveaways longer that 48-72 hours?

The Instagram algorithm deprioritizes older content. So, if you want to run a longer giveaway (beyond 48-72 hours) you'll want to boost the post with paid ads to continue reaching new users.

How to keep your Instagram giveaway legal

Like anything, there's not-so-fun stuff we need to take care of to protect ourselves and our followers/customers.

For Instagram giveaways, this includes things like following Instagram's rules, the giveaway disclaimer, etc. Next, we'll go over a few things to be aware of to make sure your giveaway stays legit.

Follow Instagram's rules for giveaways & promotions

If you're unfamiliar with running Instagram giveaways and the official rules that Instagram requires, here's a summary:

  1. For your giveaway, you're responsible for the official rules, offer terms, and eligibility requirements (e.g., age/residency restrictions)
  2. Don't encourage inaccurate tagging of content (e.g., tagging a photo with someone who isn't in it)
  3. Make it clear that Instagram isn't involved in the giveaway

You can see the full Instagram promotion guidelines here on the Instagram help site.

Include companies hosting or sponsoring the Instagram giveaway or contest

Remember to mention any companies that you're partnering with for the giveaway to be transparent with your followers. For example, a company may be paying you, sponsoring the prize, etc. should be included.

Organizations like the FTC in the United States require this since these could be perceived as endorsements (other countries have similar agencies). It also gives your followers transparency to build trust, which is essential.

Instagram giveaway disclaimer

A disclaimer protects you from any legal issues. Legal benefits aside, it also provides transparency to your customers and followers. Though it may seem unnecessary, it's good for everyone!

Example giveaway disclaimer template

This giveaway is not endorsed, administered, or sponsored by Instagram and is open to <YOUR COUNTRY> residents only. Winners will be chosen fairly and at random by third-party facilitator @popsmash on <END DATE> and notified within 24 hours via direct message from @yourusername.

Use a disclaimer template like the one above to get a head start.

Always be transparent in your Instagram giveaways

When in doubt, always be transparent about your giveaways. Include information that you would want to know if you were entering the giveaway. At a minimum, include these 4 things:

  1. Start/end date (if not included in the intro)
  2. How the winner is chosen, how they will be contacted, and by whom
  3. Disclaimer that Instagram isn't involved in or administering the giveaway
  4. Participation restrictions like age and location

📚 References & additional resources on running legit Instagram giveaways

How to use hashtags on Instagram giveaways

Next, there's the often-discussed topic of instagram giveaway hashtags. How many? Which ones? Where to put them? Here's a quick summary of using hashtags with giveaways on Instagram:

  • How many hashtags?: Use as many hashtags as are relevant, up to 30. Generally, more hashtags = more reach.
  • In caption or comment?: For better reach, if you have fewer than 100k followers, put your hashtags in the caption. If you have more than 100k followers, put them in the comments.
  • Which hashtags?: Use hashtags relevant to your business, your audience, or your product services. Don't use generic hashtags like #giveaway, #giveawaytime, etc., to avoid attracting generic, low-quality followers. Also, avoid hashtags that are overused (if possible).

The Instagram algorithm is a secret, so there are varying opinions, but the above recommendations should give you 90% of the value without spending hours researching and experimenting like we did. 😃

📚 References & additional resources

How to write the perfect Instagram giveaway post caption

Now it is time to take everything we learned so far and put it together in a fun, concise way to come up with the perfect Instagram giveaway wording for your post caption. Here's a convenient Instagram giveaway caption checklist:

  • We HIGHLY recommend overlaying "Giveaway" on post image to make it obvious and attract more engagement. This small change can create 2X more engagement.
  • Include your giveaway rules. When in doubt, use: 1) follow, 2) like, 3) comment, and 4) tag friends for bonus entries.
  • Include giveaway start/end date and time (include time zone)
  • Include any participation restrictions (age, location, etc.)
  • Use hashtags relevant to your business/product/audience. Avoid generic hashtags like #giveaway to avoid tracking the wrong people.

If you're collaborating with others, also include their @usernames in the "follow me" giveaway rule with yours.

Here's an example:

Example giveaway caption template

It's giveaway time! 🙌 🎉

To enter:
1. Follow me
2. Tag 2 friends
3. Subscribe to my newsletter in bio link for 10 bonus entries!

This giveaway is not endorsed, administered, or sponsored by Instagram and is open to <YOUR COUNTRY> residents only. Winners will be chosen fairly and at random by third-party facilitator @popsmash on <END DATE> and will be notified within 24 hours via direct message from @username.

Feel free to use the above example to help word your giveaway on Instagram. Now, use the Instagram giveaway post checklist or the caption template above and then personalize the caption to make it fit your brand.

Whether you use an Instagram giveaway app to make it easy or write your caption from scratch yourself, ensure you pick Instagram contest rules that meet your giveaway goals to make the most of your giveaway.

How to give your Instagram giveaway the best chance of succeeding

There are ~100 million new Instagram posts every single day! That's a lot of other shiny things for people to look at instead of your giveaway. Here are some quick tips to give your giveaway the best chance of meeting your goals.

Make the post count

Try not to post to Instagram for 24-48hrs before posting your giveaway. This will help ensure it's the latest post for your followers and give you a better chance at getting seen.

We also recommend posting your giveaway at the time of day when you have the most engagement. Your Instagram analytics will tell you when this is.

How to promote a giveaway on Instagram

We can't just post and forget about it, so promote, promote, promote is the name of the game. Here are some tips on how to promote an Instagram giveaway:

  • Before you post your giveaway, let your followers know it's coming and when they can enter.
  • After posting your giveaway, mix in giveaway reminder posts with your regular content.
  • Once a day, share a story about your giveaway mixed in with your other content. If you have an Instagram Creator/Business account with over 10,000 followers, you can even let your followers swipe up to the giveaway post!
  • If you have an email newsletter or a presence on other social networks, you should promote your giveaway there as well.
  • Engage with your followers and reply to the most thoughtful comments during your giveaway—especially within the first 1-2 hours to boost engagement and reach.
  • Ask peers in your niche to share your giveaway with their followers
  • You can also boost your post for additional reach

Your giveaway announcement and promotion will help create and sustain momentum during your giveaway to get the most reach and engagement.

Should you boost your Instagram giveaway post (use paid ads)?

There are two schools of thought here:

  • Budget driven: Instagram giveaways are way more engaging, thus I shouldn't have to pay for ads to boost my post.
  • ROI driven: I boost some or most other Instagram posts and Instagram giveaway posts have higher ROI, so I should boost this one even more.

Marketing and ad spend always comes down to ROI: Does the return on your marketing efforts justify what you spend on ads?

Instagram giveaways drive tremendous engagement, so when done right they can be your best opportunity to reach and engage more people, especially when boosted by ads.

But one trick to multiply the ROI you get from Instagram giveaways is to use them to also drive long-term results, for example by capturing the email addresses of those who enter your Instagram giveaway. This works exceptionally well for ecommerce businesses like Shopify stores.

Using your Instagram giveaway to turn your Instagram followers into email subscribers helps you better track, nurture and convert that on Instagram alone, which dramatically increases your Shopify marketing ROI and justifies more paid ad investment to boost your giveaway post.

How to end an Instagram giveaway

All good things must come to an end, and so must your giveaway.

When it's time to end your giveaway, we recommend a few key things:

  • Update your post with something like "Giveaway closed, winner to be announced."
  • You can also update the giveaway post with the winner when announced or share it in a new post or story (more on this later).

This is the easiest part of the giveaway, but take advantage of it to create engaging content for your followers.

How to pick a winner for an Instagram giveaway

Now comes the most time-intensive, frustrating, and tedious part of the giveaway: tallying the results, validating who met the criteria, then randomly (and fairly) selecting a winner.

For most people, the most challenging, time-intensive part of running a giveaway on Instagram is picking a winner. Why? Because you have to sort through hundreds, maybe even thousands of comments, make sure they followed the criteria, then choose a winner from qualifying entries fairly and randomly.

If that sounds hard, it's because it is! There are hundreds of articles and YouTube videos explaining elaborate methods of this because it's so complicated.

But here's the thing: the most important part of your Instagram giveaway is capturing leads (email or SMS opt-ins) to drive sales. So just draw a random winners from those optins (Tip: If you're using Shopify, our app makes it easy).

How to announce the winner of an Instagram giveaway

At the end of your giveaway, announcing the winner is another opportunity to maximize reach and engage your followers, so have fun with it! With all of the giveaway scams, announcing the winning follower publicly also shows your followers that someone actually won the giveaway and that you're legit. It earns trust.

There's no "right way" to announce your giveaway winner, so here are some examples of what you could include in your announcement:

  • Who: The winner(s) Instagram usernames
  • What: What they won
  • How: How the winners were chosen
  • When: When/how you will reach out, or how they can claim their prize
  • Tease: When your next giveaway will be (if one is planned)

Next, here are the two primary ways to announce the winners of your Instagram giveaway:

Primary Instagram giveaway winner announcement options

  • Create a new Instagram post listing the giveaway winner(s)
  • Share the winners in a story and tag the giveaway winner(s). This is a better option if you don't want an extra post in your feed just for the announcement

In addition to the primary ways to announce your giveaway winner(s), it's also good to do a couple extra things to maximize your reach and engagement:

Secondary Instagram giveaway winner announcement options

  • Mention the winners in a comment on the original giveaway post. This is usually good to do also, but not alone since it's less visible.
  • DM the winners. This is good to do in addition to your other announcement actions, but not alone since it's not publicly visible.
  • Update the original giveaway post with your giveaway winner(s).
  • Go on Instagram Live 1 hour before the end of the giveaway showing the original giveaway post or get creative, for example, a countdown timer with giveaway instructions on a whiteboard. Pin a comment that this is the last chance to enter the giveaway, get bonus entries, etc.
  • Share the winner(s) on your profiles on other social media networks.
  • Share the Instagram giveaway results with your email subscriber list and on your website (e.g., in a blog post).

Now that you know how to announce a giveaway winner on Instagram, feel free to modify it to match your style. Going the extra mile to share your giveaway results will attract new followers in your niche who don't want to miss out on your next giveaway.

How to maximize the long-term results of your Instagram giveaway

You ran your giveaway to grow your account by attracting new followers, so follow up your giveaway with high-quality content to keep them engaged. Depending on your content process, it's often better to create this content in advance, so it's ready to go!

Continuously improve your Instagram giveaway process

Like everything else you do to market and grow your online presence, running Instagram giveaways is a process you should strive to improve. Take note of what worked and what didn't to make your future giveaways even better. Ask your best followers for feedback too!

📚 References & additional resources on running Instagram giveaways

The ultimate Instagram giveaway checklist

We've covered a lot, so here's your cheat sheet summarizing how to host an Instagram giveaway:

Your Instagram giveaway cheat sheet

These checklists are not prescriptive but are meant to guide your giveaway efforts, so feel free to skip steps that don't apply. We recommend creating your own checklist as you develop your giveaway process, so it fits your needs.

Checklist: Before the Instagram giveaway ✅

Successful giveaways start with successful planning. Get these things right, and you'll greatly increase the chances of a rewarding giveaway:

  • If you're a business or creator, make sure you have a free Instagram Business or Creator account.
  • Use an app that simplies picking a winner to make your life 1000x easier.
  • Decide on your giveaway goal. What you want to achieve with your giveaway will inform the rules, prizes, etc.
  • Pick a giveaway prize that 1) accomplishes your giveaway goals and 2) attracts your target followers.
  • Choose giveaway rules and entry criteria that support your giveaway goals. When in doubt, use: 1) follow, 2) tag 2 friends and 3) subscribe to me email list at bio link (if you want leads and email subscribers from Instagram).
  • Decide how long your giveaway should last. 48-72 hours to 1 week is typical but could be up to 2 weeks if it's right for your giveaway.
  • Make sure to follow Instagram's promotion rules.
  • Attract more entries by giving your followers a heads up that a giveaway is coming a few days ahead of time so they look out for it.
  • Make your giveaway post count: Don't post 24-48hrs before your giveaway to ensure it's the latest post your followers see.
  • Prepare high-quality content to share following your giveaway to retain new followers.
Checklist: The Instagram giveaway post ✅

Now it's time to write your giveaway post:

  • Call it a giveaway or sweepstakes, not a contest to protect yourself from legal issues.
  • Overlay "Giveaway" on your post image to attract more entries (often 2x more!).
  • Include your giveaway rules. When in doubt, use: 1) follow, 2) tag 2 friends and 3) subscribe to me email list at bio link (if you want leads and email subscribers from Instagram).
  • Include the start/end date and time for your giveaway (including time zone).
  • Include any applicable participation restrictions like age or location.
  • Include a disclaimer that Instagram doesn't sponsor or administer the giveaway and any other relevant disclaimers.
  • Use hashtags relevant to your target audience, avoid spammy/overused hashtags like #giveaways and #contests.
  • Post your giveaway when engagement is highest. Instagram analytics will tell you when this is.

Below is the Instagram giveaway post caption template. Feel free to copy it and make it your own.

Example giveaway caption template

It's giveaway time! 🙌 🎉

To enter:
1. Follow me
2. Tag 2 friends
3. Subscribe to my newsletter in bio link for 10 bonus entries!

This giveaway is not endorsed, administered, or sponsored by Instagram and is open to <YOUR COUNTRY> residents only. Winners will be chosen fairly and at random by third-party facilitator @popsmash on <END DATE> and will be notified within 24 hours via direct message from @username.
Checklist: During the giveaway ✅

Promote, promote, promote is the name of the game! Here are some things you can do to attract more entries:

  • Mix in giveaway reminder posts with your regular content (don't overdo it!).
  • Once a day, share a story about your giveaway mixed in with your other IG stories.
  • Promote your giveaway in your email newsletter and on other social networks where you have a presence.
  • During the first 1-2 hours of your giveaway, reply to comments to boost engagement.
  • Ask others in your niche to share your giveaway with their followers.
Checklist: Ending your Instagram giveaway & picking a winner ✅

So, your giveaway has ended. What now? First, some housekeeping:

  • Update the post and/or add a comment telling followers the giveaway has ended and when the winner will be announced (or share this via story).
  • Pick a random winner from the entries (our apps automate this step).
Checklist: Announcing the winner of your giveaway ✅

When it comes time to announce the winner of your giveaway, you'll want to include some key things:

  • Instagram username of the winner(s)
  • What the winner(s) won
  • How winners were chosen
  • How/when you'll contact the winner or how they should claim their prize
  • When your next giveaway is if one is planned

There's no right way to announce the winner of your giveaway. We recommend one primary method with additional secondary methods to maximize reach. Here are some ideas:

Checklist: Primary Instagram giveaway announcement options ✅
  • Share a story tagging the giveaway winner(s).
  • Share winner(s) via a new Instagram post.
Checklist: Secondary (additional) Instagram giveaway announcement options ✅
  • Update the original giveaway post with your giveaway winner.
  • Comment on the original giveaway post tagging the winners. Ignore this if you've already close the comments.
  • DM the winners.
  • Start Instagram Live 1hr before the end of the giveaway with the giveaway post or a countdown timer and pin a comment with "last chance to enter and get bonus entries!"
  • Share the winners on other social media networks and with your email list.
Checklist: After the giveaway ✅
  • Make sure the winner(s) of your giveaway receives their prize.
  • If you collected email or SMS leads, import those into your CRM (if you used, POPSMASH they are synced automatically).
  • Maximize retention of new followers by sharing high-quality content.
  • Take note of what worked and what didn't work to make your next giveaway is even better!

📚 References & additional resources on running Instagram giveaways

Reminder #1: Ensures winners are picked in a secure, fair & random way

Want to know the #1 headache people running giveaways deal with after the giveaway ends? Proving to their followers and customers that a winner was chosen randomly. But we understand why they get suspicious because there are so many fake giveaways out there!

That's why it's smart to use an independent, third-party app to fairly and securely draw a random winner for your giveaway. It's easier, and it'll protect your integrity and build your reputation.

Different giveaway apps use different methods, but to give you an idea, here's how we choose random winners fairly:

Our POPSMASH app uses the Mersenne Twister to choose winners, an advanced random number generator (for the nerdy folks, specifically a deterministic random bit generator). It is called the "Mersenne Twister" because the period length is chosen to be a Mersenne prime number.

Why do we use the Mersenne Twister? Good question, it's because the Mersenne Twister:

  • Passes many statistical randomness tests, including most of the TestU01 tests and the Diehard tests.
  • Has an extremely long period length of 2^19937 − 1. Though not an absolute guarantee of quality in a random number generator, short periods like 2^32 common in older packages can create issues.
  • Is k-distributed to 32-bit accuracy for every 1 ≤ k ≤ 623.
  • Usually creates random numbers faster than true random methods. For example, studies have found that it creates 64-bit floating-point random numbers around 20 times faster than the hardware-implemented, processor-based RDRAND instruction set.
  • Is patent-free and permissively licensed, so we can keep costs lower.
How the Mersenne Twister helps POPSMASH make Instagram giveaways fair and random
How Mersenne Twister makes Instagram giveaways fair & random. Source: How does the Mersenne Twister work? by David Wong.

We take ensuring Instagram giveaways are fair and random seriously, and now you know how we do it 🙂

Reminder #2: Do NOT violate Instagram & Facebook's terms of service so your account doesn't get banned

This is one of the most important yet most overlooked requirements. Believe it or not, most Instagram giveaway apps violate Instagram/Facebook terms of service and are not officially approved. This means these unapproved apps put you at risk of getting banned!

Here's a response to a use on a public forum who asked for help after their Instagram account was banned for using a 3rd-party Instagram tool that was NOT officially approved by Instagram.

Instagram account banned - Instagram Giveaway
POPSMASH is one of the few Instagram giveaway apps that does not violate Instagram's terms of service so your account doesn't get banned.

Do yourself a favor, only use Instagram/Facebook officially approved apps if they access content on your Instagram.

You'd be surprised how many people get their Instagram accounts banned after using unapproved 3rd party apps, so only use approved apps!

Reminder #3: Maximize your ROI on giveaways by collecting leads

Instagram followers are great, but email and SMSsubscribers are more valuable. So, using your Instagram giveaway as an incentive to also grow your marketing list to get more subscribers, sales leads and more.

This is stretching beyond a simple Instagram giveaway app to an Instagram lead gen tool, but the outcome is also significantly more valuable and generates much higher ROI.

How to do an Instagram giveaway collaboration (collab)

Collaborations (or collabs for short) on Instagram giveaways and contests are one of the best ways to grow your audience because they directly expose you to other audiences.

How do Instagram giveaway collaborations work?

Instagram giveaway collaborations work by running joint giveaways with others who have similar audiences. For example, they could be in a complementary industry, the same industry, or the same local region.

What rules should you use for an Instagram giveaway collaboration?

Rules for Instagram giveaway collaborations are very similar to rules on non-collaboration giveaways, except you need to include each other in one or both posts. So, for example, where you say 'Follow me' as a rule, in a collab, instead you'd say 'Follow @soandso and me', substituting your collab partner's username. Here's an example:

Example Instagram collab giveaway rules template

  1. Follow me.
  2. Tag 2 friends in the comments.
  3. Subscribe to my newsletter in my biolink for 10 bonus entries

Note: The email collection and lead gen step only works when using an Instagram lead generation tool like POPSMASH.

Should I collaborate on Instagram giveaways with influencers or businesses?

The short answer is that you should experiment with both to see what works best for you. The benefit of collaborating with businesses is that the product's only cost since you're both getting mutual exposure.

Influencers generally charge for collab giveaways since their business is their audience, which they often monetize through running paid giveaways, sponsorships, etc.

When influencers and creators collaborate on giveaways, they usually don't charge each other since it's mutually beneficial unless there is a large disparity between their audience sizes. For example, if you have 10X more followers than I do, I might pay you since I'm getting much more exposure than you are.

How many people can I do an Instagram giveaway collaboration with?

Technically, you can do an Instagram collaboration giveaway with as many people as you want. But in practice, we generally recommend keeping it under 5, with 2-3 being ideal. Keeping the numbers low makes it easier to manage and keep the quality high.

If you include too many collab partners, it evolves into a loop giveaway where users have to follow large numbers of people to enter, which becomes tedious. And to justify the effort to follow that many people, you have to offer an expensive prize, which attracts low-quality followers (giveaway chasers).

So keep your Instagram contest collaborations focused and high-quality with just 2-3 collab partners with complementary audiences for the best results. And as with all things, keep experimenting to see what works best for your unique circumstances.

The last word on Instagram giveaway collaborations

Giveaway collabs are the best way to level up your Instagram giveaways and contests by accelerating your exposure to new, targeted audiences.

And if you're a Creator or influencer, the other great thing about giveaway collabs is that they're also a great way to make money, which we'll cover next!

How to make money with Instagram giveaways

Giveaways aren't just for growing and engaging with your follower base. They can also help you generate an additional side income by partnering with brands.

The key is to resist the urge to do any and every giveaway opportunity. You need to stay disciplined and partner only with brands in your niche to keep your giveaways "on topic" and relevant to your audience. That's how you keep your engagement high, which leads to earning more in the long run.

There's no tried-and-true way to do this, so you'll need to figure out what works for you, but below are some tips to give you ideas. And remember, all of the giveaway recommendations above still generally apply. These are just additional tips to help you earn money with giveaways.

Making money with Instagram giveaways

When you're new, getting paid to do giveaways with brands isn't guaranteed. You may need to invest time building your following and brand list before you're ready to start charging.

Don't be surprised if you need to run your first giveaways for free or in exchange for free products when you start out, especially if you have a small following. The upside is that this gives you time to build your confidence, tighten your process, and create examples to share with brands to show the value you provide.

If you expect to get paid or expect free products, bring it up early in the conversation with the brand, so there are no surprises and you don't waste time. Asking to get paid is the hardest part for some people, but you'll get better at it as you go because you're a professional who creates value for brands, and that's what makes the world go 'round.

What are you selling?

When you partner with brands, what are they paying you for? What are they buying from you? I it more followers? Is it exposure to your audience and engagement in hopes they will make more sales?

Whatever brands are buying, they measure it by ROI: return on investment. That means the more value you give brands, the more you will earn.

When partnering with brands, look for opportunities to create more value so you can charge more AND get more brand deals. For example, help get leads or grow their list with your Instagram giveaway collab.

What to expect for pay ranges

There are no hard and fast rules here, but here are some tips:

  • You're much more likely to get free products from brands than getting paid, especially early on.
  • Once you have at least 10k followers, you have a much better chance of getting paid.
  • $50-$100 per giveaway is the minimum for 100k followers. You can earn substantially more for more targeted niches and high engagement.
  • You'll make more or less depending on your niche and/or region.
  • The more targeted the giveaway, the more you can charge.
  • You can earn much more by also capturing email addresses as part of the collab in addition to followers since they are more valuable.

To increase your chances of getting paid and earning more, you have to show your value! This means showing examples of your past work and how much engagement and how many new followers it generated.

Think of it from the perspective of a marketing manager at a brand:

I have X dollars to allocate to achieve Y results in Z quarter. My job, bonus, promotion, and career depend on how well I deliver results with this next campaign.

If you're talking directly to the business owner (when working with small businesses, for example), they're even more selective. So, make the decision easy for them by investing in doing the hard work upfront to show your value. Once you have that, you can reuse it and build on it.

Your brand = your earning potential

Having a strong brand allows you to charge more. Brand value can mean many things in this context, so think hard about what you want your brand to be.

The riches are in the niches

You can be more generic and do larger giveaways more often, but the followers and engagement you drive your partner brands will be less targeted, thus worth even less (lower ROI). This approach is usually less successful, but it can work at scale in some cases.

You can also be very narrow and targeted in building your brand, which means fewer giveaways and fewer brand partners, but the followers and engagement you drive will be much higher quality, which means you can charge more.

A narrower focus also means you're more likely to rely on repeat business with brand partners and charge increasingly more per giveaway as you grow. From a brand perspective, you're a highly targeted customer acquisition channel and/or brand awareness generator.

Instagram Giveaway by Morgan Rose Moroney
An Instagram Giveaway by Morgan Rose Moroney

You can also fall somewhere in the middle and focus on a relatively broad niche like fitness or beauty. Whatever you do, just do it deliberately, so you grow a strong brand over time.

Regional opportunities with local brands

A regional focus can also be very effective. For example, you can focus on building a follower base in your local community through the content you share and running giveaways exclusively with local businesses.

This has the added benefit of supporting local businesses (vital now in a post-COVID world) by helping your followers discover new restaurants, shops, and experiences. As you build your following, you'll find new opportunities to monetize, like selling your own products with a local flair.

A great regional example is Capeology which focuses on Cape Cod. They regularly do giveaways with local businesses. They further monetize their following by selling a few of their own great local products. Their Instagram bio says: "Sharing the beauty of Cape Cod, one post at a time."

Instagram Giveaway by Capeology
An Instagram Giveaway by Capeology

Whether you choose to focus on a broad category, niche, or region, it helps to pick something you're genuinely interested in. Building a brand and consistently posting quality content is hard work, but enjoying it makes it easier.

Beyond Instagram

As you grow your brand, you can expand your presence. For example, increasing your newsletter subscriber list and your audience on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Doing this will give you additional channels to share your giveaways. Though it's only worth doing if 1) you've already established yourself on Instagram and 2) you're willing to invest the time to build your presence on the other platforms. Otherwise, don't bother because it's far better to be very strong in one place than mediocre in multiple places.

How to find brands to partner with for Instagram giveaways

You'll generally have the best results partnering with brands with a similar sized following. If you're brand new and are struggling to get followers, you may need to get creative, but you might also find success partnering with brands that are also just getting started. Some ideas:

  • Browse hashtags that brands in your niche use
  • See what brands your competitors or people similar to your niche have done partnerships with
  • Ask your followers for recommendations

During your brand research, start following and engaging with the brands' content to lay the foundation for outreach.

Brand outreach: How to contact brands for partnerships

Follow your target brands before reaching out and invest some time engaging with their content. When you reach out, they'll see that you follow them, which is a great first impression.

Invest time in creating a well-written, thoughtful message template you can use to message brands on Instagram. Here's a draft template you can use as a starting point, then modify it to match your brand:

Example brand outreach template

Hey there! I'm a big fan, any chance you want to collaborate together? Maybe a giveaway?

I've had a lot of success with giveaways in the past, driving many new followers and engagement. To make it easier, I can run the giveaway for you.

Here's an example of a past giveaway I've done with great results:

Let me know what you think!

Example template for reaching out to brands to partner on Instagram giveaways.

Note: If you don't have any examples of past giveaways, you don't have to include one, but once you do, you should add it to your template.

I recommend testing different variations of your message to see what delivers the best results: experimentation and iteration should be a continuous process. Save your brand message as a quick reply to save time in the future.

Some tips to keep in mind when messaging brands

  • Only message brands individually (not in groups)
  • Don't overdo it. We're not aware of a limit, but messaging no more than 10 brands a day is recommended.
  • If you have a presence on other channels (Facebook, Twitter, email list, etc.), include them in your message as other channels where you'll cross-promote the giveaway.
  • Ask if the brand does email marketing. If so, offer to also collect email or SMS leads with the Instagram giveaway for an added fee.

As you reach out to more brands, you should continuously iterate and improve your message template to get a higher success rate.

Running Instagram giveaways with brands

Everything we recommended above for general giveaways still applies here! These are some additional tips specific to running giveaways with brands.

If possible, have the brand provide the giveaway post image for you. We highly recommend that you overlay "GIVEAWAY" on the image to catch attention and generate more entries.

Here's the giveaway rule set we see generally working well for brand giveaway collabs:

Example brand collab giveaway rules template

  1. Follow @yourusername and @brandusername
  2. Tag 2 friends
  3. Subscribe to @brand's newsletter in biolink for 10 bonus entries!

Note: The email collection step only works when using an Instagram lead generation tool like POPSMASH.

Be sure to include following you AND the brand as entry criteria.

We recommend using one week as the giveaway duration in most cases. With collaborations, a longer period maximizes reach and generates more entries.

Keeping your brand giveaway pipeline full

Initially, strive to do at least one brand giveaway every 1-2 months, then work towards getting enough brands lined up to run a giveaway every week.

You'll likely have to reach out to dozens (even hundreds) of brands to land your first giveaway. Just continue to build your list of brands interested in running giveaways with you.

As you build out your giveaway calendar, give interested brands a heads-up 1 month ahead of time to let them know you can schedule them for the upcoming month. You may need more time to prepare at first, but your giveaway planning process will get smoother and tighter as you do more giveaways.

To keep brands coming back, focus on delivering excellent customer service and make them look forward to working with you. This way, the next time the decision comes down to working with you or someone else, they always pick you, even if the other person has a larger following or you charge more. Business is about relationships.

📚 References & additional resources about making money with Instagram giveaways

Instagram giveaway mistakes

We've covered a lot of information so far. Most Instagram giveaways do pretty well as long as they avoid making significant mistakes. So, let's review the top 8 most common issues that could hurt your giveaway results.

The top 8 reasons your Instagram giveaway will fail

Below is a summary of the eight most common errors to avoid when running your Instagram giveaway. Then we'll go into more detail on each of these and how to avoid them.

  1. Using the wrong prize
  2. Behaving unethically or unfairly (even by mistake)
  3. Having complex rules/entry criteria
  4. Participating in "loop giveaways"
  5. Inadequately promoting your giveaway
  6. Making your giveaway too short or too long
  7. Using generic hashtags that attract spammers
  8. Failing to keep new followers engaged and let them slip away

Avoid these mistakes: The top 8 reasons your Instagram giveaway could fail.

Next, let's add more context to each of these mistakes so you can be sure to avoid them in your next Instagram giveaway.

Instagram giveaway mistake #1: Using the wrong prize

We covered this in more detail earlier in the 'Why Instagram giveaways sometimes get a bad rap' section of this guide, but this is so important that it's worth emphasizing.

The most common mistake with giveaways is using the wrong prize. Remember, if we want long-term followers that will engage with your content, we have to focus on attracting them by staying relevant to your niche. If you use a generic prize, you risk attracting the wrong people. Here are some examples:

  • GOOD - Niche giveaway prizes: Give away prizes specific to your niche so only your target followers will be interested in them.
  • BAD - Generic giveaway prizes: Give away generic prizes like an iPad or an Amazon gift card and anyone will be interested in participating.

Using the right prize will generally have higher ROI and deliver better long-term results. For example, giveaways using generic prizes that attract the wrong followers will often see lower engagement rates and higher unfollow rates after the giveaway ends.

Instagram giveaway mistake #2: Behaving unethically or unfairly (even by mistake)

When you do a giveaway, your followers trust you to behave ethically and fairly. This means running your giveaway fairly, choosing winners randomly, and giving the winner the prize they won in a timely matter. Failing to do so will damage your brand over time.

A real-life example: One example of someone inadvertently choosing a winner unfairly was Molly-Mae's giveaway in 2020. She admitted to selecting a subset of 25 names rather than all entries to pick a winner because it was so hard to draw from so many entries.

She received blowback from followers for this, which could have damaged her brand. She's right, it is hard, but that's the benefit of using Instagram giveaway apps to pick a winner fairly and transparently. Thankfully for Molly Mae, she has a strong, loyal following, and this was just an honest mistake.

How can we avoid this mistake? Two ways to show followers you're running fair and ethical giveaways is to 1) be transparent and 2) use a third-party app to pick your giveaway winner.

  • Be transparent: Be clear with the rules, how you'll pick the winner and announce the winner publicly.
  • Use a third-party app to pick winners: Picking a winner in a fair, random way is hard. Make it easy and transparent by using an app to randomize winner selection.

📚 References & additional resources on keeping things legit

Instagram giveaway mistake #3: Having complex rules/entry criteria

How many entries you get is a function of the entry criteria complexity (the giveaway rules). Try to keep your giveaway rules as straightforward as possible while still meeting your giveaway objective.

With an advanced set of giveaway rules, the prize should scale with the entry criteria complexity to make it worthwhile. For example, you'd do a lot more to win $1,000,0000 than $20!

Here's a tried-and-true set of Instagram giveaway entry criteria that we recommend:

Example giveaway rules template

  1. Follow me.
  2. Tag 2 friends in the comments.
  3. Subscribe to my newsletter in my biolink for 10 bonus entries

Note: The email collection and lead gen step only works when using an Instagram lead generation tool like POPSMASH.

This set of rules strikes a balance between 1) growing followers, 2) growing your list, and 3) easy to do.

Instagram giveaway mistake #4: Participating in "loop giveaways"

Loop giveaways are deceptive because they initially seem to work, and the damage is only apparent after it's too late! But first, what are loop giveaways?

What are loop giveaways?

Loop giveaways are giveaways that require following large numbers of unrelated accounts. For example, part of the entry criteria could be to follow 20 other accounts in the loop.

Why do people do loop giveaways?

Loop giveaways are attractive because they allow multiple accounts to team up and offer a more attractive prize, attracting more entries. This sounds great, but they often have to compromise with generic prizes and by partnering with others outside of their niche, which attracts the wrong kinds of followers.

How loop giveaways go wrong

Loop giveaways with large prizes can attract many new followers, but they aren't there for your content. So, after the giveaway, you'll start to 1) see engagement drop and 2) see follower growth slow or even decrease as they unfollow since they aren't your target audience.

Maria at The Chic Pursuit shared her bad results from a loop giveaway with Later:

During the giveaway, my engagement was the best it had ever been. However, as the giveaway ended, so did the engagement. Before the loop giveaway, my engagement rate was at around 3%. Afterwards, it hovered around 1.8%.
At first, my account grew almost 10k in a matter of days — to 58k followers. Afterwards, the followers started dropping off slowly. 2 years later, my account is now at 45k.

Though they seem attractive, loop giveaways just aren't worth the headaches they cause, so if you partner with other accounts, keep it to around three. If you insist on going higher, make sure they are in your niche and look at their content first to make sure they are a good match.

As with any rule, there are always exceptions. Most loop giveaways are indeed ineffective at driving long-term positive results. But there are some circumstances where larger (5+ person) loop giveaways can work, and they generally fall into two categories:

  • Highly targeted loop giveaways: All participants are in the same (or similar) industry, like beauty, fitness, etc., with a high-quality, engaged follower base. This is a high bar since it requires all participants to have high-quality followings interested in your content, which is very rare.
  • Local loop giveaways: Participants are a group of local businesses with high-quality followings and similar patrons. Some examples: a hair salon, nail salon, and dress boutique might be a good fit if they serve a similar demographic.

It's quite rare to find a loop giveaway with the 3 P's (right participants, prize, and price of entry), so err on the side of caution when considering loop giveaways.

📚 References & additional resources on Instagram loop giveaways

Instagram giveaway mistake #5: Inadequately promoting your giveaway

Giveaways need promotion to maximize reach and deliver the best results, so don't be shy. We went into detail in the giveaway promotion section above, but here's a quick reminder of ideas to promote your giveaway:

  • Ahead of the giveaway, tease your followers about what's coming
  • Mix daily giveaway reminder stories and posts with your usual content.
  • Share your Instagram giveaway to other social networks and your email list.
  • Ask friends in your niche to share your giveaway.

Promote, promote, promote is the name of the game to get the best results out of your giveaway.

Instagram giveaway mistake #6: Making your giveaway too short or too long

There are no strict rules, but when in doubt, make your giveaway 48-72 hours up to 1 week.

If you have a small audience, participate in a collaboration, or have more complex rules, an extended giveaway (up to 1 week) may be better. Try experimenting with different lengths in future giveaways to find what works best for your audience.

Instagram giveaway mistake #7: Using generic hashtags that attract spammers

Hashtags can increase your reach, but the wrong hashtags will attract spammers. For example, using the #giveaways and #contests hashtags can attract "giveaway chasers" that are only there to win a prize and will quickly unfollow you after. Only use hashtags that are 1) relevant to your target audience and 2) not overused.

Instagram giveaway mistake #8: Failing to keep new followers engaged

If the goal of your giveaway is to win new followers, how do you keep them afterward? You have to follow up your giveaway with great, engaging content that'll make them want to keep following you. We strongly recommend preparing a couple weeks of great content before running your giveaway so you're ready.

If you can avoid these common Instagram giveaway mistakes, your giveaway results should be in the top 90% for your following size.

Now it's your turn to get out there & get giveaway-ing!

Now you know everything there is to know about running giveaways on Instagram. If you're intimidated or overwhelmed, don't be. Just walk through the checklist we provided above and plan out your giveaway.

Let's close with quick answers to some of the most common giveaway questions we get!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Instagram Giveaways

There's a ton of content in this guide, so we summarized answers to the top questions we get below.

How can I also get email addresses with my Instagram giveaway?

Our main POPSMASH product makes it easy to collect email addresses with an Instagram giveaway campaign.

Can anyone do Instagram giveaways?

Yes, all you need is a free Instagram account!

How can I run a free giveaway on Instagram?

Create an Instagram post with your giveaway rules, the prize, and other details.

How long should an Instagram giveaway last?

Anywhere from 2-7 days is typical, depending on the giveaway. For smaller giveaways, try 2-3 days. For larger collaboration giveaways, try 7 days.

What are good Instagram giveaway prize ideas?

The prize for an Instagram giveaway should fit your niche. Pick something that your followers and target audience would love (but others wouldn't) to keep giveaway quality (the followers you attract) high.

How can I use Instagram giveaways for lead generation?

To use Instagram giveaways for lead generation you need a way to capture contact information, like an email address. Then you also need to verify and validate the lead information (email addresses, location, phone number, etc). Using an Instagram lead generation tool can automate the whole process for you. Here's an Instagram lead generation guide for more information.

Are Instagram giveaways legal?

Yes, as long as you follow local laws and Instagram's terms of service.

What Instagram giveaway rules work best?

The best set of Instagram giveaway rules are:

  1. Follow me.
  2. Tag 2 friends in the comments.
  3. Subscribe to my newsletter in my biolink for 10 bonus entries

These rules offer a good mix of driving growth, getting email addresses/leads and keeping it simple to maximize entries.

Wrapping up! 🏆

This guide looked at everything you need to know about running successful Instagram giveaways to grow your following and engagement. We covered everything from setting entry criteria to writing the perfect giveaway post and from the easiest way to pick a winner to pitfalls to avoid when planning a giveaway. We went through it all together!

P.S. Have a Shopify store? Use Instagram giveaways to grow your Shopify email list here!

About the author
Gabriel Mays, the Co-Founder and CEO of POPSMASH
Gabriel A. Mays
Gabriel Mays' Website
Co-Founder & CEO at POPSMASH
Before POPSMASH, Gabe was a Director at GoDaddy and founded two startups. He was also a Marine Corps Captain, serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. He lives with his wife and two kids on Cape Cod, MA.

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