Are Instagram Contests Still Alive in 2020?

Folks have been taking part in competitions for centuries and this will not change anytime soon, it’s the excitement it provides and the possibility of winning some great prizes. All types of competitions, giveaways, and sweepstakes – there seem to exist dozens of contest ideas eCommerce businesses make available on Instagram. But do Instagram contests still play in favour of brand awareness? Aren’t people bored of promotional initiatives like this? In other words, how to continue to make the dice roll in 2020 and why content is the lord of Instagram contests throughout years? Alex Zubariev from Promodo explains.

Why Instagram contests are effective

Reason 1. Instagram contests bring followers

Indeed, contests are a cost-effective way to attract new followers to your brand’s account.

“In one of our projects, the prize a person could win from a giveaway cost about $300. This giveaway, according to official statistics, brought 6377 followers to the brand’s profile. We also spent the other $100 for promotion. In the end, each customer’s cost was $0.0605610, which is considered extremely cheap. To compare, running an ad campaign would cost up to 10 times more.”

Reason 2. Instagram contests entertain followers

No matter how marketers and business owners dream about the followers that come & buy, this is not what they come for. Most often, subscribers want some entertainment. They enjoy vibrant photos and will never miss a discussion in the comments section. Followers want to have fun! Fun is what we need to offer them in social networks. First comes entertainment. Once the consumers are entertained, they relax and might think of buying from a brand. 

Reason 3. Instagram contests help with product advertising

Let’s assume you own a restaurant. A new specialty dish has appeared on your menu, and you need to let more people know how good it is. A regular Instagram promotion may not ensure the necessary coverage, but you could initiate a giveaway of 10 free dinners among your followers. Just include the description about your specialty into the post, and both the participants and people marked will get to know what you prepared for them. 

What brands will benefit from Instagram contests

Now let’s assume you are selling bathtubs. We imagine you will be asking yourself the question: “Will Instagram contests work for me as well?.” The answer is: “They definitely will.”

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At the same time, a rule you will have to remember is “content first”, meaning before going in with your giveaways, make sure your content is creative and vibrant enough. This is especially relevant if you produce or sell a product that is not naturally attractive, at least according to Instagram measures that is. Let’s go back to the bathtubs.

If you go searching for bathtubs sellers on Instagram, you will probably find an account similar to this. 


Here this resembles a catalog, and a few customers will tap“like” when scrolling the feed.  

If you are looking for consumers to buy your product or at least participate in your Instagram contest, first make sure that the user likes the content within your profile. If not already you can update the quality of your photos by including some flowers or improving the room setting. Anything that can make it look nice works here.

Don’t forget about quality text. Content is not just about a good-looking picture. 


“We are in 2020. Content is not the king any longer. It’s an emperor, or better a lord. There is no magic until you create worthy content.”

Instagram Contest Examples

Giveaways are probably the most popular Instagram contest idea ever. They are literally so popular, that we decided to distinguish two ideas for Instagram contests: Giveaway and The Other


There does exist loop giveaways with bloggers or host them yourself. You’ve definitely heard about the former and the letter if you already have an Instagram account.

loop giveaway

An influencer encourages people to participate in a contest to win a desired prize. This could be a brand-new iPhone, laptop or even a car in some cases.

Usually, in these types of giveaways, people need to start following a number of accounts. One of these is usually the page of your store. Such a giveaway can grow your account audience by up to 100,000 subscribers, depending on the influencer chosen. In collaboration with the other Instagram accounts, you pool the money together, creating a so-called fund to be spent on the prize or gifted as it is. And, obviously, you pay the agreed price to your influencer.

At Promodo we do not trust loop giveaways with bloggers. And below you’ll find out why. 

All you need to know about Instagram smart feed

You’ve probably heard of the mysterious Instagram smart feed. It’s considered so smart that even the Instagram CEO seems to be unaware of the way it works. All we know so far is that it is AI-empowered, and the algorithms are tailored to thousands of different parameters.

“This is going to be a story from my own practice, Alex says. Once a client of mine decided to carry out a loop Instagram giveaway involving a celebrity without letting us know. With the help of it, he managed to grow his audience by 15,000 followers (he initially had 10,000). However, 8,000 unfollowed the account right after the giveaway ended. As a result, we faced a hazardous drop in reach, likes, and comments. We were basically rolled back to the very bottom of the smart feed, with the number of likes experiencing a drop from 150 to 20. It took us half a year to recover the engagement as it was before the giveaway. ” 

how instagram smart feed works

The only giveaways we would recommend are the ones you run on your own.

Choose a prize to encourage people to follow you and tag a friend in comments. Use a randomiser to select the winner and there you go! All you need is a little money to buy the prize and promote your Instagram contest.

instagram giveaway

These mechanics can be complicated with some additional conditions. In addition to tagging a friend, you can add a condition like “write a poem in the comments” or “like three of our latest photos on your profile page” or “make a screenshot of this story and post it to your own” or “make a thematic post with this hashtag and tag our page”. As you see, they are numerous options and the choice is all yours.

why use instagram contests

At the same time, please be careful with the so-called promohunters

“Promohunters are constantly chasing offers. They won’t ever like any of your other posts but for the one which includes your giveaway. They may continue following the account when the giveaway is over, however, being inactive most of the time, they will significantly reduce your engagement rate. ”

One way or another, if you run Instagram giveaways, you should take for granted that the presence of promohunters in your profile is inevitable. All you need to do is decrease their number & not to giveaway an iPhone 🙂 In other words, whatever you produce, select prizes that match your product or service. To put it simpler: everyone needs an iPhone, though only those who are interested in bathtubs will take part in such a giveaway.

How to conduct an Instagram giveaway

To minimize the problems, while acquiring a quality audience, follow these conditions:

  1. Choose the right prize. It should be thematic and make only a certain group of people, i.e. your target audience want to win it.
  2. Do not overdo the cost of your prizes. Find a middle ground – if the gift is too cheap, no one will want to participate, and vice versa, if it costs a fortune, everyone (including ghosts and promohunters) will chase it, because you can even sell it after you win the giveaway.
  3. Complicate the giveaway with additional conditions. Come up with different mechanics, ask your followers to upload stories, engage hashtag posts, etc. Then, this will be done only by those who really need the prize and are interested in your services or products.

Indeed, there will be fewer followers compared to those who come to participate in a regular giveaway. But such followers are more likely to stay and delight you with likes, comments, and, of course, purchases.

Do not make your giveaways too long. One or two weeks is enough, many will not want to participate just because it will take too long to expect the results.

Opposite to Instagram giveaways: “the other”

There are so many Instagram contests – you can’t list everything. We’ll talk about the main ones, however, if you use your imagination, you can come up with various interesting mechanics.

  1. A photo contest. A poetry contest. A musical contest. A contest for the best review. Any other creative contest that suits your account. Organise a jury, ask the followers to perform actions you can measure. Just keep in mind: nobody is motivated to compete for a poor prize, meaning if you want customer engagement, the stakes should be high enough. At the same time, an expensive prize can play against you. You can also ask your followers to share some piece of creativity related to the contest in a post or story.
  2. A sweepstake. Start taking bets on the upcoming event (for example, guess who will take the Oscar or something like that). And give a gift to the one who first guessed the outcome. To make it work in your favour, helping to increase the number of followers, ask them to upload the contest results to their stories or even posts & tag you.
  3. A test for concentration. Archive one of your recent posts and ask followers to guess which one. Choose a winner randomly from the ones who answered correctly. This contest type will enhance love for your brand, but does not affect subscribers.
  4. A time-limited event. A contest in which the winner is the one who left the last comment at a specific time or whose comment could survive as the latest one for at least 24 hours, with nobody leaving a fresher comment. You can also ask tagging of friends to increase your followers base.
  5. A quest. This one requires preparation and creativity, but works well for many business profiles. Ask your Instagram followers to find and compose a certain word in the account. Give hints. Feel free to combine with a giveaway – ask for answers that could include tagging a friend or reposting in a user’s story.
  6. An offline contest. Ask your followers to take a photo in a certain location and post it on their Instagram profile & add an active link to you. Be sure to select a good prize. Otherwise, people will not be motivated to fulfil such conditions.

What should be taken into account when you run an Instagram contest

  • Contests are a powerful asset for brands, but it’s better to be careful with them. After all, the 17th paragraph of the official Instagram rules prohibits in any way motivating users to take actions (likes, comments, subscriptions). Formally, the giveaways are outlawed;
  • If the dilemma is “to promote or not to promote” on Instagram, we definitely vote for the former. The thing is that the contests which are not initially meant to increase your followers base will actually bring them to your account. CTR of such posts will be much bigger compared to the promotion of ordinary posts. In addition, you can order advertising from bloggers.

A very brief summary

Everybody needs and loves Instagram contests!

You need to be careful with the Instagram giveaways and beware of promohunters.

Content first.

Never try to understand Instagram algorithms. Instead, come up with interesting contest ideas and give away prizes that correspond to the product that you produce and promote on Instagram.

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Are Instagram Contests Still Alive in 2020?

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