The Ultimate Guide to Instagram Contest for Your D2C Business

Instagram Contest Ideas for businesses
Instagram Contest Ideas for businesses

If you think Instagram is only for posting pretty pictures and travel videos, think again! With more than 1 billion active monthly users, Instagram has grown tremendously and become a solid platform for businesses to connect with their potential customers and know their target audience more closely. Instagram Marketing is an integral part of any business that wants to know their audience, connect with them and flourish their business.

Instagram contests, in particular, have changed the way businesses function; Especially, Direct-to-Customer (D2C) businesses that aim to reach a larger audience in a personalized manner. Learn the secrets of hosting a successful Instagram contest in this blog post to make your user engagement exceptional.

What are Instagram Contests?

Instagram contests, in essence, are contests that are run on Instagram to help you build your brand, generate massive engagement, and drive a return on investment from social media. If that got you thinking “Just another social media tactic!,” we’ve got more. According to a recent study by a social media automation tool, Instagram accounts that hold contests can achieve up to 70% faster follower growth than accounts that don’t indulge in this amazing tactic. Having a photo contest, a caption contest, a hashtag contest or any other type of contest is always a good idea if you want your business to create brand awareness.

Instagram contest get more followers than regular post
Instagram contest get more followers than regular post

If your goal is to reach a larger audience and increase sales, Instagram contests are the latest trend you need to hop onto. By the end of this blog post you will not only know how top D2C brands in India are leveraging this cool feature, but also be able to set up your own Instagram contest with ease.

Fact: 90% of people on Instagram follow a business

Why are Instagram Contests the Next Big Thing for D2C Businesses?

While we all can agree that there are multiple ways to increase follower ship, engagement, or sales on Instagram, these contests are, without a doubt, one of the quickest ways to get to your goals. Studies suggest that posts related to Instagram contests earn roughly 64x more comments and 3.5x more likes when compared to any other content. With the world now being a global village thanks to rapidly developing technology, your next customer is just a tap away and you need to brew a great contest idea to attract them to your Instagram page.

If properly planned and executed, these contests can get you more benefits with very little effort. Read further to understand how you can plan a sure-shot successful contest on Instagram. 

Bonus: Don’t have an Instagram account for your D2C business yet? You can open one right away by following the below steps:

  • Download Instagram from the Play store/Appstore
  • Input your personal details and open an account
  • In settings, find Account and tap Switch to professional account
  • Pick a category that best describes your business, then select Business
  • You’re all set – you’ve got an Instagram business account

Instagram Contests Ideas For D2C Businesses

You know what Instagram contests are, and you know how they will help you. What next? Yes! Your guide to conducting a relatable Instagram contest on this ever evolving social media platform.

But before we get into that, there are a couple of things you need to be aware of, aka Instagram’s Promotion Guidelines. While these guidelines are pretty straightforward, the basic guideline you need to consider is: “Acknowledgement that the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Instagram.”

Apart from this, you are free to set your own rules that take into consideration the above guidelines. These rules can specify the eligibility criteria, registration process, and more.

Now that we’ve established Instagram’s rules, let us look at the different types of contests that are popularly conducted on Instagram today.

Instagram Contest Idea 1: Likes, comments and tags

Instagram contest ideas for businesses
(Credit: Seven Seas Cosmetics Instagram account)

This must be the most tried and tested contest post on Instagram. You can get your followers to like your posts, comment on them, share it in their Instagram stories, and tag their friends to promote your post, and in turn, your account.

Tip: Notice how they have a unique hashtag #ProMakeupArtist? It helps you track your entries better. Be sure to research the hashtag you plan to use, and use a relevant, crisp, and memorable hashtag for your contest.

Instagram Contest Idea 2: Follow me, and my partner

Partner with other brands to run instagram contest
Credit: Purplle

Building meaningful partnerships is a part and parcel of any business. Using the same tactic on Instagram enables you to attract audiences from your partners’ end as well. Here, has partnered with NYBae to promote the lesser-known brand among its users. This type of giveaway post adds to the brands Instagram growth.

Tip: Check out how they are encouraging the users to comment as many times as they would like. This helps increase the engagement on the post, in turn playing with Instagram’s algorithm.

Instagram Contest Idea 3: User-generated content all the way

Use user generated content for instagram contest
Credit: Licious

User generated content can propel your marketing efforts like nothing else. Not only is it a great way to engage your visitors but also the ROI can be high, provided you play the right cards. Here, Licious took advantage of Father’s day and created a contest around it where users had to post pictures of their dads and also use their unique hashtag. This is the perfect example of using special days to up your social media game.

User generated content as Instagram contest idea
Credit: BareAnatomy

Here’s another example of a D2C brand creating engaging contests. Bare Anatomy, a custom made hair care and skin care brand, hit the right chords when it asked its users to comment the names of their funniest Whatsapp group for a surprise gift.

Tip: Always be aware of the major happenings around your target geography. Keep in mind the success of the Amul caricatures that revolve around current affairs.

Instagram Contest Idea 4: Giveaway time

Run giveaways as instagram contest
Credit: The Mom’s Co and Kritidsgiveaways

Giveaways are a hit among the Instagram population. They use multiple tactics, including following, liking, sharing, tagging, and so much more. What’s interesting is how they collaborate with influencers to promote their giveaways. With influencers mushrooming across the country, it is high time brands leveraged their audience base and aim to get new followers.

Tip: See how the contest rules are crystal clear. The geography is clearly specified to avoid unnecessary entries.

Brands are also using Instagram giveaways to direct targeted, high-quality traffic to their websites. By offering products with discounts or additional offers, you can ensure the engaged users in your Instagram handle actually turn into qualified leads and opportunities, and not just followers.

Using instagram contests to increase direct sales
Credit: Suganda

Instagram Contest Idea 5: Trivia

Trivia as Instagram contest ideas
Credit: Seer Secrets

Who doesn’t like trivia? It tests your knowledge! And if it is an Instagram contest, it gives you a chance to win goodies! Conducting quizzes and other such ‘mental exercise’ contests can be interesting and ensure users are invested in the contest without just blindly liking and commenting. Adding such contests to your Instagram page is the best way to keep your audience hooked to your brand.

Tip: Some ideas that work best for Trivias are Can you guess, Jumble words, join the dots, find the path etc. Choose the one that resonates with your campaign idea.

Your 5-Step Guide to Instagram Contests (Plus a secret 6th step)

  1. Set your goals and priorities straight
  2. Decide the type of contest you want to conduct
  3. Zero in on the rules, prizes, and plan
  4. Launch and promote the contest 
  5. Announce the winner
  6. Analyze the contest performance

Step 1: Set your goals and priorities straight

The first step to creating any campaign is to understand why you are doing something in the first place. “A man without a goal is like a ship without a rudder.” Similarly, a marketing activity without a goal is ultimately a waste of time, money, and effort. Therefore, before you decide on anything else, set your goals and priorities straight. Some of the most common goals can include:

  • Increase sales
  • Increase engagement
  • Grow followers
  • Generate user-generated content
  • Create brand awareness
  • Build a community

Step 2: Decide the type of contest you want to conduct

While this seems easy, putting in some extra thoughts here would help you reach your goals effectively. For example, if your goal is to increase followers, having a contest that encourages people to follow your page would help. If you’re launching a new product or service, an Instagram giveaway campaign can be a resourceful way to pique people’s interest or if you want to engage your audience with your brand, a selfie contest with your products might be the way to go.

Bonus: Partnering with Instagram influencers and other brands to promote your contest is a great way to make sure the news about your contest reaches a larger audience. For example, see how the popular cosmetics brand, Sugar, leveraged this influencer to promote their contest.

Want to run affiliate marketing campaign for your brand? Our guide on affiliate marketing will help you get started.

Steps to run instagram contest for businesses
Credit: mbmgiveaways, Sugar Cosmetics and Manveen Kaur

Step 3: Zero in on the rules, prizes, and plan

While we have spoken about Instagram guidelines that you must follow, there are other rules you can set while conducting an Instagram contest. This could pertain to the eligibility criteria, the restrictions, etc. If your contest is available only for a specific geography, confirming that in your contest announcement post will ensure you don’t get contestants from the other regions.

Tip: Create images that have the rules written on them, so the users do not necessarily have to go through the lengthy captions to read the rules.

Decide the rules of instagram contest
Credit: flameeyes123

You also need to specify the entry method for the users — would it be just liking a post, or would it involve multiple steps like tagging a few friends, sharing the post on stories, etc.? The fewer the steps, the easier it is to convince people to participate.

Once you decide the entry criterion, then comes the time to decide the prize in the form of products or a gift card. To illustrate, the easier the contest, the lesser the value of the prize. That is, if the user must put in more effort to participate in the contest, it is natural for them to expect the prize to be of a higher value.

Graph-How To Decide Prize Value For Instagram Contests
Instagram contest ideas Vs prize value

Once you have that in place, think through the plan and make sure there are no missing links. Have a checklist that ensures you have followed the steps correctly. Alternatively, you can bookmark this blog post or share it in your social media handles to access this page easily. Would you be interested in a free printable E-book? Let us know in the comments section below.

Step 4: Launch and promote the contest

Once you decide the entry criterion, then comes the time to decide the number of winners and the prize you would like to give. Apart from this decide on the timelines like, pre announcement post, announcing the contest, promoting it and lastly announcing the winner.

The good rule of thumb would be, 

  1. Scheduling 2 pre-announcements at least a week before the contest date.
  2. Scheduling the launching today post few hours before the contest 
  3. Taking the contest live and wait at least for 7 -15 days to collect the entries 
  4. Keep talking about the contest during this time. Using user generated content is a good way to inform your visitors about the contest. 
  5. Promote the contest on your website and other social media handles also

Bonus Content: Clearly define the rules, eligibility criteria and prize in the caption of the contest page, ensure that it is written in simple language and is easy to understand and follow by the visitors. Here is a eligibility draft that you can use for your next instagram contest:

Welcome to <brand’s name>, we are excited to announce our next instagram contest! 


Win the best <brand name> goodies that are sure to leave you awestruck! Take part in our easy-peasy contest. Follow simple rules and get a chance to win <product name>


  1. Follow us @<your instagram name> 
  2. Like and save this post
  3. Tell what you like the most about our <product>, tag three of your friends and ask them to follow our page

Eligibility criteria: Anyone from India with a valid instagram account can participate 🙂 

Brownie Points : Special points for sharing this post and spreading the word in your stories

Winner announcement etc : We will announce the names of 10 lucky winners on <date>

So what are you waiting for, start sending in your entries NOW! 

How to draft rules for Instagram contest
How to draft rules for Instagram contest

Step 5: Announce the winner

While this seems like an obvious step, how you do it also matters. Even before posting the contest, decide how you would be choosing the winner — whether you’ll have a jury, is it the number of likes, comments and shares, or any other criteria. 

While putting up a post with the winners’ names would do the trick, going an extra mile to make sure you keep engaging with your users can be more impactful than you think. You can announce the winner by using the “Live” feature on Instagram to give it that human touch. You can also post videos of surprising the winners with an unannounced call via Instagram. There are tons of possibilities if you put your mind to it!

Tip: It’s a best practice to inform winners privately before publicly announcing them on Instagram. 

How to announce instagram contest winners
Credit: Bellavita Organic

Step 6: (Bonus)Analyze the contest performance

One thing you will have to understand is that marketing is an ongoing process. It doesn’t end with a step. Similarly, make sure you learn from what you have applied. For example, if you see that partnering with an influencer helped reach 10% more audience for the contest, look at ways in which you can leverage more influencers to reach a wider network and gain new Instagram followers. If using Instagram ads turned out to be costlier, think of other organic ways in which you can promote your contests. 

Make sure to determine what metrics you’d like to use and how you’ll keep track of them. While a contest with a smaller audience size can be tracked manually, something bigger could use social media tracking tools like Hubspot, Google alerts, Iconosquare, etc.

Instagram contests for the win

Now that you know how Instagram contests work, go make us proud by creating your very own Instagram contest. Create new content, make beautiful Instagram posts and see how your Instagram feed blows up in no time. Let us know how this article has helped you reach a wider audience and increase your engagement rates in the comments section below.

About Velocity

Being India’s largest revenue-based financier, Velocity provides founder-friendly revenue-based financing to growing DTC businesses. To learn more about Velocity’s revenue-based finance and to discover how RBF can benefit your company, check out this link. If you are a D2C brand looking for funding to manage your inventory and marketing needs, apply here, and get funded within 7 days.

Recommended Reads:

  1. Top 10 Amazon Metrics D2C Businesses Should Track To Increase Sales
  2. Amazon Product Reviews 101 For D2C Brands

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