How to run a giveaway on Instagram

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How to run a giveaway on Instagram

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With 60% of British adults having an Instagram account and 80% of those following at least one business on the platform, it makes sense for small businesses to make use of this social network to benefit their bottom lines.

Making your mark on social media isn’t always easy though, as so many businesses use the platforms to compete for consumer attention - but the good news is there are tactics you can use to up your follower numbers, boost engagement, and improve your reach.

On that note, just one such way is running a giveaway. So, here we’ll tell you everything you need to know about how to get it right, the rules you need to follow, and a sprinkling of our top tips for good measure. Let’s get stuck in.

Top tip: check out our guide to getting more followers on your small business Instagram account. 

Why run a giveaway?

Instagram giveaways allow you to offer your goods or services for free in exchange for either a ‘like’, follow or share on the platform.

They’re effective because if done right, they can help your business establish itself on the platform, build a loyal following, and reach a wider audience. 

How to run a giveaway in 7 steps

1. What’s your goal?

Why are you running an Instagram giveaway? Do you want more followers? To boost awareness of your newest range of products? Are you partnering up with another business for a two-pronged strategy?

Whatever it is, it’s sensible to determine what it is you’re hoping to achieve from your giveaway so you can:

  • Tailor your giveaway accordingly
  • Help set your criteria for entry
  • Check its effectiveness afterward. 

2. Choose your prize

Next, you need to select the product or service you want to give away. What this is will depend on what you’re hoping to achieve with your giveaway, is it more followers? Then select something that’s likely to be a big hitter like one of your bestsellers.

If it’s a new product you’re launching and your giveaway is aimed at spreading awareness, then it makes sense to give that specific product away.

Remember, it doesn’t have to be a product but can be an experience e.g. a three-course meal for two, or service (e.g. a manicure) too. 

3. Determine entry criteria

Again this will vary depending on the ultimate goal of your giveaway:

  • If you want more followers then your entry criteria might be to follow your page and tag two friends in the comments.
  • If you’re running it to increase awareness of your website or blog then you can ask your followers to find the entry criteria there before commenting on your Insta post.
  • You might also partner up with another business to run a giveaway to increase the reach of both your pages. In this case, your criteria might be for entrants to be following both your pages, like this…

4. Come up with a hashtag

Hashtags are a super powerful tool at your disposal on Instagram - you can add up to 30 to a feed post (although that might be overkill) and 10 on a story, and users can browse hashtags at their leisure without following specific pages.

So, they’re a great way to grab attention and up the effectiveness of your giveaway. The first one you’re going to want to use is #giveaway, as anyone looking for competitions to enter is going to find that first.

But it’s also a good idea to create your own unique hashtag to accompany your giveaway and any future competitions - it’ll help spread awareness. It could be something as simple as #[yourbrand]giveaway, or  #winitwednesdaywith[yourbrand] - if your competitions take off users will be able to search for them quickly in the future.

5. Decide when it will close

You need to let entrants know when the closing date is for your competition, firstly for clarity and fairness, but also to create a sense of urgency for users to enter. 

Ideally, you don’t want your giveaway to last for too long, or your followers will forget about it or get bored of waiting for the outcome. Some businesses have even run competitions for an hour, like BooHoo, and this means anyone interested is incentivised to act quickly and engage immediately with their brand. Take a look:

However long you decide on, be sure to include all the information in your post for clarity, and update it once the competition is closed with a simple ‘COMPETITION CLOSED’ at the beginning. 

Example of a giveaway on Instagram

6. Launch 

Once you’ve got all of the above nailed down you’re ready to launch but you also need to consider at what time of day and what day of the week you’ll do so.

There are heaps of studies arguing for certain times on certain days for the best engagement, but our advice is to use your noggin and industry expertise to establish when will be the biggest hit for your audience. For example:

  • If you run a clothing line for children aim for early evening when kids are in bed and parents have time to check their social feeds.
  • If you run a sandwich shop, aim for commuting hours or lunch breaks when your target audience has time to browse. 

Don’t forget to make use of Instagram Insights here, they’ll give you loads of useful information on when and how your audience is interacting with your page which you can use to time your giveaway to perfection.

7. Promote

To draw every last bit of engagement out of your giveaway, don’t forget to promote it across all the channels at your disposal, including your website, outreach emails, and other social platforms. 

The more people see your giveaway, the more engagements and loyalty you’ll have at your fingertips and ultimately the more successful it will be for your business. 

Instagram’s rules for giveaways

Instagram has rules for businesses wanting to run giveaways on the platform, so it’s a good idea to brush up on what you can and can’t do to avoid not only a penalty but a potentially embarrassing blunder that could do your reputation damage. 

Don’t worry, we know you’re super busy, so we’ve broken the rules down for you:

  1. Acknowledge that your giveaway is not administered, endorsed, or sponsored by Instagram.
  2. Include the name of the business hosting the giveaway.
  3. Include information on the dates the giveaway will run, including the time zone.
  4. Detail any participation restrictions (e.g. age, location).
  5. Clearly outline how to enter, i.e. your entry criteria from above.
  6. State how and when the winner will be selected, how you’ll inform them, and how they’ll get hold of their winnings.

Our top tips for nailing it

  1. Make use of a number generator for choosing your lucky winner - that way no-one can accuse you of being unfair, and it’ll be a super quick and simple process for you, especially if you get loads of entries.
  2. Until you’ve established your giveaways will bring in revenue for your business, whether that’s in sales or followers or however you establish success, don’t offer prizes that could leave you financially worse off - start off small to protect your purse strings.
  3. Never ask your followers to tag themselves in photos they’re not actually in, and don’t inaccurately tag content yourself either - these actions are both against the rules on Instagram.
  4. Use great imagery in your giveaways. Instagram is all about the visuals, so make it enticing, tempting, and too good to turn down and you’ll boost engagement even more.

All that’s left for us to do is wish you good luck with your Instagram giveaway - follow our 7 steps and you’re sure to smash it! For heaps more advice, support, and guidance designed for small businesses head to our blog. 


Bryony Pearce

Bryony Pearce


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