It’s 2020, every business — of any size — should have social media included in their digital marketing strategy. If you don’t, the time to start is now. While it’s important to have a presence on all the major social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn (if applicable), Instagram is also at the top of the list as a hugely popular channel full of marketing potential.

According to Hootsuite, “Instagram’s potential advertising reach is 849.3 million users.” Not to mention they seem to release a new in-app tool to improve their platform every year, such as their in-app checkout or their Stories and Story polls. Additionally, with 200 million Instagram users visiting at least one business profile per day, the importance of having Instagram as part of your digital marketing suite can’t be ignored.

If you already have an Instagram, then there are many ways you can improve your business’ Instagram marketing. Common strategies include optimizing your posting times, creating more engaging content, or partnering with an influencer or celebrity. Another proven tactic is to host an Instagram giveaway. (Leveraging people’s desires to get something for nothing is a favorite strategy amongst marketers — because it works.)

Below, we’ll discuss what an Instagram giveaway is, why it works, and how to go about implementing a giveaway on your Instagram.

What is an Instagram Giveaway?

Many businesses use free gifts as an incentive to attract new customers and delight current ones. An Instagram giveaway does just that. Giveaways aim to increase social media engagement, gain more followers, and attract new customers.

According to HubSpot, “an Instagram giveaway allows you to offer something for free in exchange for an Instagram like, comment, or other pre-determined requirement.” Essentially, you can hold a contest on your Instagram with the prize a one-time free product or service, monetary prize, or anything else you would like to give away. You can require users to share, like, or comment on your post or follow your account (or all of the above) in order to be entered into the contest. Some limit the contest to one comment per user, but others allow multiple comments to count as multiple entries. The possibilities are seemingly endless, and the details of your unique giveaway are all up to you.
So, how do you decide what type of giveaway to try?

Businesses typically use Instagram giveaways — or any social media giveaways — to give away a new product or service or other prize (typically related to their business or industry). Here are some various types of Instagram giveaways businesses have had success with in the past:

  • Like your post (and follow your account)
  • Tag a friend or multiple friends (in the comments)
  • Post your own photo with the contest hashtag
  • Repost and use the contest hashtag
  • Caption this (i.e. caption your photo)

For example, Birchbox is a popular monthly subscription box for customized beauty products. In October 2019, they created a limited-time giveaway for $150 in points to shop at their online store.

Birchbox Instagram Giveaway

It was a simple, short contest that required users to tag friends in the post’s comments – and was open to the public (not just current subscribers). Birchbox hosted this Instagram giveaway as a way to increase followers and spread brand awareness by using their already loyal fan base to spread the word.

Another example for a more well-known brand is a recent Instagram giveaway from Pizza Hut during the end of 2019. Their holiday giveaway prizes were koozies, free pizza, and a pizza-themed card game. Users needed to like the post and comment with the hashtag “#sweepstakes” to be entered to win their holiday goody box.

Pizza Hut Instagram Giveaway

Why did both of these campaigns work well? They checked all the boxes of a successful Instagram giveaway campaign:

  • Offers value to winner
  • Directs users to their store (and site)
  • Garners brand awareness
  • Increases user engagement
  • Increases followers

Why Are Instagram Giveaways Worth It?

Hosting an Instagram giveaway may seem like a counterintuitive way to earn a profit. But the old adage “you need to spend money to make money” has some truth to it. And in many cases, the free giveaway is a small cost to the business in the long run. Plus, there are businesses that have successfully used this method, as seen in the above examples.

Primarily, though, Instagram giveaways work so well because people love free stuff. Giving something away for “free,” can garner unprecedented attention to your business. Instagram giveaways result in an increase of social media engagement, increase of followers, and attraction of new customers. The top reasons why a business utilizes Instagram giveaways are:

  1. To encourage sharing of a specific post;

If you have a new product or service you want to highlight, a change of location you want to share, or any other news about your business that you want to promote, you want to encourage views and shares of that post. Using Instagram giveaways accomplishes this not only with your current customers and audience, but with new audiences (and potential new customers) as well. This is typically done by requiring users to repost or share your post in order to be entered into the contest.

  1. To grow your Instagram followers;

Giving away something for free – no matter how small or large the value is – will gain attraction. As we stated earlier, people love free stuff. You can require users to like your post, tag their friends, and follow your business in order to be entered into the contest.

How to Implement an Instagram Giveaway?

If you’ve been on Instagram and social media at all lately, you’ve likely seen a giveaway firsthand. They’re a wonderfully simple way to increase your reach and awareness on Instagram. And, honestly, they’re quite easy to implement. Here is a step-by-step list you can follow to host a giveaway on your business’ Instagram.

1. Choose what you want to give away.

It’s up to you to choose the value of your giveaway. They can range from a small new product you want to gain awareness for to an expensive free vacation you want to give to a deserving customer. Often, businesses that are introducing a new product or service use that new item or service as the prize. Others want to call attention to other news about their business or related news.

2. Decide on your goal for the giveaway.

What do you aim to get out of this giveaway? Are you looking to increase followers? Share news about your business? Improve engagement? Once you determine your goal, that will make it easier to decide how users need to enter your giveaway.

3. Determine the rules of your giveaway.

As soon as you know what you want to give away (and how), you need to sort out the logistics of your contest. Create a page on your website (some businesses will use a blog post instead of creating a new page). Detail what the giveaway is, what the prize is, how users can enter and win, and any other stipulations (like a time limit) of your giveaway. Be sure to link to this page in all posts that promote the giveaway – and/or in your Instagram bio.

4. Consider a partnership.

Social media is known for its influencers. Whether it’s an influencer, celebrity, or a more established brand, partnering with another business can increase the impact of your giveaway. It’s also a great way to partner with another small business who has the same goal(s) as you. This way you can have more value to offer the winner and you both can reach each other’s similar audiences.

5. Create your giveaway hashtag.

Hashtags on Instagram are extremely important as they help your content surface. While you want to include #giveaway or #sweepstakes in your post(s), you want to create a campaign-specific hashtag. This will allow you to find all the reposts and posts your users share in response to your giveaway (i.e. how you can track their entries).

6. Launch your giveaway!

Once you have all your details sorted, it’s time to craft your post and launch your giveaway. Remember to include your prize, how users can enter, any time limit, and link to your contest page within the post(s). Additionally, there are peak times to post you might want to be aware of when scheduling your giveaway.

7. Create reminder posts

Whether your giveaway lasts a week or a month, you’ll want to schedule reminder posts. This will remind users you have a giveaway going on and update any new followers you may get about the giveaway as well. Resharing posts will ensure you get a constant stream of entries throughout the duration of your giveaway. (Pro tip: Some contests allow users to enter once a day – which a great opportunity for sharing new posts about your giveaway each day.)


At the end of it all, you can share who the winner is (and what they won) to conclude the giveaway. We highly recommend you also direct message the winner(s), but a public announcement is a fun spectacle to take part in.

No matter your industry, Instagram giveaways are a fun, simple way to increase social media engagement, gain more followers, and attract new customers.

If you’re still unsure of the potential an Instagram giveaway can have, take a look at this case study by Wordstream where CATPARTY had an increase of 70% more new followers after their giveaway. Not to mention they learned a lot of helpful marketing data about their audience, too.

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