7 Steps to Create a Successful Small Business Instagram Giveaway

In 2010, Instagram was little more than a small start-up for sharing photos taken on mobile phones. In the past decade, the app transformed into a social media powerhouse and advertising platform with more than 100 million users. Brands like Nike, Victoria Secret, and Gucci all use the platform to reach their audiences and advertise new products.

Smaller businesses, however, can often struggle to gain traction on Instagram.

Low engagement and a lack of followers leaves many small businesses feeling stuck. Which is a shame, because Instagram can be an incredibly powerful tool for small businesses to drive traffic, grow sales, and build brand awareness.

How do you kick start your small business’ Instagram account? One of the most effective ways to get the most out of Instagram is to use giveaways to increase followers and drive engagement.

Unsure about where to start? Here’s a guide for creating a successful Instagram giveaway for your small business.

1. Set a Goal For Your Contest

Before creating your contest, take the time to lay out the goals for your contest. Do you want to increase followers, drive engagement, increase excitement about a new product, or maybe even increase email sign-ups? Understanding your goal will help you decide which type of contest to create, and help you understand which metrics to track.

For example, if your goal is to increase engagement, you first need to figure out your current Instagram engagement rate so you can compare it to the engagement after your contest.

2. Get Familiar with Instagram’s Rules

Instagram has some pretty strict rules regarding what you can and can’t do when it comes to contests and giveaways. In fact, many of the contests you see on Instagram, especially those created by small businesses without a marketing department, don’t follow Instagram’s rules.

Unless you want to risk losing access to your account, you need to play by Instagram’s rules. Which are:

  • Clearly list official contests rules
  • Include the terms of eligibility for the contest, including age or residency restrictions
  • Acknowledge that Instagram did not sponsor or endorse the contest
  • Comply with rules in your state or country related to contests (Such as reporting them to the IRS)
  • Do not inaccurately tag content or encourage users to tag others inaccurately (For example, asking users to tag themselves in a photo they aren’t in.)

You can ask for likes or follows, but don’t make it a requirement of the contest. Unlike Facebook, Instagram doesn’t completely ban the practice, but it tends to come off as spammy. Also, if another brand sponsors your contest by donating a prize, make sure you acknowledge them as a sponsor.

3. Choose your Contest Type

After choosing your contest goal and reviewing the rules, it is time to select what type of giveaway you want to host. There are several options, including:

  • Instant Wins: Customers register to win a grand prize, then click to win a prize immediately, such as a coupon or discount code.
  • Photo Contests: These types of contests are ideal for Instagram! Ask users to share their favorite summer photo or brand-related shot.
  • Hashtag Contests: Ask users to share a photo (related to your brand in some way) and use a branded hashtag. This makes it very easy to track entries and increases your brand’s reach. Select a winner based on votes to reach an even wider audience.

Each type of contest comes with pros and cons. For Instagram, photo or user-generated giveaways tend to be the most effective, as they mimic the way users already use Instagram (to share photos with their friends!)

4. Choose A Giveaway Prize

Next, choose the prize for your Instagram giveaway. I strongly recommend choosing a prize that is related to your brand or industry in some way rather than generic prizes such as Amazon gift cards or iPad.

Here are a few giveaway ideas for small businesses:

  • Gift baskets with themes related to your business. For example, a restaurant could give a gift card for takeout, a movie, popcorn, and a fuzzy blanket for an at-home movie night.
  • Experiences, such as tickets to an outdoor zoo, drive-in movie theater, or water park.
  • Free product basket with a wide variety of items. For example, a yarn company could giveaway two skeins of yarn, a knitting pattern, and a knitting bag.

Smaller businesses should also consider partnering with another related business. For example, a small bakery might partner with a bounce house rental company to giveaway a birthday party package of 12 custom cookies, a cake, and a bounce house rental.

5. Create Your Contest

Once you have decided on the type of contest, it is time to send your contest live! You can host it on your own Instagram profile by simply creating a post with the rules. However, consider using a platform like Woobox, which makes it far easier to create the contest, set rules, pick a winner, and track the effectiveness of your contest.

Make sure your contest rules are easy to understand and thorough. Outline how long the contest will run and eligibility rules — for example, you might not want to pay international shipping if the winner lives a thousand miles away.

6. Promote Your Instagram Giveaway

Don’t launch a contest and think your audience will come running — you have to make sure they hear about it! Create a thoughtful giveaway promotion plan to ensure you get enough entries. Start by posting about your contests across multiple social media platforms, but also consider adding a pop up to your website, and doing an email blast to your newsletter subscribers.

Using a user-generated contest is another great way to drive entries — as people share their entries, they also tell their friends about your contest!

7. Track Your Results

As your contest wraps up, don’t forget to track your results — that is how you will know if your giveaway actually helped drive the actions you were hoping for.


Instagram giveaways are a powerful tool, and small businesses that understand how to leverage giveaways will be far more successful — both online and off.

Follow these 7 easy steps for consistent giveaway success:

  1. Set a goal
  2. Understand Instagram’s contest rules
  3. Choose a contest type
  4. Select a prize
  5. Create your contest with a contest platform like Woobox
  6. Promote your contest
  7. Track your results

Need help getting your Instagram giveaway up and running? Woobox Support is available to assist you from 8 am to 5 pm PST, Monday through Friday at 1-360-450-5200 and support@woobox.com