10 steps to tapping into the fun of social media, try gamifying your marketing strategies by running a contest on Instagram.

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The following excerpt is from Kim Walsh Phillips’s book Ultimate Guide to Instagram for Business. Buy it now from Amazon Barnes & Noble | IndieBound or click here to buy it directly from us and SAVE 60% on this book when you use code MARKET2021 through 4/24/21.

When it comes to social media, the number-one reason most use it is for entertainment and a momentary escape from reality. To tap into this audience behavior, try gamification on your Instagram account. Getting your community involved in a contest is an effective way to build your market and brand message.

Related: Harness the Power of Stardom with Instagram

Once you have an idea of what type of contest you want to run, the next step is to actually run the contest. Running a contest on Instagram involves:

1. Tell me what you want, what you really, really want: Establishing your objectives.

Set your objectives and know what you hope to gain from the contest. Do you want to get more followers? Build brand awareness or create brand loyalty? Do you want a specific number of mentions or a certain amount of user-submitted content? The more specific you are with your objectives, the more likely you’ll see positive results.

2. Bam! Hashtag it up.

Create a new hashtag for your contest, or use one that’s also being used by one of your competitors or a popular national brand. See what contests your competitors are currently running to get an idea of what seems to be resonating with your desired audience. Take a look at other Instagram contests to get a feel for current trends.

3. Seniors with unicycles? Define your market/audience.

Tap into your demographics to get a better idea of who’s likely to participate in your contest and whether Instagram is really the right social platform for your contest. Ninety percent of those who use this platform are under 35 years old, with most users falling within the ages of 25 to 34, followed by those 18 to 24 years old. Further define your target audience so you’ll have a better idea of what type of contest to present.

Related: 9 Tools to Improve Your Instagram Marketing

4. More cow bell! Come up with a theme that works for you.

Whether it’s seasonal, topical, or something specific to your business, have a clear theme for your contest.

5. Give it to me, baby — your Prize, that is.

You might be able to get away with “bragging rights” for some contests, but you’ll need something more substantial to encourage significant participation. Prizes can come from your inventory of products or be something a little more attention-getting like concert tickets, gift cards or a trip. Whatever the prize, clearly state it upfront and use it to promote your contest.

6. First stop, Instagram. Next, world domination.

Decide if you want to limit your contest to Instagram or include other social platforms. If Instagram isn’t your most popular platform, running a parallel contest on other platforms can have the added benefit of promoting your Instagram account and attracting more followers.

7. No playing ball in the house! Establish the ground rules.

An effective Instagram contest needs clear ground rules. Post the rules to avoid any confusion or potential issues when winners are selected. You’ll want to determine:

  • A clear start and end date
  • Eligibility requirements, including any age requirements
  • How many winners you plan to have
  • Whether or not you’ll announce the winner or just state that a winner has been chosen (which may be a good idea if you’re going to allow participants under 18)
  • Prize or prizes to be awarded
  • Requirements for entry

8. What shall we call this thing? Title your contest.

Keep your title simple and descriptive of what the contest is about, such as “Holiday Photo Contest.” If you’re going to title it with a hashtag, check on a site like www.hashatit.com to make sure your preferred hashtag is available.

Related: How to Make Your Instagram Account Impressive

9. Shout it from the rooftops! Promote your contest.

Get the word out about your contest with a post on your Instagram account along with your other social accounts, website and blog. Make the announcement post visually appealing, because Instagram is a visual social platform and this is what will attract browsers sorting through their latest posts. Further promote your contest with:

  • Your email newsletter
  • A well-crafted press release
  • Personalized email messages
  • A mention in your regular ads or in-store ads if you have a brick-and-mortar store
  • A QR (quick response) code on your ads to allow mobile users to instantly enter

10. C’mon, don’t stop there! Follow-up.

Announce the winner and promote their winning entry with a post on Instagram. If it’s just a “like to win” contest, you can still spotlight the winner in a post. Send out thank-you emails to all participants or post a “thank you” on your Instagram account to everyone who took the time to enter your contest.

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