If you’ve been thinking about running a social media sweepstakes or contest – whether for the first time or to replicate previous success, you have the right idea! Social media contests and sweepstakes are a great allure for brands because they are simple to get up and running, boost engagement immediately and are easy for participants to enter.

Though easy to run and easy to execute, having a clear strategy behind your social media sweepstakes, aligned with your goals and media plan, is a key driver of its success. Since this process differs by social media platform, we’re excited to be starting a blog series sharing the do’s and don’ts for running a successful social media promotion on each platform – starting with Instagram.

Choosing the Right Activation

If you’ve decided that an Instagram activation is the route for you, you may be wondering where to go from there. Well, you have two choices. First, you can execute a sweepstake, a game of chance where winners are selected randomly. Think of it this way: comment on an Instagram post for a chance to win tickets to the Super Bowl. Participants’ chance of winning is purely based on how lucky they are.

The second option is a contest, where participants enter based on their skill and win on merit. There may also be underlying criteria like having to follow your page or leave a comment in order to be considered. For example, in order for participants to win those Super Bowl tickets they must follow your brand’s Instagram page and then tap a link directing them to the contest landing page where they are prompted to answer NFL trivia. The first winner to get all of the answers correct and who follows the Instagram page will win the tickets.

Do not fret, as a leader in digital promotions, we can guide you through the process of choosing between a sweepstakes or contest based on your brand’s respective goals and ideas.

Covering the Basics

For either an Instagram sweepstakes or contest, it’s important to consider how a consumer will enter to win and weigh the time investment versus your engagement goal. Are you asking people to like a post? Comment? Post a hashtag? Tag and mention your brand? A like plus a comment takes less time than making a post, but the post may increase visibility, so think through this carefully.

You must also understand the legal guidelines to abide by. All major social networks, including Instagram, have regulations around prize promotions on their platform. Luckily, we are here to help and can guide you to compliance in both actions you incentive participants to take, and also for advertising guidelines when promoting the sweepstakes or contest.

Now How Do You Pick a Winner?

Great question! Managing promotion winners may seem like a daunting task. Especially when determining the winner of a skill-based entry which requires a judging process rather than being randomly selected. At Realtime Media, we’ve figured out how to streamline this process by developing an administrative tool to review text, photo, and video-based content from entries. We call it winner management made easy.

Prize Fulfillment and Announcement

So, you’ve got a winner, now you need to send them their prize. While an Instagram promotion is straightforward to enter, oftentimes more information is needed to verify the winner's eligibility to claim the prize at stake. Completed tax forms and shipping addresses for physical prizes are typically necessary components to vet and distribute an appropriate prize winner. Again, we’ve found a way to streamline this process. Our Prize Claim solution enables us to securely collect winner information, while also validating the accuracy of it.

The last step? Excitement. Make the most of your time in the limelight to generate excitement with the winner announcement that can build your brand’s followers. Use the Instagram Live feature to announce your winner or make a post tagging them. Engage with the winner by reposting their content to showcase the thrill of winning your brand’s sweepstakes.

In closing, hosting a sweepstakes or contest on your brand’s Instagram page is a fun and impactful way to gain exposure, increase engagement and build brand advocates. Realtime Media can help with this process every step of the way – handling compliance, gathering entries, selecting winners at random or through a judging process, managing prize fulfillment and more. To learn more about our sweepstakes offerings and prize fulfillment capabilities, click here.