10 Amazing Small Business Instagram Contest Examples [Critiqued]

11 min read · 8 years ago


10 Amazing Small Business Instagram Contest Examples [Critiqued] image tumblr inline msmka70yyn1qz4rgp10 Amazing Small Business Instagram Contest Examples [Critiqued]

Are you looking for ways to engage your customers on Instagram? Do you use Instagram contests, but need better results?

In this article, I’ll give you 10 examples of small businesses using Instagram contests. I’ll give you a run down of what works, what doesn’t, and what actionable items you can use to make your own great contest.

Tweetable Tips:

  • How can small business use Instagram?
  • How can you use contest specific hashtags to create community?
  • Do you run your Instagram contests weekly? Read why you should
  • Get UGC of your products. Use Instagram photo contests
  • How can a third party app make your contests better?

“Like” to Win Instagram contests

You don’t need to run a photo contest on Instagram. Your engagement can be even simpler, by just asking participants to like your post (by double clicking on it) and follow you. This can get you lots more followers on Instagram, without asking much from potential customers.

Here’s an example of a “Like” to Win Instagram contest:

1. Drinkwel makes multivitamins for people who drink. They host weekly Instagram contests. They are very simple, and average over 60 participants per draw. They ask contestants to double-tap their product image, and follow them (double clicking the image will ‘like’ the photo). They draw one winner randomly, and notify them through an @mention and ask for their email to send further details. Their prizes are their products.

What’s good:

  • The contest is very easy to enter, and gets them more followers.
  • The prize is their products, so this markets what they make.
  • They run contests weekly, with changes to their prizes, making it a fun habit for consumers.
  • They congratulate the winner on their Instagram feed.
  • They use a contest specific #finallyfriday to engage
  • They include a clear CTA on contest image

What’s bad:

  • They need to promote with more hashtags – include tags their followers and consumers use regularly to spread the word about the contest.
  • They need a more friendly image for product – include people, especially people’s faces when marketing a product on a photo sharing site like Instagram. This would make their brand seem cooler and more personable.

What you can learn from this:

  • Make your contests simple, and ask for a follow, if you want to increase your Instagram followers.
  • Run weekly contests to develop habits in your consumers, and build momentum in your contests.
  • Make your products the prize.
  • Use a contest specific hashtag.

Photo contest of “selfies”

“Selfies” (photos of yourself) are hugely popular on Instagram. They’re easy photos to take, and they tend to get shared a lot by friends and friends of friends. Many businesses get this. They use selfies to engage with their followers – and give them a chance to win.

Here are two examples of Instagram photo contests with “selfies”:

2. Om Nom Nom Cookies is a boutique vegan cookie company. They’ve run a ‘selfie’ photo contest. They ask contestants to take a photo of themselves and an omnomnom cookie. People submit their photos with an @mention to the company. The winner(s) get a prize of a branded t-shirt.

What’s good:

  • Photo entries include their product, and happy customers.
  • The contest image is very friendly, fun and personable.
  • It’s simple to enter.
  • The prize further markets their brand.
  • The contest has a short entry period, creating a quick CTA for entrants.

What’s bad:

  • The contest could include a common hashtag, so other contestants can see the entries.
  • They could make this a weekly contest, with various themes or prizes to develop momentum in their contest engagement.

What you can learn:

  • Make your contest friendly and personable through a fun contest image, and by getting people to share photos of themselves.
  • Make your contest simple.
  • Keep your contest brand and product related.

3. Wedding Wire is a wedding marketplace. They hosted a photo contest to get people’s best wedding selfies over a long weekend. People submit their photos by tagging the company, and using a contest specific hashtag. The winner is announced shortly after the weekend, and will be featured in the business’ Instagram feed.

What’s good:

  • It’s simple to enter, and the theme is in keeping with their brand
  • They use a common contest hashtag, so all of the wedding photos are shared and can be seen by everyone.
  • They have a short contest time frame to encourage a quick CTA.
  • The prize doesn’t cost the company anything, and it gives followers a bit of fame.
  • They posted a follow-up on Tuesday to remind followers to enter the contest.

What’s bad:

  • The contest image is very boring. They could include a customized visual, showing an example of a great wedding selfie.
  • The prize could be more enticing, such as including a gift card to Wedding Wire.

What you can learn from this:

  • Use a common contest hashtag to create a community on Instagram.
  • Post a follow-up reminder to get more entrants.
  • Customize your contest image to make it more personal and friendly.
  • Use a third party app to make the logistics of running an Instagram contest much simpler.

Photo contest with Voting

An Instagram photo contest can create a lot of sharing of your marketing efforts. Add in a public voting element, and your contest could go viral. A photo contest with voting motivates contestants to share their entry with everyone they know, so that they can win your contest.

Here’s a an example of an Instagram photo contest with voting:

4. Habby Travels is a two person travel agency. They hosted an Instagram photo contest, and have included a voting feature. Contestants share their best summer travel photos. Photos can be submitted on Instagram, Facebook or through email. The winner gets a travel prize.

What’s good:

  • They promote the contest on Instagram and Facebook.
  • They use a number of common hashtags to get their contest spread on Instagram.
  • The prize is company related – giving away a travel prize.
  • The contest theme is company related, and they will get lots of beautiful photos to summer travel.
  • The contest includes public voting, to get their contest (and business) shared even more.

What’s bad:

  • The contest image is terrible, and not enticing to enter. They need to have a great photo of a holiday pic, for example, to promote their contest.
  • Hosting a contest with a voting element with three ways to enter could be a logistical nightmare for the company.
  • They will need to manually keep track of all their entries and make sure they are not repeat entries.
  • They will need to create the ability to vote on entries that were emailed.
  • They will need to keep track of all the voting, for each of the platforms.

What you can learn from this:

  • Use a third party contest app that works on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and your website to make running your contest a LOT easier! You can manage all of your entries for each campaign through one easy dashboard. You can get entries through email, too. See our Instagram photo contest app for more details.
  • Include a public voting feature to get your contest shared my contestants.
  • Make your contest look good. Customize your contest graphics with personable and appealing images in your contest theme.

In-store Photo Contests

One of my favourite tactics on Instagram is bringing the offline online. Instagram is a mobile site. I love it when businesses use it to bring customers into their physical store. A perfect way to do this is through ‘in-store’ Instagram photo contests. That is, get people to take photos of themselves or your product while they are in your store or restaurant.

Here are two example of in-store Instagram photo contests:

5. Travel Country is an outdoor adventure clothing store. They have both an online store, and a bricks and mortar store. They ran a photo contest to get the best picture inside their Florida store. The contest ran for one month. Photos had to have the contest specific hashtag to enter. The prize is a gift card and products they sell.

What’s good:

  • They encourage foot traffic, by getting people to come to their store to take a photo in order to enter.
  • They have a common, contest specific hashtag, so everyone can see the entries, and everyone can see the great user-generated content (UGC) of their store.
  • They use common hashtags too, when posting about their contest.
  • The contest image provides a clear CTA, and clearly states what people can win.
  • The prize is brand related and motivating – a $100 gift card and products they sell.

What’s bad:

  • The duration of the contest is one month. They could create faster action by running weekly contests instead.
  • They could include a public voting element to build momentum for the campaign.

What you can learn from this:

  • Creatively use mobile sites like Instagram to increase your foot traffic.
  • Make a great contest graphic that includes simple CTA’s and motivates with an easy to see prize.
  • Include a contest specific hashtag to build a community of your customers online.

6. Tender Greens is a restaurant group focused on local food and local community. They have been running a photo contest on Instagram to get the best pics of customers inside their establishments. Photos must be tagged with a contest-specific hashtag. They choose a winner weekly, and give away a free t-shirt.

What’s good:

  • They get patrons in the door by offering a prize for the best in-restaurant photo.
  • They create a great marketing opportunity, with UGC of amazing photos of their food, people and restaurant interiors.
  • They create an online community with a contest specific hashtag – which is in line with their brand of supporting community.
  • They choose winners weekly, making it conducive to get patrons to enter more often (and dine with them more often too!).
  • The contest graphic is easy to read, and includes great example photos. It’s also in a personable, fun font.

What’s bad:

  • They could include dates on the contest, to induce a quicker CTA.
  • They could include a public voting element, to get their customers to choose the weekly winners.

What you can learn from this:

  • Use Instagram as the mobile site it is, to innovatively drive more traffic to your door.
  • Create a photo contest with a specific hashtag to get lots of UGC of your products and brand.
  • Make your contest graphics reflective of your business brand.

Photo Contests through Your Website

You can run a photo contest on your website. This will drive traffic to your site. If you have an online store, this is a particularly successful tactic to get your Instagram followers closer to being customers. When you host a photo contest on your website, promote it through Instagram (and other social sites).

Here are two examples of website photo contests promoted on Instagram:

7. Mommy Page offers a one-stop shop for moms, including coupons, recipes and community. They frequently run photo contests. A recent photo contest asked moms to submit their best back-to-school outfit of their kids. The photos are shared on their website. The prize is a relaxing day at the spa.

What’s good:

  • They posted the contest on Instagram, and used many common hashtags. This spreads the reach of the contest beyond their followers.
  • Their photo theme supports their brand, and their target market (moms with kids going back to school).
  • Their prize is motivating for moms to enter – a relaxing day at the spa – when the kids have gone back to school.
  • Their contest graphic shows photos of kids, the prize is easy to read and the requirements are simply written.
  • They share all the photos, making a community of kids and moms on their website.

What’s bad:

  • They could allow for photo entries directly through Instagram. They could use Wishpond’s Instagram Photo Contest app, for example, to make this easy to do.
  • They could include a public voting feature, to generate more awareness of their business (and promotion).

What you can learn from this:

  • When you host a photo contest on your website, promote it on your Instagram account too – and make it easy to enter your contest directly through Instagram.
  • Keep your target market in mind when you are choosing your prize.
  • Make a contest that supports your company goals, such as providing a community online.

8. Eyemimo Cosmetics is an online cosmetics site offering contests, discounts and giveaways. They frequently run contests on their blog, and promote them through Instagram. A recent contest asked people to upload their best photo “fantasy look” make-up. The winner is chosen through public voting. The prize is their product of false eyelashes.

What’s good:

  • They promoted their website contest through Instagram.
  • They used common hashtags to spread the word about their contest.
  • They used the word “win” prominently in their contest graphic.
  • Their contest graphic clearly explains how to enter.
  • The contest winner is selected through public voting. This generates more sharing of the contest photos, and brand awareness.

What’s bad:

  • They don’t allow for photos to be submitted directly through Instagram. They could use an Instagram Photo Contest app to make this easy to set up.
  • They could shorten the contest link by creating a contest page on their website.
  • Their contest graphic needs to be less busy.

What you can learn from this:

  • When you host a photo contest on your website, promote it on your Instagram account too – and make it easy to enter your contest directly through Instagram.
  • Include hashtags like #photocontest when you want to reach a broad market on Instagram.
  • Include public voting in your contests, to get more from your marketing promotions.

Photo Contest with Products

You’re running contests to market your business and products. Get UGC of your products, and your customers using them. Host photo contests with your products as the theme.

Here are two examples of Instagram photo contests with products:

9. AMP Diapers makes environmentally friendly cloth diapers. They run contests regularly through Instagram. Their recent contest asks participants to follow them on Instagram, upload a photo of their baby in the cloth AMP diapers and include a contest specific hashtag. A winner is chosen every month. The winner receives 2 cloth diapers.

What’s good:

  • With a photo contest of their diapers, they get lots of real, authentic UGC of their product in use.
  • By creating a common contest specific hashtag, they create a community of new moms on Instagram.
  • It is easy to enter through Instagram.
  • Their prize is brand related – as it is their product.
  • Their contest graphic easily shows what participants need to do to enter.

What’s bad:

  • Their contest would be easier to manage, and contact all of their participants, by using a third party app like Wishpond. Our contest apps let you capture all participant emails.
  • They could increase their prize offering, to get more moms to enter.

What you can learn from this:

  • Get great UGC on your products by running Instagram photo contests.
  • Use a contest specific hashtag to create a community of participants online.
  • Use a sophisticated third party app to add more marketing power to your Instagram photo contests.

10. Friday and River sell handmade leather goods and other accessories. They ran a month long Instagram photo contest to get their products shared on the site. Contestants had to follow them, and either post their contest photo or share their own photo of a Friday and River leather piece. Entrants had to use a business specific hashtags. They have 3 winners, and the prize is what they show in the contest graphic. They’ve had 121 posts to the hashtag.

What’s good:

  • They get their product seen and shared by many potential consumers.
  • The UGC, with participants submitting their own photos, gets even more of their products seen.
  • The image in their contest graphic is clear, and nicely presented.
  • Their prize promotes their business – as it is their product.
  • They post about their contest often, and use common hashtags such as #photocontest, #leather, and #mensfashion.

What’s bad:

  • They could get more UGC content by asking participants to use their own photos.
  • They could show their coin pouch product better, by having different photos for the contest. One could show the pouch open, or being used in real life, for example.
  • They could include more of the contest requirements in their contest graphic.
  • They could have weekly contestants, instead of running it for the full month. They are giving away 3 prizes anyway. If they make a contest weekly, they can generate more deadlines and quicker CTA’s.

What you can learn from this:

  • Use your products as part of your Instagram photo contests.
  • Promote awareness about your contest by including general hashtags related to your contest, your products and your business.
  • Use Instagram photo contests as an easy way to market your business.


I hope you found this article useful, and that you learned a few tips for running your next Instagram contest.

If these tactics seem a bit overwhelming for you, we can help. Check out our VIP Demo and book a free 30 minute personal consultation with our team.

What do you think? Have you run Instagram photo contests? What’s worked for your business? What hasn’t?

Written by Krista Bunskoek @ Wishpond

10 Amazing Small Business Instagram Contest Examples [Critiqued] image gwrJIJit8Skq vJGCCfkUJ 63a38ktuYXNj0fIy6w7w1p2hnpGCNIREel2 3XymNVumA9bEsxodqEK4C88yOc8gMWDSjeWUHaYDZdtryjgCm353WuCDl vxW10 Amazing Small Business Instagram Contest Examples [Critiqued]

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