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If our recent blog posts and infographic didn’t tip you off, we’re big fans of Instagram. We love how engaged its users are, and how easy it can be to set up and execute challenges and contests on this photo-sharing Goliath of a social media platform. To make sure you’re getting the most out of your Instagram contests, check out these tactics that have been put to the test by some of our biggest clients.

If our recent blog posts (here and here) and infographic didn’t tip you off, we’re big fans of Instagram. We love how engaged its users are, and how easy it can be to set up and execute challenges and contests on this photo-sharing Goliath of a social media platform. If you’re not running contests on Instagram (especially with your SocialToaster campaign), what are you waiting for?! Instagram contests and challenges are a  fantastic opportunity to promote your brand while increasing interest and engagement in your SocialToaster program.

If you use SocialToaster and are among those not using Instagram, stop what you’re doing and call your SocialToaster Account Manager to have Instagram activated immediately! We’ll wait…

Okay! Now that that’s taken care of, check out these tips that have helped some of our biggest clients in running their Instagram contests.

Give Clear Guidelines

As with all things, getting the hang of running Instagram contests has required a bit of trial and error. For instance, after learning some lessons from their first Instagram contests, SocialToaster client, the Chicago Blackhawks, sets clear guidelines for their contest submissions. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want! In this case, the Blackhawks specifically ask their fans to post images of themselves in team gear, going to the games and otherwise showing their #onegoal pride. By being specific in the guidelines for submission, the Blackhawks received over 20,000 relevant submissions—a marked increase over their first year!

Choose Your Hashtag Wisely

When deciding on a contest hashtag, remember this Golden Rule: simple, meaningful and to-the-point makes it easy for your SuperFans to remember and use. Choose hashtags that support your brand and brand messaging and watch the submissions roll in.

Once chosen, you want to make sure your hashtags aren’t already in use. Do a quick search for any possible tag on Instagram to make sure it’s not something that is already used frequently. You’ll want to be able to easily separate contest entries from general Instagram noise. You also want to make sure that your contest and entries aren’t going to be casually acquainted with something your brand wouldn’t want to be associated with.

Notify Your Superfans

To make sure your contest has participants, you have to make sure people know about it! Use SocialToaster to send emails to your fans, letting them know about the contest. This way, your Superfans will get all of the information they need—rules, dates, other guidelines—directly to their inbox and because you’ve strategically chosen a hashtag and have given clear instructions, they can begin posting right away. This is also a convenient way to remind users to submit before the deadline. For an example email, click here.

To expand your contest beyond your Superfans, make sure you’re promoting the contest on your social pages, websites, blogs, emails and other web properties you might have. For more tips on this, check out a whole blog post we wrote dedicated to this very subject!

Moderate Your Contest

Sometimes Instagram can seem like the wild west, with outlaw photos popping up where they don’t belong. As contest host, you’ll need to play sheriff and decide which images are eligible and which end up in the clink (or, if you haven’t watched Hogan’s Heroes in a while, get disqualified). If you’re already using SocialToaster, you’ll be able to track and approve entries right from the dashboard, which saves you from having trolls like this guy on your pic wall.

To keep your Superfan page looking fresh each time your fans log in, spend some time every couple of days going through your entries and approving them.

Showcase Your Winners

When it comes to your Superfans, sometimes it’s the little things that matter most. When your contest is over, don’t just send the winner an email—give them a shout out on your social pages! This can be as simple as regramming their image and tagging them in the caption, or as big as featuring them on your website or in your next email. Not only will this make them feel appreciated by your brand, it’ll make them feel #InstaFamous for at least a day or so.

Instagram is a fun and powerful way to boost interest in your campaign and guarantee more user engagement and awareness. For more tips from the pros and to get the ball rolling on your next Instagram contest, click here to contact us or call 855.62.TOAST