How To: Have a Successful Instagram Giveaway

Hey, ya'll! I know that there are a lot of people just starting out their Instagram accounts, who haven't had much experience in the field of giveaways. But eventually, everyone wants to have a giveaway. And why not? Giveaways are fun and a great way to engage people and gain new followers! But it's tricky to run a successful giveaway and I know a lot of people are confused with the technical aspects of it as well. Things like, how people should enter their giveaway, what their post should look like, and how they should pick a winner. First of all, I want to say that I am not an expert in this field. Not in any way, shape, or form. In fact, what I'm sharing with you here is based purely on my own trial and error experiences. But over the course of time, I have managed to pull off some pretty successful giveaways and I've had the opportunity to learn from the best! Plus I've been able to observe dozens of giveaways and have seen what works and what doesn't. Since I deal mostly in craft accounts, this post will be speaking mainly to crafters. But I hope that this information will be relevant and helpful even for those who have other account types. I'll be writing this post in a question and answer format so the questions will be in bold, and the answer will be beneath it. Let's start at the very beginning!

At what point in my account should I have a giveaway?

This is a tricky question. I personally think that having a giveaway when you reach 1000 followers or more is the perfect time to have the first giveaway. I realize, though that you might be a long way off from this goal, so don't feel like you have to wait until then. You can really have a giveaway at any point. Just keep in mind that the fewer followers you have, the fewer entries you will get.

What should I give away?

Give away what your followers expect to see from you on a daily basis! If you sell amigurumi teddy bears then give away an amigurumi teddy bear. Do you sell hand-sewn pouches? Give away a hand-sewn pouch. It's just that simple! Don't give away something that your followers have never seen from you before or wouldn't expect to be coming from you. For example, don't give away an iPad if you sell crocheted hats. As cool as that may be, you're not staying true to your brand and you want to make sure that all the new followers coming in are following you because they like your content, not just your giveaway prize. This is SO key! Remember that you will not keep those followers if you give away something that has nothing to do with your account. (You will inevitably lose followers after any giveaway, but don't make it easier for them to leave by doing this.) Give away a good prize that's true to your brand and you will gain new, loyal followers. One more thing about the prize: Always make sure that people know exactly what it is they're getting - that the prize is clearly shown in the picture and caption.

What kind of entry methods should I use?

If I could only answer one question on the topic of giveaways, this would be the one. Including the right entry methods for your followers is the most important thing you will do on the whole giveaway. Entry methods make or break a giveaway and are really the most important aspects of having a successful one. So which ones should you use? First off, remember that the larger your following is, the simpler you want to make it. More ways to enter equals more hassle. It takes time to gather entries, especially when you have many different ways to enter. There are two entry methods that I believe you should always include: One requires that they like the picture, two requires that they follow you. These are the most important. Requiring them to like the picture helps rank your post in the top posts section of the hashtags you've included and will increase your reach. (We'll talk about hashtags later on too!) I've actually seen some people stop here and make these two things be the only ways to enter. But I don't personally think this is a good approach because first of all, you'd have people entering who didn't even know they were entering, and I think that's unfair to the people who entered to win. Second, and most importantly, it would be almost impossible to keep track of everyone who entered, especially if you get a lot of likes on your post. Besides the two ways I mentioned above, here are a few other methods of entry I've included in my giveaways and seen work well: Have them tag their friends in the comments. This is the most common way of entry and one of the very best! This way your followers are letting other people know about your giveaway, increasing the chances of more entries. I always like to have them tag each friend in a separate comment. There are two reasons for this. One is that if you were to require them to tag all three (or four, or however many) in the same comment, there would inevitably be people who would still tag each friend separately. This would increase their chances of winning by including their name in the list more times than others (that is, if you use the method of gathering entries that I'm going to suggest later on!) The second reason it's a good idea to have them tag each person separately is that it increases your comment count and more comments equal more entries. Why? It's a little psychological game. When you see a post that has hundreds of comments on it, don't you want to join in the discussion? In the same way, when people see a giveaway post with hundreds of comments, they naturally want to join in on the fun too! One last thing about tagging friends before we move on: I would suggest that you limit the number of friends someone can tag. When you let people tag an unlimited number of people, they start getting greedy and tagging anyone they can think of, including people they don't even know. (This has happened on my giveaways before and is a huge stress creator as I had people writing me and complaining that people were tagging them that they had never even heard of.) Besides being stressful for you, it's also grossly unfair to the people who tag a fair amount of friends they actually know. Depending on your type of giveaway you could also add this fun option: Have people comment something related to the giveaway. Such as a guessing game (guess how many buttons are in this jar), or which prize they're most excited about winning, or where they'd like to travel in the world (assuming it's related to the prize). You can require this in addition to having people tag their friends, but it would also do well as a stand-alone entry. Phew, that was a lot! Okay, so those are the best ways to have people enter. And I wouldn't require anything beyond these three things. But let's talk about bonus entries, shall we?

What about bonus entries? And what are the best kinds to include?

Bonus entries are extra entry methods that people can use to enter your giveaway but they're not required to make their entry count as valid. They're optional and people can use them if they want more chances at winning. I always like to include as a bonus entry the option of reposting the giveaway post for three extra entries. It's surprising how many people will actually do this for a few extra entries. But NEVER make this required! While there are many people who will be willing to repost it, there are even more who are not willing to put someone else's giveaway post on their personal feed. I personally never enter a giveaway if this step is a required one. If you use this option make sure that you require people to tag you and use a unique hashtag so that later on you'll be able to find all the reposts. Another bonus entry you could include would be to have people sign up for your newsletter if you have one. This could also count as two or three extra entries. You could also have people like your Facebook page, but since there will probably be people liking your page during the giveaway period that are not entering, it would be very hard to keep track of who was actually using this as an extra entry. If you want to use Facebook, it's a much better idea to have a separate giveaway post on your Facebook page and then mention in your Instagram post that people can go to Facebook and enter there as well. Honestly, though, the bonus entries you could come up with are limitless! Get creative! Just be sure that you can easily keep track of bonus entries so that when the giveaway is over you won't have a nightmare trying to gather them all. Just remember as I mentioned before, the greater your following, the greater the hassle of gathering entries. So be careful with how many bonus entries you include!

What should my giveaway photo look like?

As insignificant as this might sound, this is actually a pretty important part of having a successful giveaway. After all, the photo is the first thing that people see as they're scrolling through their feed and you want it to grab their attention. And the best way to grab their attention is to have the word "giveaway" somewhere on the picture. But, you also don't want it to dominate the picture. You want the prize to be the main star! Here are some examples of how I style my photos. As you can see, I really like to use a simple font on a semi-transparent or white background. It's subtle, yet still, grabs your attention. On the Nemo photo, you can see that I also added the reason for the giveaway. It was a celebration for finishing my 100 amigurumi countdown. You could also do this for yours, such as "Christmas Giveaway", or "back to school giveaway". But always make sure the word "giveaway" stands out and the reason for the giveaway is in a smaller print/font. Below is a bad example of a giveaway post. Try very hard to cover up as little of the prize as possible when adding words to your photo. And try using neutral colors for the words instead of bright, flashy ones. I also try to use plain fonts that aren't in-your-face. (Not that the one below is in-your-face, it's actually kind of cute.) Giveaway!

Should my giveaway be open internationally?

This is entirely up to you! Just keep in mind that it will be more expensive to ship to an overseas address. Some people require that if an international follower wins, that person has to pay the shipping expenses themselves. I personally wouldn't do this unless the prize was very heavy. Also, this kind of defeats the purpose of a giveaway, and in a world of hidden expenses, it's nice to sometimes get something entirely for free! It could also be something of a hassle trying to get the winner to pay you. I usually open my giveaways internationally because I would roughly estimate that around half of my followers are not from the U.S. When I open my giveaway to only U.S. and Canadian followers, I receive a significant drop in entries. You might want to keep that in mind if you have a lot of overseas followers!

Are hashtags important?

Are hashtags important?? Um . . . YES! Hashtags are extremely important on any Instagram post, but they can especially help boost a giveaway post. Use hashtags that relate to your products, your prize, and of course, use the hashtag, #giveaway. Instagram will allow you to use up to thirty hashtags on a single post, and I recommend using all of them. I almost always use all thirty on any of my posts. If you don't want to put all your hashtags in the actual post, you can put them in a comment on the post and that works just as well!

How long should my giveaway last?

Most people will enter your giveaway during the first two days. (They are always exceptions, of course.) So it's best not to draw your giveaway out longer than a week because as I said, most people enter in the first few days, so you might as well end it sooner than later and keep people excited and engaged. My giveaways never last longer than three or four days. I even know some people that will have fun flash giveaways that only last twenty-four hours. This is another fun option to consider for your giveaway! In any case, make sure that you state clearly in the photo caption exactly when the giveaway ends - date and time. At the end of this post, I will have a sample caption that you can draw from. Make sure that when the giveaway period is over, you edit your post to let people know it's closed. I put ***CLOSED right at the beginning of the caption to end mine. I also always comment on the post and thank people for entering, letting them know at the same time that the giveaway is closed and the winner will be announced shortly.

What about collab giveaways?

First of all, what is a collab giveaway? A collab giveaway is simply when you collaborate with another person or business to give away a prize that represents both you and the other person while benefiting both parties involved. Yarn or craft companies might provide me, for example, with yarn to make a new ami design. They would also give me enough yarn to have a giveaway after I designed the ami. Then I would have the giveaway and specify that this yarn is the same yarn I used for my project and that now you can win it to use in making my new design! Depending on the company or person you're collaborating with, your followers would have to follow you and the other person/company. (Occasionally the person you're collaborating with doesn't require your followers to follow them too. Sometimes just the promotion from you is what they're looking for.) However your collab turns out, make sure that you know exactly what the other person wants from you. Also, make sure it's clear whether followers can enter on both accounts or just one. Often times it's just one, while the other account provides the promotion for the giveaway. Either way, your both driving new followers to each others accounts. Honestly, though, there are tons of ways to have a collab giveaway. You just have to make sure you and the other party involved are on the same page regarding all the details. But if you're wondering if collab giveaways are a good idea, I would say yes! They can be extremely helpful in promoting your business and they're fun too! One last thing: Only collaborate with people that have products that relate to yours in some way! Otherwise, you'll be getting followers from the other account that aren't really interested in what you have to offer. This is the main key to collaboration and sums it all up - make sure it benefits both parties involved.

How do I pick a winner?

And finally, we come to picking the winner! This is one of the most fun parts and if you haven't made your methods of entry too complicated, it should be fairly easy as well. If you only had people enter by commenting, then simply go to your desktop version of Instagram, copy all the comments and then paste them into a random name picker. It's just as simple as that! There's absolutely no need to write out every name on a piece of paper. (Unless you just really like doing that kind of thing.) If you were also running your giveaway on your blog or Facebook page, you can do the same for those entries. Just make sure you have all the entries together (preferably in a Word document) before you pick a winner. Putting them all in a Word document before choosing the winner can also give you a chance to go over all the entries and make sure people didn't enter more times than they were supposed to or take out comments that aren't really entries. If you had bonus entries, such as reposts, you will have to find each post (this is why it's important that you use a unique hashtag) and manually write out the person's name in a Word document. Make sure that if the reposts count for three or four extra entries, you enter that persons name the appropriate amount of times. Adding entries manually goes for any other kind of bonus entry you may have included as well. Once you have all the entries together, you can paste all the names into a random name picker, and voila! You have your winner! Before you contact your winner, you need to make sure they followed all the rules, that is, make sure they are following you and/or all parties involved, and any other things required. Before you throw out all those entries, make sure that your winner contacts you with their address! You don't want to have to gather them all over to pick another winner because your first winner never contacted you.

How should I announce the winner?

This is another thing that is entirely up to you! Some people create a separate post congratulating the winner, some people post a video in their Instagram Story of them picking the winner, and others just comment at the end of the post tagging the winner there. Any way is fine. I usually just tag the winner in the comments, but I've also created a separate post announcing it. Your giveaway is over! Congratulations, I hope it was a big success! ;) Here is the sample giveaway caption I promised earlier. I hope this helps you get an idea of what you want your post to sound like. This was a giveaway I had with several other makers so it can also give you an idea of how a collab giveaway works! "GIVEAWAY time! Hey, Y'all, we thought it would be fun to have a "just for fun" giveaway this weekend with a few other pattern designers! In this giveaway, there will be TWO winners who will each receive one pattern of their choice from each shop involved! That means you'll be getting four patterns if you win! So go check out each person's shop by following the links in our bios, (tap the picture to see who designed what) and see what patterns you would love to win! Here's how to enter: 1: Like this post 2: Follow: @storyland_amis @theresascrochetshop @younique_crafts1 @amenagerieofstitches 3: Tag 3 friends in the comments below (Optional) Bonus Entry: Repost this picture for an additional 3 entries using the hashtag #justforfun4 and tagging at least one, or all of us involved. Note: This giveaway is for the patterns to make the animals, not the actual animals themselves. Giveaway is open worldwide and ends Sunday at 9:00 pm EST. Good luck!" Well, guys, I guess that's it! I really hope that for those of you struggling with giveaways this was helpful. And I know I didn't cover everything, so if you have a question, please feel free to ask me and I'll do my very best to answer you! Also, if you have suggestions for people just starting out with giveaways or different ways of doing things, I'd love to hear your thoughts! Thanks for reading! ~Holly :) Follow my blog with Bloglovin or subscribe via email! The post "How to Have a Successful Giveaway" first appeared on Storyland Amis