As a business owner, running an Instagram contest is one of the easiest and quickest ways to grow your following. In exchange for an awesome prize and with very little effort, you are able to connect with your audience and get people excited about your brand.

Starting an Instagram contest is super easy, but it’s really important to stay on top of it and manage it as you go or else things could get out of control – especially if you have a ton of entrants. To run a successful Instagram contest, check out these steps below.

Choose the prize.
The most important part is choosing the prize because you’ll need to base your whole contest around it. If you’re a product-based company, are you going to be giving a product away? If you’re a service-based company, are you going to be giving a service away? Or perhaps even a credit to your business? Know what you want to give and stick to it.

Decide on the contest type.
Common contest types are like to win, comment to win, reposting, tagging a friend, or posting a photo. If your goal with the contest is to expand your audience, the best types would be reposting, tagging a friend, or posting a photo because all three of those require the entrant to share the contest with their own audience. Their audience will then most likely want to join in on the contest as well!

Create a hashtag to use.
Come up with a hashtag for the contest to use for not only promotional purposes but also to keep track of the entries if the contest type is reposting or posting an original photo. Do research beforehand to make sure that the hashtag you want to use isn’t already being used with something else. The more unique the hashtag is, the better. Searching the hashtag will allow you to find the entrants easily, but make sure that you tell your audience that their profiles MUST be public in order to participate or else you won’t be able to see their entries.

Set a clear outline of the rules.
Outline the rules both on your Instagram as well as on your website for people to take a look at. Make sure you include a start day and time and an end day and time. Rules may include a requirement of 18 years or older to enter, only one entry per person, and more. Make sure that you’re also following Instagram’s rules as well.

Promote your contest.
Just because your contest is on Instagram doesn’t mean that you can ONLY mention it on Instagram! Spread the word on your Facebook page, Twitter, Pinterest, and through your email list. The goal is to get as many people as possible to join, so you’ll want to promote through all other possible outlets.

Measure your growth.
Keep track of how many likes, follows, and comments you’ve received while running the Instagram contest. You should also pay attention to your engagement as well as any website clicks from the contest. The data will show you if hosting a second contest is worth it or not!

Instagram contests can be successful for a brand when done RIGHT. Have you hosted an Instagram contest before?