9 Instagram Contests To Inspire You

by Emily Thousand Second Street

WERQ-FM | Baltimore, MD


92,000 selfies. Pretty lofty goal but easy to achieve when you are keeping it fun and fresh: WERQ is giving away new prizes weekly, rotating themes like “gym selfies” and heavily promoting the same hashtag across all platforms for the entire summer!
Since selfies are one of the most popular types of photos on Instagram, have a really low barrier of entry, and are very adaptable to your brand, they’re always a winning contest theme.

KIRO-AM | Seattle, WA



The concept of “Biggest Fan” can work for anyone. Fans LOVE sharing photos of themselves in their team gear and the result can be pretty awesome. KIRO-FM wanted to align themselves with not only the brand, but also the fans of the Sounders, the local MLS team, and really become a part of the conversation.
The goal is to ultimately have #MySounders become a hashtag that goes viral and is used organically by fans on a regular basis. To spread awareness KIRO has run this contest a few times, giving a pair of tickets away to a Sounders match each time.

KTUU-TV | Anchorage, AK


Photo contests centered around holidays have been popular for years – now with the ability to run Instagram contests it’s another way for your audience to participate. KTUU ran this Mommy and Me selfie contest sponsored by a local florist shop leading up to Mother’s Day. Not only were they able to generate sponsorship revenue they were able to engage with an entirely new demographic as a result.
This spin on a selfie contest could work for many holidays: Daddy and Me for Father’s Day, Cute Costume selfie for Halloween, Santa Selfie for Christmas…the options are endless!

KTUU-TV | Anchorage, AK


Not only is KTUU running sponsored hashtag photo sweepstakes contests, they are running advertiser contests as well, generating significant revenue for their station and measurable results for their clients! This contest model allows you to create a promotion that is all about your advertiser and their goals, and administer the contest for them like an agency.

Advertiser contests allow you to charge a premium price as this is ultimately their contest and your media company is not visibly involved, as opposed to a sponsored contest hosted on your website. Offer to host the contest gallery on their Facebook Page and use your assets and your audience to drive traffic and make the contest a success.

San Diego cityBeat | San Diego, CA


This creative contest from San Diego CityBeat, an alt-weekly newspaper, is a great example of how you can drive traffic and sales with an Instagram contest. Readers could visit a variety of burger locations during #SDBurgerWeek for $5 specials, and submit a photo of themselves with their burger for a chance to win $300 in gift certificates! Plus the person who visited the most locations won $50.

The opportunities for this type of contest and its ability to integrate a brand’s product into the entries – and drive retail traffic – are endless: for instance, an auto dealer could ask people to take a photo of themselves next to the car they would love to own.

WCKX-FM | Columbus, OH



This contest is pretty straightforward – you had to take a picture of yourself with Pepsi products for a chance to win access to a VIP party that took place before WCKX’s big concert of the year, PowerFest. Pepsi paid $10,000 to sponsor this contest and the entries were really creative.
Pepsi loved the viral engagement and branding – plus seeing all of the contest entries having their product prominently featured is exactly what they wanted. You can read the full case study here.

Dothan Eagle | Dothan, AL


Metrowide Best Of Ballots are a staple in almost every city. The Dothan Eagle took a creative spin on their Best of the Wiregrass ballot this year by running an Instagram contest alongside it, asking their readers to submit photos of their favorite businesses using the hashtag #BestofWiregrass to win prizes.

D Magazine | Dallas, TX



As summer in Texas heats up, D Magazine was looking for a new way to engage their readers and create fun content for their website. To win a $200 gift card to a local mall, you needed to submit a photo of how you are staying cool during the heat using the hashtag #staycooldallas. As a result the entries were really creative!

Steamboat Pilot & Today | Steamboat Springs, CO


Travel, landmarks and landscapes are a favorite subject for Instagram users. Steamboat Pilot & Today took advantage of this by asking their readers to submit photos of them enjoying summer in their area. The best photos will also be re-purposed in both print and online; one of the many benefits of running a user-generated contest is their ability to create content for you.

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