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Five Instagram Photo Contest Ideas For More Follower Engagement

Holding photo contests is always an effective strategy for attracting more engagement on Instagram, but coming up with an entertaining one can sometimes be a challenge. To help you brainstorm, here are five Instagram photo contest ideas to try out.

Doing a selfie contest

Selfies are some of the most common photos that people upload on Instagram, making them good photo contest material. Since participants can create them anywhere and anytime, this type of contest is one of the easiest to put up and join in. I mean, everyone loves a selfie:

They are also great for quick product promotions. By asking participants to post a selfie with your products, or your logo, you make your brand more visible to their peers and others who see their contest entries.

Running the contest

Just asking people to do a random selfie with your products does not always make for a fun contest. Add interest by centering your selfie contest around a familiar theme, like a holiday. Another route is to go with one that is specifically tied to your brands, which is useful if you are tying the contest into a larger campaign.

Once you have your contest theme, come up with a unique hashtag for it. The contest name itself can be one. Make sure that it is easy for participants to remember for easier entry in the contest. You can then use the tag to find and track entries during the contest period.

Instead of just having participants insert the contest hashtag into their entries’ captions, be more creative in how you incorporate it into the game. Ask them to include the tag within their photos in various ways, such as writing it on a card. You can also add the tag to your products or put up a designated selfie spot for participants, where it is visible, like this one.

This will popularize your contest hashtag and attract more participants.

When announcing the winning selfie, create a gallery of the best entries you got. This will encourage participants to share your announcement post to their peers. Don’t forget to tell participants that you will also be using their photos for future content. They will be more than eager to follow you for this, generating post-contest engagement.

“Create the best photo caption” games

“Caption this” contests are another easy format to do for your Instagram games. You simply post an image and your audience joins by posting their caption ideas in the comments. This gets your followers engaging with your photos in a creative and fun manner.

Running the contest

The photo to be captioned is the key to making this Instagram photo contest a fun one for participants. Look for a whimsical or unusual image that is related to your niche. You may also create the image yourself and feature your brand or product in it, like how Funko did here.


View this post on Instagram


Caption this photo for a chance to win a fun prize pack! #CaptionThisThursday #FantasticBeasts

A post shared by Funko (@originalfunko) on

Make the game more entertaining by telling people what kind of captions you want. For example, you can ask them to do their best 3-word caption, or they can come up with an entire story for the image. Add a “Tag-a-friend” call to action to attract more people to join.

There are two ways you can determine the contest winners:

  • Personal judgment: Be sure to make your criteria clear to all participants by including it in the contest post.
  • Audience voting: Ask people to like the comments they want to win for even more engagement. Remind them to read through everything to give everyone a fair chance.

When announcing the winner, edit the contest image to show the winning caption. This makes the image and announcement more catchy and gives you additional post-contest likes.

Doing Instagram scavenger hunts

If you want to get people more actively engaging with your page or brand, scavenger hunts are a good Instagram photo contest to do. You can even extend that engagement outside of the Internet by adding a physical component to the game, like in this event by Volkswagen.

Aside from the high level of interaction, you get plenty of user-generated content from contestants. Use that content to show off how fun your page is and attract more visitors.

Running the contest

When setting up your Instagram scavenger hunt, plan how you will distribute the clues. Determine when to post them based on your target contestants’ activity times. Use different analytics tools to figure out these times.

Make it easier for people to follow the clues by setting up a dedicated Instagram account for the event. Creating multiple accounts adds greater interactivity, as participants get to move from one account to another in search of clues. You can even do this across different social media platforms.

If you are doing the physical version, choose accessible spots to place your clues in, such as your store’s parking lot or a public plaza. Put a prominent marker at the game area and include important instructions, like the hashtags contestants should use when posting their entries. You can also use features like QR codes for easier entry submission and tracking.

Get your non-participating audiences following the game by posting frequent leaderboard updates or photos and videos of the game in progress. Encourage participants to share the posts during and after the event to get more attention.

Instagram Stories-based contests

The Instagram Stories feature is another means you can use for doing your photo contest. It’s especially suitable for doing impromptu giveaways, like this one.

Since it’s a limited time offer, people will want to join quickly to avoid missing out.

Running the contest

There are a wide variety of contests you can do using the stickers and filters found in Instagram Stories. Two of the popular ones are:

  • Hashtag contests: You ask contestants to post their Stories photos and insert the contest tag using the Hashtag sticker. By searching for the hashtag, you will be able to find and track each entry.
  • Question and Answer contests: Use the Q&A sticker to post the contest instructions/questions. Participants submit their answers using the space provided on the sticker.

Remind participants to tag you in their contest entries. This is not just for tracking purposes. Other people who see their posted stories can click on your username and visit your page, giving you more traffic.

Doing fan dedication contests

While most Instagram photo contests are geared towards casual followers, you can also do one for your most vocal fans. Such fan dedication contests are a fun way to thank them for their continued support. You also attract more would-be followers when they see how much you adore your fans.

Running the contest

What’s great about this type of contest is that you can do it in any format. Encourage your fans to show their love for you in creative ways, like making fanart or videos. Domino’s Pizza went this route for their #PieceofthePieContest and got amusing entries.

Ask participants to tag their peers in their entries. This lets you introduce your page to other people, with your fans providing additional promotions.

To get your fans participating more, choose prizes that are in line with what they would want to get from you. This isn’t just limited to cash prizes, many avid fans also want to receive supplies of products or merchandise. Feel free to ask them for any “wishlist” they want for the contest.

Featuring them on your page is also a nice gesture of appreciation. Post about each entry that you receive before announcing the winner. You can then do a post-contest feature on the winning entries.

Get followers engaged with these Instagram photo contests ideas

Running Instagram photo contests on a regular basis is an effective strategy to keep your followers engaged with your account. To recap, ideas for contests include:

  • Selfie contests: Encourage participants to do their best poses with your brand in exchange for prizes.
  • “Best caption” contests: Attract more engagements for your photos by getting followers to show off their wit with funny captions.
  • Scavenger hunts: Use these games to get people engaging with your brand beyond Instagram.
  • Instagram Stories contests: Take advantage of Stories’ limited-time-only nature to get people quickly joining the game.
  • Fan dedication contests: Let your superfans show their love for you and shower them with prizes as a sign of your gratitude.

Add these contest ideas to your list of effective engagement tactics and you are on your way to becoming a popular Instagrammer.

Date: December 20, 2018 / Categories: Guide, Hashtags, Marketing, / Author: Rich Drees


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