How to Host an Instagram Giveaway

Instagram is a great way to gain social followers that allow you to capitalize on your ability to tell a story through your imagery. This short-form method of sharing information about experiences, stories, events, products or services can help to foster engagement through a social channel. While sometimes the engagement doesn’t always mean that those followers are also visiting your blog, many brands are also looking at a person’s engagement level through social mediums in addition to their specific blog platform. Additionally, strong images may be a specific reason why brands are deciding to work with you either through your blog or just through Instagram. I have been financially compensated for posting images on Instagram without having to draft a separate blog post.

One way a person can gain additional followers through Instagram or to increase their level of engagement with followers is through hosting a giveaway. Sometimes this can be viewed as a “flash giveaway” of a product that complEments a giveaway that’s happening on your blog at the same time. Other times, it may be something that you are solely hosting through Instagram. That is your call. I do find, if there’s a lull in my blog posts that feature a giveaway, I may choose to host an Instagram giveaway to help stimulate follower engagement and possibly drive followers to my blog.

This post will provide the different ways a person can host a giveaway on Instagram and some things to consider when implementing those giveaways. It will also cover the nitty gritty pertaining to regulations.

How to Host an Instagram Giveaway


Before I move forward in telling you about giveaways on Instagram, I must tell you about FTC regulations that you should be adhering to while hosting a giveaway through any medium. If you are hosting a giveaway of a product that has been provided to you or will be provided to your selected winner(s) by a brand, you must share #ad or #sponsored (review the FTC’s FAQs for more specifics). Transparency is key in ensuring your followers know that you are working with a brand. If you have questions on how FTC regulations should be followed, check out this useful post that has been posted on the BlogPaws network.


Once you’ve decided to host a giveaway, solidify the following details (it’s the who, what, when, where, why and how concept). Your followers will need to be informed of the specifics of the giveaway in your initial post. Be sure to include: who is hosting, who is sponsoring, when the giveaway will be taking place, who is eligible to win (domestic or international), parameters for participation (must follow all hosts and sponsors and one entry per comment, for example), and what folks should be doing to enter. I will post an example of the wording in each of the “why” sections.


Who are you hosting your giveaway with or are you hosting the giveaway alone? There are positives and negatives to hosting a giveaway with other “hosts.” One positive includes: gaining access to an additional collection of followers that you may not have tapped yet. Another positive is those other influencers may have brand connections that you don’t have established yet. One negative can include having to deal with multiple opinions on how the details of the giveaway should be happening.

Who are you looking to partner with from a brand perspective? Are you hoping to have one or more than one winner? Are you looking to have different values in prizes? Historically, I’ve worked with between one to five brands for a giveaway; more than that can be overwhelming for you to manage and for your participants, particularly if you are requiring them to follow all hosts and all brands that are providing prizes.


What kinds of prizes are you looking to give and what is their value? Sometimes the prize isn’t even a tangible thing. Some larger Instagram accounts include a prize of being “featured” on their account, which could gain the winner a lot of new followers.

What is your theme (if any)? Sometimes identifying a theme can help you to decide what method for hosting your giveaway makes the most sense, but can also help you to connect to a certain time of year, upcoming event, trending hashtag, or the nature of the prizes being offered. Examples of themes I’ve used in the past include: “Summer Fun,” “Home for the Holidays, and “Snowflakes and Snuggles.”


Are you hosting the giveaway just on Instagram or are you partnering your giveaway with something also occurring or on your blog or other social channels? I’ve done both and have had success with both. You’ll probably need to do both with your followers to see what you think works best for you and them.


Are you hoping to gain additional followers? Are you looking to increase engagement? Are you looking to drive traffic to your blog? Your why will likely answer your how, which we will talk about in the next section. Let’s look at two examples: to gain followers and to encourage engagement.


If your “why” is to gain followers, your “how” should be requiring your followers to tag fellow Instagram friends to introduce them to the giveaway. In this method, each host posts the same photo that normally announces somewhere in the image that a giveaway is happening and sometimes information about the prize. Participants will be required to tag fellow friends they know on Instagram. Each tag is considered an entry. I’ve seen some giveaways cap the number of entries or tags and others say that the number of entries is unlimited. Participants are often also required to follow each host and the participating brands/sponsors. This is how/why you can use this method to gain additional followers.

The way in which you select your winner is using a random number generator. Tally the number of entries, put that total into the random number generator, and the number selected is the person you choose to win. If you have more than one host, remember how many entries per account has been added so you know what the threshold is. So, entries one through 30 are on (shameless plug), so if one-30 is chosen, the winner is from “my” set of entrants.

Example Wording of Image Description: #ad We are excited to be teaming up with @somefundogaccount & @thatotherfundogaccount to host a giveaway with some amazing prizes. You could win a $50 gift card to @thatawesomebrand and a toy prize pack valued at $30 from @dogtoysrus. All you have to do to win is tag your friends in the comments below. One tag per entry, please. Unlimited entries and this is open to folks in the US and International. The contest will run until December 13th until noon Eastern Standard Time. You must follow all participating hosts and brands to be eligible to win! Good luck!


If engagement with your current base is what you’re hoping to enhance, you may decide to have a different set of requirements for your giveaway. In lieu of having entrants comment by tagging friends, you may want to have your followers join in by posting their own photos.

Remember when I mentioned some example themes earlier? In the past, I’ve used those themes to encourage participants to post their own photo that matches the theme. For example, if I were using “Snowflakes & Snuggles,” I’d have my followers post a photo of their pet having fun in the snow or snuggling up inside under covers, in front of the fireplace, or just being cute and cozy somehow. Each posted photo is an entry. You can decide if there’s a limit to the number of photos a person can post. The easiest way to keep tabs on entries is to include a unique hashtag that participants must include in their photo description. For this example, it may be something like #snowflakesandsnuggles17. I normally specify that photos must have been posted during the window of the giveaway; the entrant cannot simply add the hashtag to an older photo. You’ll be able to see when it was posted by using the hashtag for your research.

How you select your winner is up to you. Some people will select the “top five” photos that they think are either the highest quality, most clever, or most closely tied to the theme. After that point, they’ll post the images and encourage people to vote for their favorite by liking and commenting. The photo with the most likes and comments wins. I dislike this method, because it discourages accounts with a small number of followers from participating. If an account’s “competition” has 35,000 followers, they can influence way more people to stop by the host account to vote compared with a person who has 5,000 followers.

You can also select a winner based on your interpretation of how well the image matches the theme and the image quality, or have you and the fellow hosts serve as judges. Fair warning: I have seen people get their feathers ruffled using this method, claiming favoritism or not understanding why “their image wasn’t as good as so-and-so’s.” You can still go this route, and many successfully do, but be sure you have a reason you can articulate for why the winner’s image was selected.

The final option is to randomly select a winner of all the entries, regardless of image quality or number of likes, as long as the image somehow ties to the theme and was posted when the competition was taking place. This is the method I prefer, and I use the same random number generator to select the winner by putting in the number of entries that used the hashtag as my total number. While the image you select may not be mind-blowingly awesome, it still allows you to recognize Instagram accounts that may be getting their feet wet.

Example Wording of Image Description: #ad we are thrilled that snow is on the horizon for us in New England and we are celebrating by hosting a giveaway!  We have partnered with fellow accounts @SnowPups and @SnugglePups to celebrate all the snowfall and puppy snuggles in our future. You could win a $50 gift card to @thatawesomebrand and a toy prize pack valued at $30 from @dogtoysrus. All you have to do to win is to post a photo of your pet enjoying the snowy weather or snuggling in the warmth inside and use #snowflakesandsnuggles17. Your entry must begin by saying “This is my entry for #snowflakesandsnuggles17” and include tagging all hosts and participating brands. There is no entry limit, and this contest is open to US or international entries. Your photo must be posted during the time of the competition; editing old photos with the hashtag will not count. You must be following all hosts and brands to be eligible and winners will be randomly selected. The contest will run until December 13 at noon Eastern Standard Time. Good Luck!

Your turn!

I hope this helps you understand the mechanics of hosting an Instagram giveaway! Have you hosted an Instagram giveaway before? What worked for you? If you haven’t yet, do you plan to give it a try? Let me know if you have additional questions below.

Bryn Nowell is a blogger who loves dogs and drinking equally, which is why her blog,, focuses on both! She is a passionate photographer and animal rescue advocate. Join her photography adventures with pups Bean & Yoda on Instagram at: A Dog Walks Into A Bar.

Image: MichaelJayBerlin/

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