With over 400 million active users, Instagram is now one of the most popular social networks. More and more brands and companies are trying to get the most out of this social network, designing strategies to build and energize their community while boosting awareness of their brand. Hashtag contests have become one of the best ways to obtain followers for your brand’s Instagram account. In this post we’ll give you some tips to help you promote your contest and connect with your community, enabling you to achieve maximum reach.

1. Announce the contest via an initial Instagram post designed specifically for the campaign

Instagram is all about images. Use your campaign image to highlight the most important aspects of the contest. Include the hashtag that participants will need to use, the instructions for taking part, plus the prize up for grabs. Instagram’s guidelines also allow you to use this image to encourage participants to follow your Instagram account.

2. Include the contest link in your bio

Instagram doesn’t permit you to publish links in your posts or comments. The only place where you can include a link is in the bio of your Instagram profile. Make the most of this space by including a link to a page supplying more information about the contest to your users.

This link could be especially useful if you’ve designed a specific landing page for your campaign, if you wish to provide and highlight the contest’s legal bases, or if you’d like to provide access to the photo gallery provided by the application.

3. Use other social networks to promote the contest

The contest is for Instagram, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take advantage of the potential and virality of other social networks to boost promotion and obtain more participants for your contest.

If your company is active across various social networks, don’t hesitate to use these channels to promote your Instagram contest. Always include the campaign hashtag in your posts, display pictures of the prize you’re offering and include a link to the photo gallery of the contest.

4. Post reminders and keep participants informed about the status of the contest

If your contest lasts for several days it’s important to keep it active during this whole period so you can continue to reach new users. To do this, remind users of the most important dates of the contest, like the deadline for participation. Also, don’t let them forget what they could win. The key is to hold users’ attention, making sure they’re aware that the contest remains open and that they still have time to participate. Make the most of these reminder posts to share some of the photos already uploaded by participants.

Another good practice is to publish a post on the final day of the contest. You’ll be sure to reach new users who won’t be able to resist this last chance to participate.

5. Promote the contest on your webpage

Take advantage of traffic to your website by telling visitors about your contest. This will enable you to increase the visibility of the contest and reach more potential participants. Place a banner in a highly-visible part of your webpage encouraging users to participate. By clicking on the banner, users will be able to find out more about the details of the contest. Use a widget to embed the contest directly into your website.

6. Encourage users to share their photos with friends

In Instagram you can also share photos with your followers, although unlike other social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, the content is shared privately between users. To make exchanging and sharing content easier and more enjoyable, Instagram recently added the tool for sharing a photo or video as a direct message to another person or group. Make the most of this feature to encourage participants to share their entries. This will undoubtedly increase the virality of the action and attract new participants to the contest.

7. Publish the photo gallery in Facebook

Your Facebook Page can be an excellent showcase for displaying all the photos that participants send to the contest. As well as providing greater visibility to the contest, a photo gallery will enable you to reach more users. Attracted by the prize, and motivated by the contest’s photo gallery, more users will want to take part.

Remember that the contest’s photo gallery can be published as a tab in any Facebook Page. It can also be shared via any of the social networks or embedded as an iframe in any webpage, blog or microsite. Take these opportunities to make your Instagram photo gallery stand out and attract new participants!

8. Announce the contest at the Point of Sale

If the contest is also going to be held at the Point of Sale you should inform your customers via this channel too. For example, if you’re going to organize a photo contest where participants have their photos taken at a photo call or in an area of a shopping mall, one good practice is to put up posters announcing the contest. These types of contests are very effective at carrying out branding: a good practice is to clearly display the name and logo of your brand/s alongside the prize up for grabs.

9. Reach your target audience with Instagram advertising

To increase the range of your contest and ensure that you reach your target audience, Instagram now allows you to create publicity campaigns with Premium ad posts. This type of publicity, which shares some characteristics with Facebook, should enable you carry out an effective publicity campaign. It includes tools for segmenting the ad’s target audience and incorporating a complete analytic system for measuring the campaign’s impact. These types of Premium posts provide a series of advantages over organic posts: you can include call-to-action buttons; they enable you to add links with a hyperlink in the post description; and they also allow you to present a variety of images in a slideshow.

If you have the budget, don’t hesitate to take advantage of these features to create an ad campaign on Instagram. It will enable you to expand the range of your contest while ensuring that you reach your target audience.

10. Follow up with participants

All online promotions and contests involve a series of day-to-day management tasks by the community manager: not only to respond to the questions of users interested in taking part, but also following up with participants. One good practice is to thank users for taking part and uploading their photos to the contest. Take into account that Instagram encourages interactions which are genuine and relevant. Follow Instagram’s good practices to communicate with participants.

A version of this story appeared on the Easypromos blog here.