Do Contests and Giveaways on Instagram Truly Pay Off? Analysing Successful Social Media Campaigns

July 27, 2023

In the vibrant world of social media marketing, Instagram has emerged as a powerhouse platform, offering brands an engaging playground to connect with their audiences. Among the myriad of tactics utilized, contests and giveaways have become popular choices to boost brand visibility and engagement. But the question remains: do these endeavours truly pay off?

This article delves into the realm of Instagram contests and giveaways, analysing their effectiveness and impact on successful social media campaigns. We will explore real-life case studies of both triumphs and challenges, shedding light on the factors that contribute to their success or failure.

Through insightful analysis and best practices, we aim to equip marketers and brands with the knowledge to create compelling and rewarding Instagram contests and giveaways. Thus, maximising their reach, fostering genuine engagement, and reaping the benefits of a well-executed social media campaign. Let's start this exploration together, uncovering the secrets behind impactful giveaways on Instagram.

Giveaways on Instagram Explained

Instagram contests and giveaways are popular promotional tactics used by brands and influencers to increase their visibility, engagement, and follower count. These interactive campaigns encourage users to participate and interact with the brand or content creator, creating a win-win situation for both parties. Thus, understanding the mechanics and different types of contests can pave the way for a successful social media campaign.

For example, look at the hashtag #giveaway on Instagram that gathered a huge amount of 46,650,042 posts! ????


Analyzing Successful Contests and Giveaways on Instagram


One standout example of a successful social media campaign is Apple's "Macro Photography Shot on iPhone Challenge." At first, the contest invited iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max users to capture captivating macro photos and share them on Instagram and Twitter using specific hashtags. Then, expert judges from the industry and Apple reviewed worldwide submissions, selecting 10 winning photos. Finally, the winning images were celebrated on various Apple platforms, including Apple Newsroom,, and official Apple accounts. This contest showcased the iPhone's advanced camera capabilities and fostered a sense of creativity and community among participants. Thus, it exemplifies how well-executed giveaways on Instagram can drive engagement and enhance brand loyalty. Additionally, you can read more about the contest here. Just look at the number of posts that were created with this hashtag! 



Starbucks' annual "Red Cups Contest" is a heartwarming holiday tradition that ignites creativity and connects coffee enthusiasts worldwide. The campaign invites customers to customise their red cups with festive designs and share their creations on social media using hashtags like #StarbucksRedCups. Then, by fostering user-generated content, Starbucks strengthens customer loyalty and creates a global community united by the joy of the season. The contest serves as a platform for showcasing artistic talent and storytelling, at the same time inspiring participants to bring their visions to life on the iconic red cups. Recognizing standout entries and rewarding winners with exciting prizes further enhances the emotional bond between Starbucks and its customers. Year after year, the Red Cups Contest continues to spread holiday magic and make the festive season even more special for Starbucks enthusiasts. Read more about the contest here.


Factors Influencing Success

The success of Instagram contests and giveaways relies on various crucial factors that can make or break a campaign's impact. Understanding and leveraging these elements can significantly enhance the effectiveness of a social media campaign. Here are key factors that play a vital role in determining the success of Instagram contests and giveaways:

Clear and Engaging Rules

Providing concise and straightforward rules for the contest or giveaway is essential. Participants must understand the requirements, eligibility criteria, and timeline to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience. Look at the Maybelline’s giveaway rules: 


Compelling Call-to-Action (CTA)

A compelling CTA prompts users to take immediate action and participate in the contest or giveaway. A well-crafted CTA can significantly increase engagement and entries.

Eye-Catching Visuals

Captivating visuals and creative assets are instrumental in attracting users' attention. High-quality images and videos related to the campaign can entice participants to join in and share their experiences.

Promotion and Visibility

Effectively promoting the contest or giveaway across various channels maximizes its reach. Utilizing hashtags, collaborating with influencers, and leveraging other social media platforms can boost visibility and attract a broader audience. You can also try collaborating with influencers. Here’s a great example.


User-Generated Content (UGC)

Encouraging user-generated content fosters authenticity and builds a sense of community. When participants create and share content related to the contest or giveaway, it generates organic buzz around the campaign.

Relevant and Appealing Prizes

Offering prizes that align with the interests of the target audience is crucial. Exciting and valuable rewards motivate users to participate actively and engage with the campaign. Then again, here’s a great example of Maybelline’s other giveaway. 


Engagement and Interaction

Active engagement with participants through comments, likes, and shares creates a sense of connection. Responding to user-generated content and acknowledging entries can foster a positive relationship between the brand and its audience.

Measurable Goals and Analytics

Setting measurable goals and tracking campaign performance through analytics is essential. Understanding the impact of the contest or giveaway helps brands refine their strategies for future campaigns.

By carefully considering and incorporating these factors into Instagram contests and giveaways, brands can create captivating campaigns that resonate with their audience, foster genuine engagement, and yield remarkable results. Successful campaigns go beyond mere participation; they evoke emotions, inspire creativity, and leave a lasting impression, ultimately cultivating brand loyalty and driving business growth.

Potential Challenges and Risks

While Instagram contests and giveaways can be highly effective in driving engagement and brand awareness, they also come with potential challenges and risks that brands should be mindful of. Being aware of these pitfalls can help marketers navigate the social media landscape more effectively and ensure a successful campaign.

Challenges and risks associated with giveaways on Instagram:

  • Rule Violations and Fraudulent Entries: Without clear and well-enforced rules, some participants may attempt to bend the rules or submit fraudulent entries to increase their chances of winning. For this reason, brands must implement robust mechanisms to detect and prevent such behaviour. However, especially now in the Artificial Intelligence era, it might be challenging. 
  • Negative Feedback and Backlash: Obviously, a poorly executed campaign or unclear rules may lead to negative feedback from participants or the audience. Therefore, brands should be prepared to address concerns promptly and professionally.
  • Overlooking Legal and Compliance Issues: Running a contest or giveaway on social media requires adherence to various legal and compliance guidelines. Obviously, failure to comply with these regulations can result in legal repercussions and damage to the brand's reputation.
  • Low-Quality User-Generated Content: While user-generated content (UGC) is valuable, some entries may not align with the brand's image or standards. Basically, careful moderation and filtering are necessary to ensure only high-quality and appropriate content is associated with the campaign.
  • Limited Reach and Participation: If the contest does not resonate with the target audience or lacks effective promotion, it may struggle to gain traction. Thus, brands must develop strategies to reach a broader audience and encourage active engagement.
  • Data Privacy Concerns: Collecting user data for the campaign can raise data privacy concerns. Therefore, brands must be transparent about how data will be used.
  • Difficulty in Choosing Winners: If the contest receives an overwhelming number of entries, selecting winners can be challenging. So, brands must establish a fair and transparent judging process to ensure a positive experience for all participants.
  • Resource and Budget Constraints: Running a successful Instagram contest or giveaway requires time, effort, and resources. Given that, brands must allocate sufficient resources and budget to plan, execute, and monitor the campaign effectively.


Giveaways on Instagram can be highly effective in driving engagement and increasing brand visibility on social media platforms. By analysing successful case studies, such as Apple's "Shot on iPhone Challenge" and Starbucks' "Red Cups Contest," we have identified key factors that contribute to the success of such campaigns, including creativity, clear rules, enticing incentives, and strategic promotions. However, it is essential for brands to be mindful of potential challenges and risks, such as rule violations and data privacy concerns. In conclusion, with a well-planned and strategic approach, businesses can harness the power of Instagram contests and giveaways to foster genuine connections with their audience and achieve remarkable results in their social media marketing efforts.

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