Worth More Than 1000 Words: 3 Tips Hosting a Contest on Instagram

Instagram allows nearly anyone with a smartphone to create stunning branded content and engage with fans on their mobile devices. The network also just happens to have more than 80 million registered users which produce over 5 million photos per day, making it the ultimate haven for brands to connect customers via mobile devices. 

Brands are busying figuring out the best ways to use Instagram in the marketing efforts. So far, there is no single best approach for brands to take on Instagram, which is what makes it appeal to PR pros with fun and creative sides. Josh Riedel, Instagram’s manager of community and partnerships, told Mashable that brands should “just get started and don’t be afraid to share photos and see what your followers say about them.”

For those looking to take their Instagram efforts to the next level, hosting an Instagram contest around a specific hashtag is a quick, easy way to generate and share visual content with existing fans and attract new ones.

Here's three tips based on some successful Instagram brand's contests:

  1. Offer Prizes: Refinery29, a fashion, beauty and shopping Web site has hosted several contests on Instagram. For Summer 2012, Refinery29 partnered with Smashbox cosmetics to ask fashion and music fans to capture their favorite concert moment and tag it with #festivalsmashbox on Instagram. The winner gets a $5,000 VIP package for a trip to a 2013 music festival and a suite of Smashbox products.

  2. Pull in Multimedia: General Electric doesn't exactly come to mind as a sexy and creative brand to follow on Instagram, but GE held an Instagram contest and nearly 4,000 Instagram photos were submitted with the designated hashtag #GEInspiredMe and then posted to Facebook, where fans voted for the finalists. The winner was shipped to Wales to photograph a GE aviation facility. YouTube and Facebook—as well as a GE Pinterest board that showcased all the submitted #GEInspiredME photos—helped extend the contest's reach. 

  3. Eliminate Entry Barriers: Red Bull capitalized on something near and dear to most everyone's hearts: Summer. Its #summeriscoming contest ran the length of the summer, and on each Monday Red Bull chose a new theme for fans to use in their photos. Red Bull didn't ask users to photograph its products, they simply asked for each photo to be tagged with that week's theme (#summerishere, for example) and @Redbull. The accounts with the most submitted photos then had the best chance of winning each week. 

[Editors note: Love New York City? Enter PR News' own Instagram contest, which shines the spotlight on New York City and offers a $25 Starbucks gift card for the most original photo. Be sure to tag your photos with #PRmeasure and @PRnews to enter.]

Looking to learn how to measure your PR programs across the dominant social media platforms? Register for PR News' Oct. 2 Social Media Measurement Conference in New York City. 

Follow Bill Miltenberg: @bmiltenberg