Tools You Need for a Successful Instagram Giveaway

Running a giveaway or promotion for your business can introduce a whole new audience and bring new traffic to your brand. It can also raise awareness for your favorite causes. But, they can be overwhelming to organize, promote and follow through on. While you can run a giveaway on a number of different platforms, today I’m sharing a bit about the world of Instagram giveaways. Read on for all the rules, tools, and tricks you need to know for running your own.

Here’s how to run an Instagram giveaway without all the overwhelm! Click To Tweet

The first thing to do is decide which type of giveaway is right for you.

You can use Instagram to host a giveaway all by yourself or you can go big and team up with others to create a loop giveaway.

A regular giveaway works best if the prize is a product or service from your own business or you’re highlighting another business by giving away something of theirs. You could also give away a product related to your business if you only offer services that aren’t suitable as prizes for whatever reason. These promos are easy to organize and allow you to get familiar with the giveaway world. However, it’s hard to reach new folks — unless you make it a rule that they have to share the post in order to enter.

With a loop giveaway, you’d team up with multiple business owners to give something away. Everyone involved with the giveaway posts the same image at the same time. Typically each person tags another person in this image… this series of tags is what makes the loop. In your post caption, you instruct anyone who wants to enter to “follow” all of the accounts in the loop. These promos take a lot of organization and can come off a bit spammy. However, they can lead to many new followers.

General tips for running a successful giveaway:

  • Giveaways can quickly begin to feel like spam. While they can be a great growth tool, make sure to have plenty of space between giveaways.
  • Always focus on the emotion. You’re passionate about a cause and you support it wholeheartedly. Make sure to let that passion come through.
  • You’ll get a lot of new followers, but you’ll lose them just as fast. Ignore those who were just in it for the giveaway and leave. In the end, you’ll have a select few who really dig what you’re doing and will stick around and interact — these are the folks you did this for!

Tips for loop giveaways:

  • Loops can be messy. There should be one main person organizing the whole thing. Too many people trying to lead can end up being one big disaster.
  • Find others who are interested in the same causes and efforts you are. Audiences can tell when someone’s heart isn’t in it.
  • Everyone involved MUST post at the same time — this is the most important thing. Be aware of time zones and other little details that could cause the whole thing to go awry.
  • If you’re asked to participate in a loop, be sure to think about the following — Do the other people in the loop align with your values, goals, and aesthetics? Would your followers like them? Would their followers like you? Is the prize something you feel good about offering?
  • If you’re the one organizing the group, think about the questions above when putting together of list of people you’d want to join.

Next, decide on the prize.

What you’re giving away should make sense for your brand and the people you want to attract to it. It should also (obviously) have a connection to the cause you’re supporting.

What you’re giving away on Instagram should make sense for your brand & who you want to attract. Click To Tweet

As a brand strategist, it wouldn’t make much sense for me to give away a gift card to Sephora. However, it would totally make sense to give away my favorite books for small business owners.

Since several players are involved in a loop, a much bigger prize is usually expected. Folks aren’t going to take the extra time to follow everyone in a loop if there’s nothing in it for them.

Then decide on how folks will enter the contest.

There are lots of different ways for people to interact with your giveaway. How you want them to do that is up to you.

In order to enter the giveaway…

– Do they just have to comment?
– Do they have to follow you?
– Do they have to tag a friend or two?
– Do they have to share the post on their personal feed?
– Or do they have to share a personal photo using your hashtag?

You can have your followers do one of these tasks or several. Keep in mind that the more complicated it gets, the less likely it is that someone will take the time to enter. It also gets more complicated for you to track entries.

Make sure YOU’RE following the rules too!

Here’s a link to Instagram’s promotion guidelines. I’m not sure what happens if you break any of them, but I also know that I don’t want to find out.

Other than that, you set the rules! Make sure you’re clear on how long the giveaway will run, how people can enter, and how the winner will be chosen and notified.

If you’ve decided to host a simple Instagram contest that doesn’t require a lot of rules, then I’d include them directly in the Instagram post. However, if the giveaway is pretty heavy on the guidelines, you may want to create a landing page on your website to house the rules and link to it via the Instagram post. This way your Instagram caption won’t be crazy long.

Now, it’s time to get organized.

A successful giveaway starts with you being well organized. Once you’ve decided everything above it’s time to get ready to post giveaway.

Create the image for the post.

  • For solo giveaways — the image should be on brand, while putting focus on the prize. If you want, you can prepare a few other images to post throughout the giveaway to remind people that you have one going on, but make sure that it refers them back to the original post.
  • For loop giveaways — the image used for the giveaway should be the same across all accounts so that folks know their in the right spot.

Write your comment ahead of time and copy and paste it into the post. This will allow you to easily check and double check that every detail is correct.

If you’re organizing a loop giveaway, do the same thing for emails. You’ll need to write the following emails:

  • Asking people to join you in the loop. Provide as much detail as you know at the time so that it will be easy for them to decide if they want to participate.
  • Sharing all the details for the giveaway. Once you have the final list of participants, send an email with the time the post should go live, the image for the post, and the script for the post.
A successful giveaway starts with you being well organized. Click To Tweet

You’re ready to share!

Promote your giveaway everywhere, not just on Instagram. Take advantage of your newsletter list, blog and other social channels.

Use hashtags to help get attention of people outside of your audience. Here’s a quick list: #Instagramcontest #Instagramgiveaway #contest #giveaway #instagood

Heck, tell everyone who loves you and is connected to folks you’d like to reach about the giveaway so that they can support you and share it too!

Finally, it’s time to pick a winner.

Figuring out your winner will depend on the rules you decided were best for your giveaway.

Iconosquare can help get some metrics that aren’t available directly in the Instagram app.

If entrants needed to comment or use your hashtag, find the total number of entries and then use a random number generator to find a winning number. Using Iconoquare, click the contest photo and view all comments. Starting at the top of the list, count down until you reach the number that the random generator gave you. That’s your winner!

For more complicated giveaways, you may need the help of a paid service like Wishpond.

To reach the winner, you can either connect via Instagram’s direct message feature or post an image announcing the winner and ask them to get in touch with you.

When packaging the prize (especially if you ran a solo giveaway) take care to notice all the little details. Write a personal note, add touches of your brand, anything to help show off who you are as a business.

When packaging your giveaway prize take care to notice all the little details! Click To Tweet

To sum everything up…

  1. Decide if you want to go solo or team up.
  2. Pick the prize.
  3. Determine how people will enter.
  4. Set the rules.
  5. Get organized.
  6. Share, share, share.
  7. Choose a winner.

After the giveaway is over, try and keep momentum high. Be extra strategic about what you post because you have a load of new followers!


My Creative Biz Toolbox

Let’s just cut right to the chase. Streamlining your business, creative or otherwise, will pave the way to growth. You’ll have more brain space to strategize. You’ll have more time to take on more work or sell more things.

So let’s get the to-do lists out of your head, automate those everyday tasks, and work smarter not harder to keep track of everything going in your small business.

As of February 2017, this is my creative biz toolbox. Beg, borrow, and steal as much as you want… and if you’re having trouble figuring out HOW to systematize and organize let me know because I can help ya out!

Ready to streamline your small business? Check out @dizzycaitlin's creative biz toolbox! Click To Tweet

Studio Management

Pixifi is a creative studio management system geared towards photographers, but general enough for anyone running a service-based business. It’s packed with powerful automation tools to convert leads into clients super quick. Pixifi features include appointment scheduling, digital contract signing, invoicing tools, and more. There are three different plans that range from $25-50 a month.


Tave offers much of the same features as Pixifi plus a much more attractive interface. Tave starts at $21.99 a month and goes up depending on the size of your business and your length of commitment.

Harvest + Streak CRM
Harvest allows you to easily track time, log expenses, and manage invoices on-the-go. Pair it with the Chrome extension Streak to track leads inside your Gmail inbox. Together these tools can do a lot of what Pixifi and Tave offer. Plans for Harvest start at $12 per month while Steak plans range from free to $119 a month.


LessAccounting is an accounting software package that provides simple basic accounting features for small businesses. They’re best for businesses with less than $5 million in revenue like coffee shops, photographers, and personal trainers. You can record business expenses, categorize expenses, send invoices, and more. I love the graphs that show where I’m making the most money too! Pricing starts at $20 a month for freelancers.


Freshbooks is another option to help make money easy. They pride themselves on saving customers an average of two days per month from everyday accounting tasks. Price ranges depend on your needs and start as low as $17.96 a month.

Quickbooks is another accounting tool full of features aimed to help you get paid faster and keep your financials organized. Again, pricing varies — starting at $5 a month and going up from there.

Email Marketing

Convert Kit
ConvertKit promotes themselves as an email marketing service for professional bloggers. A subscription includes some really fantastic features that make it simpler to grow your email list like creating upgraded content with just a few clicks, intuitively sorting subscribers, and (my personal favorite) one-click new subscriber confirmations and opt-in downloads.


MailChimp is another email marketing software that gives you a number of ways to design and send emails. They offer their service for free until you hit 2,000 subscribers.

Mad Mimi
Mad Mimi is an insanely easy to use tool for creating, sending, sharing, and tracking email newsletters. It’s best for people who want email marketing to be as simple as possible. You can start out with them for free. When you’re ready to upgrade for more features, plans start at just $10 a month and go up depending on your needs.

Healthy Eating 

Cook Smarts 
Cook Smarts aims to make life in the kitchen easier — with weekly meal plans, grocery lists, cooking guides, and even cooking lessons. Since my move to China I no longer use them because grocery shopping is a little more complicated here, but I’m leaving it on the list because if I could use it I totally would be! You can give them a taste test with three free meal plans. After that, pricing is $6 to $8 a month.


The Fresh 20
This meal planning service prepares a weekly menu for you using just 20 fresh, seasonal ingredients — keeping things easy at the grocery store and in the kitchen. Monthly plans start at $10 a month.

Blue Apron
Blue Apron takes meal planning to the next level by doing the shopping and prep work for you. Basically, you get a box full of ingredients delivered right to your door. All you have to do is cook! They offer a two-person and a family plan.

Project Management

Trello is a collaboration tool that organizes your projects into boards. With one glance, Trello tells you who’s working on what and where something is in a process. The free version is great and has pretty much everything you need. However, if you need more robust features or additional security features, upgrading is as low at $8.33 a month.


Asana is another tool that allows teams to share, plan, organize, and track progress of the tasks each member is working on. Asana has free and paid plans depending on what you need.

ToDoist is a project management software in to-do list form. It’s free, but additional features (like collaboration) are only available in the paid version.

Storage and File Sharing

Google Drive
With Google Drive, you start with 15 GB of free online storage for files of any sort. You can access these files on your phone, tablet, or your computer. Paid plans depend on how much storage you need, but you can get 1 TB (which is a lot) for $10 a month.


Dropbox is another file storage service that can be using for storing and caring files. You can get some storage for free, but plans start at $10 a month for 1 TB of space.

Box prides itself on safe and easy collaboration for businesses using their file storage software. Business plans start at $5 per month.


Republic Wireless
Republic Wireless is a cellphone carrier that offers a WiFi-only plan. As in, your phone can make calls only when it sees a WiFi signal. It ignores cell towers. The big advantage: A WiFi-only plan is a lot cheaper — which makes it the perfect system for a business phone number. You can opt for 3G phone and data at any time. These flexible phone plans pay you back for any data you don’t use each month.


Google Voice
Google Voice is a voicemail service that allows you to set up a new number that you can forward to your current phone, send free text messages, and customize your voicemail. It’s totally free to use.

MightyCall gives small businesses a professional phone presence with an auto attendant, customizable greetings, dial by name directory, and more. Pricing for MightyCall starts at $20 a month after a 14 day trial.


Calendly allows anyone to schedule appointments, interviews, calls, and more with you. Say goodbye to phone tag, or even worse, email tag. They offer a free basic plan or you can get all the features for $8 a month.


Acuity Scheduling
Acuity is an online appointment scheduling software. Clients can schedule appointments, pay, and complete intake forms online 24/7. There’s a free plan but premium features start at $10 a month.

Doodle is the scheduling tool for you if you’re trying to find a time to meet with a group of people. There is a free version and premium features start at $39 a month.

Keeping in Touch

Greetabl makes sending little gifts to biz friends and clients so, so easy. Pick some nice packaging, fill it with a thoughtful gift, and presto! You’ve just gone the extra mile to cultivate meaningful relationships with your community, your tribe, and your ideal clients.

Postable is exactly what it says it is – snail mail heaven. You can send a thank you note, congratulate someone on a launch, or mail a card “just because” in just a few clicks. With so many lovely artists’ work to choose from I know you’ll find the perfect card for any occasion.

Doing the Work

With Spotify, you can listen to most any song and curate your own playlists. Too lazy to curate? Spotify has tons of pre-made playlists for every style and every mood. Spotify is free to use if you’re cool with listening to ads every thirty minutes or so. Premium plans start at $10 a month.

Pandora creates playlists for you based on your choice of genre or even a favorite song or artist. Thumbs up songs you love and thumbs down songs you hate to slowly curate the perfect playlist for you. This music streaming service is also free with ads. Ad-free listening is $5 a month.

On desktop, it’s basic iTunes for listening to my long list of all kinds of podcasts. On mobile it’s all about the Podcast Addict app.

Ready to streamline your small business? Check out @dizzycaitlin's creative biz toolbox! Click To Tweet

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