How to Enter Instagram Sweepstakes – The Basics

I have been getting a lot of questions lately about how to enter on Instagram, so I decided it was time for a review of the first 5 things you need to know if you want to win Instagram sweepstakes.

ONE: It’s a mobile app.

Yes, you can open an Instagram account on your computer. You can also follow others, like and comment, plus get notifications. Even search people and hashtags. What you can’t do is upload pictures, repost pictures or access your direct messages. This last point is the most important because if you are notified of a win, you will never know. You do not have to use a smartphone. You can also use a tablet as both will allow you to take pictures and use a repost app.

TWO: How to post a picture.

Take a picture.

  1. Open the app.
  2. Tap on the plus symbol at the bottom of the screen.
  3. Choose Photo.
  4. Select either forward facing or rear facing camera. (The little arrowed circle at the bottom left of the image.)
  5. Frame your image.
  6. Tap the circle on the bottom third of the screen.
  7. Tap Next. (I will review Filter and Edit in an Advanced Class.)
  8. Type your text, add in hashtags and tag others in the text by using the @ symbol or Tag People.
  9. At this point you can also choose to Share on any other social channels you have connected. (Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr)
  10. Tap Share.

Use one you have already taken.

  1. Open the app.
  2. Tap on the plus symbol at the bottom of the screen.
  3. Choose Gallery.
  4. Select the image you wish to share. (I will review Slideshows in an Advanced Class.)
  5. Tap Next. (I will review Filter and Edit in an Advanced Class.)
  6. Type your text, add in hashtags and tag others in the text by using the @ symbol or Tag People.
  7. At this point you can also choose to Share on any other social channels you have connected. (Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr)
  8. Tap Share.

THREE: Using hashtags.

To enter.

Hashtags are used by sweepstakes sponsors to track entries. Thay are also used by contest management apps to mine entries and facilitate drawings. If you forget the hashtag, you are not in to win. It’s important to read the rules, and follow them exactly.

To search.

If you want to find a contest, or see the other entries:

  1. Tap the magnifying glass at the bottom of the app.
  2. Type the hashtag into the search bar at the top.

All the images with that hashtag will appear. You can even follow specific hashtags if they are used frequently. I personally follow #giveaway to see what promotions I may miss. Be aware that you will see posts from all over the world, so be selective in what you follow.

FOUR: Reposting images.

You cannot share posts from within the Instagram app, unlike Facebook or Twitter. You must use another app. I personally like Repost, but there are others.

FIVE: Tagging the sponsor or your friends.

There are 3 ways to tag in Instagram. You can tag a sponsor or friend in a post you create, or you can tag a friend in the comment of a sponsor’s post. Be careful not to tag too many people to quickly or you could find yourself in Instagram Jail. This is most likely to occur during Sweepstakes Season when every company seems to be hosting daily giveaways.

Tagging within the text.

The easiest way to tag someone when you create a post is to start with the @ symbol and begin typing the handle of who you want to tag. As you begin to type the handle you will get a pop-up with a list of names. You can then either keep typing or tap on the name that popped up. I have a standard list of sweepstakes buddies I use. I tag some friends so often I have their handles memorized. This is the best place to tag a sponsor because:

  1. It is easily mined by the contest management apps,
  2. and it is easy to visually verify you complied with the contest rules.

Tagging within the image.

If you look beneath the text typing field you will see a section that says Tag People. This is the place you tap if you want to open up the image and tag sponsors or friends.

  1. Tap Tag People.
  2. Tap image to tag.
  3. A small comment bubble will appear where you tapped asking Who’s This?
  4. At the top of the app, type the handle of the person/account you want to tag.
  5. A list will appear, select that person/account.
  6. Once done, tap the check mark in the upper right hand corner.

If an image has tags, you will see a little outline of a profile in the lower left hand corner of the image as you scroll your feed.

Tagging on a sponsor’s post.

The tagging process is the same. Always start with the @ symbol.

Many contests ask you to tag a friend in the comments. Some even stated you can tag an unlimited number of friends. Do not tag them all in one comment. Tag them in consecutive comments to increase your odds of winning.

If you need someone to tag, feel free to tag me! @TheContestQueen. I may not be able to enter and/or tag back, but it will give you an entry. Be sure to follow me so my handle easily comes up when you tag.

NEXT: Why You are NOT Winning Instagram Contests

COMING SOON: How to Enter Instagram Sweepstakes – Advanced Training

If you have questions, please send them to and I will answer them in a future video or during my monthly Sweepstakes Q&A.

Do you struggle entering on Instagram?

2018-12-18T11:41:34+00:00December 17th, 2018|Social Media Contests|5 Comments

About the Author:

Carolyn Wilman (aka @ContestQueen) is a Digital Marketing Strategist and Sweepstakes Specialist. Carolyn teaches others how to Find, Organize, Enter and Win giveaways along with working with companies to create, and viral market, winning promotions maximizing ROI and loyal customers.


  1. June Murphy December 17, 2018 at 8:27 pm - Reply

    Thanks for these tips for entering Instagram contests. I didn’t realize it’s best to tag separately to increase your chances

  2. Sherry K December 18, 2018 at 9:08 am - Reply

    Thanks so much.
    I think I might finally be able to do some IG after following this. The only sad thing is that I could see my messages when I looked at IG on my phone. About a year ago, I won $100 gift card from Metro, but, of course, did not know that.
    Just knowing about my messages there is super.
    Can I still do simple tagging and liking contests using my computer – and then check my messages on my phone often to see if I am a winner?

    • Carolyn
      Carolyn December 19, 2018 at 1:20 pm - Reply

      Yes. You can use your computer to like and tag. To post, repost and message you need your cellphone.

  3. Lillian OMalley December 19, 2018 at 12:06 pm - Reply

    Does this mean that all those contests entries by computer are a useless waste because I cannot get a notification of a win if I don’t also have a cell phone? I feel cheated. My big peeve is when they advertise the Instagram contest on Facebook. Why don’t they tell you that you can’t be contacted unless you have a cell phone that they can message the win to.

    • Carolyn
      Carolyn December 19, 2018 at 1:19 pm - Reply

      You would be notified of a win if they tag you in the comments, but you cannot message them back to claim it, and if they send you a DM (Direct Message) you will never get it. They do not tell you you need a cellphone as they assume everyone using Instagram is using the mobile app. As Facebook owns Instagram they encourage cross-posting.

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