Why You are NOT Winning Instagram Contests

As I both enter and run contests, I get to see the mistakes people make from both sides of the table. As I have been running a series of Instagram contests for a client, and I was disqualifying approximately 20% of the entries every day, I decided it was time to teach a refresher on Instagram contests.

Here are the three things people do wrong when entering:

ONE: Not Following the Rules

I cannot believe the number of people that simply do not follow the rules.

First, it’s people posting an incorrect picture. Using the incorrect product, something completely unrelated, etc. Each image is vetted before the final drawing, so if you think you are ‘getting away with it’, you are not.

Worse, reposting the contest post thinking it’s an entry. It is not. It is a repost.

Second, not tagging the sponsor. I even saw posts where the sponsor commented telling the entrant they had to tag them or their entry wasn’t valid, and they still didn’t do it.

Remember, there are two ways to tag; in the description and in the image. It’s better to do it in the text as Instagram changed the way contest management apps* can mine data and the tags may get lost in the image. Plus, the text tag is easier to verify by the sponsor at a glance.

Third, not using the hashtag. If you do not have the hashtag in your description, your entry is not included in the prize drawing as it’s what the contest management apps mine to create the entry database.

TWO: Having a Private, vs Public, Account

If you have your account set to private, the contest management apps cannot see your entry. Even if you follow the rules, it will never be seen. I know this to be true as I have tested it with friends who have private accounts. I checked to see if I could find their test entry. I could not.

THREE: Not Sharing Properly

When you take a picture on your smartphone and select share you get a myriad of options. For Instagram you get Feed, Stories, Direct. You must share to Feed as the contest management app is not searching Stories or Direct Messages for entries. Depending on the agency running the contest, they may have no access to the client’s account to see anything other than what entries the app is collecting.

If you have additional questions, send them to questions@contestqueen.com and I will include the answers in a follow-up Instagram video lesson.

*A contest management app is a service provided by companies such as Woobox, ShortStack, EasyPromos, etc.

You can also watch How to Win on Instagram if you need additional tips and step-by-step instructions.

Do you enter Instagram contests?

2018-12-15T12:45:50+00:00December 15th, 2018|Social Media Contests|3 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. Jo-Anne Pfoh December 16, 2018 at 12:10 am - Reply

    Great nfo. I AM WINNING ON IG hugs

  2. Carole D December 16, 2018 at 12:44 am - Reply

    Great information, I don’t win much on IG. I know I sometime make mistakes, going too fast and try to slow down. They don’t always ask for # and to tag them though! Should we always tag them with each comments and tag? “Remember, there are two ways to tag; in the description and in the image.” I didn’t know you could tag in the image, unless you share in your story the tag goes on the image or is there another way. I just though you click the comment circle and tag there?

  3. Lisa A. December 17, 2018 at 9:11 am - Reply

    Thank you for administering contests where the rules are enforced! I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve carefully read and followed the rules, only for the “winning” entry to be posted which obviously did NOT. It’s infuriating! I know it takes a lot of time to weed through the entries and disqualify the ones that aren’t eligible, but if the rules are written a certain way, they should be followed both by the entrants and the sponsors. Otherwise, just have a random draw and say so! 🙂

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