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 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?