Instagram is a mobile app that isn’t widely used by most compers – which means the prize draws and competitions don’t usually get many entries! I’ve won lots of prizes using Instagram, including flights to New York, £1000 Selfridges vouchers and a lovely new Olympus camera.
Here are my top tips for winning prizes on Instagram…
1. Take photos of everything!
Regular Instagram winners are people who share their own original photos – rather than just regrams. Get into the habit of taking photos of everything. Selfies, meals, sunsets, family moments… if your dinner, shoes, hair or outfit looks amazing, snap a photo – you never know when you’ll need it. Don’t be afraid to share lots of everyday moments – crop them cleverly, add filters and you’ll be surprised how Instagram can bring a dull photo to life. You don’t need to upload all your photos to Instagram though – you might want to save them on your phone, and wait for just the right competition!
2. Learn from the pros
Some Instagram photos are incredibly beautiful, and will inspire you for your own competition entries. Click hashtags to browse photos on a theme – try #travel, #landscape, #beautiful, or #instafood – and use them to style your own shots. Food photography looks good when you take the photo from directly overhead. For travel photography check out the gorgeous @worldwanderlust photos. A #flatlay of objects looks professional and beautiful and can really stand out…
3. Find and follow compers
Checking what other compers do is a great way to find competitions. To find other compers, simply click competition hashtags and tap on an entry in the results, then tap the sharer’s username. You’ll also see compers commenting on photos and can tap to visit their profile from there – follow them, or save a link to their profile as a browser bookmark. If you follow a user, you can ‘get notifications’ every time they post. Using the ‘More’ (…) menu at the top of a user’s profile page select ‘get notifications’ – you’ll get a mobile notification when they post a new photo (you can also use this for companies that run regular comps, so you don’t miss out!). To see what the people you follow are liking and commenting on, tap the Heart then choose Following. If you spot a comper liking lots of photos, you can expect them to be competitions!
3. Be an active follower
Don’t just regram and run. If you’re regularly liking and commenting on a company’s Instagram page, they’ll know you’re a fan. If you use their products, wear their clothes or visit their venue, be sure to tag them in your photo before you share it to Instagram! Companies like to reward their fans and followers, and a competition prize is a great way to do it.
4. Ensure your profile looks good
A promoter might pop to your profile before deciding if you’re a winner – so make sure it looks good. Upload a photo and an interesting bio. Don’t share too many regram photos at once – end your comping session by uploading some original, attractive content – those are the photos people see first when they check out your profile. Enter regram photos sparingly and delete regrams from your profile as soon as the winner is announced (if the winner is announced – the lack of public announcements is a gripe many Instagram compers have!).
5. Search for hashtags
Unfortunately, you can only search for one Instagram hashtag at a time. Try using #competition if you’re in the UK, #contest for the US – or #giveaway works internationally, and #win or #prize might also give you results (you can search at www.instagram.com too). It might seem time-consuming at first, but you’ll soon learn to quickly swipe through the results looking for prize photos or the word ‘win’ – you can find some really low entry giveaways doing this. You can also follow a hashtag to see it on your feed – handy if you want to track entries to a competition!
6. Upload old photos
Instagram gives a new lease of life to old prints and digital photos – especially for Christmas, Mothers Day and Fathers Day competitions. Look through old photo albums and boxes and take photos or scan your favourites. When the right competition theme comes up, upload them to Instagram and add filters to make them look even more vintage.
7. Enter as late as you dare!
With Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest competitions, entries should be public so promoters can track them. That means other compers can easily follow your every move, waiting to copy you! Get organised and save a list of clickable links to competitions in date order, or use an app like Latergramme to schedule posts (this won’t post automatically, but reminds you to do it!). Entering Instagram comps at the last minute gives your stalkers no time to organise an entry of their own, and also means your entry will have prime position at the top of the recent search results…
8. Use Twitter and Google to find low entry Instagram competitions
Most companies tweet about their Instagram accounts, or automatically tweet their Instagram content. Use Twitter advanced search at www.twitter.com/search-advanced – try combining Instagram with words like win, share, regram, upload, competition, or prize. When you get the results, make sure to select Live (or All tweets on the mobile app) to see all recent tweets. Save the search by clicking More Options > Save Search and you can choose it as an option any time you start typing in the Twitter search box. Also use Google search and tailor it to look for the same word combinations.
9. Check out the competition
Hashtag promotions are excellent for compers, because by tapping the hashtag you can see at a glance how many entries there are. If it’s a competition where entrants upload their own photos on a theme, you’ll also be able to get an idea of what you’re up against and can tailor your own entry accordingly. Do all the results look similar? What can you do to make YOUR photo stand out amongst them?
10. Use filters
Instagram filters can make almost anything look great! Use the filters and the other settings on old digital and printed photographs to give them a new lease of life. If you hate selfies, use filters to increase contrast and fade out those wrinkles – the black and white ones work nicely! I like to use Instagram filters on photos that I want to upload to websites, Facebook or Twitter too.
To do this – turn your phone onto ‘flight mode’ in the settings, then upload a photo to Instagram, add filters and share as usual. Because there’s no 4G or WiFi, you’ll get an error message, but the retouched photo will be saved into your camera roll/gallery. Then turn flight mode off and tweet it or upload it elsewhere!
Finally, make sure you log in to Instagram as often as you can to check your message inbox and activity – you wouldn’t want to miss out on a prize notification! You might receive a winning message from someone you don’t follow – tap the paper plane icon to go to your inbox, and check for a message request bar at the top of the screen. You’ll need to accept the message in order to reply.