Hashtag contests are highly-engaging marketing campaigns that can be easily entered by your followers on Twitter and Instagram - all it takes is a post.
On Twitter, people enter your contest by posting using your selected hashtag, while on Instagram they enter by posting or creating a Reel using your selected hashtag and @handle. You can limit entries to one per person, allow people to enter as many times as they’d like, or anything in between. Display the entries on a landing page for viewing, voting and sharing. Then, once your contest is over, pick a random winner from all the entries or use voting to determine a winner instead
There are a few questions that you’ll want to consider before getting started with your contest:
What goals do you want to achieve with your contest?
Hashtag contests are perfect for promoting engagement on Twitter and Instagram because they are so simple to run and enter. They’re also a great – and easy – way to collect user-generated content (UGC). Plus, they increase brand awareness by driving traffic to your social channels.
What data do you expect to collect?
Hashtag contests collect the Twitter or Instagram username on the account used to enter, and the content of the tweet or post; including the image (if included) or video (Instagram only).
What entry requirements should you include?
On Twitter, you can request that folks simply use your required hashtag(s) in a tweet. If you’re looking to collect an image, you’ll also ask them to attach an image to their tweet.
On Instagram, you would require that posts are made from public profiles and include both the @handle of the Instagram business account you used to set up the contest and the contest hashtag(s) in the original caption.
Entries from Instagram Reels can also be collected. Just like an Instagram post, Instagram Reels entries must include both the @handle of the Instagram business account you used to set up the contest and the contest hashtag(s).
Do you want to have an alternate entry method?
If you want to provide a method of entry for people who do not have social media accounts (or have private accounts), you can have them enter via a form on a ShortStack landing page.
Do you have your Instagram account configured correctly?
To run a hashtag contest using Instagram, you must have an Instagram business profile. For more information on getting that configured, check out our How to Set Up an Instagram Business Profile post.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through running a hashtag contest from beginning to end.
When running a hashtag contest, ShortStack's Voting Widget is used to display and manage the entries. The Voting Widget is connected to a list where the posts from the hashtag feed are collected as entries and stored.
Now your feed is ready to start collecting entries.
Be sure to communicate with your entrants that entries must come from public accounts. On Twitter, the tweet must include the hashtag. On Instagram, the post must include the hashtag and @handle of your account in the original caption, these elements can’t be edited later or added in a comment.
Note: For more in-depth information about setting up feeds, you can reference our help doc: Creating and Managing an Instagram/Twitter Hashtag Feed or our video walkthrough: How to Set Up a Hashtag Feed.
Building a landing page for your hashtag contest has a few benefits. First off, it’s an easy way to display all your entries in one place. Also, if you enable voting, you can add an additional layer of participation by encouraging entrants to request votes when they share their entry with their audience. Furthermore, a landing page is a great place to list all the information about your contest and display your contest rules. Finally, if you want to provide an alternate method to enter for folks without social media accounts, you can add an entry form to your landing page to do just that.
Quickly set up a landing page using ShortStack’s Hashtag Vote Contest template:
Now you can sit back and let the entries roll in - just kidding! You need to promote your campaign. When it comes to promotion, there are many ways to shine some light on your contest. Get creative and have fun with it! Here are a few examples of how you can get the word out:
Show off a fun photo or video in Stories to highlight the hashtag or drive people to your landing page. Stories are super popular and they are a quick way for you to get more eyes on your content. You can even link to a post that contains your contest details and rules so people can get up to speed quickly.
Leverage your website traffic to drive visitors to your contest. You can even embed your contest in your website so that everything is in one place.
Other Social Media Channels
Social media marketing to the rescue! Share the link to your landing page on your other social media channels. If someone follows you elsewhere, there’s a good chance they’ll follow you on Twitter or Instagram (and it’s very likely they’ll want to participate).
At the designated time that you’ve determined, make an announcement that the contest has ended. (This is an optional step, but it never hurts to be abundantly clear in your communication.) You’ll likely want to unpublish your landing page (if you’re using one) at this time. To do so:
End your contest
Select your winner(s)
If you’ve decided to pick a winner at random, you can use the Entry Picker to select a random entry from your list. Here’s how:
You’ll receive a notification when the system is done selecting your winner.
To see your winner(s), simply type the label you selected for your winners into the Label field in the top-left of the Entries Manager.
Note: For a handy video that walks through the winner selection process, check out: How to Choose a Winner at Random.
If you’d like, you can publish a new tweet or Instagram post letting people know that a winner has been chosen and/or announce the winner in the original post.
Then, reach out to your winner using a direct message on Twitter or Instagram or by email (if the winner came from a form) to get more information from them so you can distribute your prize.
And just like that, you’ve run your very first hashtag contest! Not only have you fostered some engagement with your existing audience, but you’ve more than likely pulled in a few new fans along the way.
We hope this guide was helpful to you! Our blog post, The Ultimate Guide to Hashtag Contests shows how effective hashtag contests can be.