Can You Run an Instagram Stories Sweepstakes?
Clients have been asking us lately if they can run an Instagram Stories sweepstakes or contest. Here are the facts.
What are Instagram Stories?
Instagram Stories are a feature of Instagram that allows users to post short videos or photos of their day in a sort of “highlight reel” that disappears in 24 hours. Similar to Snapchat, you can add text or animation or effects to your posts, as well as decide if they are public or available to only your followers. You can also add your favorite Instagram Stories to your profile as “Highlights.”
In layman’s terms, here is how it works:
Instagram Feed: I post to my dog’s Instagram feed the curated “best of” pictures I take, such as this picture of Lamar with reindeer ears on looking like the good boy he is.
Instagram Stories: I post to my dog Lamar’s Instagram Stories anything happening now, such as outtakes of Lamar snarling at having to wear reindeer ears. (Note: seriously he was fine, but the camera caught his initial displeasure at having to dress up.)
Instagram Highlights: And I post to my Instagram Highlights a reel called “Lamar the Tenor” of all the best past Instagram Stories where Lamar howls because of really dreadful music. See more of Lamar here: https://www.instagram.com/adventures_of_lamar/
Can you ask people to post to Instagram Stories as an entry?
You can ask people to use Instagram Stories to enter a sweepstakes or contest, but due to the nature of Instagram Stories in which posts disappear after 24 hours, you will need to makes sure you are reviewing content every day during the entry period to ensure you see all entries as they come in. This works well for an individual running a giveaway on their Instagram page, but not so well if you work for a large brand and there are several people or even whole departments that need to review or judge contest entries. You could ask people to save the entries to their “Highlights” or you can screenshot each entry, but you have to determine how much work you want to do for something that could be done much more simply by asking people to post to their regular feed instead. For more information about how to run a sweepstakes or contest on Instagram, check out our other blog about Instagram promotion guidelines.
Can’t you use a service to pull Instagram Stories programmatically?
Instagram has an API that developers can access to pull posts based on hashtag or mention, but there are limitations to what the API can pull, especially for Instagram Stories. The API for developers also changes constantly, so if you are working for a brand that wants to be buttoned up legally, we would not recommend basing sweepstakes or contest entries solely on entry via Instagram Stories since the API could change overnight without warning.
Can you post about your sweepstakes or contest on Instagram Stories?
Yes, you can absolutely use Instagram Stories to post a call to action to your followers to enter, as well as to promote your promotion. Be sure to include basic legal disclaimers and a clear way to link to the rules in your story post though to keep it legal. It is far easier to promote your web-based or Twitter or Instagram hashtag sweepstakes or contest on Instagram Stories than it is using Instagram Stories as a platform of entry.
Some things you can use your brand’s Instagram Stories to do:
- Post tips on what a good entry would look like.
- Share sweepstakes or contest entries already submitted to you by your followers via your web site or another social platform – be sure you have permission from the followers, though, and make sure they are clear that by sharing their content you are not inadvertently making anyone think you are declaring them a winner.
- Show a video of the sweepstakes drawing when you do the random winner selection (just be sure that when you show the video, it is clear that your drawing is random, or you may get negative feedback from your followers).
- Announce winners.
Does all of this apply to Facebook Stories?
Facebook has very strict promotional guidelines. Per the current guidelines, asking anyone to post to their timeline or story as an entry in a sweepstakes or contest is not allowed. You can, however, promote your sweepstakes or contest, and even announce contest winners on your brand’s Facebook Story.
If you are considering running a social sweepstakes or contest and want to know more about using Instagram Stories as part of the promotion, contact us.
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