Instagram Contest How To’s

Deanna Kustas, Social Media Strategist

Creating a successful contest will allow you to be seen by people outside your audience and will engage people within your ministry.

A photo contest is a great way to encourage those in your ministry to take pictures of what they are doing for the Lord during events and mission trips that you can use for the contest and beyond that event.

Our High School ministry’s contest had 97 entries and more than 200 people on Instagram engaged with the photos – many of whom were not followers of @Cru_HighSchool’s account. The High School ministry created a photo contest on Instagram asking their student audience to share their best images from their spring mission trips.

Step 1: Pick A Good Hashtag

Make sure you create a unique hashtag for your contest so it easy to find photos from those who are participating in your contest. It’s important from the beginning of your contest to tell participants to use the hashtag in order to enter the contest.

Step 2: Create A Photo Contest Announcement

Once you have a good hashtag, then create an engaging photo to post on Instagram. Make sure this photo reflects the quality of photos you want from students and includes the hashtag you chose.

Step 3: Tag Participants on Instagram

If you have the handles of people participating in your ministry or event, don’t wait for them to find out about it – tag them right away! When students apply for summer and spring missions, most share their social media handles with Cru on their applications. Once we had those handles, we tagged participants on our contest photo announcement.

Remember, you can only tag 30 people at a time on an actual photo. If you have more than 30 participants you want to tag, you can put their handles in a comment section below the photo. You can also tag a location, and use your hashtag and that can give you more exposure.

Step 4: Communicate with Event Leaders and Participants

Make sure your participants are reminded throughout the contest by their leaders to keep posting pictures, tagging the account and using the hashtag. Remind them what quality and/or theme that you are wanting.

Step 5: Pick Your Winners

Search your hashtag or tags and use the Repost app to share your top images on your event or mission trip’s Instagram periodically. When you repost someone else’s photo give them credit in the caption when you post.

Contact your finalists by Direct Message on Instagram to tell them they have won. Let them know when the contest voting will take place so they can share that with their followers.

Step 6: Create Images of Finalists’ Photos

Make a carousel of photos for your contest. Tag the photographer in their picture.   

Step 7: Post Photos of Finalists and Tag Them

When you post your finalists’ photos give voting instructions in the caption underneath. Right after you post it, Direct Message your winners telling them to have all their friends vote for them on your ministry’s Instagram account.

Give your contest a time limit whether you let it last a day or a week so your participants have a sense of urgency to get the votes in to you. You can encourage your participants to repost the finalist’s graphic on their Instagram and tell their followers to be sure to vote!

Step 8: Results

Once the contest ends, tally up the votes in the comments section using a tally counting application to determine the winner. Then, let your winner and runners-up know they won.

One of the reasons I think this contest was so exciting and worthwhile is that all our students’ friends and followers had the chance to see our Cru Instagram maybe for the first time and had the opportunity to see how their friend spent their spring break being a part of God’s Kingdom coming here on earth.

The potential of that to me is super valuable.

– Deanna Kustas, Social Media Strategist for Cru's High School ministry


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