Instagram Contest: How to Pick a Winner

Instagram Contest: How to Pick a Winner

As I told you last week, I am interested in running an Instagram contest. There was one topic I only discussed briefly: how to pick a winner. I learned that there are several ways that you can approach this important part of the contest. In this blog post, I list several methods of picking a winner as well as their benefits and drawbacks.

‘Instagram Contest: How to Pick a Winner’ As I told you last week, I am interested in running an Instagram contest. There was one topic I only discussed briefly: how to pick a winner. I learned that there are several ways that you can approach this important part of the contest. In this blog post, I list several methods of picking a winner as well as their benefits and drawbacks:

How to pick a winner of your Instagram contest: available methods

There are quite a few ways to pick a winner. I have compiled a list of Ana Gotter and Victoria Taylor’s ideas so that you get the whole picture. Based on the type of contest you have, along with your entry requirements, one or two of these methods can help you to choose your winner.

Do make sure that you do not choose one of these methods the moment you have to pick a winner. You should pick the method that best helps the goals you envisioned for the contest, so you need to decide on the method early on in the process.

Furthermore, the contestants need to be aware of how you will pick a winner the moment you start running the contest, not at any later point. Also, you cannot change the method after you have started the contest. But you already knew that if you have read my previous blog post.  

·       Pick a winner: manual choice

Choosing the winner yourself may require some work because you will need to look through all the different entries to make your selection. Nevertheless, this option offers several notable benefits:

  • You can increase the quality of entries since people know that the “best” photo, caption, or comment will win.
  • You will be able to ensure that the winner’s content is worthy of your prize.
  • You can choose a winning image or other content that you want to represent your brand and will look great when you share it later.
  • You might prefer to have full control throughout the process.

Still, manual choice always carries a slight risk of people accusing you of being biased.

·       Pick a winner: the person with the most votes or likes wins

Unlike with the option above, there is no arguing with the method of choosing a winner by votes. Of course, one thing you need to consider is that you want to ensure no one has cheated. Voting contests are great for brand awareness since people will undoubtedly share their entry to increase their likelihood of winning.

If you decide to pick a winner based on the total number of post likes, it is a good idea to screenshot the post with the most likes at the end of your Instagram contest for a keepsake. This screenshot can serve as proof in case you get complaints about who has the most likes before your Instagram contest ends.

Contest software

Another good idea is to use contest software. The main reason is that it gives you more control over how people enter and how often they can enter. It also allows you to collect email addresses. When using third-party software, you can verify voters, set restrictions, and make sure participants are all abiding by local and state laws. It also leaves a clear path showing who the winner will be so that no one can call you out for playing favorites or foul play.

·       Pick a winner: the person with the most views wins

This one is slightly different from the previous option. You can ask followers to enter your Instagram contest by uploading video content on their page, using branded contest hashtags as well as tagging you. Alternatively, you can ask people to upload their videos on a landing page.

After your contest, review all the video entries and view counts. You can also use the number of likes a video has to choose a winner if two or more videos have a very similar amount of views.

You can use these videos later. For instance, you can repost the most watched videos on your Instagram page or website so that your visitors can see your customers or followers who love your brand.

·       Pick a winner: first person to “x” wins

If you do not want to get too technical, but still want to require continued engagement and encourage high-quality entries, you can tell entrants that the first person to complete a task correctly will be the one to win.

This can take several different forms. An example could be the first person to answer a question correctly. The first person to come into your store and mention the contest or the first person to complete a series of requirements in a scavenger hunt are other examples.

Contest software

If you are using contest software, all the people who accomplish “x” will go into a database. Then, you could use a random entry picker to choose the winner(s). Naturally, if your goal is to collect leads, you will want to move away from commenting. You will want to link people to a form they fill out to enter instead.

There is one potential issue to consider with this method: eligibility. Some brands run into problems when people who are ineligible enter the contest. While there is no way to prevent ineligible people from entering your contest completely, you can limit the number by asking for entrants’ age upon entry, and then spelling out in your rules that only people who are over 18 or 21, or who live in certain regions, can win.

·       Pick a winner: use judges

You can use a panel of judges to choose a contest winner for you. Judges could be influencers, experts in your industry, or members of your team. An Instagram contest that asks for user-generated content is typically the best entry method for this type of contest.

Using judges can add a “wow” factor to the winner selection and additional content for your contest. For example, you can record a video of a round-table discussion of your experts judging the top entries with their feedback to decide who should be the winner.

·       Pick a winner: why stick to one winner?

Add more fun to your Instagram contest with more than one winner. This type of winner selection can be a great snowball effect on your engagement. It builds excitement on your Instagram account because followers will have more chances to win.

·       Pick a winner: why stick to one method?

If you want to add more excitement to your contest, you can use two or three methods to select your winner. For example, in round one, you can select the top five entries with the most likes or votes. In round two, your panel of judges can pick the winner based on best entries.

·       Pick a winner: random selection

Here, you will randomly choose a winner from the entrants who have met all the participation requirements. For example, you can randomly select your winner in the comment section of your Instagram contest post. I am putting the random selection method at the end of the list because it requires some more attention.

This method may increase the number of people who participate because they do not have to outperform their competitors. Random selection also works particularly well if you are looking for mass amounts of engagement.

This method also has its disadvantages. Choosing a winner at random could open you up to accusations of cheating. It may even be illegal, depending on where you are based.

If you decide to choose a winner at random, be sure to contact the winner privately so you can verify one’s eligibility before you make an announcement.

Six tools for random selection

As Sandra Grauschopf says, a truly random winner selection process is vital to avoid accusations of favoritism or fraud. Make sure to keep documentation that shows that you picked your winner fairly. Here, I list six easy and impartial tools that Grauschopf and Di Coke mention in their articles. These tools will help you randomly pick a winner. Most of them are free!

·       Google’s random number generator

Using a random number generator to pick your winners is easy and free of charge. To start, assign each of your valid entries a number. One way to do this fairly is to assign a number based on the order in which the entries arrived. So, your first entrant would be number one; the second would be assigned number two, and so on.

Google’s random number generator will bring up a box that asks you to enter the minimum and maximum numbers to use. The minimum should be the first number you assigned (probably ‘1’), and the maximum should be the number of total valid entries your contest received. Once you have entered these numbers, press the ‘Generate’ button.

You do not have to use Google’s generator; other ones are available as well.


All you need is a numbered list, such as a spreadsheet of email addresses.

On the website, enter the maximum number and click to generate a random number between 1 and 125. Then go back to your list/spreadsheet – that number entry is your winner. You can tell this is like Google’s random number generator.

However, you can also use their List Randomizer by pasting in your list of names. Use this function, and your list will be shown in random order. Most people choose the top name, email address, or entry as the winner (but make sure to state this beforehand!).

·       A random name picker

If you prefer to pick the contest winner’s name directly rather than assigning each entry a number, you can use a random name picker. has one. Enter one name per line into the text field and then click on the button to ‘pick a random name.’

Typing each name into the text field is time-consuming, but if you are keeping records of your entries in a spreadsheet, you may be able to save time by copy-pasting the entire list into the web form.

·       Woobox’s ‘pick a winner’ tool

This tool is mostly for Facebook, but you can also use it to pick winners from Twitter or Instagram comments and hashtags. To use the tool, you need a free account.

·       Easypromo’s Instagram Sweepstakes

If you are running an Instagram giveaway, it can be difficult to keep track of who has left valid comments, shared the giveaway with friends, and used hashtags to enter.

Easypromos’ Instagram Sweepstakes gives you the option to set up the giveaway and then randomly pick your contest winner from among all the people who took whatever actions you choose. Options include tagging friends, using a giveaway hashtag, or leaving a comment on a specific post. When your winner has been chosen, Instagram Sweepstakes will also give you a winner’s list and a certificate of validity to show that the contest winner was truly chosen at random.

This app is not free, though. Your first giveaway is free, giving you the chance to try out the service with no risk. You will need to purchase a subscription for any additional giveaways.

·       GetComBot

All you have to do is enter your email address and a link to the Instagram post. A new browser window will open, and after a while, you will see a list of all the comments. Select options to specify if the winner had to tag 0, 1, 2, or 3 friends. Each comment will be a separate entry in the draw. If only one comment is allowed per entrant, select ‘Unique by user’ at the top. Then, click ‘Get winner.’

Social media translations

With these two blog posts, I have learned a lot for my first Instagram contest. In my day-to-day life, I am a professional translator. Recently, I wrote a blog post about social media translations as social media are such a huge part of marketing our businesses and an easy tool to reach an international audience.

If your company is working on an international market, you have to decide whether you want to stay in your native language or adopt a multilingual approach. If you want to adopt a multilingual approach, please contact me to talk about your translation project. My email address is For instance, if you need the rules of your Instagram contest in more than one language, I can help you!