How to Run an Instagram Photo Challenge

Here at Constant Contact, we have some experience running Instagram photo challenges.

In the past, we’ve held seasonal photo-a-day challenges as well as our #SmallBizSelfie campaign, a seasonal activity that encouraged shoppers to snap a selfie at their favorite small businesses on Small Business Saturday.

Now, we’re back with a new Instagram photo challenge — this time one that can be used no matter the season — as a way to provide inspiration for businesses and organizations getting started on Instagram.

As part of the Instagram photo challenge, we have provided daily prompts to help social media newcomers and seasoned veterans alike to come up with creative photo ideas. It’s a fun way to engage our followers and we are always to excited to see the posts come rolling in.

Running an Instagram photo challenge is a great way to come up with content ideas and boost engagement on your Instagram account.

While preparing an Instagram photo challenge takes some time and effort, there are just a few easy steps in launching a photo challenge of your own.

Here are 4 lessons we’ve learned from holding Instagram photo challenges of our own:

1. Choose themes that relate to your business or industry

At Constant Contact, we work with small businesses and nonprofits. So when we created our challenge, we included a mix of business-related themes and also prompts that encourage business owners to show their personality and take their audience behind-the-scenes of their business.

We made sure to keep the themes general enough so that anyone who participated could find something to photograph, whether that’s in their business or during their daily routine, each day of the challenge.

Pro tip: Keep in mind that you can also use a photo challenge to help gather user-generated content or UGC. Think of UGC as photos that your customers are posting on their own channels, that you may be able to use in your marketing with the appropriate permissions! If you’re running a photo challenge that includes a prompt like “your outfit of the day,” and someone tags your retail clothing business in their photo, you can reach out to say, “do you mind if we share this on our account?” and then use this content, but only if they grant you permission!

2. Choose a hashtag

Once you’ve brainstormed a list of ideas and have shared it with your audience, you want to encourage your followers to take the challenge with you. Ask participants to use a hashtag in the captions of their challenge photos, so you can find and track all the images that people are submitting.

Make sure that it is a unique hashtag so that you can track it easily. Hashtags like #OOTD (short for ‘outfit of the day’) or #PhotoChallenge get thousands upon thousands of uses every day. If you want to be able to track posts that are using your specific challenge, consider including your business name or something unique to your cause, for example #ConstantContactChallenge.

3. Engage with your participants

When you’re running a photo challenge, search for your hashtag each day to see your participants’ photos and take some time to like them and/or engage with them by leaving a comment.

Your participants will likely do the same to see who else is sharing challenge photos, and to interact with fellow business owners and content creators. They’ll appreciate that engagement and the conversation will help to create a sense of community around your photo challenge.

4. Promote your challenge

Don’t forget to spread the word about the photo challenge on your other social networks and in your emails. Consider linking to it on your website and in a blog post to expose it to a wider audience.

The people who follow you on other networks, subscribe to your emails, or read your blog may not know that you are on Instagram! Talking about the challenge in other places will help to increase your exposure.

People often like to start challenges at the start of the month, but you can promote the challenge at any point.

Instagram photo challenge prompts

Try it yourself!

These tips will help you run your own Instagram photo challenge, but if you’d rather get your feet wet by participating in a challenge first, get started with our Photo-a-Day Challenge above!

New to Instagram? Here are 10 Things You Need to Do When Getting Started.  

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