The Official Guide to Contesting on Instagram for Canadians

I never used to enter contests on Instagram, it’s actually something that I started doing this year. I’m especially hooked because I’ve won quite a few times already.

I’ve won plants (yes houseplants), supplements, more plants and a Philips shaver/epilator. I don’t think I really started until around March. So that’s pretty good, right?

I’m not the kind of person who enters every contest out there, in fact I only spend time entering contests for things which I can use or can gift to a friend or family member.

But the reason I’m hooked on entering contests on Instagram, is because you can stack the odds in your favour, at least to a degree. That’s because most IG contests allow unlimited tagging of friends. In most cases, each tag represents another entry into the draw. This is also why it’s important to be a part of a contesting community, so you can find like minded people to tag in these contests.

Just a quick word on etiquette, don’t tag someone you don’t know or who hasn’t given you permission to tag them. It is considered rude, and often people might report you for doing so. This could jeopardize your IG account or put you on a temporary ban.

How to find Instagram contests

Get Contesting Friends: Find contesting friends, these are people already into contesting and they actively tag and enter contests on Instagram. You can find them by seeing who is entering a particular contest, then ask them if you can tag them in contests to. The people who tag, or those who are tagged in contests are a great place to start. Just make sure to ask before tagging them. This is just common courtesy and goes a long way to developing good relationships with other contestors. Other ways you can find Instagram contestors, is through Facebook. Most people who enter contests do so on more than one platform.

Searching for Contests: Search for contests on Instagram through your desktop if possible. Because many contests do not directly link to their rules OR some links are only posted in the post and you can’t copy/paste from Instagram to open a link on your mobile phone. Sometimes rules are often listed in the Bio link of the contest sponsor, at least there you can click on the link to read the rules. You can also check Instagram for contest directly by looking up #giveaways #giveaway #contests etc. However, this doesn’t mean they’ll be valid for you, so you’ll have to comb and sift.

Join Groups on Facebook: There are many great groups out on Facebook. They can serve as a starting point to finding contests on Instagram. It might sound strange but many people post IG contests there as sharing on Facebook can be easier for many. You can look for a group by typing what you are looking for, for example: Contests, or Instagram Contests, Contesting in Canada etc. See what comes up. Check out my list of recommended Canadian Contesting Facebook Groups (coming soon).

Find the rules, read the rules and follow them.

Find the rules: When entering contests on Instagram, rules can be sometimes hard to find. Some accounts will post their rules directly in the contest post, others will list their rules as a link in the post, others will link to their rules in the bio link.

  • Bio link: The bio link is the one link that Instagram accounts may have on their profile page. They can be set-up differently depending on the type of account – usually if you click on the bio link you can find a contest link pretty easily.
  • Link in post: Some larger contests on IG will have their rules posted as a link in the main contest post. This is where having a computer outside of a phone comes in handy. You can log into your IG account through your computer and visit the contest post directly so you can copy the link and open it in a new window to read them.

Read the rules: You might be asking yourself why, at first, but not after reading this. Because many contests on IG are US only, or International, or even only local. A lot of things on the internet assume you are in the US, that’s fine, just don’t assume it’s open to you.

Some contests require a few steps for your entry to be valid. You may need to like, tag and post to your story — those are the majority of contests. But there are some, that require you to specifically answer a question as your comment, require you to comment on their blog, or sign up for their newsletter. Sometimes these are just requirements for bonus entries, but often it’s a requirement for your official entry.

Here is an example of a contest on Instagram that is different from most. You can only enter once every 24 hours (by tagging 3 friends each time).

View this post on Instagram

🌟 GIVEAWAY ALERT 🌟 6 Chances to Win $250 Gift Cards AND 30 Chances to Win $50 Gift Cards 🍻🍻🍻 HOW TO ENTER: 1️⃣ – Follow @thebeerstoreon 2️⃣ – Like this post 3️⃣ – Tag three of your friends 🗳 – One entry every 24 hours ⏰ – Contest Runs Until Nov 8th, 2019 until 10:00 a.m. EST Ontario Only, Must be 19+ to enter For Contest Rules + Terms & Conditions, please go to link in bio or see below. Winners will be contacted on Nov 12th. Per Instagram rules, this promotion is in no way sponsored, administered, or associated with Instagram, Inc. By entering, entrants confirm that they are 19+ years of age, release Instagram of responsibility, and agree to Instagram’s terms of use.

A post shared by The Beer Store 🍺 (@thebeerstoreon) on

Ambiguous rules or none at all: You might come across a contest and they don’t list any rules. They just tell you to like and tag or maybe they’ll have a contest end date listed. With so little information this means you have to go digging to find out if you *might* be eligible. I mean, the best thing to do is message the company directly and ask — and you’d think they would respond, but I find only about 40% (just and estimation) actually do.

Here is an example of a contest that explains what you need to do to enter, but does not explain who is eligible.

So in the case of the above, if you really want to enter this contest you’ll have to dig to see if it’s worth your time. Honestly, you can just enter and maybe it would take less time for you enter than to find out if it’s most likely open to you — or you can do the following;

  • Check the main page of the Instagram account and see if they list where they are, in this the account is based in Arkansas, US.
  • If the main page didn’t give any idea, follow the bio link to see if it goes to a website with rules. Or check to see where they are located by checking about, or contact us.
  • Since there was mention of a Facebook page, you could check there too to see if more forthcoming rules are posted.
  • There was a dead giveaway that the contest was likely US, but that depends how brand aware you are. ULTA is a US based store.
  • However, just because it’s US based doesn’t mean it’s only for US. So checking their boutique site, it mentioned they shipped anywhere.
  • With that being the case an assumption can be made their contest is likely open at least to US & Canada (because they would want customers from everywhere they ship to). It could however mean you’d have to pay shipping (In this case though, the prize is not for items but gift cards/cash, so they likely wouldn’t charge you, or gift cards would be emailed. )
  • Otherwise, message them and see if they respond to let you know. Some people don’t want to wait for an answer, or don’t ever get one. That’s a huge red flag for me not to enter.
  • Also, sometimes they don’t respond because you are a contestor, or comper or whatever. Some companies really hate contestors and would prefer they don’t even enter their contest. *eye roll*

Keeping track of your entered contests and following up.

There are many ways to keep track, I mean of course you could do it all manually with a pen an paper. But most of the time the only thing we have when we are entering contests on Instagram is just your phone in hand.

Now tracking isn’t necessarily something you need to do, but it’s something that’s good to do to be aware of how much you are entering and how much your efforts are paying off.

Tracking is also something that can be done at a basic or more advanced level. The choice is up to you. I’ll show you how I track the contests I enter on Instagram.

On all IG posts there is a little bookmark feature:

Example picture showing bookmark button on Instagram (Desktop)

When you tap that button, it saves the post. That’s the easiest way to track contests you’ve entered.

But if you want to organize your entering a bit more, you’ll get an option that says “Save to Collection” when tapping/clicking the bookmark icon.

Phone screenshot demonstrating the option to Save to Collection, after tapping the bookmark icon.

Once you tap “Save to Collection”, the following will pop up.

Phone screenshot, showing how to organize your entries.

Sort by day Entered: The little + icon will allow you to make a folder and name it as you like. As you can see I have one called Nov. 4 and one Nov. 3, named after the date I entered the contest. In my case, if I visit the folder, it will show the contests I entered and saved to that collection. This way you are able to track what contest you entered when.

Sort by contest end Date: But another way you could name the folders, would be to align with the end date of the contest. That way on those dates, you can re-check those posts to see if you are a winner or if another winner was chosen. Of course, you only put contests in these folders if you entered them.

If you just bookmark a post, it will not be sorted but will just be all thrown in one pool (called All Posts in IG). Personally, I bookmark into the general (unsorted) pool first, then unbookmark and re-bookmark into the appropriate folder. You simply just tap the bookmark to remove, then tap it again to sort it into a folder you’d like by tapping “Save to Collection” again and tapping the correct folder to sort it into.

Accessing your Bookmarks: To access your bookmarks go to your feed by tapping on your profile icon (usually it’s your face), it’s at the bottom right corner of the Instagram app. Once there tap on the menu icon at the top right hand corner (some people call it a hamburger icon), it will then slide open a menu.

Phone screenshot, showing the result after tapping the top right hamburger (menu) icon in Instagram.

From here you’ll want to tap Saved (it shows the bookmark icon right next to it). After tapping saved, you’ll see all the folders plus the unsorted bookmarks you have made in the Instagram app.

Phone screenshot showing bookmarked / saved items in the Instagram app, after tapping the saved from the Instagram menu.

After all this you should have a good handle of finding, reading and finding rules for Instagram contests. As well as remaining organized.

Now that all that is out of the way, I’m going to share some of my personal rules for entering Instagram contests. You can either adopt them, modify them or come up with your own.

Lisa’s personal Instagram contest entering guidelines.

One of the main things I do is look for contests that are only open to Canada. That is because the odds are better, we have less competition on those posts then when the contest is open to the US or Internationally.

Secondly, I pretty much will skip over any contest that has ambiguous rules, unless I know that the company/person is Canadian or I really, really want to win it.

I always read the rules and actively look for them. I don’t like tagging people unless I feel fairly confident they could also enter the contest. I personally feel bad if I send someone to a contest that was never even open to Canadians.

I don’t enter contests that are open Internationally or US based. This is because said item, could make you responsible for paying duties, and even worse, cost more than it would have been to purchase the prize anyway.

I will however enter contests open Internationally, or to the US as long as the sponsor or IG account is based in Canada. This usually eliminates the worry that could come with wondering if duties will need to be paid.

Don’t enter everything. I enter maybe 10% of contests I’m actually tagged in. It could be less. That is because I only enter contests I feel are worth the effort to enter. Of course, your own determining factors are based on what you really like to win. But I feel it’s better to be picky about what you enter so that you can go all in on that post, by tagging as many friends as you can and doing all the bonus entries to up your chances of winning.

Okay everyone, thanks for reading. If there is anything else you want to learn, let me know in the comments and I’ll write up another post in the near future.

Good luck everyone! Happy contesting!

  1. Alana S. says:

    This post gave me so much new information, i had no idea i could sort out my saved items, and tracking my entries on Instagram is going to be so much easier now. Thank you!

    1. lisajh says:

      You are welcome Alana 🙂 It took a lot to write that, I’m glad that you learned some new things. Good luck on your contesting endeavors 🙂

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