Creating Hashtags for Instagram Contests #LikeaBoss

Posted by Alex Ditty on Nov 18, 2014 7:06:00 PM

In Planning Campaigns, Campaign Best Practices

Do you know what type of hashtag to use for your Instagram contests?

When running an Instagram contest, the hashtag is often the most critical factor in determining your community’s participation and the overall success of your campaign. We’ve offered guidance before on the best practices to follow when selecting the hashtag for a social media promotion but one question still remains: is it better to build on a general hashtag that supports your overall brand or should you create a unique hashtag that focuses on this specific promotion?

Unfortunately, there is no single correct answer to this question but we’ll make the case for each and you can decide which one best fits the goals of your Instagram contest. To help plan the goals of your Instagram contest you can download our free Instagram Campaign Planning Guide!


In your social media campaign planning, you should only create the hashtag after you’ve determined the goals and objectives of the promotion. The hashtag - as with every piece of the campaign - should work toward your end goal. 

The Case for a General Hashtag

Building a general hashtag for your Instagram initiatives is best when you’re trying to train your community to participate in a particular way. This can help you build a team of brand ambassadors who are continuously sharing content that is promoting your brand by using your unique hashtag. We’ve seen this work with many brands as they use an Instagram contest as the first step towards building an overall presence on Instagram. Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau is a shining example of this as they’ve built the tag #TakeOnPocono into its own marketing channel highlighting the Pocono Mountains with over 15,000 shares. They built the tag by creating seasonal Instagram contests incentivising people to share and now the hashtag has built a life of its own creating new fans through authentic user-generated content shared on Instagram.

Takeaway: Use a general hashtag for your Instagram contest if you’re using the contest as a launchpad for additional sharing and growth from your community.


Creating a Contest-Specific Hashtag

Even if your community is sharing with an existing hashtag, you may want to consider creating a hashtag specific to your contest. Growing participation with your campaigns is always one of the top goals for any brand, but you want to make sure that this participation is coming from people who are aware they’re participating with your contest and excited about it! By creating a specific hashtag for your contests, you’re able to filter entries to ensure that you’re getting fan participation from the right people. Specific tags also serve as a reference to what the contest is all about. When ESPN set out to launch their women’s network, espnW, they chose to promote a Summer Instagram contest with the specific tag, #98DaysToShine, to better focus on the enthusiasm of those participants.

Takeaway: Create a contest-specific hashtag when you’re trying to refine your participation to individuals who are trying to enter the contest.


It may seem simple, but taking the time to think through the hashtag you promote for your campaigns can be the difference between picking a winner, or an unfortunate flub like #COWBOYSUK

For more assistance on creating a successful Instagram marketing campaign, download our free Instagram Planning Guide

Instagram Campaign Planning Guide

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