How to Run an Instagram Photo Challenge

Earlier this year, Constant Contact launched our #CCPhotoADay challenge, as a way to provide inspiration for businesses and organizations getting started on Instagram.

As part of the challenge, we provided daily prompts to help followers come up with creative photo ideas and shared photos on our Instagram account along the way. It was a fun way to engage our followers, and we were thrilled by the response.

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

And while it takes some preparation, in a few easy steps you could launch of a challenge of your own.

Here are 6 lessons we learned from our #CCPhotoADay challenge:

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 encouraged 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 in their business or during their daily routine each day of the challenge.

2. Choose a hashtag

Once you brainstorm a list of ideas and share it with your audience, you want to encourage your audience 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.

For example, for our Instagram challenge we used the hashtag #CCPhotoADay. We could easily find out who else was taking our photo challenge by looking up this hashtag in Instagram’s search tab.

Instagram photo challenge 1

When you post your images on Instagram, be sure to add any other hashtags that are relevant to your photos. Research shows that posts with 11 or more hashtags get the highest engagement on Instagram.

How do you find the right hashtags to use? Try tools like Iconosquare or to search for the most popular ones.

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 or comment on them.

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

Instagram photo challenge 2

4. Experiment with your content

Photos are the most popular content on Instagram, but you can also try to incorporate other types of images for variety. Use free tools like PicMonkey or Canva on your desktop (and then email the image to yourself and save it on your phone to upload to Instagram) or apps like Word Swag to create word images — quotes, facts, stats, or tips over a photo or background.

We used Photoshop to create this word image, but you can do something similar with any free tool or app:

You also don’t have to create new content every day. Borrow from something you posted on your other social networks, your website, blog, or email newsletters. Your viewers might not have caught the image the first time you shared it. Reusing content you’ve posted elsewhere also saves you time! Just make sure the content sticks to your challenge theme, and that you change the caption to reflect the conversation happening on Instagram.

5. Plan your posts

Running and participating in a month-long photo challenge requires some planning. Recruit co-workers, friends, or colleagues to come up with ideas for each theme, and to take some of the photos or create images for you.

Set a daily reminder in your calendar for the photo challenge. Some photo challenge participants take a screenshot of the challenge prompts and make it their phone’s wallpaper so they’ll see it every time they check their phone.

6. Promote your challenge

Don’t forget to spread the word about the photo challenge on your other social networks and in your emails. Link to it on your website and in a blog post to expose it to a wider audience, or embed a board of images that include the hashtag using tools like HashAtIt.

The people who follow you on other networks, subscribe to your emails, or read your blog might not know that you have an Instagram profile, so talking about the challenge in other places will increase your exposure.

People often like to start challenges at the start of the month, but you can promote the challenge even after your business has completed it.

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 #CCPhotoADay challenge.

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

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