40+ Ideas For Instagram Challenges You Can Steal Right Now

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Hailey Hudson

Last Updated: Jul 27, 2023

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Do you use Instagram challenges for your brand? If not, we highly recommend implementing this tactic. Hosting a challenge can have major benefits for your account. Challenges can help you see a spike in engagement, gain new followers, and get user-generated content that you can use to market your brand. The benefits are clear — Instagram challenges are a must. Here’s how to create one, including 40 ideas you can copy today!

What’s An Instagram Challenge?

If you’ve been active on Instagram for any length of time, you’ve probably already come across an Instagram challenge. You may have even participated in one yourself! Today we’re talking about what Instagram challenges are and how you can use them to promote your brand.

An Instagram challenge is a type of contest where participants post a photo to enter. While the specifics of each challenge vary, challenges are often centered around a theme — such as posting a picture of your pet or posting a picture of your outfit. And when a challenge is sponsored by a brand, participants are usually asked to incorporate the brand’s product or service as part of their posts. 

Why You Should Participate In Instagram Challenges

Instagram challenges might sound like simply a fun way to engage on the app. But in reality, these social media contests can have major benefits for your brand. Contests are an excellent way to boost your engagement as well as your number of followers. Take a look at these statistics:

  • Contests with prizes of $1,000 or more receive an engagement rate of $5.8% per 100 followers.
  • Active promotions have an average cost per click of $0.18.
  • Contests have a conversion rate of almost 34%, which is higher than other content types.
  • An average of over 34% of new customers are acquired through contests.
  • Instagram accounts that hold contests grow their followers 70% faster on average than accounts that don’t.
  • Instagram contests get 3.5 times as many likes and 64 times more comments on average than regular posts.
  • Contest emails have an average open rate of 8.8%. That’s 5.5% more than the general average of commonly used email marketing campaigns. 
  • Contests have a 3.7% higher conversion rate as compared to other CTAs.

It’s clear that Instagram challenges should be an important strategy for your brand. By regularly hosting challenges and contests, you can enjoy a spike in engagement as well as gain new followers who will hopefully stick with your brand long-term. And these aren’t the only benefits you’ll get from Instagram challenges. Challenges are also a great way to get user-generated content (UGC), which you can then use to cut down on your marketing time and effectively market your business:

  • 90% of consumers say UGC holds more influence over their buying decisions than promotional emails and search engine results.
  • Consumers find UGC 9.8x more impactful than influencer content. 
  • 75% of marketers believe UGC feels more authentic than other types of content. 

Instagram challenges are an easy way to get UGC to support your marketing strategy. 

How Do You Create An Instagram Challenge?

We know what Instagram challenges are. We know why they’re beneficial. But how can you actually implement this strategy? Here, we’re laying out the steps to create your own Instagram challenge.

Choose A Goal

As with most types of marketing, strategy comes first. What are you hoping to gain from your challenge? You might want to get more:

  • Followers
  • Engagement
  • Sales
  • Subscribers
  • User-generated content

Once you’ve figured out your goal, you’ll be able to determine what kind of challenge you should do. For example, if you’re just looking for more exposure and awareness, you might ask people to tag a few friends in order to enter. If you want user-generated content, you could give participants guidance on the type of photos you want them to take and post.

Decide On The Challenge

The next step is to decide the details of the challenge. What do you want participants to do? What kind of picture should they post? Will they include your product in the photo? 

In order to pick a good challenge, you need to know your target audience. If your ideal demographic is middle-aged men who like to work out, base the challenge around physical activity — asking them to share a gym selfie, or explain their favorite type of workout. The key here is knowing what your audience enjoys doing and how your product ties in. Then you can build the challenge from there.

If you don’t know many details about your target audience, conduct some surveys with questions that’ll help you find out what you want to know. Another helpful tip is to look at your competitors’ audience because there’s probably a lot of overlap there with your target audience as well. 

Be Clear On The Requirements

Make sure everybody is on the same page by being very clear upfront about the requirements for the challenge. Some ideas for Instagram challenges include asking participants to:

  • Post a photo (or an Instagram Story)
  • Use a branded hashtag
  • Tag a friend
  • Like your post
  • Follow your account
  • Sign up for your email list

Depending on the goals of your challenge, you can mix and match, choosing a few of these requirements to include. If you’re offering a major prize, you can add more requirements to the photo that participants need to post. But if you can only offer a small prize, don’t expect people to go to a lot of effort to take a photo. Additionally, consider incorporating a cold email follow-up strategy to engage participants further and increase the likelihood of their participation. 

Establish A Prize

Instagram challenges just aren’t the same if there isn’t a prize involved! Decide what you want to give the winner(s) of your challenge. You might gift them:

  • Cash
  • A gift card to your website
  • A free product

Make sure the prize is something that your target audience will actually want. This will motivate more people to participate in the challenge. Giving away one of your products is always a good idea — it might entice the winner to purchase more of your products and tell their friends about your brand.

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Create The Promotional Materials

Create graphics to promote your challenge. You can use a simple graphic design tool like Canva to make these graphics. Use branded colors and clearly explain the challenge in a few concise words (you can add more details in the caption). Make sure to create graphics that are sized for both Instagram Stories and your Instagram feed.

If you want participants to include a branded hashtag, you’ll need to come up with that hashtag, too. Play around with a combination of your brand name and the details of the challenge to come up with a good hashtag (for example, “nikebasketballchallenge”).

Launch And Promote

Once you’ve figured out all the details, it’s time to launch your challenge! Put up a post about your challenge and watch the entries roll in. Remember to add a timeline — for instance, giving people one week to get their entries in. Continue heavily promoting your challenge throughout the time that it’s live.

You might also choose to cross-promote your Instagram challenge on other channels. Share a Facebook post with your Instagram handle so people can go check it out. Talk about the challenge in a YouTube video and add your IG link in the description. Or share a tweet about the challenge, pushing your Twitter followers to join. Cross-promotion is beneficial because it helps you expand your reach, eventually increasing both brand awareness and sales. 

Announce The Winner

The final step for Instagram challenges is to decide how you want to choose and announce the winner. There are multiple options to help you choose a winner from a social media challenge, contest, or giveaway. You can use a random name picker website or a tool like Woobox, which offers an easy way to randomly choose winners from Instagram comments. Or choose the winner yourself based on which photo you liked the most. 

Announce who won the contest on your Instagram account, and thank everybody who entered. Then send the winner a direct message or an email so you can get their information and send them their prize.  

40+ Ideas For Instagram Challenges You Can Steal Right Now

Want to see how this works in practice? Don’t worry, we’ve got your back. Read on to discover over 40 examples of Instagram challenges that will get the creative juices flowing to create your own.

Instagram Story Challenges

1. Q&A

Opening up your story for questions is a great way to get more engagement. To ramp up the challenge, ask your followers to hold a Q&A on their own Instagram Story.

Q&A time instagram screenshot

2. Favorite Product Challenge

Challenge your customers to share their favorite product on their Instagram Story. To help things get started, encourage them to talk about which of your products they love in your own Story.

screenshot of jewelry product challenge on instagram story

3. Customer Spotlight Challenge

Ask fellow brands to partner together to talk about their loyal customers. Choose one of your repeat customers who loves your brand, and give them a shoutout!

instagram screenshot customer spotlight challenge

4. This Or That

It’s never a bad time to engage your followers through a fun game of This or That. It’s also a great way to advertise your products or services, such as the wedding photography example shown here.

instagram screenshot this or that challenge

Instagram Song Challenges

5. “Hard Times”

Have your followers use the song Hard Times by Paramore to create a humorous video showing their struggles, like this funny reel about the difficulties of influencer life (such as trying to change clothes in public).

instagram screenshot hard times paramore challenge

6. “And Everybody’s Watching Her”

This funny challenge uses a trending sound to create a reel, like this example which ended with the text, “Her own Insta story for the 50th time.”

instagram screenshot and everybody's watching her challenge

7. “I Do Not Have Time For This”

Popularized by a line from the Netflix show Inventing Anna, this trending challenge allows the poster to express their frustrations with something they just don’t have time for.

instagram screenshot i do not have time for this challenge
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8. “Guilty”

Challenge your followers to create a fake mugshot, adding text to explain what they’d be guilty of. 

instagram screenshot guilty challenge

Transition Challenges

9. Makeup Transition

This challenge is a great fit for beauty or fashion brands: Ask your customers to showcase your product by doing an instant transition from barefaced to a makeup look, or sweatpants to a cute outfit. It’s a fun way to highlight your products. 

instagram screenshot makeup transition challenge

10. Cover Camera With Hand Transition

Sometimes, simple really is best. Create a challenge for your followers with one stipulation — at some point during the video, they have to use a transition where they cover the camera with their hand.

instagram screenshot cover camera hand transition challenge

11. Clap Transition

Your followers can use the clap transition (clapping right when the shot changes) to make it look like they instantly jumped from one place to another. This might be a good fit for travel brands. Challenge your customers to make a video at home and then in the beautiful location where you sent them, using the clap transition.

instagram screenshot clap transition challenge

12. Snap Transition

This transition is just like the clap transition, but using a snap instead of a clap.

instagram screenshot snap transition challenge

Throwback Instagram Challenges

13. OOTD

Everyone loves a good throwback! And there’s nothing like the classic OOTD challenge to get you started. (If you weren’t on Pinterest in 2014, OOTD stands for “outfit of the day.”)

instagram screenshot ootd challenge

14. Throwback Thursday

A classic #ThrowbackThursday can be used for almost anything. Ask your followers to post a transformation photo or a silly photo from their childhood.

instagram screenshot throwback thursday challenge

15. #The100DayProject

The 100 Day Project is a global art movement that takes place online. People commit to creating (and sharing) art for 100 days in a row. Adapt the challenge for your own needs.

instagram screenshot 100 day project challenge
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16. Monday FunDay

Rethink Mondays with the Monday FunDay challenge. Have your followers join in with you to post a photo that demonstrates there’s happiness to be found even on Mondays!

instagram screenshot monday funday challenge

Workout Instagram Challenges

17. See 10, Do 10

In the popular See 10, Do 10 workout challenge, you do ten push-ups (or handstands, as shown below) and challenge someone else to do the same. This challenge became popular during the early days of COVID-19 to help people stay in shape while quarantining. 

instagram screenshot see 10, do 10 challenge

18. Plank Challenge

The plank challenge traditionally lasts for 30 days. You do a plank every day, holding the position for a little bit longer each time. The goal is to build your strength and endurance.

instagram screenshot plank challenge

19. 100 Skipping Challenge

Challenge your followers to improve their jump rope skills with the 100 Skipping Challenge. The goal is to jump rope 100 times in a row.

instagram screenshot skipping challenge

20. Upside Down T-Shirt Challenge

This is another challenge that was popular when lockdown first started. Even celebrities like Tom Holland have gotten in on the fun for this challenge: Do a handstand against the wall and put on a T-shirt while in that position.

instagram screenshot upside down tshirt challenge

Fashion Instagram Challenges

21. Pillow Challenge

Tell your followers to get creative with the pillow challenge! There are no traditional clothes involved in this fashion Instagram challenge. Instead, use a pillow as a dress, adding a belt to cinch the pillow to your body. 

instagram screenshot pillow challenge

22. Daily Outfit Challenge

This challenge consists of posting a photo of your outfit every day. While the challenge makes the most sense for fashion brands, you could adapt this challenge to almost every industry. If you’re a workout company, ask people to post their workout every day. Or if you’re a travel brand, have customers post their vacation outfits.

instagram screenshot daily outfit fashion challenge

23. 30-Day Fashion Challenge

The 30-Day Fashion Challenge includes different guidelines every day, such as a brightly colored outfit for one day or a pair of statement shoes on another. Use predefined guidelines or come up with your own for people to follow.

instagram screenshot 30 day fashion challenge

24. #RunwayForRelief

Our final Instagram fashion challenge is #RunwayForRelief. This challenge can be used as a fundraiser to raise money for breast cancer research, education, or any humanitarian cause. In this case, the challenge was used to raise money for COVID-19-related causes.

instagram screenshot runway for relief fashion challenge
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Instagram Makeup Challenges

25. No Thumbs Makeup Challenge

The No Thumbs challenge is an easy way to get your audience laughing. Challenge people to put on their makeup without using their thumbs. It sounds simple, but it’s a lot harder than you might think.

instagram screenshot no thumbs make up challenge

26. No Mirror Makeup Challenge

In a similarly deceptively easy-sounding challenge, the No Mirror makeup challenge requires participants to put on their makeup without looking in a mirror.

instagram screenshot no mirror makeup challenge

27. Opposite Hand Makeup Challenge

In this makeup challenge, participants must put on a full face of makeup using their non-dominant hand.

instagram screenshot opposite hand make up challenge

28. 5-Minute Makeup Challenge

This challenge calls for people to put on their makeup in five minutes or less.

instagram screenshot 5 minute make up challenge

Gratitude Instagram Challenges

29. 30 Days Of Gratitude

There’s nothing like a gratitude-based Instagram challenge to warm the heart. Start with the classic 30 Days of Gratitude. In this simple challenge, you’ll post a photo every day of something you’re thankful for.

30 days of gratitude challenge

30. Kindness Matters

Host a Kindness Matters challenge, asking people to share a random act of kindness they did that day.

instagram screenshot kindness matters challenge

31. 365 Gratitude Challenge

Let the gratitude last all year with the 365 Gratitude challenge, posting a photo every day of something you’re thankful for.

instagram screenshot 365 grateful project challenge

32. 100 Days Of Joy

Encourage your followers to participate in 100 Days of Joy. Every day for 100 days, they’ll post a photo of something that brought them joy that day.

instagram screenshot 100 days of joy challenge

Best Story Instagram Challenges

33. Would You Rather

Spark engagement with a fun game of Would You Rather, challenging people to share their choices.

instagram screenshot would you rather challenge

34. Takeovers

Challenge your followers to take over your Instagram Story or let someone else take over theirs!

instagram screenshot takeover challenge

35. About Me

Get to know your followers better by asking them to share an About Me post so you can get to know your audience more.

instagram screenshot about me challenge

36. Travel Q&A Challenge

Get your followers talking about one of the hottest topics on Instagram: travel! Have them share their best, worst, and most memorable experiences, reposting and connecting with followers through some of your own memories across the country or overseas.

Travel Q&A template for instagram story
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Cute Pet Instagram Challenges

37. Unflattering Photo Challenge

Everyone loves a good pet photo — and often, unflattering photos get even more engagement than the cute ones. Ask people to post a photo that was snapped at the wrong moment.

instagram screenshot unflattering photo challenge

38. Raw Egg Challenge

This one’s for all the dog owners out there. Challenge your followers to give their dog a raw egg. See if the dog can hold the egg in its mouth without cracking or breaking it.

instagram screenshot raw egg challenge

39. Cat Cucumber Prank

While experts aren’t exactly sure why, most cats seem to be scared of cucumbers, which makes for some pretty funny Instagram videos. Place a cucumber on the floor behind your cat and wait to see their reaction.

instagram screenshot cat cucumber prank challenge

40. Stop Petting Challenge

Our final Instagram challenge: Stop petting your pet and record their reaction.

instagram screenshot stop petting challenge

Get Started With Instagram Challenges

From Instagram Story challenges to song challenges for Instagram to fashion challenges and more, there are all kinds of Instagram challenges to choose from. Pick one of these ideas and throw down a challenge for your audience — helping increase your engagement, following, and more!

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