With over 300 million users, Instagram is now one of the major contenders in the social media arena, proving different enough from the others to carve out its own not-so-little niche, and it looks like it’ll flourish even more because of this.

In order to utilize Instagram’s largely untapped marketing potential, consider running a social media contest.  This particular strategy offers benefits like building brand awareness, gaining followers, and increasing leads, but it can be tough to know where to start.

Issa Assad, a social media strategist and best selling author of Instant Profits with Instagram, offers 7 simple steps to creating a successful contest on Instagram, so pay close attention!

Step 1: Plan a strategy

This is arguably the most important step, since it helps you see the overarching theme, or goal, for your campaign.  Set out reasonable targets to work towards, work out the terms, conditions, and rules, and then decide how long it should run.  Give it an expiration date to build a sense of urgency, but don’t make it so short that it gets missed, or long enough that people forget about it.

Step 2: Check out the competition

Let your curiosity get the better of you!  Spying on other brand’s contests and campaigns is one of the best ways to see what works- and what doesn’t.

Step 3: Decide on a theme

According to Bullas, marketing is all about telling a story, namely, your brand’s story.  With its visual-based design, Instagram lends itself to this end perfectly.  It’s important to come up with a theme for your contest, because this helps pique user’s interests, challenging them to put their creativity to use in order to meet the requirements.

Step 4: Choose your hashtag

Don’t forget about hashtags!  This is very important to share with your users, as it proves to be a handy way for them to label their content or submissions, and makes it easier for you to search and review them.  Do your best to come up with a simple but memorable hashtag; this will enable further engagement, and won’t get confused with anything else.

Step 5: Design awesome artwork

Instagram is all about photos, so add lots of your own!  Use pictures to offer examples of contest entries, give instructions, visualize the hashtag, or ask questions.

Step 6: Promote across all channels

Although we’re focused on Instagram, it’s important to remember your other channels when running a contest.  Use Facebook, Twitter, and blogs to let everyone know!  A well constructed campaign will not only engage those on the platform in question, but will draw people from others, growing your user base and engaging them at the same time.

Step 7: Measure your success

Lastly, once you’ve finished the contest, review it.  Did your plan and theme work well?  How much engagement did you get?  Even if it didn’t go perfectly, you’ve gained invaluable information for the next go-around.