Mobile App Marketing Case Study: Etchings Instagram Contest

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Recently we ran an Instagram contest to promote our Etchings App for iPhone and iPad. To help us run the contest we used Statigram which is an Instagram web viewer and social analytics tool for contests & community management. Statigram has over 3.1 million users so their contest platform seemed to be the best way to expose the most people to our Etchings app; there also don’t seem to be any good alternatives in this space at the moment.

Original image by

Original image by

Statigram’s photo contest toolkit included a few simple steps to get us started:

  • Define a hashtag (#EtchingsAppContest): We tried to keep it as short as possible while also being descriptive.
  • Create a contest image (above): We wanted to get people interested by showing off what the app can do so we focused on the etching and kept the copy simple, with just the hashtag and a call to action. We posted variations of the image using different etchings throughout the contest to keep it fresh.
  • Decide on prizes: We gave away something that we thought Etchings users would appreciate – the new Polaroid Z2300 10MP Digital Instant Print Camera for first prize. Second and third prize received prints of their winning entry printed on glass by Fracture.
  • Choose which countries to target: Etchings is available everywhere and is localized in several languages so we kept the contest open to all countries.
  • Upload contest Terms & Conditions: We had to do some research here to make sure we covered all the bases and had a lawyer review it for us just to be sure.

Once the contest was live, we also promoted it on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Over the two week duration we had over 1000 entries with some amazing creativity and talent on display. We were thrilled by the wide range of subjects and overall quality of the entries. Every day we would watch the entries roll in and discuss some of the best.

When the contest was over we used the moderation tool provided by Statigram to refuse the images that did not meet the contest criteria: 902 were accepted and 258 refused. Most of the refused images were spam or just regular photos that were not etched even though the rules of the contest were clear that entries had to be created using the Etchings app.

Screen Shot 2013-03-14 at 11.09.59 AM

The below “Activity” graph shows how many photos were posted by how many participants. The graph compares these stats to the amount of page views over the contest period.

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Judging Process

To choose a winner, we had a panel of 5 judges – three members of the MindSea team, and two guest judges. Each judge chose their top 10 which resulted in 41 unique images. From the shortlist of 41 there were eight images that appeared more than once. The judges ranked the final eight images and the three winners were decided using the Instant Runoff Voting process. The flowchart below helps describe how this works.

Screen Shot 2013-03-14 at 10.32.24 AM

We then reviewed the results to make sure each judge was happy with the process and from there we announced the three winners on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Here are the three winners:

First place winner: Noalek wins a Polaroid Z2300 10MP Digital Instant Print Camera and an 18" print of her winning etching printed on glass by Fracture (

First place winner: Noalek wins a Polaroid Z2300 10MP Digital Instant Print Camera and an 18″ print of her etching printed on glass by Fracture. Visit noalek’s Statigram page.

Second place winner: singstad wins a etching printed on glass by Fracture ( Second Prize: A 14" print of your winning etching printed on glass by Fracture ( Visit singstad's Statigram page here.

Second place winner: singstad wins a 14″ print of his etching printed on glass by Fracture. Visit singstad’s Statigram page.

Third place winner: alijardine wins a 12" print of your winning etching printed on glass by Fracture ( Visit alijardine's Statigram page here.

Third place winner: alijardine wins a 12″ print of her etching printed on glass by Fracture. Visit alijardine’s Statigram page.

Was It Worth It?

During the contest period, we gained almost 500 followers on Instagram, and we reached an extraordinary audience filled with amazing artists and photographers – the overall quality of etchings on Instagram has improved and downloads of Etchings app increased by approximately 30% during the contest period.

The overall contest cost approximately $1,000 (CAD) to run. Approximately $550 (420 Euros) for the Statigram contest, and $450 (CAD) for the prizes (having the winning etchings printed on glass and the Polaroid Z2300 10MP Digital Instant Print Camera.) The contest was a great promotion that has caught our target audience’s attention and it was well worth the cost and effort to run.

Some things we could do differently if we were to have another contest would be:

  • Create a longer running contest (an add-on provided by Statigram at additional cost). Having a longer contest would result in more etched photos on Instagram, and more time for people to download the app.
  • Using the Facebook promotional tools provided by Statigram. This would reach more Facebook users, resulting in more app downloads and contest entries.
  • Make rules more specific. We had some confusion with the rule, “The more likes you receive, the more likely you are to win a prize.” and “The public response to Entries as seen in Likes will be taken into consideration.” We should have been more clear about these rules: some people get a lot of likes on every photo because they have a large number of followers so it is not necessarily a good indicator of quality. Some entrants also got very upset who had plenty of likes but did not win a prize.
  • Launch the contest together with an app launch or major update. This would gain more publicity, app downloads, and followers.
  • Have a customized contest page (an add-on provided by Statigram at additional cost). This would make our contest stand out from the crowd, and allow us to show off more sample images and provide more info on prizes.
  • Partner with other organizations to increase promotion, perhaps mobile photography blogs, newspapers, or prize partners.
  • Explore other contest tools. There are alternatives to Statigram, such as Facebook contesting plugins, which would be good to look at.


Thanks to all who entered, and we look forward to having another Etchings contest soon! If you want to see all the amazing entries in the meantime, you can find them on the Statigram contest page.

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