Instagram, the ever-popular photo-sharing social network has undergone significant transformation since its 2010 launch. Its early success is attributed to a standout feature which let users apply digital filters on their photographs. This increased engagement with the platform as people rushed to like, comment, and share these photos. More recently, the platform has gained the attention of marketers and brands searching for innovative methods to increase conversions and drive their bottom line. With the introduction of new features such as ads, push notification updates from select accounts, and the ability to manage multiple accounts with ease, marketers are able to create effective stories and brand experiences for a target audience that pushes them towards purchase. Being a visual-only platform, content on Instagram receives #1. Run contests Contests provide a quick and easy way to increase exposure of your brand and drive engagement as they tap into a person’s innate competitive drive. The lure of a prize or reward is more than enough to ensure participation and even rope in family and friends. For maximum impact, make sure that the reward or prize relates to your business in some format. Otherwise, there is a risk of attracting entrants who don’t have a genuine interest in your brand. For example, a SaaS provider offering a free iPad reward presents opportunists with little interest in their services to have a ‘free lunch’ at the expense of the brand running the contest. Various contest formats can be implemented on Instagram. However, some formats are used with far more frequency due to their success rate. For more insight on different contest formats, how to create a contest, and how to set up and run your own contest, take a look at this great resource. In the meantime, let’s review some popular contest formats found on Instagram. “Like to Win” These contests are fairly straightforward and only require a visitor to follow your account and like a comment to enter for a chance to win. Simple contests like these attract a wide range of potential customers (some of which are unlikely to become long-term loyal supporters of your brand) due to the minimal effort required from the entrants part. “Tag a friend” The “tag a friend” contest format requires an individual to mention their friend or make a shout-out in order to enter for a chance to win. The idea is to not only involve the entrant but also get their personal network involved with your brand. Most people are unlikely to deny requests made by people they like and trust, so the success rate is fairly high. However, reach and exposure to potential new customers will still be fairly limited as people are likely to tag only one or two friends at most. #2. Create dedicated Instagram landing pages Unlike other leading social networks, the inclusion of clickable links is not permitted on Instagram posts with the exception of the biography section. Since this space is your only opportunity to direct visitors to take a specific action, make sure it leads to a landing page that relates directly to the content on your profile. For example, directing traffic to your site’s homepage after providing images of your products breaks context, confuses visitors, and hurt conversions. In such cases, it’s better to send visitors to a dedicated landing page which lets Instagram users quickly purchase items they have seen on your profile. This prevents interested customers from getting frustrated and reduces friction for purchase completion. #3. Direct traffic to long-form content Images may be enough to convince impulse buyers to convert in the B2C space, but they are unlikely to convince B2B buyers. These customers require more information and value from your content and want to establish a relationship and trust in your brand before they convert. For such an audience, use Instagram as a medium to drive customers to your long-form content where you present them with helpful content instead of direct-selling. In other words, Instagram content becomes a mean to tease your audience and generate their interest towards your long-form content present elsewhere. The most common method employed by brands is to direct traffic to their blog where helpful content is displayed with an opportunity to sign up for a newsletter. Successful conversion here opens up the path for lead nurturing until the point of final conversion at some point in the future. #4. Make use of multiple accounts With many different customer personas to please, having just one account to entice customers in different geographic locations with varying interests and lifestyles presents a challenge. For example, a clothing brand uploading images of its new winter selection risks isolating its customer base present in Florida. In such cases, it makes sense for a brand to have more than one account to effectively target a diverse consumer base. Yet, this is not the only reason for a brand to invest in multiple Instagram accounts. Multiple accounts also permit a brand to differentiate their activities and provide a more targeted experience to potential customers. For example, an airline brand may create one account which handles information about their airplanes and information on the routes they service while another account focuses on displaying feedback of great travel experience with their service. Instagram is no longer just a platform for people to share images to be liked and commented on. In fact, with the constant release of new features and shifting expectations of users, marketers today have a great opportunity to use the platform as a means to find new customers to drive their bottom line. Simply follow the strategies above and witness Instagram deliver powerful results that help grow your business. Image: Kiev, Ukraine- May 16, 2016: Instagram new logo and icon printed on white paper. Instagram is an online mobile photo-sharing, video-sharing service.