By now, you probably know that Instagram is a powerful platform for creating visual content for your business. You’ve likely seen Instagram photos on other platforms and may have even set up your Instagram account.

But did you also know that there’s more to Instagram than its easy-to-use photo editing tools?

With more than 300 million active users, Instagram has caught the attention of a growing number of brands — both large and small.

So, is Instagram worth the effort for your business?

Here are five unexpected benefits to consider:

1. Connect with customers

While most people think about sites like Facebook and Twitter when it comes to connecting with fans and engaging with customers online — you may be surprised to hear that Instagram has one of the most active and engaged user base.

In fact, one report from Forrester Research found that Instagram generates 120 times more engagement per follower than Twitter.

With such high engagement, Instagram is the perfect platform to connect with customers, listen to their feedback, and build relationships through the conversations you’re able to spark.

You can share a photo of a new product and ask people what they think, or give them a sneak peek of a new project and see if they have any input.

2. Learn what people like

You may not realize it, but your audience members could already be sharing photos and talking about your business on Instagram.

This is especially true if your business has a brick and mortar location where customers visit on a regular basis.

Restaurants are a great example of this. People love sharing photos of their favorite dishes. With Instagram, they can share a photo and let their followers know where they are enjoying the meal by tagging your location.

But restaurants aren’t alone — people love sharing a variety of images from lots of different locations. And when they tag your location, their friends will see it, giving customers the chance to market your business on your behalf.

The best way to see if people have shared photos at your location is to snap a photo at your business and tag your location. After you share the photo, you will see a link above the photo that you can click to see all of the photos that have been shared at your store or office. This is a great way to see what people like about your business, and what they’re sharing about you.

Instagram Location

3. Reach new audiences

Instagram makes it easy to discover new photos, new people, and new businesses.

One of the ways that people discover new content on Instagram is through hashtags. Similar to other social platforms, when someone includes a hashtag in a post on Instagram, a link is created and you can view all of the photos that have been shared using that hashtag.

For a business like La Provence, a French boutique located in Rockport, Massachusetts, using a hashtag like #frenchdecor is a great way to get found by customers who share their passion. They can also include a hashtag that is popular in their town, #rockportma, to connect with local consumers.

You can also use hashtags to pro-actively find potential customers. For example, Oh to Be a Dog, a pet care business in Pasadena, Florida uses hashtags to find people sharing photos of their pets nearby and make an introduction.

“Hashtags have been great for us. We started out by searching for users in Pasadena, who were sharing photos of dogs. It was a great way to introduce ourselves to people we knew were local, have or just love dogs, and would probably enjoy our photos.”

In addition to hashtags, Instagram also has a Discover tab, dedicated to helping users find photos and connect with users that are relevant to them.

4. Fuel your other marketing channels

One of the great things about the content you create in Instagram is that it can easily be shared across all of your different marketing channels.

Within your Instagram Settings, you can enable social sharing to Facebook and Twitter, so that your photos will share automatically when you post them to Instagram. Even if you don’t want to share your photos on different networks right away, you can save your photo to your phone’s Camera Roll and easily access them when you’re ready to post.

The content you share on Instagram can also be used in your email marketing campaigns. If you’re a Constant Contact customer, you can integrate Instagram within your photo library with our MyLibrary Plus tool, and easily access your photos when you’re ready to send your campaign.

5. Generate sales

Creating professional-looking images to promote your products and highlight your services has never been easier or more affordable.

As a result, visual platforms like Instagram are doing more than just generating engagement, they are also driving sales.

One report from e-commerce platform Shopify found that the average price tag for a sale referred from Instagram is $65, compared to $55 for Facebook and $46 for Twitter.

Be careful not to fill your feed with product photos with the same caption asking people to “buy now” or “shop online.” Instead, look for creative ways to display your products and let your images speak for themselves.

Want to give Instagram a try?

One of the hardest parts of getting started on Instagram is deciding what to post. That’s why we created our 30 day #CCPhotoADay challenge. We brainstormed a list of 30 content ideas for you to try out.

See if you can try all 30! Make sure to include the hashtag #CCPhotoADay.