Marketers take note. Instagram’s visual impact on users has made a big impression, and no matter what your feelings are about it, the trend shows no sign of abating. This year, more than any other, Instagram has become an essential tool for business marketing – no matter what type of business you might be in.

If you are ready to sink your heels into this fun and valuable marketing medium, we’ve gathered some of our favorite Instagram tips & links to click more useful Instagram for business information.

1. Create an Instagram account.

First things first. If you do not already have an account, you should open another tab on your browser this instant. Don’t delay. Just go do that right now. Instagram is a must for business marketing. Why? Because that is where people go. The

numbers do not lie, there are over 4 million monthly active users on Instagram right now. Then, use the following tips to make sure you have everything laid out for success.

2. Set challenging, but realistic Instagram goals.

While this post linked above explains the climb to reaching half-a-million followers, the initial goal was 10,000 and it took them a year to reach it. Breaking down your larger goals into smaller, reachable milestones, can help keep your team motivated.

3. Use hashtags on Instagram.

“Instagram is more conversational than Pinterest, and hashtags are highly encouraged to increase your chances of being found by the right audiences. Using four to eight hashtags for each post will work best.”

4. Understand your Instagram purpose.

Before you can start interacting with people on Instagram, you need to understand more about growing your following. Grow your following organically, Create varied content that is both business and personal, Host a contest or competition.

5. Drive Instagram traffic home to your website.

If you are using Instagram to market your business, with a few simple tactics, you can generate quality website traffic from Instagram. Clicking through something on Instagram is a very deliberate act, much different than on Twitter or Facebook, so traffic from it is highly valuable.

6. Create well thought out Instagram posts.

It’s not enough to simply be present. Take some time to learn the tool and consider your visual voice and what you have to offer to your followers. As the article from All in One Social linked above explains well, “Once you decide to create a presence on Instagram, it’s important to know how to make the most of the tools and features available on the platform to effectively build more brand awareness and community engagement. Use these Instagram marketing best practices to maximize your results.”

7. Use Instagram to tell your story.

The visual storytelling power of Instagram in today’s marketing game is undeniable. The platform currently has more active users than Twitter (300 million), not to mention the dual option of video or photo makes this made-for-mobile platform the ideal place for brands to curate their personal brand story.

8. Your customers are on Instagram, and you should be too.

“More people follow and research brands on Instagram than on any other network.” There are currently 400 million active users on Instagram and businesses are using that presence to effectively capture the hearts and minds of their followers. Your first instinct may be to market on Facebook or Twitter, but research shows that may not be the best use of your invaluable time.

9. Like brushing your teeth…make Instagram a part of your routine.

Include Instagram as part of your daily routine. Photos are timeless, and you are essentially creating a photobook of your work or business, your life, your story. “…people like to do business with people they trust. If you put yourself out there, people realize you’re an actual real life human being and not just a person with a keyboard as an extension of your body.”

10. Be strategic with your Instagram posts

Some amount of trial and error is inevitable but every brand needs a strategy that includes tactics and goals. The link above shares three winning strategies to jumpstart yours.

11. Be mindful about your posts and presence on Instagram.

You can post as much as you want, as often as you want, but you want to be sure that what you are posting is working for you and for your business. Instead of simply posting pictures, be sure to engage, maximize your brands identity, be creative, promote and connect with your followers.

11. Stand out from the crowd on Instagram.

Simply put – be different. The article linked above advises, “Instagram gives people a way to see into your business in a way that’s different than Facebook and Twitter; instead, it encourages business owners to post “behind the scenes” shots and participate in fun trends like #WorkspaceWednesday (where you invite users to see what your workspace for the day looks like), or #SmallBusinessSaturday (a special day of the week when small businesses are extra-celebrated).” You can come up with your own ideas and might want to consider tracking color trends as well. Here’s what we found out about using contrasting colors to build engagement on Instagram.

12. Nurture your Instagram relationships.

Build relationships. Be aware that you are entering into a two sided relationship where your followers will have expectations, both about your sharing and responding to comments and questions that they may post. “Like any social media marketing strategy, Instagram should really be used to build a relationship with your audience and tell your story with pictures on who your business is and what it’s all about.”

13 Maximize your Instagram ROI.

The unique aspects of Instagram make it easy to employ marketing strategies that you will not find in other social media platforms. Use that to your advantage when creating new content and repurposing visual content from other social and marketing efforts. “As with all online sites, content is king at Instagram and you will get the most use of this platform by developing and re-purposing content to fit its positioning.”

14. Know your Instagram etiquette!

Know the DO’s and DON’T’s. There is a lot of information out there. A lot of tips and tricks to make sure you are using Instagram the right way. Be sure that you know what to do and what not to do when you are

implementing your strategy. This isn’t a big list, but these are your keys to success.

15. Measure and monitor your results!

By taking advantage of free and paid tools you can track how color and time of day affect color engagement, discover who use the hashtags that are relevant to you, and create lists of accounts to follow and engage with. Take advantage of tools that make building and growing your presence easier!