Instagram is evolving into a social network from a smartphone application. With over 12 million users and 400 million photos uploaded, Instagram may be one of the most popular photo sharing websites that exist—and it was named iPhone App of the Year by Apple. Instagram allows its users to take a photo, edit it and apply “retro” filters, and share it to other social networking websites (Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr). Within the app, users can follow their own Facebook and Twitter friends, and also search for others and follow one of the many brands that are on Instagram.

Many brands and businesses have seized the Instagram opportunity- it provides these businesses with yet another platform to present their brand and gain consumer interaction. What I like about Instagram for brands is that it is a way to interact with consumers and customers without trying to push your product on them. It’s not salesy like Facebook and Twitter posts can sometimes be. Instagram is all about sharing, viewing, and commenting on pictures of things that people are passionate about.

Some of my favorite brands and companies that are doing it right:

  • Starbucks (starbucks): Starbucks has over 16,000 followers on Instagram, and they have been tagged over 100,000 times. The popular Frappuccino drink itself has over 1,000 followers. Starbucks has even linked their Instagram account to – a smart move.
  • ABC World News (abcworldnews): ABC World News uses Instagram to visualize their news stream and engage with over 92,000 followers in the comments.
  • Diet Coke (dietcoke): I’m admittedly addicted to both coffee and diet coke. So maybe I’m biased with listing Diet Coke under one of my favorite brands on Instagram, but I can’t help it- and neither can their other 1,700 followers. Diet Coke’s instagram is filled with quirky graphics all related to DC.
  • The Boston Celtics (celtics): Sports Social Media Marketing can also go beyond the habitual mediums such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, believe it or not. The Boston Celtic’s Instagram has over 50,000 users following. The Celtics are using Instagram to connect with its passionate fans.
  • Mashable (mashable): As everyone’s most frequented source for social and digital media, it’s no surprise that Mashable is on Instagram- and even less of a surprise that they have almost 33,000 followers. Mashable has uploaded photos of social media events, employees, and puppies. It’s no wonder they have such a following.

If you’re an avid Instragram user such as myself, feel free to leave your username in the comments, and I’ll gladly follow you.