instaWith a current (and rising) total of over 150 million active users, if you are ignoring Instagram, you are doing this at the peril of your entire social business presence. In a recent study performed by L2 Think Tank, it offered proof that brands that actively used Instagram had a 25 percent higher engagement rate than any other social site that is available, including Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook. This app, which is popular for its photo sharing offerings, has experienced a year over year growth that is more than 900 percent. The fact is, with the huge numbers it is racking up, not being present could end up killing your entire social presence.

The Visual Web: An Undeniable Rise

Since the social media platforms offering a visually dominate base have entered the social media arena, there has been a huge amount of talk regarding the visual web rising. This is a theory that focuses around the fact that brands are learning the importance of show, rather than just tell.

This transformation has moved from Facebook status updates, to Twitter micro-blogs and now the words are being eliminated altogether. The visual communication impact is clear with the emergence of sites such as Pinterest and Instagram.

This new trend is attributed to the transforming habits of the users of technology. As more and more people are using smartphones to engage with social media, they quickly realize the ease of simply snapping a picture, rather than typing out an entire status update.

So, now where does this transformation leave content? When you take time to think about the purpose of a picture, it is really just serving as a preview for your other types of content. Your pictures will provide a snippet, idea or preview of what the article or site is about. This allows your audience to determine quickly is this is something that they want to pursue. Now the question is, how do you use these visual platforms, including Instagram, to increase your brand awareness and eventually your sales.

Three important words that you need to remember: User Generated Content.

The Main Idea

You can run a campaign or competition that is centered on getting your users to generate content in return they have the potential to win something. This will help to incentivize your brand and help get your customers to share what they truly love about what you have to offer.

Once you have developed the campaign, you can integrate a live Instagram feed into your blog or website, which will serve as a type of social proof or a testimonial for your actual brand.

The fact is that Instagram is a powerful way to reach people, but without words you must utilize the platform in unique and original ways. This is just one idea that can result in a huge return.