As Instagram gets to be more and more popular, it is natural that smart marketers would devise uses of it for their objectives. While we're not sure how long this may last, as Instagram is owned by Facebook and change is bound to happen, for the moment it is killing it's social parent when it comes to engagement.

Witness the recent (2014) study by Forrester Research that shows among other things, that Instagram is beating its parent Facebook in terms of user engagement by a measly 60X! Add in Facebook's recent trimming of marketer's sails when it comes to organic ad reach, and you can understand why everyone is actively looking to see what Instagram is capable of doing for their brand. Listed below are 7 ways we've found that companies are using Instagram to help with their social marketing.

7 Ways to market on Instagram

Get a business account on Instagram - Creating a branded business account is the first step, along with completing your company profile and connecting it to Facebook as well as other social media channels.

Don't be shy about using hashtags - Make it a point to use hashtags in your updates, as that is a major part of how people find you via mobile. Likewise, use your brand hashtags and be sure you monitor these, as you'll want to catch any comments or concerns before they explode.

Engage your customers - Like your followers photos, comment, embed, mention and otherwise recognize and engage with those connected to you.

Use Instagram's new 15-second videos - Use these to exhibit products, people and your brand.

Showcase your products - An obvious way to use Instagram, but also effective. One simple way to showcase and research simultaneously is to ask questions about your products, such as "How are you using XYZ product?"

Use Crowdsourcing to create excitement about your products - Start a contest and ask users to submit their best images of your products, showing their best uses and results.

Post frequently - Find your optimum posting rate, whether that is a few times a week or more than once a day. The key is to post enough that your audience is growing and engaging. You'll know it when you see it.

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