In the past, a picture was worth a thousand words. Nowadays, a picture can be worth thousands of dollars for your business. With more users than Twitter, and a big visual impact, Instagram has become the go-to social media tool for small to medium businesses.

And it’s easy to see why – the mobile photo-sharing app has built up such a strong following it’s now the most popular social media platform, with monthly users topping 300 million.

As the fastest growing and most engaging social media network, Instagram offers brands new opportunities to gain visibility and interact with their customers.

If your brand is not on Instagram, it should be.

While you probably won’t get 50 million followers like Kim Kardashian, Instagram will help promote your business.

The app can be downloaded to your phone and is simple to use: take a picture, choose from a selection of filters to enhance the image and add a statement to the post. Then, just send it out to your followers. You can also post short videos.

First, think about what you are looking to get out of using Instagram. Is it to learn more about your customers, find new business, promote a service, or to show off some cool things you’re up to? Post your pictures accordingly.

As a visual-led social network, it’s important that images are high quality and in focus. Great pictures will attract more likes and comments.

You’ll also need to learn how to use hashtags – a method of gaining more engagement for your photos and more followers for your account.Users search for content using hashtags, so use keywords related to your business and industry, and ensure they are active and thriving.

For example, a personal trainer could use #fitnessaddict and #gymlife.

When it comes to getting followers, think of Instagram as a community. Do comment and like other people’s posts – that will raise awareness of your own brand and encourage new followers to check out your profile.

Target people who are interested in your industry. If you’re the personal trainer, search #fitnessaddict and find and follow users who have posted or liked photos with that tag.

Also make sure to post frequently and consistently, and include a link to your website underneath your bio so people can find you easily.

For many business owners, Instagram has not only catapulted their brand awareness but also acted as a powerful sales driver.

If you’re not on it, you’re missing out.