Does your organization or business use Instagram to further your brand exposure online? First introduced simply as a picture sharing network and largely responsible for the cultivation of the #selfie culture, Instagram has evolved to become a thriving global community and a valuable resource for brand marketing.

Related: This Chicago PR Pro Accidentally Created a Career Building Instagram Followings

Did you know?

  • In 2015, the average Instagram viewer liked at least one post per day. Data revealed the engagement rate is 61 percent daily for a single action (a like or comment) while 30 percent of Instagram members liked 10 or more pieces of media per day.
  • 70 percent of Instagram users have participated in at least one contest that used a hashtag. Approximately 33 percent of viewers believed that a contest leveraging the use of a campaign hashtag was the easiest kind of online contest to win.
  • 84 percent of Instagram users reported that they enjoy receiving or collecting "likes" on their personal published content. That means that brands have to do more than seek out likes from consumers, they should be "liking" their customers back or commenting periodically.
  • 46 percent of Instagram users (male and female) have acquired post-secondary college or university education. About 48 percent of the Instagram community indicate they are employed in professional careers.
  • 48 percent of Instagram users in 2015 reported that they follow brands on the social network to be entertained by fun, quirky or humorous lighthearted images and posts. Witty content performs very well at engaging audience on Instagram.

One of the most important aspects about business marketing on Instagram is the quality of the content that is shared. This can, however, be a challenge for many brands to work ahead and produce campaigns that are visually and intellectually stimulating at a frequency that grows followers on Instagram.

Related: 10 Tips for More Instagram Followers

Five tips for using Instagram for business

1. The rule of hashtag abuse does not really apply on Instagram. While on other social media networks you want to avoid using too many hashtags (and diluting your message), on the photo-driven social network, the more hashtags you use, the better your audience engagement.

On " The Ultimate Guide to Hashtags” infographic by QuickSprout, using two hashtags resulted in a 41 percent average post engagement rate. Instagram posts that featured 11 hashtags or more (the network allows up to 30) resulted in a 79.5 percent post engagement rate per 1,000 viewers.

2. Engage your Instagram audience with regular opportunities to share their own pictures and comments. Too often, brands engage in one directional conversations with their customers, but the businesses that capitalize on the eagerness of others to share user-created content grow exponentially in followers on Instagram.

What brands are "killing it" on Instagram by creating frequent and high quality posts? GoPro (manufacturer of durable and wearable camera equipment) created a stand-alone website where Instagram followers can submit photos taken with a GoPro camera. Consumers can win the “Video of the Day” or the “Photo of the Day” (which provide winners with a 50-percent-off merchandise coupon) or be entered to win the “Creators Challenge."

The incentive works to encourage brand advocacy and contributions of stunning pictures from customers around the world, which also reinforces the adventure lifestyle theme and culture of GoPro through 6.6 million followers.

3. Avoid being overly promotional when creating Instagram content. The social network is culturally based on fun, life experiences and inspiration, not on overt commercialism. Brands can subtly grow followers on Instagram by keeping their posts interesting and entertaining with lifestyle messages rather than excessive sales or discount coupon offers.

A great example of this campaign method is Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, which engages in creative, almost daily photography of the product line in real-life scenarios. Consumers can picture enjoying Ben & Jerry’s at the local park or while walking their dog in the quirky and tasteful photography. It helps consumers relate at the level of lifestyle to the ice cream maker.

4. Post frequently! The brands that are growing most rapidly on Instagram in terms of followers and customer / fan engagement are posting one to two times per day, every day of the month. Consumers browse content on Instagram very quickly, and with the fast moving social network, out of sight is definitely out of mind. Hootsuite recently rolled out the ability to schedule Instagram posts, making it much easier for businesses to pre-plan and execute posts.

5. Invest in charismatic images and captions. The brand that manages to make someone smirk, laugh or smile wins by converting viewers into brand advocates on Instagram.

Avoid uploading substandard images or excessive content without a clear purpose or brand theme on Instagram. The audience can tell when a business is posting “for the sake of posting,” and it will elicit a negative impression from consumers.

Related: How to Choose Between Instagram and Snapchat, or Whether You Even Need Them

Marketing results on Instagram are commensurate with strategic and creative effort, but when it is done correctly, your brand can tap into one of the most engaged and responsive online audiences in the world.