There’s no doubt that Instagram is quickly rising in the world of internet marketing and rapidly becoming a must-have for marketers. Unfortunately, not all companies are fully taking advantage of the usefulness of this platform. If you’re one of them, it’s time to make full use of the social media site for lead generation and online marketing for small businesses.

Update Your Profile

If anyone is intrigued by an image you’ve posted, they’ll click through to your profile page. While the main focus of Instagram is on the images, it’s also important to let visitors know who you are. Instagram doesn’t allow for much in the way of a profile, but you can write a short description of your business. Keep it light and fun and don’t be afraid to throw in an emoji or two.

Showcase Customers Using Your Products

Ask your customers to post pictures with your company hashtag when using your product. This is a quick and easy way to get other people to create content for you, but it’s also excellent social proof. Share the images to add more content and social proof to your own page.

Reward Your Followers

Try giving your followers a shout out now and then, or provide them with a discount code or coupon for your products. The idea here is to make them happy customers who will tend to talk about your company–and that’s always a good thing.

Create a Contest

Contests are popular on Instagram and will immediately draw more attention to your brand. Ideally, your contest will require participants to use your hashtag when they post a certain type of image. For example, if you sell baby clothes, you could have people post a photo of their baby having fun. A car repair company could ask for images of your dream car. Get creative and people will be interested in participating, especially if the prize is worth it.

Use Widgets

A very simple way to boost your Instagram followers is to use a widget on your website that will showcase your latest posts on Instagram. Website visitors can start following your feed right from your site, boosting those numbers.

Share Your Photos

Don’t leave all those fantastic images on Instagram . . . share them to Twitter and Facebook. The more social media sites you share on, the more eyes are on your business. It also saves you time, since you can literally click and share, without worrying about writing unique descriptions or coming up with plenty of new, original content. Since people will usually follow you on one platform or another, you can share the same posts and increase your reach.

Interact with Followers

It’s easy to post images to Instagram and then go on about your day. After all, you run a business and have a lot of work to do. Since Instagram is a social media site, however, it really works best when you spend some time interacting. This can include liking other people’s posts, following new people, and it should always involve responding to comments on your own posts. When a company interacts well, people respect it more and feel that there is a real person behind the brand.

Be Real

Grab shots of your employees working, take selfies around the workplace, and post images of your customers using their products, rather than only posting perfect show photos of your products. While people do love to see your products, they also like to see the human faces behind the business. This makes it more personable, and they are more likely to buy from you.

Instagram can be an amazing marketing tool if you let it be. There’s no need to spend hours every day on the site, but being smart about how you use it can dramatically boost sales and brand visibility. Instagram should definitely be high on the list of priorities when it comes to online marketing for small businesses. Need some inspiration? Follow OSP on Instagram.