Instagram, the 2 year old popular photo-sharing social network was acquired by Facebook in April for $1 Billion. It remains one of the most popular mobile applications. 80 million people are registered with the service, with 30 million of those new users joining the service in Q2 2012. Instagram users have shared 4 billion photos to date, fewer than the 300 million photos uploaded to Facebook daily but still an impressive showing from a mobile-only app. While Instagram is currently focused on product development and does not offer any marketing or advertising opportunities, marketers are still using the service to build and extend brands like Starbucks, Levis, Burberry, and more.

Instagram’s business blog recently reviewed best practices for brands looking to make the most of the social network:

Change Perspective

Explore the brand account at a user to experience the content the same way users do. This can help identify ways to best share content and engage with customers.

Share Compelling Content

Give users a reason to follow the account. Share exclusive images like deals, new products, or behind-the-scenes photos. Identify which images customers are most responsive to and share content to which users are receptive.

Expand Your Audience

Instagram accounts can be connected to other social networks, allowing Instagram photos to be shared across multiple platforms and increase their reach. It also lets users on other social networks know that the brand is on Instagram and can grow the audience. For example, Puma Sailing shares their Instagram pictures on Tumblr and Twitter.

Engage with the Community

Instagrams offers multiple ways to connect with users, and brands should take advantage of these opportunities. Ask questions in photo captions, and respond to user comments. Encourage users to hashtag their photos at events so other users can share in the experience.

Instagram also recommends telling a consistent brand story and posting consistently. The network is always evolving, and last week launched a new featured called Photo Maps which allows users to view all of their geotagged Instagram photos on an interactive world map. The Instagram app is currently available on the App Store and through Google Play. Download the app and see how brands are using their creativity to make the most of this growing opportunity.