Photos tell your story and draw shoppers to your store.

How many times have you seen an image that caught your attention and moved you in some way? Pictures and video have the amazing ability to instantly produce a wide range of emotions, from happiness and joy to anger and sadness.

No doubt you are familiar with the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words.” This is probably why Instagram, the image-sharing social media platform, has grown at such an incredible pace. Consider that 700 million people are active Instagram users each month and the number of photos shared to date is 40 billion.

Sprout Social reported that, according to Instagram, 80 percent of users say they follow at least one business on the app, with 60 percent hearing about a product and service through the platform. As of March 2017, over 120 million Instagram users have visited a website, gotten directions, called a business, emailed or messaged a business. Each of these activities signifies some level of interest, and in many ways, these Instagram fans can be considered as leads.

To get more tangible, at least 30 percent of Instagram users have purchased a product they first discovered on Instagram. So, how can you put your business in front of this ever-growing audience?

Instagram Basics

You can use your own camera app or the built in Instagram camera to take photos or record a video up to a minute long. Then you can choose a filter, adjust and edit the picture, add a caption, and that’s all it takes.

Instagram Stories is a feature that allows you to share the moments of your day through pictures or 15-second videos that disappear after 24 hours. To capture a story you just need to swipe right to open your camera, shoot, draw or type, and post.

And then there’s Instagram Live that lets you connect with your followers and broadcast in real time. When you’re ready to go live, just swipe right to open your camera and click the “Start Live Video” button. You can go live for up to an hour, and once you finish, the live story disappears. But you have the ability to save the video to your camera roll.

The final basic to make sure you’ve covered is in the profile settings. Set up your account as a business account and be sure to fill in all the profile information. There are sections for name display, bio information, and website. Keep in mind, the website field is the only place on Instagram that allows a functioning hyperlink. Don’t leave this or any other field blank.

Instagram Best Practices

Approximately 80 percent of your content should be focused on educating, inspiring, entertaining, and engaging your audience. The other 20 percent should be self-promotional featuring products and services.

Using hashtags on your posts gets more engagement than posts without them. Hashtags help users find content they’re interested in, and in the process find you. Try using at least five hashtags per post but don’t be afraid to use up to 15 or 20.

Another powerful feature of Instagram is sharing your location. Posts with a location get 79 percent more engagement, so when you post a new image or video, always share the location of where it was taken. This step will put your image in position to be discovered as people are watching and searching places and locations.

Don’t be afraid to show your face. Photos on Instagram that feature faces get 38 percent more likes than those without. And faces in your photos don’t always have to be a selfie. Showing photos of your team together at an event or shots of your customers can also be effective.

Take a minute to compose your picture and make sure the subject of your photo is well-lit. Try different filters and angles to catch the attention of the people scrolling the feed.

Business Through a Lens

Everything you post on Instagram doesn’t need to look like it was taken by a magazine photographer or movie director. Instead of approaching what you do on Instagram as creating well-scripted and highly polished photos and video, approach things from a documentation perspective. Document your business and show off the day-to-day operation. Welcome people to follow along with you each day.

Look at each day through the lens of your camera and you’ll discover interesting stories that your followers will look forward to seeing each day.

—Chris Rainey