Instagram is the fastest growing social media platform when it comes to the number of businesses choosing to include the platform in their advertising plans and by 2017, Instagram will surpass Twitter as a marketing platform.

These are some of the key findings from a report by market research firm Emarketer into how US companies are using social media in their marketing.

Read more: Retailers hope new Instagram “product tagging” feature will get more users shopping

Emarketer has predicted that almost three quarters of US companies with 100 or more employees (74.2%) will be using Instagram for marketing purposes in 2017, up from 53.2% in 2016, reports Mashable.

This compares with the 66.2% of companies that are expected to use Twitter for marketing purposes in 2017, which is only slightly up on 66.1% in 2016 and 65.8% in 2015.

Instagram parent company Facebook is still number one when it comes to social media marketing, however, with 85.8% of US companies with at least 100 employees expected to use the platform in 2017.

However, the number of companies using Facebook for marketing is growing at a much slower rate than those adopting Instagram, which could in part be a reflection of the age of the platforms.

Read more: 20 Australian entrepreneurs to follow on Instagram

Should your business spend advertising dollars on Instagram?

Emarketer estimates advertisers are spending approximately $US500 million ($670 million) a year on Instagram and with the number of brands using the platform set to increase next year, that figure will only climb.

And according to figures released by Instagram in 2015, some five million Australians use the platform each month.

So, should small Australian businesses try Instagram advertising out?

Lucio Ribeiro, head of strategy and delivery at Online Circle Digital, told SmartCompany the first thing small businesses should consider before booking ads on Instagram is whether the platform is a good fit for the business.

“It’s not for every business,” Ribeiro says, adding that the platform requires both time and money.

“If you can dedicate two or three hours a week, have a good eye for photos and videos, and can afford a few hundred [dollars] in advertising, Instagram can be a good support for your business.

“Ultimately, marketing is about relevant popularity, reaching as many people with a relevant message (or image) as possible, and Instagram offers that.”

Thanks to its close integration with Facebook, Instagram advertising can be highly targeted, which Ribeiro says allows small businesses to design campaigns to reach specific groups of potential customers based on their age, gender, or location.

On average, every $10 spent will get your image or video in front of around 1000 people, says Ribeiro, and that money is most effective when spent on your best photos or videos.

But running an advertising campaign is not the only way to use Instagram for marketing, with Ribeiro suggesting small businesses also consider using influencer marketing.

“Influencer marketing is one of the best ways to quickly build up your Instagram following, particularly when you’re starting from scratch,” he says.

“Through influencer marketing, you can connect with people with an established following and get exposed to their audience.”

For those businesses that have an Instagram profile but are not yet ready to shell out for advertising on the platform, Ribeiro has a number of tips to make sure your profile ticks all the right boxes, including setting up the account correctly from the start.

“Fill up all the information you can – name, website, description. Don’t leave anything behind,” he says.

The other key thing to remember is to use hashtags, says Ribeiro.

“If you want your posts to show up in the app’s search, you need to start using hashtags for Instagram. It’s a quick way to increase your visibility and reach people who aren’t already aware of your brand,” he adds.

This article was originally published on SmartCompany.

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