Mobile photo sharing is one of the fastest growing social media trends and it doesn’t appear to be slowing down any time soon. Instagram, recently named App of the Year by Apple’s App Store, has risen to the top of the mobile sharing applications.

In less than two years, Instagram has gained more than 15 million members who have uploaded more than 400 million photos. Many brands are using this visually-based platform to give customers a different and more interesting view of their products and services. Take inspiration from the following seven brands that have creatively integrated Instagram into their social media strategies.

Using Instagram for Social Good

1. Chobani: Like many others, Chobani uses Instagram to showcase its products, but with a twist. In addition to the cutesy holiday product shots, the company highlights its charitable efforts, including the arrival of its first convoy in Africa. It’s a great way to demonstrate that the company is more than just delicious Greek yogurt.

2. charity: water: This non-profit organization brings clean, safe drinking water to people in developing countries. On Instagram, charity: water shares photos from the field, such as people using the new charity: water well in their town. The company also highlights the heroes behind the brand with shots from its headquarters, including inspiring donations made by its community.

Using Instagram to Educate and Inspire

3. ABC News: Many news organizations are using Instagram, but ABC World News does a great job of balancing content with behind-the-scenes access to exclusive events — such as Diane Sawyer’s recent conversation with President Obama.

4. Sharpie: Instead of snapping pictures of people using Sharpie markers, this company takes a different approach and showcases the creative ways in which its community can use its product. Some days it’s an inspiring design and other days it uses Sharpie-drawn images as a conversation starter.

Using Instagram to Invite Customers Inside

5. Threadless: The T-shirt company does a remarkable job of making people feel like team members as opposed to customers. Threadless invites its community to participate by submitting designs, deciding which shirts get made, and uploading photos of themselves wearing the shirts. The company uses Instagram to highlight these moments and more behind-the-scenes activities from its headquarters.

6. Tiffany & Co: While it might be hard for fans to take their eyes off of all things shiny, Tiffany’s Instagram platform offers an in-depth look behind-the-scenes, including all the tools, techniques, and people involved in making its jewelry.

7. General Electric: General Electric uses Instagram to invite customers inside research labs, manufacturing plants, and even the archives to view the company’s impact on energy and transportation over the last 130 years.

These are just a handful of the brands currently using Instagram to engage current customers and attract new ones. So grab your iPhone, give a heads up to your team, and start uploading your photos to this innovative social media platform.

[Image credit: Jennifer Beese, Brad P., Don DeBold, bargainmoose]