Although it was designed primarily for personal use, Instagram has become a great marketing platform for brands and small businesses. Making it an even stronger tool, the app has announced a deeper integration with Facebook.

Instagram is a photo-sharing service that allows you to snap a picture – or upload one from your phone’s library – apply a filter, and share it through the service or through social networks. It’s currently only available for iOS users, but an Android app is in development.

Facebook’s recent redesign – Timeline – is much more visually focused, acknowledging the power of images. Not only can Instagram users share photos through Facebook, but now images will be displayed in full size on Timelines. Previously Instagram shares were limited to small thumbnails. Your photo will also include the original caption added within the Instagram app.

What’s great for businesses is that Instagram photos can be posted on users’ Timelines, their friends’ Timelines, Groups, and Pages. Additionally you can create an Instagram album on Facebook so all your photos will automatically be uploaded into it, making it easy for your fans to check out your past uploads.

Brands like Bergdorfs and Starbucks have been using Instagram, and quite successfully at that. The fashion brand has uploaded more than 650 photos, while the coffee giant has amassed more than 92,000 followers. The key is to focus on interesting content, not necessarily branding. Encourage your community to engage with you by sharing photos of themselves with your products or from brand-sponsored events and then share those with the rest of your community – both on Facebook and through the app.

[Via: AllFacebook, Image credit: Janek Mann]