Storytelling is one of the most effective ways for a brand to connect with its target audience, and Instagram is one of the most popular ways to tell that story through pictures. But how do you stand out from the pack?

It’s easy to snap and upload a photo from your smartphone, but if you’re going to get noticed on Instagram, you’ve got to get creative. You can use third-party editing tools or simply apply some basic photography techniques to your picture-taking. There’s more to it than just choosing a hip filter.

Here are a number of ways you can make the most of Instagram as a marketing tool for your business.

1. Start With Your Smartphone Camera

When telling your brand’s story, capturing the perfect shot is important. You want to make sure the story you’re trying to tell as a marketer is coming across as effectively as possible.

When you upload directly from the Instagram app, you’ll probably notice that the photo you’re trying to take is square and does not fill the frame of your smartphone’s display. You can’t zoom in when you’re taking a photo from Instagram and you’re limited to seeing everything within its somewhat limited frame. This makes it challenging to get exactly the photo you’re looking for.

If you want a little more freedom to manipulate and move your photo around for the perfect angle, take your picture with smartphone camera and then move to Instagram. From there, you can upload the photo from your camera roll. This way you can pinch and zoom, move, and scale your photograph to get the exact look you’re going for.

2. Tell Your Story With a Collage

If you’re trying to convey a message, sometimes one photo isn’t enough. You can upload multiple photos to your Instagram app, even photos that were made with another app. Pulling a number of photos together into one collage can really help when you’re trying to convey a certain message.

Apps like Picframe and Frametastic help you bring your images together to tell your story, or show how something is made. Most collage apps give you a number of layouts and the ability to choose how many photos to display.

3. Use Other Apps to Edit Your Photos

There are a limited number of options to edit and manipulate your photos in Instagram. In fact, all you can do once you take your photo is apply a filter. So, there’s no reason not to stick with your favorite photo editing apps on your smartphone when uploading to Instagram.

Apps such as Camera+, Hipstamatic, 360, iPhoto, and more give you a lot of control over your photographs. Look for apps that give you the type of editing tools you’re looking for; from standard photo correction, to photo manipulation, and filters.

4. Add Hashtags

Just like many other social networks, Instagram has adopted the hashtag. Use hashtags in your photo description to create a theme, tag your brand, or tie-in with other popular hashtags. Plus, if you decide to push your Instagram photo to Twitter, the hashtag will come in handy there, too.

5. Highlight New Uses for Your Product

People are always finding new and interesting ways to use and reuse products. Why not be a part of that phenomenon? Highlight new uses for your product. Maybe people are hacking your products in interesting and inventive ways you never imagined. Sharing these types of creative pictures on Instagram is a great way to visually display your product.

 Are you using Instagram for your marketing efforts? Please, share your tips in the comments below.

[Image credits: Tucker W., Jesús León, Jessica McLaughlin, Nancy Frost, jeffisageek, Paul Sobczak]