In December, Instagram announced that the number of users on their platform cracked 300 million. That is a 50 percent increase from the 200 million users nine months prior.

Considered one of the fastest-growing social media platforms, Instagram has now surpassed the 288 million users of Twitter and has gained the attention of marketers as a serious competitor to help grow their business through visual marketing.

With this increased attention, Instagram recently unveiled two new products — carousel ads and Layout to provide advertisers with more options.

Carousel ads, allows users to swipe through a series of images in one ad.

"Carousel ads give brands more flexibility in telling their stories by allowing people who view their ads to swipe left to see additional images and link to a website of the brand's choice," wrote Instagram in a blog post announcing the new feature.

Layout allows brands to create collages from their phone's camera roll. Photos can be dragged to rearrange and pinched and pulled to adjust size and layout.

The Social Media Marketing Industry Report by Social Media Examiner found marketers with more than five years of experience preferred using Instagram and Pinterest rather than traditional social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.

Research firm L2 says this is nothing new: "Humans have been ... reading words for hundreds of years. On the other hand, we have been reading visuals for thousands of years and absorb visuals 50x faster than words."

According to Internet Retailer, brands choose Instagram over Facebook because it is relatively free to post their marketing content on the platform as opposed to paying to sponsor their content on Facebook, which may or may not be seen on users' feeds.

"In the short term, marketers should continue to embrace this era of unwalled access to followers with a 'test-and-learn' mentality — determining exactly which types of content results in engagement (and, to the extent it can be attributed, sales)."

To enhance readership, brands included images featuring their product, a lifestyle image, an "influencer" or celebrity, an image tying into an event or holiday and also posting videos. Although video attracted more comments, photos had more likes.

How should you use Instagram to create your brand?

First, we need to look at who this marketing will work for. To help with increasing photo engagement with consumers, look to one of the biggest demographics in social media millennials. They are more than likely to engage in an advertisement with a natural, organic look compared to a photo that may look staged/studio made.

Laundry Service, a social media agency, did a six-month test to measure the performance of its campaigns using "organic" Instagram-style pictures. Advertisers saw a click through rate as high as 8 percent when they posted Instagram-type pictures, compared to the 2.35 percent click through rate when using regular images.

"We always liked organic content better," Laundry Service founder and president Jason Stein said. "We noticed it was doing a lot better so we started recommending it more and more to our clients."

Here are a few more pieces of advice:

1. Use hashtags

Hashtags are everywhere across all social media platforms and for marketers they are essentially increasing awareness of your brand. A study by Track Maven found that posts made by Fortune 500 brands using at least five hashtags received the most interaction.

With that said, when using hashtags make sure they are unique for your brand. Keep hashtags short and easy for others to spell. You want your customers to remember your tag and to use it correctly.

2. Use video

Brands who have incorporated video into their Instagram marketing plan usually are successful. For example, Nike increased its followers from 4 million to 12 million after posting Instagram video to boost their brand.

A white paper from video advertising company Unruly showed that 40 percent of the most shared videos on Instagram are created by brands, not average users.

3. Connect with your influencers

Influencing marketing is on the rise. A study in Tapfluence and Intuitive showed 92 percent of consumers turn to people they know for referrals above any other source, and 81 percent of referrals are found online.

As you connect with your influencers on Instagram, make sure to comment and share their post, which will help to attract more users. Follow them back and "heart" their post if appropriate.

Always encourage your followers to share your post and website to others.

4. Don't overpost.

You don't need to post on Instagram every day. The Instagram feed is not like a Facebook feed where users can change their feed to view their "most recent" or "top stories."

If you post a lot on Instagram, it may come off as trying to oversaturate a user's feed with your content. Make a schedule to remember when to post, and track those posts once created. Once you see followers gravitating towards your posts, adjust your schedule accordingly for when to post.

Since being bought by Facebook in 2012, Instagram continues to grow and understands they are a unique platform for marketers.

"Our real value in the long run is going to be in the advertising space," Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom said. "We're doing advertising in a fairly unique way. It's brand advertising. We're seeing a lot of resonance with advertisers because of that."