As the year winds down, it's clear Instagram is the social network of 2015.

From December 2014 to September 2015, Instagram added 100 million active monthly users, growing its network by 33 percent in less than a year.

Instagram users also have different motivations. On Facebook, users want to connect with friends. On Instagram, users want to shop. 70 percent of users reported they seek out brands on Instagram, according to a 2015 Iconosquare study.

Those who follow brands on Instagram aren't doing it just for the discounts. Instead, 62 percent of users follow brands because they simply "love the brand." Instagram is the place for fans to connect and deepen their relationship with their favorite companies and brands.

Because of this, Instagram consistently has the highest engagement rates between users and brands, according to 2015 Forrester research. Instagram has a 2.3 percent engagement rate compared to Facebook’s 0.2 percent engagement rate. When brands post on Instagram, all their users see the content. Conversely, Facebook’s complicated algorithms display brand content to a select few.

Right now, Instagram can boost your brand's visibility, engagement and bottom line better than any other social network. Make the most of Instagram's influence this holiday season with Instagram ads.

Why Instagram ads work

Instagram ads are still new to users since they launched just a few months ago.

Already, they're proving they work. Instagram ads have an average click-through rate (CTR) of 1.5 percent. When a comparable ad is posted on Facebook, it sees a 0.84 percent CTR at the same cost, found Motley Fool research.

Reallocate your brand's digital ad budget to emphasize Instagram this holiday season. Learn how to post your first Instagram ad here.

Ads look native in Instagram's content stream. Often, users don't realize the image is an ad until they see the call to action at the bottom. By that point, they're already hooked.

Plus, Instagram offers your brand a fantastic demographic. The network is gender-balanced, comprised of 50 percent men and 50 percent women. Plus, teens describe Instagram as their "most important" social network, making it trendy. The popular network also attracts a wealthy demographic as it's used by 83 percent of U.S. teens in wealthy households, according to BI research.

Simple tips to improve Instagram post and ad performance

A new study by Curalate discovered the hottest holiday trends influencing Instagram success this year. Integrate these tips into your business's posts and ads to improve performance and engagement in a snap:

1. Light it bright. The lighter, the better. Photos taken in bright, white light perform better than darker images. You can always turn up the brightness when editing, but you just can't beat the natural glow of great light.

2. Stay inside. Keep it cozy, and stay indoors when snapping your Instagrams this season. Indoor photos drive more action than outdoor photos.

3. Think twice before sharing a pic with people. For beauty and home decor/improvement brands, do not include people. For other brands, pictures with people or faces perform slightly better. This is especially important for small brands or companies with a well-known founder or team leader.

4. Add text overlays. 46 percent of product photos include a graphic text overlay. Make an explicit offer or add an incentive in the caption or overlay for extra oomph.