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It's been a busy week for social media, thanks to Black Friday, the Grey Cup and, of course, U.S. Thanksgiving, which caused turkey lovers to post in record-breaking numbers on Instagram last Thursday.

With more than 200 Thanksgiving-related photos being posted each second at the peak, consumers shared more than 10 million photos on Instagram that day, breaking all of the photo-sharing service's records to date.

With what is arguably the biggest holiday of the year fast approaching, it's likely that "Instagrammers" were just getting started.

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If consumers are using Instagram more than ever to share, why aren't more brands doing the same?

It's a tool that allows users to share photos in a fast and simple way. You can post, follow, tag and share images within the app alone, or integrate it with other social media tools, including Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.

Instagram has brought something new to the table and more brands need to get on board. Here's why:

Consumer awareness is on the rise

Facebook's acquisition of Instagram has surely contributed to an increasing awareness of the app this year.

Instagram's recent decision to create online Web profiles and Instagram badges means it will soon be more integrated in consumers' daily lives and reach new audiences by becoming accessible to those who do not have mobile devices.

With at least one new user every second, Instagram has reached 100 million users within its first two years. To put this into perspective, it took Facebook four years to gain the same number of users and Twitter an even longer five years to reach this milestone. With so many consumers already active on Instagram, brands that aren't using it are missing out.

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Consumers want to connect with brands

Eight out of 10 consumers want to help in co-creation projects with brands, according to a social media report by InSites Consulting. Instagram offers a unique way to do this. Users can instantly create a visual status update and share it in seconds. Apps such as this transform the way consumers share experiences and provide an opportunity for brands to interact with them in a meaningful way.

Comodo is an example of a brand that is doing this very well. The New York-based restaurant noticed a trend of its diners photographing meals and sharing them on Instagram. Comodo capitalized on this by adding the hashtag #ComodoMenu to restaurant materials and, in no time, created an Instagram menu with the help of its patrons.

The brand engaged with consumers in a way that broadened its reach and provided guests with the opportunity to share feedback on Comodo's menu.

Moves like this offer brands the ability to crowdsource content, virtually free of cost, while gaining public credibility that doesn't necessarily come from advertising.

Free People, a women's clothing company owned by Urban Outfitters Inc., is another brand leading the way on Instagram. It created individual product hashtags that allow consumers to share Instagram photos of themselves wearing the clothes on its product pages, as well as the general campaign #MYFBDENIM hashtag. The campaign enables consumers to share photos and view clothing on real people prior to a purchase.

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Both of these examples, entirely different from each other, have caught onto a new trend and devised creative ways to provide better customer service using Instagram.

The app offers companies the ability to engage with consumers online by developing a social presence in innovative and engaging ways. It's a tool that's got it all, and it's time for businesses to pay more attention.

Special to The Globe and Mail

Mia Pearson is the co-founder of North Strategic . She has more than two decades of experience in creating and growing communications agencies, and her experience spans many sectors, including financial, technology, consumer and lifestyle.

Join The Globe's Small Business LinkedIn group to network with other entrepreneurs and to discuss topical issues: http://linkd.in/jWWdzT

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