Is your business on Instagram? For many businesses the obvious answer is yes. But many others still hesitate – afraid of one more platform to learn about and manage. If you offer a product or service, maintain a storefront, or have knowledge, advice or offers to share with your customers, it’s probably worth it. If you don’t do any of the above? You might not actually be in business.

Here’s why you are missing out if your business is not on Instagram.

Thanks to geotags and a proliferation of hashtags, you’re probably already on Instagram, in one fashion or another.

If you produce something tangible, or do business with the public at a specified location, you may already be on Instagram. Go ahead and do a search for yourself and see. Search your location and some hashtags related to your business or service, as well. Like what you see? Not that there is anything wrong with a candid shot. But when people search for your business, wouldn’t you like them to find a well lit, well composed shot?

Naysayers take note: If you don’t maintain your own presence on Instagram, you are at the mercy of bad photographers and disinterested third parties.

You snooze, you lose. Failing to monitor your market on Instagram is a little like being asleep at the wheel.

Trends break on Instagram. By the time they hit rest of the internet, someone else has already turned a profit. If you are on Instagram, and search your business category regularly, you will quickly become familiar with the hashtags of your trade. These hashtags can give you important insight into customer preference, new and exciting ideas and what your competition is doing wrong… and right. Instagram informs and inspires – but only if you’re making the effort to stay in the loop.

If a brand doesn’t have an Instagram account, do they really exist?

Customers are looking for you on Instagram. For social media natives, an Instagram account is a stamp of authority and authenticity. These connected customers will often search for an Instagram profile *before* searching for a website. The assumption is that a website is a static PR/Advertising fabrication, as authentic as a classified ad. Instagram shows and tells more, and more is what today’s consumers expect. If you’re not there, you might not be perceived as trustworthy.

Which one would you trust?

By showing fresh content regularly, and a human element, Instagram builds engagement, and trust. It gives a face and a voice of authority to a business and lets us know what’s going on over there in real time. Think about it… would you rather get your dog groomed by the mobile groomer who posts daily before and after photos with all her clients along with dog styling tips and advice, and who answers questions and comments each evening, OR the groomer with a static url that shows a phone number and an outdated photo of a strip mall?

Today’s consumer wants to eat at the restaurant whose chef posts photos of new menu selections. They want to stay at the resort that has invited the guests to help design the honeymoon suite.

If you aren’t on Instagram, you are missing one of the best, easiest, social media opportunities to build community.

First comes engagement, then comes trust and then community. Community is one of the best ways to market and grow your business. No matter what service you offer or thing you buy or sell, you are an expert at something and your customers have something to learn from you, and you from them. Instagram provides a power medium for you and your community to connect and grow, and your sales and growth opportunities to flourish.

So get out there and introduce yourself! The world is waiting.

This article was written by Ciaran Blumenfeld from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.