Not too long ago, Instagram was the weak link of Social Media. This isn’t a jab at their popularity – they had the users, the activity, and the content. The flaw? Lack of useful information.

It’s vital in todays advertising world for businesses to be able to target certain demographics and track ad performance. Before 2015, the popular image sharing platform was behind the competition in their business tools, offering neither demographics or advertising insight. Last year, however, they made a giant leap forward.

Catching up to the big boys, Instagram launched Business Tools, making it easier for companies to launch ads and view performance using analytics. Companies earned the ability to check impressions on posts, create ads and track clicks and views, and build campaigns with ad staging. Since this development, Instagram has soared in popularity with businesses, surpassing Twitter in ad frequency in a survey of 83 ad agencies (http://fortune.com/2016/06/10/instagram-twitter-advertising/).

Instagram’s merge with Facebook provides businesses with the demographics necessary for targeting specific groups, to better reach customers who might be interested in their products. Companies can now run ads on Facebook and Instagram, and watch how each ad does in terms of reach, impressions, and clicks. Businesses can integrate “Shop Now” and “Read More” buttons on these advertisements, to make it even easier to encourage customers to go to the next step.

In more recent talks, Instagram increased their business platform to include business profiles, better insight, and the ability to promote well performing posts into ads. These new tools will further close the gap between Instagram and other social media sites, claiming their own place as a vital platform for small, visual businesses.

These advancements, paired with the storytelling benefits of the image based platform, can build brand love in a way that non-visual platforms can’t. Brands can promote their brand in a beautiful way, sharing their story through blending promotional, behind the scenes, and brand images. This is a way to build a loyal and returning customer base who will return time and time again to your website or store.

Don’t overlook Instagram as a piece of the marketing puzzle. They’ve made themselves a formidable force in the online advertising world.