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Courtesy Tiffany Jones, Associated Press
This undated photo provided by Tiffany Jones and posted in March 2014 to the Instagram account of her company, Peridot Sweets Las Vegas, shows a Winnie the Pooh birthday cake with coordinating smash cake. Jones says this cake had the most Instagram "likes" of all her children's cakes.

Small business owners say photo-sharing app Instagram is becoming a more important part of their social media strategy. They are able to build their company's brand, gain customers and even boost sales.

Here's five tips for entrepreneurs looking to use it for their small business:

1. TELL A STORY. Upload photos that are more than just product shots. A bakery can take a snapshot of someone putting together a wedding cake or painting the walls of a new store opening soon.

2. GET INSPIRED. Look at what major brands are doing on the app and see if you can copy some techniques. Instagram also has a website with tips and links to big brands that are using its app at business.instagram.com.

3. USE HASHTAGS. A hashtag, which is a pound sign (#) before words or phrases, can make your photos easier to find. If you hashtag a picture with #weddingcake, people searching for wedding cakes on Instagram will be able to find you.

4. RESPOND TO QUESTIONS. As your following grows, so will the comments from users. People ask where they can buy items, sizes or what time your store closes. Those questions need to be monitored so you don't miss a sale.

REPOST CUSTOMER PHOTOS. Using hashtags, search Instagram for people posting about your company and repost great pics. This will inspire more sharing and get your company's product in front of more people. You'll need a separate app to repost, such as PhotoRepost or Repost for Instagram, because it can't be done from the Instagram app yet.