Social media can definitely be a time suck, but if you're a creative professional, you need to join Instagram.

Let me start by saying I have no affiliation with Instagram – I'm just a big fan. I was relatively late to the party, having joined in January 2013. (Instagram launched in October 2010.) I had my hands full managing multiple corporate and personal social media accounts; adding Instagram to the mix was the last thing on my mind.

But I began to notice other companies and individuals using Instagram in creative ways and wanted to get in on the action. I pitched the idea of building a business presence to my boss and she agreed, and The Creative Group Instragram profile was born. I was having so much fun posting photos and following other feeds that I created my own profile eight months later. Now it's my favorite online social community. I'm definitely not an Instagram expert but rather someone who has experienced the power of this platform firsthand and who is eager to spread the word.

Top reasons to join Instagram

1. Insta-inspiration. We all have our favorite websites, blogs and books to turn to for fresh perspective, but Instagram provides bite-size inspiration in a flash. Pull out your phone, scroll through your feed and, if you're following the right people, you'll be met with endless eye candy. Don't know who to follow? Once you join Instagram, you can search for hashtags that align with your interests like #graphicdesign, #photography or, for a dose of nostalgia, #tbt. Once you start following accounts and liking photos, Instagram will serve up other profiles you might enjoy.

2. Insta-friends. Many Instagram users are creatives at heart and want to engage with like-minded people. If you regularly "like" someone's work or comment in a thoughtful and non-spammy way, there's a good chance that person will return the favor or at least notice you. I've developed several valuable online relationships for myself and TCG this way.

3. Insta-portfolio. You may have a digital portfolio or blog where you showcase your best and latest work, but Instagram is an ideal platform for giving people a behind-the-scenes glimpse of projects you're working on. Think of how easy it is to snap and share a photo with your phone versus uploading and publishing it on the Web. And you don't have to be as concerned with editing; in fact, sharing photos on a regular basis demonstrates your "always-on" creativity.

4. Insta-feedback. After you grow your following (and it takes time, so be patient), you'll have a valuable support group at your fingertips. Don't be shy. Start posting photos and see what response you get. You may be pleasantly surprised by the "likes" and comments that come in. If you seek feedback, ask a question in the caption. Most Instagrammers I've encountered will offer words of encouragement and constructive criticism that you can use to refine your art.

5. Insta-fame. You might not rake in helicopter rides or first-class plane tickets, but joining Instagram can open the door to new opportunities. It's how I became a guest contributor to Pottery Barn's Inside & Out blog (a big deal for someone who recently broke into the food blogging scene). Instagram is a powerful tool for building your brand. More and more companies are getting on the Instagram bandwagon and this could be the way to get seen and hired.

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