Big business loves Instagram

May 21, 2012: 5:00 AM ET

Fortune 500 companies are looking at the big picture as they embrace social media.

By Colleen Leahey, reporter

FORTUNE -- About a year before Facebook bought the photo-sharing app Instagram for $1 billion, General Electric (GE) joined. Instagram users take and share pictures on their smartphones and "follow" other users' photostreams. GE (No. 6 on the Fortune 500) has 86,066 followers. Instagram's retro-filters can make GE's photos look like a history of the company, which turns 120 this year. But the shots are current. Starbucks (No. 227) and Target (No. 38) may have many followers (526,009 and 12,979, respectively), but their pics feature products, while GE's show a process, a look at how the company builds its big machines.

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Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that Target's Instagram account had 150,000 followers. The account actually has 12,979. The numbers of GE and Starbucks followers have also been updated from the story that originally appeared in the May 21, 2012 issue of Fortune.

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