I’ll admit it, I’m a big Instagram nerd. Take a moment to consider the beauty of it:

My iPhone is always with me.

It takes pretty good pictures as-is and lets me record sights and experiences without needing to carry a camera around.

Then Instagram waltzes in and provides me the opportunity to pretend I’m a REAL photographer? You say I can crop, adjust sizing, change highlights and shadows, and add light filters and blur? Oh and then I can share these photos with my friends on Twitter, Facebook and elsewhere? All from my handy iPhone?

Genius.

Admittedly, I fall into Instagram’s target market, but that doesn’t change the fact that Instagram users provide a unique opportunity in branding. As Reb Carlson says, “Many companies are now trying to recruit Instagram influencers with large audiences to capture content. Brands are looking to reach a wide audience within a visual community that still does not offer advertising opportunities.”

Here are some recent examples:

1: Barney’s New York, an upscale luxury department store, hired several popular Instagram users to photograph a launch party they were having for a new designer’s fashion line. Doing this gave them direct access to the 160,000+ followers (read: potential customers) each Instagram photographer has, and gave them a creative story.

2: Delta, a sponsor of the New York Rangers hockey team, hired Instagrammers to shoot a hockey playoff game in Madison Square Gardens. This was unique because the Delta promotion was more subtle than advertising due to the game being the focus of the photos.

3: Maersk, an international container shipping company, didn’t focus on highly popular Instagram users, rather they focused on getting as many amateur phone-photographers on board as they could. Basically, they asked people to tag #Maersk any time they spotted and Instagram-photographed the massive shipping containers.

So what does this mean for you as a business owner? No, I’m not advocating for you to run out and start investing in an Instagram influencer strategy right off the bat.  I would encourage you to pay attention to the new digital media tools that are available, though.

Instagram - 8

Credit: Flickr – Brent Ozar

A great approach is to view everything as an opportunity and look for creative ways to use those opportunities. It doesn’t mean, however, that every tool or creative app is right for your business. If you pay attention and familiarize yourself with the tools and how other companies are using them, you’ll see ways your business can capitalize.

Few companies are known for their success in being a mile wide and an inch deep, or put more simply:  being everything to everyone. Understanding what is out there and seeing the ways these tools are used will help you make wise choices and implement the right pieces of the “digital toolbox”  for your company.

Most importantly, it helps you avoid wasting your time on “doing it all” but keeps you from missing the boat. Do a few things well, don’t try to be mediocre at it all.

What is the most recent risk you took or tool you decided to learn? Are you using it in your marketing strategy now, did you disregard it, or are you still deciding?