The social media, startup and tech communities were united in a single topic of conversation (and in some cases, frustration) a couple of weeks ago, following the announcement that social networking juggernaut Facebook had purchased the photo-sharing mobile app Instagram . . . for the mind-boggling sum of $1 billion.

While some observers saw this as good news for both platforms, many responses to the sale were critical, hinging either on the sheer heft of the price tag or on concerns expressed by the passionate Instagram community. What would happen to the site’s functionality and data ownership going forward? (Remember: The Instagram community had only recently experienced other growing pains. Android users had just been welcomed into the fold with the release of a new Instagram app, creating a major uptick in their numbers.)

But if you’re a marketer using social channels to build your brand and business, this acquisition is actually very good news, and the benefits shouldn’t be overlooked in the midst of all the debate. As I see it, now that Facebook owns Instagram

Social media marketers just expanded their reach, with no extra effort.

If you’ve been using Instagram or Facebook (but not both) to market your products, the integration offers you seamless access to new potential customers. And if you are savvy enough to be using both platforms, your integration just became 100 percent easier.

Plus, the tools just improved.

Now that Facebook owns Instagram, you’ve gained access to Facebook’s undeniable marketing mojo to build on your Instagram success. On the other side of the coin, the unique nature of Instagram’s photo uploading, editing and sharing capabilities will add tremendous dimension to the visual aspects of your Facebook presence.

As we all know, Facebook hasn’t made its name as a place to create marketing content. Instead, the platform is known as a vehicle to distribute marketing content –and Facebook has relied on third party apps to make that possible. The Instagram acquisition means Facebook is now beginning to expand and refine the kind of content developing and sharing functionality it extends to users. Ultimately, that means social media marketers and their customers and leads will have more ways to generate meaningful content… and more ways to engage with one another through that content.

If you want to do something better, learn from the best.

While Facebook is undoubtedly the biggest player in social media marketing, the manner in which Instagram users have developed as a community offers Zuckerberg and company some solid insights into how to facilitate Facebook communities more effectively and make them more compelling. In addition, I’m sure Instagram can provide some valuable lessons around location-based services (not a strong suit at Facebook) and user-generated content.

Granted, the sale is just a few weeks old, and the jury is still out on how it will ultimately affect either platform. But from my perspective, gaining additional functionality and stronger potential for channel integration can’t be anything but an asset for social media marketers.