Instagram Gets Direct: How You Can Use Direct Messages

By Kate Dunham | Small Business

Social media moves fast—and we’re not just talking about the sheer volume of conversations. Social platforms are constantly making changes, which can make a marketer’s head spin. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Google+ each made multiple changes in 2013 that will help vastly improve your social media marketing. Over the next week, we’ll be featuring one or two important updates from each social network and detail how you can use them to your advantage this year and beyond. We’ll also provide real-world examples of how brands are utilizing these features for inspiration on how you can too.

Instagram Direct Message: The Details

  • Users can now send photos or videos to other users privately.
  • Users can like and comment on the photo or video and the sender will be able to see who has viewed it.
  • Photos and videos sent from people you follow will appear automatically. If you do not follow the person sending the content it will appears as a request allowing you to choose whether or not to view.
  • You can send a direct message to multiple users and each person receiving the messages has the ability to reply all, reply just to the sender, or comment.

How Brands are Using Instagram Direct:

Gap launched a contest using Instagram Direct just two hours after Instagram announced the feature. The brand sent the first 15 people that commented on its photo a Direct Instagram that asked for photos of what the users were wearing for a chance to win a prize.

Instagram Gets Direct: How You Can Use Direct Messages image Gap Instagram DirectInstagram Gets Direct: How You Can Use Direct Messages

How You Can Use Instagram Direct:


You could follow Gap’s example and run a contest with selected users. Or run a public contest and use Instagram Direct to contact the winners. Take advantage of the fact that you now have the ability to have direct contact with your followers.

Provide Customer Service

Consumers are increasingly taking to social to air complaints or request help—be prepared on Instagram. Take customer services issues into direct mode to effectively help the customer without having a potentially negative conversation in public.

Offer Exclusive Content

Reward brand advocates with extra content or a special offer, delivered individually with a direct message. Find your most loyal consumers and hold flash sales or scavenger hunts to win a prize.

Create a Community

Since direct messages can be sent to multiple users, you can use the feature to hold group discussions. Create a private community of your top brand ambassadors or influencers where they can connect deeper with your brand and with each other. Offer them sneak peeks into your latest products or content, ask for their feedback and encourage them to share with each other (and make sure to monitor the conversation closely).

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