Today Instagram announced Instagram Direct, a photo and video private messaging feature within the app. The announcement allows brands and individuals to send photos and videos to others without posting to all of your followers and on the main feed. Instagram Direct was built to “feel natural to the Instagram experience you already know.” The Instagram Direct announcement comes after Snapchat rejected Facebook’s $3bn acquisition bid and Twitter’s announcement earlier this week that you can now send photos in Twitter DMs instead of just texts.

Below please find a step-by-step on how direct messaging on Instagram works, brand considerations and additional resources.

How Instagram Direct Works:

  • You will now see an icon in the top right corner on your home feed. This icon acts as the Inbox on Instagram
  • Tap on the icon to open your messaging inbox where you will see photos and videos that people have sent to you
  • As of today, when you click on the camera icon to share a photo or video, you will see the option (right above where you type in the caption) to share to your follower (“Followers”) or send to specific people (“Direct”)
  • To send to Direct, tap the names of people you want to send the photo or video to, write the caption and press send
  • Direct messages can be sent to one person or up to 15 individuals

Brand Considerations:

  • Your audience is (most likely) on Instagram and checking it regularly: Instagram Boasts 150M users with half of them logging into the app daily.
  • Brands same as individuals: As usual, brands and individuals are viewed as the same on Instagram so the same rules for direct messaging apply to both. If an Instagram user does not follow a brand, any photos or videos the brand sends to a user will appear in their “Requests” folder, with the option to accept or ignoring messages from that account.
  • Visual remains key: there is no “text-only” direct message option. Messages must include a photo or video.
  • Two-way communication with followers: unlike Snapchat, Instagram direct messages don’t disappear after a few seconds. When you send a direct message, you can have an ongoing conversation with the people you sent it to in the comments.
  • Influencer Relationships: Instagram direct messages could be a valuable way to communicate in real-time with a small group of already engaged brand influencers to share behind-the-scenes photos and videos
  • Contests: brands can also ask users to submit entries for a photo contest or collage by sending a direct message to the brand, rather – or in additional to – submitting entries publicly with a dedicated hashtag.
  • No advertising in Instagram Direct: during the press event, Instagram founder Kevin Systrom said that “it’s way too early” to talk about advertising in Instagram Direct and it’s “not the focus right now.”

Additional Resources:

Instagram – Instagram Direct Promotion Video

TechCrunch – Instagram Introduces Instagram Direct

Gizmodo – You Can Now Send Private Photos Over Instagram Direct

CNN – Instagram Launches Direct Messaging

Mashable – Instagram Direct Brings Private Sharing to Individuals, Groups

Image credit: jose.jhg

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