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A few months ago, Instagram introduced its Instagram Direct feature which allows users to send private photos or videos to friends and followers. Now, video rival Vine is jumping into the ring with its own feature — Vine Messages. Much like the array of competing social apps available (namely Instagram, WhatsApp and SnapChat), the feature allows users to send private videos and messages to friends.

Although the feature was primarily created with regular user in mind, it also presents a potential opportunity for brands in the future, in much the same way as Instagram Direct. It can give brands the ability to privately engage fans and followers, stage secret contests, and even provide the opportunity to more easily and effectively surprise and delight their audience.

While Vine Messages isn’t a wildly different product from Instagram Direct, it does give brands who already have a strong Twitter and Vine presence the ability to take advantage of this private messaging feature without moving to Instagram.

How do you anticipate brands will utilize this new feature? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.