Last week, Instagram launched Instagram Direct, a new feature within the app that allows users to sent private pictures or videos. As Instagram describes it, the app has evolved into a “means of visual communication,” allowing users to uniquely express themselves through their photos. Now, users can express themselves to select, desired audiences if they so choose. Users can see who has viewed their photo/video in real-time, in addition to any comments, making it easy to use the app for fluid conversations and sharing.
At the moment, Instagram is more concerned with testing out sponsored posts, so don’t expect to see any ads sent directly to you. Direct messaging really allows Instagram to attract users who are more apt to use apps Snapchat to tailor their messages. Depending on the success of sponsored posts and Instagram Direct, one can speculate how the two would look together: exclusive coupon codes, exclusive previews of new lines, exclusive everything! It could be a cool concept.
While brands can’t directly advertise using Instagram Direct, they can definitely use it to engage with their current fans. Gap has already used Instagram Direct to hold a contest, where the first 15 commenters on their photo received a private message from the brand regarding a contest. Brands could potentially run contests to collect photos from fans, or send back exclusive photos like celebrity sitings.
In addition to engaging with fans on a positive level, brands could also use Instagram Direct for customer service issues and brand reputation management. Before, if a brand had a jaded customer commenting on your brand’s Instagram posts, they could just report or block the user. Direct messaging allows brands to take issues out of their comments and directly engage back and forth with users.
Now that we’ve absorbed some of Instagram Direct, what brands do you think would benefit the most from this new feature?