Instagram has released a new feature that allows users to share photos only with users they choose, making the social network much more personalized and social. The feature, called Instagram Direct, is expected to elevate Instagram to be more competitive with apps like Snapchat and even Twitter.
Instagram Direct essentially enables private messaging and the ability to send private posts to one or more people. Currently, messages can be sent to anyone on the network, but individual users do have the option to block direct messages when they arrive. Any posts that are sent via instagram Direct will only be viewable by those it was sent to, and only those people can comment on the post.
While Instagram is currently saying that paid advertising will not be available on Instagram Direct, creative marketers can use the feature to interact with their followers, run contests and enhance their brand on Instagram.
What will likely be the most common use of Instagram Direct by businesses will be the ability to run contests and giveaways. There are a number of ways this can be done?you can ask followers to submit an entry via direct message, you can require users repost your message or share an original post with a specific hashtag to enter.
One benefit of using Instagram Direct for contests is that now you can notify the individual winner directly and privately, and you can share exclusive content or deals with them. The possibilities are endless?share exclusive content, a sneak-peek of a new product, or a discount or coupon code.
Instagram Direct makes it much easier to run contests on Instagram that require interaction, and several brands have already gotten on board with the idea. Get creative and be sure to offer something worthwhile of participation.
Instagram Direct now allows Instagram to be used in much the same way as Twitter for customer service. The ability to send direct messages allows for private problem resolution and customer service. Prior to Instagram Direct, it was incredibly common for users Tweet an Instagram photo to a business on Twitter to report a problem. Now that can be done directly within Instagram Direct.
Businesses currently using Twitter to handle customer service issues that do not have an Instagram account may want to consider opening an account. This new feature will enable customer service conversations on Instagram, and you?ll want to be there when people start talking about you.
Instagram Direct may also be used to offer incentives to those who follow you. Like contests, incentives can include sneak peeks of new products, access to a coupon or discount, and excusive content. If you are working to grow your fanbase, you can send a special offer to anyone who follows you, then reposts a promotional post of yours.
As a bonus for organically sharing your posts, you can send a special thank you to your followers who most often repost your content, which will also encourage them to continue sharing your posts. They?ll also feel like there is a real human out there who?s listening to them.
One downside is that anyone can send direct messages to anyone else, so users may just opt to ignore the Direct folder just like junk mail. Brands will need to be smart and careful not to spam those who do not wish to receive messages from them.
The new Instagram Direct feature allows businesses to connect with users on Instagram in a much more personalized manner, allowing for greater brand interaction and recognition. The change allows businesses to interact with their followers in much the same way as Twitter.
Brands will need to be careful not to be intrusive, and it?s not a good idea to send unsolicited direct posts. Keep it professional, and offer your followers opportunities to engage with your brand.