Instagram has launched the ability for users to send pictures or videos to individuals or small groups of people, called Instagram Direct. The new private messaging function brings a lot of potential for businesses.
When people receive direct messages from people they are already connected with on Instagram, they will automatically appear in their inbox. If they receive a message from someone they aren’t connected with, the message will appear in the “requests” section and users can choose whether to open it or not. With this feature, users can send pictures or photos to groups as large as 15 people.
This new feature is very similar to Twitter’s Direct Message feature, and makes a large social media network more personal. It could also give brands the chance to visually connect with their markets in a more individual way.
How Businesses can Use Instagram Direct
Instagram has already been proven to be a great tool for social media marketers. All kinds of brands use it to promote their brand visually and accomplish goals like sell products, increase site traffic, raise awareness and create an online following.
Will businesses benefit from Instagram Direct? In many ways they will. Now businesses can use the social network as a way to communicate to individual customers or followers, in addition to using it to send public messages.
Provide Customer Support
Businesses already use Twitter’s Direct Messages for customer support, as a way to listen to their customers and provide help when needed. It’s safe to assume that brands can now use Instagram for similar purposes, although in a more visual sense.
At the very least, businesses can use Instagram to listen to customers and then send a direct message referring the customer to a more broad customer support channel, like a website or a phone number.
Just recently, Gap became the first business to use Instagram Direct by inviting users to participate in its “What I Wore Today” contest. It posted a photo with the caption: “Join our #WIWT @Instagram Direct challenge: first 15 people to comment below will get a message from us to participate!” The business then used the direct messaging feature to communicate with the participants privately. Your business can use the same strategy to make it easier to run contests on Instagram.
Get Permission to Use Photos
There’s no doubt that Instagram users are creative, and many of the images your market takes could be used to promote your products. If you find you want to use some of these pictures on your blog, website or anywhere else, you could use Instagram Direct to ask users for permission to use their pictures.
Message Market Segments
Of course, one of the more basic ways your business could use this feature is to send messages to small groups within your market. Since you can currently only send direct messages to a maximum of 15 people at once, this may be somewhat tedious, but could work in some situations. Sending discounts or thank you notes to people who mention your brand or who write blog posts that promote your business, for example.
Create Elite Groups with Special Information
People love to be part of an “inside” group, where they get sneak peeks, behind-the-scenes information, or the inside story, that others’ don’t get. Instagram Direct is perfect for creating these kinds of groups within your market. You could do this on a regular basis or for specific events, product launches or big announcements.
Instagram Direct has become yet another way brands can use social media marketing to communicate directly with customers, potential customers, fans and online followers. The new feature has a lot of potential and with some creativity and strategic planning, your social media marketing plan could benefit from the new Instagram Direct.