08.01.2014 Our top tips for making the most of Instagram direct messages

Instagram is the premier photo sharing site: with more than 150 million monthly active users it has grown from a niche iOS-only app to a massive social network in its own right. If we have learnt anything from its parent company Facebook, then we know that with growth comes change.

In order to keep up with the current market trends of private photo-sharing, Instagram has launched its very own direct messaging platform, Instagram Direct, to keep up with the likes of Twitter and Snapchat. The service has been dubbed ‘the snapchat killer’, giving users the ability to privately share photos and videos.

Compulsory sharing is no longer on the agenda with the new ability for users not only to share their latest selfie with a private group of friends, but also receive pictures and videos from users they follow. This is a strong step in the right direction for the social network.

It’s great being able to privately share your latest meal or a video of your cat dancing, but how can marketers and PR professionals truly utilise the new Instagram Direct service? This blog post will help you get closer to your audience using this latest technology.

Direct: it’s in the name

This service gives brands the opportunity to communicate directly with their audiences, and affords the audience the same. Brands can send out a photo to individuals or groups and even have the ability to know who has seen it.

Personalised content

Brands can create personalised content that it can tailor to users, for example if a sale was happening in an area, you could direct message users in that area encouraging them to attend. This gives the users a feeling of exclusivity as it is a private interaction.

The Gap took this one step further with its #WIWT challenge, offering the first 15 people to comment on their photo an exclusive Macbook satchel. This competition garnered international coverage in the press as it was the first of its kind to utilise Instagram direct.

Integration with public posts

Interestingly, brands can now integrate their public content with the new Instagram Direct service. This gives them two levels of interaction which helps to retain followers’ interest while building excitement and ‘buzz’.

A great example of this integration was from Instagram trailblazer Michael Kors: they created the hashtag #MKDirect and the first 50 people to post a picture would receive a direct from Michael Kors. This competition helped them to build buzz publicly while rewarding a handful of followers privately.

6 Top Tips

  1. Unlike snapchat, Instagram Direct messages have a shelf life so don’t send out anything that you think is sensitive.
  2. Group messaging shows the user who else the message has been sent to. Be honest in your messaging: don’t say that it is exclusive to them when the user can see that you have sent it to 100 other people.
  3. Remember this is a private experience so don’t spam your user; they will be unresponsive and this could end negatively for you.
  4. The more exclusive you are the more users will want to share, remember users love to show their own followers something different, so a personalised message or video is very likely to be shared.
  5. Integrate: make sure that all your Instagram Direct messages are perfectly integrated with all your public messaging.
  6. Use this new service to really show how creative you can be on a very personal level to your core audience, and demonstrate to them why you are worth following. You don’t just have to use pictures you can also use videos. Be creative and have fun with it!

This new feature is still very young and it will be exciting to see how brands use it over the coming months to build solid worthwhile connections with their audiences and followers.

Do you know of any great Instagram Direct campaigns, or are you planning on using Instagram Direct in your next communications campaign? We would love to know, so please get in touch!