Digital & Social Media

Direct to You From Instagram: Message Images


What Happened: Instagram recently announced a feature that allows people to send images through Direct Messages, called Instagram Direct. While new, it isn’t entirely unique. Not so coincidentally, Snapchat and Twitter introduced a similar capability just one day before Instagram. Where Instagram differentiates itself in the messaging category: You can alter your photo (by adding filters, glow, etc.) before you hit send. So how will it work? Two new tabs will appear at the top of the screen when a user attempts to post a picture; one is labeled “followers,” and the other, “direct.” The “followers” tab will push the photo out to everyone, while the “direct” tab will allow users to choose up to 15 people to whom they want to send the photo. A one-on-one chat or a group chat will then be launched with the people selected by the user. Friends in the chat will be able to like photos and further engage in a thread of messages.

What This Means for Brands: While the move appears to be a function mainly benefitting consumers who use the platform, Instagram suggested using Instagram Direct as a way to collect photos for brand contests with user-submitted photo components. This could get tricky when it comes to the permission system that protects users from spam. In the current model, only people who mutually follow each other can send these direct messages. Anyone outside of a users’ Instagram network will be categorized as a pending request that must be approved by a user. When asked whether he’s going to bring ads into the just-announced feature, founder Kevin Systrom replied, “I think it’s way too early to talk about advertising and Instagram Direct,” but then again he didn’t rule it out. So, more later.

Contributing to TRENDING items are Jenna Carter, Sarah Gordon, MaryFrances Hicks and Abby Ray.