Jan 10

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5 Ways Businesses Can Use Instagram Direct

Photo Credit: Instructables

Photo Credit: Instructables

With the rollout of Instagram’s new “Direct” feature, marketing professionals are struggling to find out how they can best utilize it for business. The concept of the feature itself is simple; instead of uploading a photo for all IG fans to see you can now select up to 15 individual followers to send a given photo or video. Essentially it’s Facebook’s direct response to the app Snapchat, which has grown exponentially in popularity over the past year. The idea of pushing a message to specific followers is obviously very appealing for businesses, especially those that are currently struggling with IG fan interaction. However with this new found power, where should a business draw the line? If not handled with care it could potentially do more harm than good.

As with any other aspect of social media the first step to success is developing a solid strategy. When determining the best way to go about using Instagram’s newest feature, it is important to outline key ideas that will bring the most value to your company’s target audience. Bringing it back to social media fundamentals, it’s essential to understand that the message should not be what the business wants to say, but rather what the followers want to hear. After all, the last thing anyone wants is to be spammed on their own Instagram profile.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

1. New Product Releases:

Reward fans who interact with your business on a regular basis with exclusive sneak peeks of new products that are ready for release. Include a link to your business website where they can find out more about it. Sending this out to only select fans gives them a sense of exclusivity and has a higher chance of sparking word of mouth.

2. Contests:

IG Direct gives a business the opportunity to run a very organized contest or giveaway. Post a public photo to Instagram alerting followers that the first 10 to comment will be entered into a private contest. Once you have the appropriate number of comments, message all 10 followers individually with contest details. Another contest option is to ask followers to use the Direct feature to send a specific photo to your business in order to be entered into a random drawing. Be creative with it and choose a contest option that work best for your business.

3. Special Coupons or Sales:

Reward top followers by sending them special coupons as a way to thank them for their loyalty and interaction with your business. Top followers are any fans who comment or like the IG photos of your business on a regular basis.

4. Fan of the Week:

If sending coupons isn’t an option, another great way to reward top followers is to select one each week and feature them as your “Fan of the Week.” Find followers who have IG photos visiting your business or using your products and feature one of the photos on your business Instagram profile. Send them a Direct message of congratulations and be sure to ask them to check out their photo on your business page.

5. Customer Service:

Perhaps the best way to utilize Instagram Direct is to deliver superior customer service by establishing a unique relationship with your followers. Answer questions that are sent directly to your business IG account and find other ways to reach out in a positive light to your fans. For example, if a fan has posted a photo with a complaint about a product your business sold, send them a Direct message with an apology and a coupon code for a new one. If you notice a fan posts many photos of your business, send them a thank you video from one of your employees.


To send photos/videos with Instagram Direct:

  1. Take a new photo/video or upload a photo/video from your camera roll.
  2. Add optional  filters and a caption.

  3. Tap Direct. You’ll see some features appear in green.

  4. Tap the names of people you want to send the photo/video to.

  5. Tap Send.


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