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Instagram Direct: What does it mean for brands?


Yesterday, Instagram unveiled a new feature for its popular mobile app: Instagram Direct. You can read all about it on the Instagram blog.

For many users, this will simply be a more efficient way to share photos with specific friends.

But for brands, this new feature opens up a few doors–and presents a few new opportunities.

Now, off the top, one challenge for brands here will be the ability to segment their Instagram community and create “groups” or lists of fans/customers broken up by geography, interests, etc. For most of the ideas you see below, this will be absolutely key.

And right now, we don’t have many tools to help us do that. Just a lot of elbow grease. But, given that, I have a few ideas on how brands could specifically use this new piece of Instagram functionality:

Create photos specifically for certain segments of your audience

This is the no-brainer. Let’s say you’re a food manufacturer and you want to share photos of a new product–but you only want to share it with bloggers and “influencers” you’ve worked with in the past and NOT your entire Instagram community. With Instagram Direct, you can now do that (but it sounds like it limits the number of people you can send to at 15). Now, that will require a little legwork on your end–you’ll have to FIND these influencers/bloggers within your Instagram community, but chances are, you have a list going already with those social properties detailed out.


Send new product pics to your very biggest fans

Let’s say you’re Threadless and you have a brand-spanking new t-shirt design you want to share only with your biggest fans. The biggest of the biggest. In essence, you want to give them a sneak peek before you go live with the new t-shirt design in another week. With Instagram Direct, you can send a pic of that t-shirt to that small audience–and just that small audience (asking them not to share it publicly, of course, but knowing it could go live). Again, the trick is curating the list on Instagram, and until Instagram gives brands better tools to do that, this will continue to be challenging. But, you’re playing on that exclusivity factor, which we know many fans value.


Live Instagram an event–but only for key media

This idea is out there a bit–I’ll give you that. But, for those media/influencers you know who are using Instagram, what about live-Instagramming your event JUST for this audience. You could do it, now, with Instagram Direct. Hear me out. You set it up by sending a short note to this short list of media/influencers in advance, telling them you’ll be live-Instagramming the event on a specific day/time and to follow along for the latest pics. Great way to give this key audience exclusive content–and content they hopefully use in articles, blog posts and other media-sharing activities in the following days.


Create an Insiders for the Insiders Club

OK, so this one’s a little FURTHER out there. But, what if you created a club specifically made up of your insider’s insiders. THE super-fans for your brand. These would probably be fans you hand-pick, but for those of us who work in social, you KNOW who your super fans are, right? You have Twitter lists (and many of those people also use IG). Just cherry-pick 10 of those folks and start this uber-insiders club. Remember, fans LOVE exclusivity. Why not just give it to them through Instagram Direct? You’d promise to share behind-behind-the-scenes footage and photos. Stuff fans literally will not get anywhere else.

Those are a few initial thoughts. What about you? What brand-specific ideas do you see for Instagram Direct?



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