This past Thursday, December 12, Instagram Direct, premiered the social media network’s new direct messaging feature.  Arik Hanson, sums up what brand managers should know in his recent article “Instagram debuts direct messaging: What brand managers should know” in PR Daily.

For private users this new feature is simply a way to share pictures more privately, by only including specific friends.  For brand managers, this features opens up a variety of new opportunities to communicate with key partners and customers.  Instagram allows you to divide your Instagram community into several segments broken up by interest, Instagramgeography, etc.  Hanson has some ideas on how communicators can best leverage this new functionality from Instagram:

  1. Specific pictures for certain sub-groups within your target audience:  Perhaps you want to share a new product only with certain bloggers or others on your go-to media list; you have the option to send it to them in a private message rather than the entire Instagram community.  Although the group size seems to be limited to 15 members, with a little effort on your part, it is still a great outreach option to potential advocates of your brand.  If you have been using Instagram for a while it is likely that you already have identified your key fans that function as bloggers or media influencers – if not you’ll be able to identify them very soon.
  2. Sneak-peeks:  Let’s say your company or brand creates a new visual identity or brand campaign and you want to give your most loyal fans a sneak peek a week before the design is officially launched. The Instagram Direct feature will allows you to do this. Of course, you would ask them to respect the public release date, and hopefully this special audience will respect your request. Or perhaps, a sneaked early release from these brand ambassadors might be a good strategy! This personalized outreach option is a great way to connect directly with your audience and partners, making them feel part of the process and as a result, even more likely to advocate on your behalf.  It also offers another way for a dynamic two-way PR communications exchange that has become ever more prevalent and important in the industry and referenced in this previous blog post, “Trends and Shifts in PR.”
  3. Live coverage of events:  Hansen goes even further and proposes that Instagram Direct could be used for live coverage of an event that’s offered only for a chosen audience.  You could invite certain followers in advance via Instagram Direct including the key details..  The actual coverage with the latest pictures can simply be done by a communications person who thoughtfully curates and provides exclusive content to your key audience – who, again, use this information to share with their followers and friends.

Summing up, Instagram Direct allows communications specialists various ways to exclusively connect to our fans.  And while these thoughts by Hansen are a great starting point, no doubt, once in the hand of users, many new and even more created tactics will emerge.  Direct and more personal connection and exclusive content are the keys here to a world of strategic possibilities.

Stay tuned…