How Brands Can Use Instagram Direct

Sometime last Friday, Instagram introduced a new feature called Instagram Direct.

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Now, Instagram users can share their private photos and videos directly with their friends – either a specific person or a group of up to 15 people.

This gives Instagram’s 150 million users a whole new way to engage with each other, offering a more personalized way to share moments with a smaller group of people, and not necessarily all followers.

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

For brands, this new feature opens doors and presents opportunities.

Already, brands are seizing the chance to start creating connections with their customers.

Just a few hours after Instagram Direct was launched, at least 4 brands were taking advantage of it: GAP (who now has the distinction of being the first brand to use Instagram Direct), Hyatt, Kardashian Kollection and Michael Kors.

Guess they picked up pretty fast on what an awesome tool this will be in terms of customer engagement, and deepening relationships with customers.

Now brands can have a more visual conversation with their customers in real-time, answer/respond to them faster and hopefully give more customer satisfaction.

And those are just a few of the things brands can do with Instagram Direct.

If you and your brand want to jump on the bandwagon, here are a few ideas for things you can do with Instagram Direct:

1. Audience segmentation

Let’s say you want to share photos of your new product, but not necessarily with your entire Instagram community. Maybe it’s a product for a certain segment of your target market, but not all.

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You can choose who you send your photos to with Instagram Direct – though currently you’re limited to only 15 people.

That’s fine. It requires a bit of legwork, and knowing the right people to share your new product image with – which is why you should know who the influencers are within your Instagram community. Then all you need to do is send out your picture and let them do the rest.

2. Sending out a sneak peek.

You can send out a sneak preview of your new products to 15 of your biggest fans, before going live.

This will be great for promoting new products or services.

You can ask your followers to repost the content with a special hashtag, and increase the chances of it going viral.

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3. Collect feedback and data.

Not everything has to come from the brand’s side. Customers can use Instagram Direct for engagement as well.

For example, if they wanted to alert a brand about a product error, they could send a photo of the problem directly to the brand via Instagram.

Then the brand can discuss the issue privately and directly with the user to solve the problem.

Of course, the brand must be following the user in order to initiate dialog… but this means brands are no longer forced to handle customer service issues via the comments section.

It also allows you to target customers of certain demographics or locations, in the event you’re looking for feedback to help with specific brand research.

4.  Contests

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No reason not to follow GAP’s example.

The new feature is just perfect for contests.

Since fans can now contact brands directly, that opens the door to all sorts of fun and games… and engagement.

You can try contests like “first to reply wins”, “first to take a certain photo wins”, or even a scavenger hunt.

5. Exclusive coupons.

Reward your top followers (or as a prize for a contest winner) with coupons!

And not just normal coupons, but exclusive coupons.

You could send them out to those of your followers who comment/like/repost your content frequently.

All you have to do is send them a photo with a coupon code and a message thanking them for being a loyal follower, or something to that extent.

The Instagram Direct feature is still new, so it might take some time to come up with new, better ways for brands to engage with their customers with it. But for now, all the ideas above are pretty good – if I do say so myself. Keep exploring different options and find out what works best for your brand.

 

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