How to use Instagram’s new Direct Messaging

Facebook have been rebuffed by Snapchat despite offering  an incredible – if rumours are to be believed – $4 billion dollars for the fast growing startup. Mark Zuckerberg was clearly keen to acquire the technology behind the picture messaging app which allows users to send private picture messages. It’s USP (Unique Selling Point) is the auto-deletion of images after they’ve been viewed.

Whilst not having the same ‘photo disappearing’ feature, the Facebook owned Instagram has now introduced direct messaging. You can send a direct or private message to an individual; a bit like Twitter except the message is a picture or a video but even more important from a marketing point of view is group messaging. You can send a direct message to both Followers or people you’re following, so effectively anyone on Instagram. This clearly could mean a free for all for spammers, but it’s a great opportunity to put your business directly in front of people.

I’d suggest the best approach is to focus on key clients, advocates, influencers and members of your community. You can engage them by doing the following which will strengthen their connection with your business and encourage them to interact with your content. The suggestions are for both individual and group messages on Instagram. Incidentally, you could use the image and photo ideas below on Snapchat too.

1. Personal message
Record a customised video for a new client to welcome them or for an existing client to thank them for their support.

2. Birthday card
Send a birthday card or a birthday video greeting.

3.Product pics
Send an image or a video demonstration of a product to your existing customers. This would work well with a new product or a special one eg a sparkling piece of jewellery or some fancy cupcakes.

4. Flash sale
Send a coupon with a code that your customers can use to obtain a discount. You can then track the success of your campaign.

5. Photo of a meal or a drink
If you run a restaurant or bar you could combine 3 and 4. Take a photo of a dish or drink and send it to customers along with a discount code or special offer eg 2 for the price of 1.

Are you thinking of including Instagram or Snapchat in your marketing mix in 2014? Let me know in the Comments below.

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