Instagram Direct Boosts Brand Engagment

As our post on SnapChat’s unprecedented growth last week explained, brands that want to reach the younger demographic are going to have to embrace sharing platforms which facilitate a more “intimate” kind of sharing. Younger users have become “disenchanted with or wary of more open social broadcast platforms” claims an analyst at Ovum.

Facebook executives even reported a drop in sharing on the site by young users. Its launch of Instagram Direct reflects another attempt to reconnect with young users after Facebook’s failed attempt to compete with Snapchat by introducing the “poke” feature and then attempting to buy the startup for three billion dollars. Hopefully for the social media giant, third time’s a charm.

Instagram reported that its user base has grown from 80 million at the start of the year to 150 million, what Instagram Direct will ideally provide for is a further boost in their user base. People who are averse to the newsfeed-centric, broadcast kind of sharing can still find a meaningful way to use the platform.

It will also increase the amount of sharing across the platform. The unspoken “one ‘gram a day rule” won’t apply anymore. Users can share as much as they want without worrying about spamming followers’ newsfeeds. Kevin Systrom claims that the focus of the interface will now shift from photography to communication. In other words you don’t have to worry about taking a picture of the sunset that’s just perfect before posting it, you can capture a moment and share it as opposed to capturing a moment purely to share it.

This move is clearly good news for both users and the photo-sharing giant that can expect to become a far more attractive option for brands seeking to engage with a broad, young user base.  But what does Instagram Direct mean for brands?

Despite having just launched yesterday, brands have already begun to incorporate Instagram Direct into their marketing strategies.  Gap, Kardashian Kollection, and Instagram ad veteran Michael Kors have already used this feature to encourage engagement with their brand and content.

Michael Kors, for instance, posted a picture on its general profile with a caption claiming that the first 50 people to post a picture on their own profiles with the hashtag ‘MKDirect’ would receive a “special message” from the brand. The feature then, can be used to encourage users to engage with a brand, to share the brand’s content and consequently augment the brand’s recognition in the social space. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the feature will facilitate a more personalized conversation between brands and their consumers.

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