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December 13, 2013Published by: Drew Benvie

From public to private: Instagram launches direct messaging feature

Private photo-sharing is the latest craze sweeping social media platforms. Just recently, Twitter launched a new app that enabled its users to do just that direct messaging.

As if that didn’t already have SnapChat feeling vulnerable, Instagram - which has around 150 million users - has just introduced direct messaging to its service.

No longer is it mandatory for users to share photos of their lunch publicly; they can now share them with their peers alone and also receive private pictures and videos from those they follow.

While this new addition to Instagram will be welcomed by its user base, who now have more choice in how they share their photos and videos on Instagram, what new opportunities does it present for brands?

Certainly, the ability to directly message users provides brands with an opportunity for some customer relationship management (CRM) and facilitate deeper relationships with their customers. Gap has already seen the potential of this by messaging the first 15 individual people who commented on one of its posts with a limited edition Gap product.

As well as this, brands can directly deal with customers' complaints in the same way they might do on Twitter. With direct messaging, brands can truly have one-on-one conversations with its customers and offer a more bespoke service.

With its introduction of video sharing (taking a leaf out of Vine’s book), sponsored posts and now direct messaging, its clear that Instagram wants to be more than just a photo and video sharing service but a social media platform that provides numerous opportunities for users’ and brands’ communication needs. Ultimately, this will make Instagram a more profitable platform for its shareholders.

Whether or not the Facebook owned platform can make this transition is still up for debate but what is certain is that Instagram has big ambitions and, with all the new features it has announced and implemented this year, it certainly isn’t keeping them private.