Instagram Outreach Tip: How Brands Can Use Instagram Direct

It seems like everyday I read about a new brand creating an influencer network. Whether they’re taking an opt-in approach or inviting advocates to participate based on their own identification and vetting process this trend is everywhere.

This rising marketing trend follows a one-to-one-to-many communication model and like we always say…it’s not necessarily about counting the people you reach, but rather reaching the people that count!

A year after its launch, Instagram Direct can still be a great way for brands to build and engage with their social community in a more personalized and intentional way.


For Those Who Missed The Memo 


Instagram direct enables users to send pictures and video content privately to one or more other Instagram users, much like direct messaging on Twitter.  You can also include up to 15 users in a direct message, and those included can see each other’s comments, encouraging open communication around the shared content.


instagram marketing

3 Use Cases 

Here are the most common use cases I’ve seen from marketers who are active in Instagram marketing strategies.

1. Start by sifting through your account’s existing followers. This will allow you to research Instagram users who already love your brand, the low hanging fruit if you will. Who engages with your pictures most? Who has the most followers and account engagement of their own? Is anyone on your list of followers doing  something in their photos that relate to your brand’s mission or product specifically? You could then select 15 best-fit Instagrammers to send a direct message with something like a coupon or promotional code and start a dialogue in the comment section. For example, you could invite the group to use their promo codes at the online store, or send an Instagram detailing an upcoming sale at a retail location. The same goes for contests. You could offer the first 15 people that comment on a photo a prize via direct message.


2. Because comments are visible by everyone included in the direct message, the feature provides a convenient platform to get to know your network on a personal level and create conversations about the brand. Ask your list to pick between two products featured in a photo, or ask if they have any feedback on the current products or service. Asking for feedback in an exclusive way will make your network feel like a valued part of the brand, a role that they will want to tell their own networks all about!


instagram outreach




3. Use Instagram’s Explore feature to search for product or campaign specific hashtags. This way, you will be able to see who has recently posted photos of their cool new stuff. From there you can create a list of folks to send a direct message to, thanking them for their recent purchases or participation.


Who Has Tried It? 


Instagram Direct Messaging can also be used to collect content submissions from an audience. One creative example of this was GoEnnounce’s “College Acceptance Giveaway” campaign last year.


GoEnnounce, a website that connects recently admitted college students, invited Instagrammers to direct message the brand’s account with photos of their college acceptance letters using #GoEccepted, and the first submissions received a special college welcoming gift.  


Be Considerate! Permission Marketing and Spamming 


Obviously, you want to make sure that the people you’re sending content to actually want your content. This seems like a no-brainer, but I can’t stress enough the attention necessary for making this type of exclusive outreach relevant and genuine.


  • Make sure you only direct message people who have engaged with your account before, and that your 15 selections are alike in a way that they will engage with one another in the comment thread of the message.
  • Be careful in planning your content, and align what you send as closely as possible with how those users post themselves or interact with your brand.
  • Use personal language. If it sounds like spam, your message will go from being flattering to annoying in no time. Try referencing a previous message, photo, or component of the network that will make the direct message sound like it came from a friend.

Have you used Instagram for marketing purposes? Share your tips and thoughts in the comments below!

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