Instagram Direct: Big Deal or Not?

December 13, 2013

in App Reviews

  • SumoMe

Instagram LogoInstagram, the popular smartphone app that has allowed millions of people to share photos of their cats or restaurant meals with other Instagram users, or post them on Facebook or Twitter, added video capability six months ago.

Now Instagram offers a “private messaging” feature called “Instagram Direct” that lets users share photos and videos with just a single person, or a limited group of people.

So is this a big deal or not?

“Instagram Direct” Video Sharing Trumps Facebook and Twitter

Adding direct messaging to Instagram might seem like a “no-brainer” to Facebook and Twitter users who have long had the ability to communicate directly with individual “Friends” and “Followers.”

Facebook and Twitter let you take a new photo or use one stored on your phone and send it via direct message sent from your phone.

But unlike Instagram Direct, you apparently can’t use the Facebook or Twitter apps to shoot a new video or use an existing video clip and send it from your smartphone directly to specific people.

Who Can You “Instagram Direct”?

As far as I can tell, you can only send a photo or video to another Instagram user, either someone that Instagram suggests, or someone you are following on Instagram.

That makes sense because, just like Facebook and Twitter, Instagram is a “community” of users.


You can “Instagram Direct” a single person, or up to 15 people at the same time. However, it doesn’t seem possible to create and save a “group” or “list” of Instagram users that you can quickly select when you want to send them all “ID” messages at a later time.

This Instagram promotion video shows “Instagram Direct” being used on a “road trip.”


“Instagram Direct” Inbox

After updating the Instagram app on your smartphone, you’ll find an “Inbox” icon in the top right-hand corner of the app’s screen.

Tap on the Inbox icon to find all of the “Instagram Direct” messages you’ve sent or received.

You can “chat” back and forth with another Instagram user about the photo or video that you sent, but you can’t add more photos or videos to that chat session.

This YouTube video posted by The Verge demonstrates “Instagram Direct” messaging.


Other Instagram Sharing Options

You are not limited to sharing your photos and videos via the new “Instagram Direct” feature.

You can share them with all of your Instagram Followers, send them e-mail, or post them to Facebook, Flickr, Foursquare, Tumblr, or Twitter.

“Instagram Direct”: Big Deal or Not?

If you are a frequent user of Instagram, especially if you prefer to use it when you shoot photos or videos with your smartphone, and have a lot of Instagram followers, “Instagram Direct” you may find “ID” very appealing.

Or if you have a lot of personal (as opposed to virtual) friends that use Instagram, being able to send only them your photos and videos, rather than sharing them with a wider group of people, may be a big plus.

Bloggers or Website owners, or those with Facebook Fan Pages, might want to ask specific people to critique a photo or video before it is posted online for the public to view. “Instagram Direct” could be useful in that situation, although sharing via e-mail or an online album may worth as just as well, and be a better choice if several photos or videos are to be reviewed.

(For more information on “Instagram Direct,” visit the Instagram blog. And for other takes on this new Instagram feature, read these stories published by The New York Times , San Francisco Chronicle, and The Verge.)

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