Instagram’s Newest Feature Rivals the Likes of Snapchat

15 Dec Instagram’s Newest Feature Rivals the Likes of Snapchat

Snapchat, who? Instagram just upped its game last week by débuting Instagram Direct.  The popular photo sharing-app now allows users to send photos or short videos through private message to (up to) 15 friends.  Unlike its messaging competitors, Instagram starts every direct message with a picture or a video.

CEO Kevin Systrom announced a mystery press conference earlier this month by sending out physical invitation to a few key media players.  The press conference took place on December 12, where Systrom unveiled Instagram Direct.

The feature allows you to not only send private messages to friends you follow or that are following you, but also to people that are not in your circle of friends.  If you do receive a direct message from someone that is not on your list of friends, you will be prompted to accept the pending photo or video.  This doesn’t necessarily mean you are now following that person or that you’ve accepted them you follow you.  You merely just exchanged a private message.

This is especially useful for brands to interact with their followers by sharing “sneak peeks” or allow followers to submit photos for a contest.  Systrom sees this feature being used by educators as well; teachers can interact with students to share information on projects.

Facebook, which acquired Instagram for $1 billion in 2012, has been trying to keep its appeal over the years to not only young people, but to all audiences and advertisers.  Instagram, which had about 80 million users at the beginning of this year, has now almost doubled its user-base with billions of photos uploaded to-date.  While Facebook has tried a few messaging services in the past that have flopped, Instagram is proving to be a worthwhile investment.

Instagram has much competiton with Vine and Snapchat and also indirectly competing with apps like WhatsApp. As of now, users can’t save group lists but it’s probably one of the many features to come.  Systrom noted this is just the first iteration.

Jessica Lindberg
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