4 Ways to Network with Instagram Direct

social media how to

Do you know how to connect with others on Instagram?

Are you using Instagram as a networking tool?

Instagram Direct can reinforce your relationship with current followers, while giving you opportunities to meet new fans and influencers.

In this article, you’ll find out how Instagram Direct can help you build a larger network.

What is Instagram Direct?

Similar to Snapchat, Instagram Direct allows users to send pictures and video to others privately–like a direct message on Twitter or a private message on Facebook.

Only you and the person or group you send the message to can see the content.

instagram direct feature

Instagram’s new Direct feature lets you share pictures and video privately.

The sent pictures and videos are stored in your (and their) Instagram inbox, where you can keep track of past conversations or see who else received the same message you did.

While this is a fun feature for Instagram users in general, Instagram Direct could be a game-changer for social marketing because it works seamlessly with your current Instagram marketing tactics; especially if you have permission to contact fans and customers directly.

Read on to find out four ways Instagram Direct can help drum up business for your company. Each tip has an action item you can do right now.

#1: Create Deeper Connections

Having real, human conversations online is the cornerstone of social media success. To have those conversations, you need to know as much as possible about the people you’re talking to. Are they customers? Do they read your blog? Do they work in the same industry as you?

Instagram Direct gives you a nontraditional communication channel that’s more human and personal so you can form deeper connections with the people who matter most to your business.

You can use Instagram indicators (e.g., a like or comment on one of your posts) to find existing followers, then create targeted direct messages that could result in solid leads.

The best part about using Instagram Direct with existing contacts and followers is that you’re messaging people who are already interested in your company, product or service. That’s a perfect foundation for a real human connection.

Go to your profile page and click on Followers.

instagram followers link

Click the Follower link at the top of your profile to see a list of your followers.

Scan your list to see if anyone jumps out at you as a contact you recognize. Make sure you’re following them back, and then start a conversation with them.

For example, you could send a simple thank-you picture regarding a recent purchase they made or a video with a sneak peek of something you’ll be introducing soon.

Next, change your post display so it’s in list form instead of grid form.

instagram list icon

Click the List icon to change how your existing Instagram posts are displayed.

Scroll through your last 10 posts and dive deep into the likes and comments. Do you see any trends?

Look for anyone who consistently likes your posts on a certain topic. Send those people a message related to the same topic and perhaps give them an inside look at your latest offer or someone else’s content they might enjoy.

As you start Instagram Direct conversations with contacts, clients and customers, make sure your message is relevant, not spammy. You don’t want to cut ties; you want to make lasting connections.

As long as you’re providing helpful, informative messaging, the gesture should be received well.

#2: Connect with Industry Influencers

Wouldn’t it be nice to get in touch with that one person you really want to have guest blog for you or join you on that upcoming webinar? Of course it would.

But what if that influencer doesn’t know you or your brand? There’s little chance an email to them will make an impact.

Instagram Direct gives you a different way to connect with influencers by offering something more likely to lead to a positive response: bite-sized visual content.

You may already have a list of influencers you know you’d like to connect with. If you don’t, do a quick Google search on key terms for your industry and see who pops up.

With those names in hand, go to your Instagram app, click on the Explore tab in the bottom navigation menu and pull up the search function.

instagram user search

Use Instagram’s search function to find industry influencers.

Search for the names of influencers and follow those you find.

Spend a few days watching their profiles and noting what types of photos they share. If you see a post that’s relevant to your niche or industry, send them a message through Instagram Direct.

#3: Get Feedback

If someone is following your company on Instagram, it’s likely they’re interested in your brand’s product or service, or your mission and culture.

Those followers are a wellspring of information waiting to be tapped. Instagram Direct lets you do just that.

With Instagram Direct, you can send a picture or video to up to 15 people at a time, making it easy to communicate with relevant pockets of your community. It’s a convenient way to get feedback on a new idea or product, or survey contacts about a current trend in your industry.

When you send a group message, everyone in the thread can see who is included and will see each person’s responses.

Not only are you gaining important insights, you’re helping everyone in the group foster new connections. What’s better than that?

Scan your follower list again to see which people fit nicely into a group. Do a few of them work at the same company? Have several of them been engaging with you recently on Facebook or Twitter?

When you’ve vetted your contacts and found a group of related people, send them a relevant message to get the conversation going.

instagram direct share

Send a group message to followers who have common interests related to your brand.

#4: Find New Connections

Why is your brand using social media? Because the bottom line is bringing in new leads for your sales team.

Your company’s public presence is meant to draw people in and ideally result in a sale.

As discussed earlier, you can search for new leads via existing contacts and followers. But you can also search hashtags to find new people interested in products or services similar to yours.

Click on the Explore tab in the bottom navigation menu to pull up the search function, then choose Hashtags.

instagram hashtag search

Search hashtags related to your industry to find new people to connect with.

Start searching hashtags you’re already using on Twitter or other social media sites, as well as hashtags that include keywords associated with your products or services.

Spend some time exploring your search results to see if you can offer helpful content to anyone talking about your industry.

For example, if you sell dishwashers, you could search for #dishwasher to find people who have taken a picture of their broken dishwasher and may be in the market for a new one.

You could offer your latest blog post on The Top 10 Dishwashers for Lickable Dishes or a case study from someone who recently purchased your brand’s dishwasher over a competitors’.

In Conclusion

Used carefully and considerately, Instagram Direct can bump up your Instagram marketing results. Just keep in mind that these tactics work best if you’ve worked with your contacts before and/or have permission to contact them privately.

Get creative and see how you can make real connections (without being too salesy) to generate interest in your business.

What do you think? Do you have other ideas for using Instagram Direct for business? Do you have a story to share about what’s worked for you? Share your experience or thoughts in the comments below.

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About the Author, Maggie Hibma

Maggie Hibma is a Product Marketing Associate at HubSpot. She frequently blogs for the HubSpot Inbound Marketing Blog on social media. Connect with her on Twitter @MaggieHibma. Other posts by »




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  • Jitendra Padmashali

    Nice One, According to me Instagram just released a new feature that many are calling a Snapchat killer. The new feature is Direct Messaging and it allows you to send private images and videos to other Instagram users.

  • Maggie Hibma

    Thanks, Jitendra! Yes – this post is all about that new feature.

  • Deanna Abita

    Honestly, because Instagram is a way younger crowd than twitter, it really isn’t a good idea to be trying to connect with your audience like this even if it is permission based. I run a small fashion company and have built a loyal 10k following on Instagram and if I tried something like #3 I would loose a lot of followers even though it seems harmless. Trying to use instagram as snapchat is not a good idea for marketers. It’s a good way to connect with friends like in the video but if you want to do this type of permission based marketing you should just use snap chat straight up. Now the bigger issue is how do you even use direct messaging tactics with a large following? There’s no way to group people together and send messages to a group so if I wanted to do the #3 feedback thing I would have to click over 10k check boxes, even just a segment of my followers I’m not going to click off 2-3,000 check boxes. I’m not trying to down this article it has some value for Instagram noobs but instagram direct feature used as a marketing tactic is not really a good idea. This applies x10 if your audience is under 29 and if your audience is 18-21 get on snap chat it’s a huge social platform that’s been getting a lot stronger now that everyone knows there not going to be sell outs.

    @evolutiondivision on Instagram

  • treb072410

    Great post Maggie! I definitely had a very informative read. Thanks for sharing!.

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  • Maggie Hibma

    Thanks! Much appreciated.

  • Maggie Hibma

    Thanks for your comments, Deanna. You bring up several good points. It sounds like perhaps Instagram Direct won’t work for you to grow your following for the reasons you pointed out. Congrats on your 10k base – that’s great!

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