Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram was a smart, forward-thinking move, and the social media behemoth has infused some terrific tech swag into its younger, photo-first sibling with the release of Instagram Direct.

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Take a look at these four ways companies can hone in on all Instagram Direct has to offer.

  1. Contests. Instagram Direct allows photographers to privately send pictures to up to 15 users at one time. Brands can host a contest asking followers to repost an image or provide their own with an associated hashtag, including tagging the brand’s Instagram handle. The winners will be sent to Instagram Direct with the prize or exclusive content. This incentive pushes onlookers to be content participants, rather than bystanders. When dialed in correctly, all the entries from advocates can be turned into earned media for deeper brand recognition. The combination of the two methods raises brand awareness and will encourage those bystanders to become participants in the next contest.
  2. Sale Announcements. Who doesn’t love a sale? Better yet, who doesn’t love an exclusive sale? Reward loyal followers with follower-only coupons and early sale announcements. A new spin on traditional advertising, followers will recognize the targeted efforts and won’t ever click that “unfollow” button. This approach is ideal for ecommerce businesses. Offer up a code for free shipping (when they need a new pair of shoes, etc.), or a dessert on the house the next time their hungry stomach brings them to your restaurant. Odds are, when your patrons’ stomachs are full, they will turn to Instagram to pay their respects. Double brownie points!
  3. Sneak Peeks. Real-time marketing does more than motivate clicks to the like button –the personal and in-the-now approach encourages real and authentic engagement. Spontaneously send followers a behind the scene video of your Spring 2014 clothing line, or the chef of your restaurant buying produce at the local farmer’s market for his signature dish. The excitement and intrigue each 15-second clip will bring to your fans will churn social media benchmarks.
  4. The Kitchen Sink. Dazzle enthusiasts with a deadly combination of organic content. Hold a contest encouraging fanatics to submit a photo with branded hashtags in hopes to have access to a follower-only private sale. The social mentions and advocate participation will urge spectators to engage more with your Instagram page, and heighten its awareness.

New opportunities in social media developments are ideal circumstances for brands to secede from competitors and stand out. Instagram Direct is a great tool brands can now use to better position themselves as storytellers while solidifying their social voice and cultivating social advocates.

How will your brand use Instagram Direct? Comment below or Tweet us!

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