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Last Thursday, the founder of Instagram, Kevin Systrom introduced the popular photo-sharing app’s newest feature – Instagram Direct. Now, instead of using Instagram only to share a picture with all of your followers, you can select up to 15 people to send a photograph to privately, starting a private conversation about a photo.  Sometimes, a picture you take is only relevant to one person or a small group, and the new direct messaging feature allows you to bring Instagram into the private sphere.  Instagram Direct is still pretty new, but so far has been met with some pretty mixed reviews, especially with regards to its necessity, since things like Snapchat and iMessaging exist.

Instagram Direct

Here is a quick run-down of what you can and can’t do using Instagram Direct:

  • You Can have a private conversation with someone, sort of.  The term conversation should be used loosely, because what Instagram Direct allows you to do is share a photo, and then have a convo about that photo by commenting on it.  It feels sort of weird to hold an entire conversation in the comments section, even if it is in private.
  • You Can’t respond to a direct message with another picture.  I guess if you wanted to respond to someone’s picture with another picture, you would have to start a whole new message thread.  The fact that Instagram limits your ability to answer pictures with pictures seems a little counter-intuitive to me.
  • You Can send a direct message to someone you aren’t following, and vice versa.  This seems pretty useful as far as communicating with people who aren’t really friends with are concerned.  Apparently people meet significant others through Instagram now, so they are probably rejoicing at the news of this new feature.
  • You Can see when someone saw you’re message.  It always helps with social anxiety to be able to see that someone saw your message, and is for whatever reason just choosing not to respond to you.  Omg that person probably totally hates your guts – or maybe they just have work or something.

Instagram Direct 2

Writing this post is making me feel a little snarky, but I think I’m just feeling overwhelmed by how many channels exist for sending people messages.  Now, you can send someone a picture using Facebook chat, text messaging, e-mail, Twitter, Instagram and of course Snapchat.  There are just too many options.  I think adding the direct messaging feature was a smart move on Instagram’s part, but they way it is laid out just seems to miss the mark.  There is a lot of talk that this move was intended to be Snapchat-esque, giving people a means to just stick to Instagram for all of their photo sharing needs, rendering Snapchat obsolete.  Small problem though, it isn’t really like Snapchat at all.  Sure, you can send someone a picture that is for their eyes only, but it doesn’t really seem as fun as Snapchat.  For starters, the picture stays there forever, and the big gimmick that made Snapchat popular is that your ugly selfie is going to disappear within 10 seconds.  Also, when you snapchat, you respond to someon’es doofy picture with an equally doofy picture of yourself, which would be difficult to do via Instagram.   It seems like Instagram Direct is trying to be a classier, more grown-up Snapchat, and I guess that could be a good thing.

Only time will tell if Instagram Direct is going to sink or swim, but based on Instagram Video not really managing to be as cool as Vine, I’d say that the chances of Snapchat going away any time soon are pretty slim.  Here’s the video Instagram released when they announced the new feature — it is totally cheesy, but does a decent job at explaining the intended use.

Will you use Instagram Direct?

Images via