Wednesday December 18, 2013 | 10:09 AM
Posted by Rob Gould

Ever since Facebook grabbed Instagram out of tiny claws of Twitter's little blue bird, the two have been sparring with competitive services. Twitter introduced photo filters and acquired Vine, which allows users to create and share short six second videos. Facebook responded with Instagram Video. Twitter introduced the ability to share photos via direct message (DM) just days ago. More about that from NBC News here. And, now we have—surprise, surprise—Instagram Direct. Boom (from The New York Times). Such bickering. Jeez.

Instagram Direct is a private messaging service built into Instagram’s existing mobile apps. After an easy update, almost every Instagram user has instant access to the service. Users can send photos and videos privately, and then exchange text messages from within the app as well. Sounds a lot like being able to send photos via Twitter DM doesn't it? It would seem that Instagram Direct is another competitive shot at Twitter. Or is it?

Instagram’s latest feature isn’t really about Twitter. It’s about Snapchat.

At the end of the day, Instagram Direct is Snapchat, but without the disappearing act. Snapchat was really the first mobile app to successfully capitalize on the idea of “private sharing” as a concept — an idea that Instagram has replicated in Direct. The Verge

But, then again, maybe Instagram Direct does have its own disappearing act after all. I found several articles which explained how you can delete messages on Instagram Direct after you've sent them. You can find detailed instructions on how to do this in this Business Insider article.

Of course, it remains to be seen if Instagram Direct will be a success. Twitter already had an established DM offering, sharing photos is just an addition and should work well. Snapchat is already the established leader in the booming area of private messaging. Plus, a host of other private messaging apps already exist including Kik (my current personal favorite), WhatsApp, and Viber (I must try it. It looks pretty great.). So Instagram has their work cut out for them with Instagram Direct. They're asking people to use their app in a very different way. Instagram has been all about sharing photos in a very public and widespread way with your friends. Will users make the leap to using it for private messaging? We'll see.

I'd really like to hear from anyone who's been using Instagram Direct or any of the other private messaging apps. Tell me what you think. Which one is your favorite? Or, do you think they're all a waste of time?

You can leave your thoughts in the comment section here or talk to me on Twitter at @bobbbyg



About this Blog

Subscribe to the
Social Social RSS feed

Social media has changed the way that many of us learn, purchase, interact and explore the world around us. And, things are just getting started. Social, Social is a place to discuss social media with people from all walks of life. No experts allowed.

About the Author

Rob works as a digital marketing & public relations consultant to agencies, brands, and individuals. He has 20 years of marketing experience. He also currently serves in a volunteer capacity as director of pr/communications for TEDxDirigo. From 2005-2011, Rob served as director of social media & agency communications at The VIA Agency (Portland). Prior to VIA, Rob worked with several PR & advertising agencies in London & Boston. He is a graduate of The University of Vermont (UVM) and a Maine transplant (2002).

Follow Rob on Twitter at @bobbbyg

His real-life interests include art, travel, writing, design, psychology, the beach, & exercise (grudgingly at times).

Previous entries

March 2014

February 2014

January 2014

December 2013

November 2013

October 2013


September 2013

August 2013

July 2013

June 2013

May 2013

April 2013

March 2013

February 2013

Further Discussion

Here at we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)
Prefer to respond privately? Email us here.