Today, Instagram released Direct; a new feature that allows users to send private messages to one or a group of up to 15 people. These messages come as photos or videos.
Most people will compare this feature to Snapchat. Even more so people think that this is Facebook's way at competing with Snapchat because they denied Facebook's 3 billion dollar offer for the platform. But this feature has been in the works for more than a few weeks. And obviously Snapchat has been around for more than a week too. But like I've said before, "like anything digital if you don’t evolve you will fall behind. Instagram saw the opportunity and jumped at it." I've never downloaded Snapchat and probably never will anymore. Instagram now has the possibility of killing Snapchat. ...When's the last time you used Vine?
Companies have already begun using Direct for marketing. Gap is on the ball for sure. It will be intriguing to see what other un-standard uses come about from companies and individuals.
Beyond that, Direct has made Instagram live up to its name: INSTA-GRAM. In my few hours interacting withDirect most of my messages were taken at the moment of posting. Now they were no works of art by any means; unless you consider a selfie a work of art.
Direct is not about photography though, it's about communication.
"Photos when transmitted are communication." - Kevin Systrom (Instagram CEO)
Honestly, everything we do or don't do online and even offline is communicating something. Instagram has just become a hub for communicating most of our lives. Now we just have more opportunities to do that even more intimately. It has caused more of my offline life to become sharable, because of the level of privacy Direct brings.
Even though it seems like Direct is bringing fragmentation to the community, I think it is allowing users to connect more intimately and become closer than ever before. (And no I don't mean scandalous photos). For a community to really grow and thrive there must be deeply connected smaller groups of people littered among the community as a whole. I think this is just a step towards allowing that. Yes, many of us in this community have connected outside the app through texting or Skyping, but Instagram is now just letting us do it natively. Which, in essence, will connect more people with more people because there is less commitment. I mean I don't just hand out my phone number to everyone. Unless I'm Branden Harvey.
Instagram is and will always be about community.
Direct catapults Instagram into building an even greater community through more intimate connections.
I'm already seeing the results of it too.
Read more about the features of Direct here.
Paul Tellefsen is a storylistener, speaker and travel and lifestyle photographer. He has a passion for people that is focused towards developing environments of meaningful connection in digital and physical spaces.