INSTAGRAM’s NEW MESSAGING FEATURE.

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Facebook’s Instagram Thursday announced its newest messaging feature that will allow users to directly message 15 friends simultaneously.

The latest feature is not unlike Twitter’s direct messaging. But with Instagram, users can snap a photo or shoot a video and send the content directly to the friends they follow. Once a message is sent, users can continue a dialogue about the photo or video—just like any other messaging thread.

Here’s the hook: If you send amessage to someone who isn’t following you back, he or she can choose to ignore your message altogether.

The latest feature for the mobile app is now available on both iOS and Android platforms.

Of course, communicators might be scratching their heads wondering what this tool can do for them. The simple answer is, not much.

Although Instagram will be aggressively introducing ads onto its network in 2014, the company clearly operates with auser-first mentality. In other words,brand integration is not top of mind when Instagram rolls out a new feature.

The ability to direct message 15 users doesn’t exactly offer PR execs much leverage to reach out to their stakeholders. Still, it does provide another portal to connect with influencers and loyal followers, particularly among the media. It also opens the door for marketing strategies, such as contests and quizzes.

If communicators choose to tap into the newest feature they should first consider this: Instagram users have developed areputation for being allergic to phoniness, and are not receptive to blatant promotion and inauthentic appeals.

With that in mind, perhaps your best strategy for now is to proceed with caution and do as Instagram does—consider the user first.

Written by Casey Welton
Follow Caysey Welton: @CayseyW

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