The new feature on Instagram, Direct Messaging, allows you to send private images and videos to other Instagram users. This is a great tool for deepening relationships with customers through the level of customer service it allows. It allows your small business the chance to provide sneak peeks to loyal followers, send coupons and connect with a new audience.

Here are 5 ways your small business can use Instagram Direct as a new part of your social media marketing plan:

1. Sales/Coupons
Reward your top followers with an exclusive coupon. People must follow you to receive this direct message. This could be people who comment/like/repost your content frequently. Send a photo to select followers with a coupon code and a message that says, “Hey [insert name], this is just for you for being such a loyal follower!”

2. Sneak Peeks
Send a group of 15 followers a sneak peek into something new going on with your business. This is great for new products or services. Ask followers to repost the content with a special hashtag to increase the chances of it going viral.

3. Collect data
Allow your customers to initiate the dialog as well. Perhaps a user wants to alert you about a product error. Now, users can send a photo of the problem and direct message it to your business via Instagram. This will allow you to discuss the issue with the user privately to solve the problem. It’s important to note that you must be following the user in order to initiate the dialog.

4. Host a contest
Post a public photo with instructions that the first X amount of people to comment on that photo will receive a direct message from your business with details on how to enter a secret contest. Then ask each of the contestants to submit a photo to be entered to win a large prize. The person with the best photo is then awarded the prize. You can then repost these photos to various social channels for added content. Your customer will be pleased to be in the spotlight and will share the news with even more friends!

5. Post an item that you’re trying to sell
Send a direct message to your fans with a photo of the product, and a link where to buy. If you’re having a sale, be sure to mention that!

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