With Instagram 5.0 (Google Play Store, Apple App Store), released earlier today, you can now send photos to specific people with a feature called “Instagram Direct.” It’s obvious that Instagram developed this feature to compete with Snapchat. I’d like to weigh the pros and cons of Instagram Direct, and hopefully steer you away from using Snapchat when you want to share a normal picture with a friend. I also want to discuss Instagram as a photo sharing platform by itself and when compared to email or MMS, the old standards.
Instagram Direct is going to disrupt the “sending pictures to your friends” space, just like Snapchat did.
Instagram Direct – Pros and Cons
Instagram Direct – Pros:
- You and your recipients can comment on the photo.
- You can use the Instagram photo editor before sending your pictures.
- You’ll get a notification when one of your recipients looks at your photo.
- Interestingly, some people hate this trend of applications notifying senders when someone has read their message or seen their image. I’ll write about this a bit more below. What do you think about it? Leave me a comment!
- You can hide Instagram Direct photos from your Direct Feed, meaning you never have to view them again.
- Small icons below each photo in your feed show you who has liked, commented, or viewed that picture.
Instagram Direct – Neutral:
- The pictures you send never expire. In the cases when you want the picture to expire, use Snapchat.
- Instagram photos are locked to a 1:1 aspect ratio.
Instagram Direct – Cons:
- You can’t draw on your photos within the app.
Instagram Direct vs. Email and MMS
One of my friends asked: “Isn’t Instagram Direct the exact same thing as emailing/messaging the damn picture to a person?”
This is a great question, but the answer is a definitive no.
- Emailing a photo or video to someone is clunky and slow, and attaching files to an email isn’t always intuitive (depending on your client).
- MMS’ are slow, and the picture quality is awful.
- There’s no easy, built-in photo/video editor across all platforms.
- The ability for your friends to easily comment on your photo, and the fact that everyone in the thread can see that comment is a big deal.
- For everyone to publicly comment on a photo using email, you have to make sure that everyone uses “reply all.” which is undeniably clunky and gross.
- For everyone to publicly comment on a photo using MMS, everyone’s phones has to support that, which is almost never the case.
- Instagram direct has read receipts, unlike email and MMS.
Struggles with Snapchat
In what must be 80% of cases when someone sends me a Snapchat, they didn’t draw on the picture, and/or an expiration time was irrelevant. In those cases, the use of Instagram Direct would have been perfect.
I can’t count the number of times one of the following things has happened to me while using Snapchat:
- Someone sent me a legitimately interesting photo as a Snap, and I want to look at it for longer than the time they allotted for me.
- Someone sent me a legitimately interesting video as a Snap, and I want to view it a second time.
- Someone sent me a Snap full of text, and I couldn’t read it all in the time they allotted for me.
- I accidentally loaded someone’s Snap, and now it’s gone, and I can’t view it again.
- I want to comment on the Snap someone sent me, but there’s no easy way for me to do that.
These are all problems that Instagram Direct solves.
Some people hate read receipts, the notifications you receive when someone reads your message or views your photo. I think they’re awesome. I could probably make a whole new post about just this topic.
The same friend as above voiced his hatred for read receipts:
1. I don’t always want to respond to something when I first see it. Either I’m busy and don’t have the time, or I just don’t feel like it.
2. When I send something, if I don’t get a response I can rationalize it as “Oh, they just must not have seen it” or “They saw it too late to respond/do anything about it.” With the seen, I *know* that my message has been seen and ignored. It doesn’t even let me pretend that everyone just happened to not see it all at the same time.
His points, I think, are totally valid. However, I feel very strongly about the following:
If someone you’re sending messages/photos to doesn’t respond to a message of yours that is obviously actionable, especially after repeat messages, they are a little bit of an asshole.
I think that most people understand that sometimes people are too busy to respond to a message, or sometimes they just don’t feel like responding to a message. In these cases, more communication is key. If you feel like a message of yours warrants a response, it is perfectly acceptable to say “Hey, I saw that you got my message, and I’d appreciate a response.”
If you prod your recipient a bit, you will have a better understanding of why they’re not responding. It might be because they’re actually ignoring you and being rude (which you don’t deserve – you would then know to avoid that person in the future), they were busy (and they’ll tell you that and set your mind at ease), they were being lazy (everyone feels lazy sometimes!), or something else entirely.
Read receipts are a fantastic way of knowing who is “virtually present” in a conversation.
What do you think about Instagram Direct and read receipts? Let me know below – let’s have a conversation about it!