Instagram DMs can be separated into two categories: Useful, or the equivalent of a trash fire.
I personally like to think of mine where hope goes to die, but generally, it’s just a flurry of politically incorrect memes from friends.
Instagram DMs have the benefit of being casual, while still reaching the person you want to get in touch with.
It holds less weight than a text, while still acting as a form of valid communication.
One of the few downsides of an IG DM, aside from it potentially landing in the DM box of people that don’t follow you back, is the sheer number of DMs a person is dealing with at any given time.
Especially if they have a significant number of followers. Most people are talking to their friends while receiving an unprompted number of DMs from randoms who are doing the same thing you are.
Of course, like every other piece of social technology, there’s vague etiquette surrounding the do’s and don’ts of personal messaging.
I’ve highlighted some of the more widespread use cases, but you should really go with your gut depending on the particular situation.
Only you know what you’re comfortable brazenly sending to a pseudo-stranger!
DO use it to flirt
Apps are meant to be abused!!! Instead of messaging someone on a dating app, consider hitting on them after following them on IG (if you like their aesthetic).
Some of my male friends do this, and it’s a cute trick that gets them out of app purgatory if their matches are burned out from answering dating app strangers and vice versa.
IG is also a better way of getting to know your potential date, as it’s a personalized album with captions rather than a smattering of photos where they look as good as they’re gonna get.
Not to mention are probably wearing the same bridesmaid dress as the ten other chicks they’re fake-laughing with.
Of course, it goes without saying that you can slide into the DMs of someone you’re crushing on, regardless of whether or not you matched with them on an app.
Plenty of people have met their sig others through DM slides, and I’ve been successfully asked out through them.
Of course, it ended poorly, but it’s the thought that counts!
DON’T use it to endlessly reply
We’ve all heard of reply guys on Twitter.
They either try to piggyback off a joke, say something inane to be noticed by the person who is tweeting, or they want other people to discover and engage with their tweet because the person they’re engaging with has many more followers than them.
A friend noted how obnoxious it is when a specific dude sends one of those automatic emoji replies to any of her stories, because she has to look at it to get rid of the notification, and he doesn’t respond to her when she attempts to continue the conversation.
Don’t be like him!!!
DO use it for customer service
Social media managers control a brand’s DM inbox and are living, breathing people. Which means, you should be incredibly nice to them, regardless of your customer service situation.
They can escalate the matter to a customer service agent, or take care of it themselves.
As someone who used to work in social for a major brand, I can tell you right now that your being nice will help things move along that much more quickly.
DON’T use it for business inquiries
On the flip side, DO NOT PITCH PEOPLE OR BUSINESSES THROUGH IG DM.
Write a thoughtful yet concise email—don’t bother a business mogul or editor on their personal account.
They’ll probably end up ignoring you, and be less likely to work with you in the future.
DO use it to send a quick congratulations
Did an acquaintance have a baby? Get successfully divorced? Sell their NSFW pool float company to a private equity firm?
Feel free to send a quick “congrats!” through IG DM to get it out of the way.
Just don’t expect a lengthy response in return.
DON’T use it to send paragraphs as a way of catching up
The Instagram DM is supposed to be a sacred space for memes and pithy one-liners.
Don’t send paragraph after paragraph, that’s what email or text is for.
If you need to send a lot of info, break it up into chunks, so the person you’re sending it to isn’t dealing with the equivalent of a grammatically incorrect novel littered with eggplant emojis.
DO use it as a meme vault
Sending memes without explanation or context is your personal right, and a fun hobby if I ever heard one.
If the person isn’t sending you any back, take the hint and take a break.
Otherwise, keep the stoned raccoon pics comin’.
DON’T assume you’ll get a reply
As we mentioned before, IG DMs are the most casual form of conversation, aside from a Twitter DM.
No one owes you an answer, and if you don’t receive one just assume the person saw it, got busy and forgot, or they’re not interested.
Don’t keep incessantly messaging them, trying to get an answer.
That’s how you get blocked.
DO unsend messages if you want them to disappear
One of the coolest things about IG messenger is that you can make the messages…disappear. Just hold down on the bubble until the “unsend” option pops up, and tap it.
The issue being, the person you sent it to might have already read it on their lock screen, and simply hasn’t opened it natively in the app, so it still says “unread.”
The other issue is Instagram will send a notification along the lines of “message has been unsent” on your screen, if you get IG notifications.
So unless that person is talking to a ton of people, they can assume who unsent a message.
DON’T send unprompted, lewd photos
This is a given, but don’t get in trouble for sending photos the other person doesn’t want to see.
They can easily be screenshot, and you can get in a hell of a lot of trouble.
Don’t be that person, and only send any graphic images unless it’s explicitly requested.
Now go DM ‘em, slugger.
Order Sarah Solomon’s “Guac Is Extra But So Am I: The Reluctant Adult’s Handbook” through Amazon here, or anywhere books are sold.
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