Gap Initiates First Instagram Direct Campaign

It didn't take long for retailers -- namely, Gap -- to use Instagram's new "Instagram Direct" feature, unveiled at a press event in New York Thursday morning.
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Lauren Indvik
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It didn't take long for retailers -- namely, Gap -- to use Instagram's new "Instagram Direct" feature, unveiled at a press event in New York Thursday morning.

It didn't take long for retailers -- namely, Gap -- to use Instagram's new "Instagram Direct" feature, unveiled at a press event in New York Thursday morning.

Less than two hours later, Gap posted a message to its Instagram account, inviting the first 15 commenters to take part in its #WIWT (What I Wore Today) challenge. The 15 respondents each received the message on the left, asking them to upload what they're wearing today to win a "tech case" (i.e. tablet case).

The message Gap's Instagram Direct respondents received (click to enlarge).

The message Gap's Instagram Direct respondents received (click to enlarge).

Instagram Direct, released as part of an Instagram app update Thursday morning, allows you to send images and 15-second videos to up to 15 of your friends at a time — rather than all of your followers. (You can only send messages to people who follow you.) If that sounds like Snapchat, you’re right, but Instagram Direct is a great deal more complex — and, I’d argue, useful. Images and videos don’t disappear seconds after viewing them, and you and your friends can have private conversations about the messages you send to each other in a comments section.

In a Q&A following the presentation, Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom suggested that brands could use the new feature to submit entries for a photo contest or collage, rather, or in addition to, submitting entries publicly with a dedicated hashtag. Gap wasted no time in taking his suggestion.

Being the first brand to do something on a social network is a bonafide way to get a lot of media attention without paying for advertising -- something Gap clearly wanted to capitalize on by moving so fast.

Rachel Tipograph, global director of digital and social media at Gap, declined to admit Gap initiated the campaign for press attention. "We did this because we wanted to test and learn," Tipograph tells us."It's really important for us to create special moments for our best customers -- whether that's our most active shoppers, or the people who are most engaged with you in social media."