What is Direct Message (DM)

24 July 2023
Reading: 1 min

A Direct Message (DM), also known as a private message (PM), serves as a private and personalized means of communication between brands or businesses and their customers. With its intimate and conversational nature, DMs offer a valuable opportunity to engage with customers on a more personal level. Similar to sending emails, DMs provide a direct and instantaneous means of communication. In this article, we will explore the importance of direct messages, the restrictions and regulations set by Instagram, and best practices for leveraging DMs effectively.

What is Direct Message (DM)

The significance of Direct Messages

Personalized communication: direct messages allow businesses to engage in one-on-one conversations with their customers, fostering personalized and meaningful interactions.

Building customer trust and loyalty: by providing a direct and private channel, DMs enable businesses to better understand their customers, address their concerns, and build long-lasting relationships based on trust and loyalty.

Direct message rules on Instagram:

Sending DMs: unlike some social media platforms, Instagram allows users to send direct messages to anyone on the platform without the need to follow each other. However, these messages are directed to a message request folder.

Enabling message reception: users must enable the “receive direct messages from everyone” setting to receive DMs from non-followers.

What is Direct Message (DM)

Guidelines to follow for Instagram DMs

  1. Privacy and moderation: Instagram has established rules and guidelines to ensure a safe and respectful platform. When using DMs, it is important to adhere to these rules to maintain a positive user experience.
  2. Content restrictions: Instagram prohibits the exchange of explicit, violent, or abusive content through DMs. Users must refrain from sending any form of offensive or inappropriate messages to other users.
  3. Respect for consent: it is crucial to respect the privacy and consent of other users. Sending unsolicited messages or spamming through DMs is strictly prohibited.
  4. Reporting inappropriate messages: Instagram provides users with the option to report any offensive or inappropriate DMs. This reporting system helps maintain a safe and respectful environment for all users.

The difference in DM usage across social media platforms

Different social media platforms have their own rules and conditions for sending and receiving direct messages. Let’s take a look at some of the restrictions and regulations specific to Instagram DMs:

  • Facebook: On Facebook, users can send direct messages to anyone, even if they are not friends. However, these messages go to a message request folder that requires approval from the receiver to continue the conversation. Facebook Pages can only send direct messages to accounts that follow their page, or to users who have recently engaged through comments using the “reply via message” feature within 7 days.
  • Instagram & Twitter: Instagram and Twitter allow users to send direct messages to anyone on the platform, regardless of whether they are following each other. Similar to Facebook, these messages also go to a message request folder. To enable this feature, users must have the “receive direct messages from everyone” setting enabled.
  • TikTok: TikTok differs slightly in that it only allows users who are friends with each other to send direct messages. Users must follow each other and have the option for direct messages set to “Friends”, regardless of whether their profiles are public or private.

Direct messages offer numerous benefits for businesses in their communication with customers. They provide an opportunity to engage in personalized conversations, leading to better customer understanding and building trust and loyalty. Some common uses of direct messages for businesses include creating networks with potential partners, influencers, and brand ambassadors, resolving private disputes with customers, sending targeted promotions, clarifying order details, and providing in-depth explanations of complex product functions.

What is Direct Message (DM)

Best practices for effective DM usage

To make the most of direct messages, it’s crucial to follow best practices:

  • Respond promptly: customers expect quick responses to their DMs. Responding promptly not only satisfies customer expectations but also earns brands a “very responsive” badge on Facebook.
  • Check all message request folders: never ignore DMs and ensure that message request folders, including spam folders, are regularly checked. Follow through with every DM and resolve concerns before archiving the conversation.
  • Avoid excessive promotion: avoid spamming followers with overly promotional messages. Direct message promotions should be relevant, timely, and provide value to the recipients.
  • Address public complaints publicly, then follow up privately: if a customer complains publicly via a post or comment, acknowledge it publicly, and then continue the conversation privately via direct message. Avoid resolving the entire complaint publicly to maintain professionalism.
  • Utilize automation wisely: use automated chatbots or saved responses for basic queries, ensuring their flow makes sense. Test automation before launch to ensure a seamless experience for customers.
  • Personalize messages: even when using automated responses, employ personalization tags and make the conversation feel personalized. Introduce team members handling the account to add a human touch and strengthen the customer-brand connection.
  • Monitor DMs across platforms: use smart tools to efficiently monitor DMs across multiple social media platforms, reducing the likelihood of missing messages and ensuring timely responses.
  • Maintain professionalism and courtesy: stay professional and courteous in all interactions, even if discussions become heated. Remember that offensive DMs can be used against a brand, as private conversations can be screenshot and shared publicly.

By adhering to these best practices and leveraging the power of direct messages, businesses can enhance customer engagement, build trust, and strengthen their brand image in the digital landscape.


Direct messages on Instagram provide businesses with a valuable channel for private communication with their customers. Understanding the regulations and employing effective strategies can maximize the potential of direct messages in fostering customer relationships and driving business growth. By utilizing DMs wisely, businesses can deliver exceptional customer experiences and establish themselves as trusted brands in the competitive social media landscape.

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