This will be welcome news to many Instagram marketers. After the functionality was first spotted in testing in February last year, Instagram has now confirmed that it will begin a small roll out of direct message access through the web-based version of its app.
DMs, but make them desktop. ????— Instagram (@instagram) January 14, 2020
We’re currently testing Direct messaging on the web, so you can read and reply to your messages from wherever you are. pic.twitter.com/VJ06EpETxG
Instagram says that a small percentage of users will initially be given access to the option, with the process still very much in test phase.
As noted, DM access via Instagram's desktop version was first spotted in testing by reverse engineering expert Jane Manchun Wong last February, with Instagram updating the format and options in testing again in October.
On Instagram Direct for desktop web, thread info becomes a sidebar just like Messenger for desktop web pic.twitter.com/OJH61aoCqU— Jane Manchun Wong (@wongmjane) October 9, 2019
The addition will make Instagram's messaging tools more widely accessible, as not all users are able to access the platform via the app. People in regions where network access is limited, or where data plans are restrictive, could benefit from being able to connect to their DMs on an alternate platform. And given the popularity of direct messaging on Instagram - as demonstrated by the launch of its 'Threads' messaging app last year - it makes sense for the platform to look for more ways to facilitate direct interaction.
For brands, the addition could have specific benefits for those looking to use Instagram Direct for customer service queries, enabling easier integration into your broader social media workflow.
And integration may also be part of Instagram's thinking - Facebook's still working on its plan to connect the messaging functionalities of all of its apps into one, interconnected framework, where anyone would be able to message anyone else across WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram. Maybe, Instagram adding DM access to the web is another element in that gradual process.
Again, only a small percentage of users will be able to access their Insta DMs via the web version at this stage, but it looks likely to be on its way to all users in the near future.