At a press event Today in New York, Instagram founder Kevin Systrom announced that Instagram is introducing private photo-sharing and messaging called – Instagram Direct.
To date Instagram has always been a primarily public social network based on a broadcast structure instead of connections based on mutual friendship such as Facebook. Instagram direct marks a new phase for the company.

With Instagram Direct users who have connected with each other will be able to send each other private photos and videos along with a message. This deviates from Instagram’s common interactions; to like or publicly comment on pictures.

Here is the process:
When you post a picture (same method that you’ve been using to post pictures on Instagram), you’ll notice two new tabs on the top of the post: Followers and Direct.

With Direct, you can now choose specific friends (Up to 15 people) and type a special message that will be delivered only to your friend(s). Once that friend opens up the photo, their profile picture within the message gets a check mark, noting that it’s been read.

Users can also interact with direct photo messages, and conversation can ensue from there.

Keep in mind users can not send text-only messages to each other, but must send pictures to start the chat function.

This new layer of messaging adds significant engagement to the app.

Introducing Instagram Direct from Instagram on Vimeo.