Can You Message Someone on Instagram Without Following Them?

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Karen Lin

Instagram 101 | Mar 18, 2024

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In recent years, messaging apps like WhatsApp and Telegram have become more prevalent in the online space. Statista says mobile messaging apps have around 3.6 billion users today and are expected to have seven billion by 2030. As for social media, Instagram’s direct messaging feature has paved the way for communicating with people quickly online. One of its best features is the flexibility to message anyone if their message settings allow it. But can you message someone on Instagram without following them?

Direct messages have proven to be an incredible and integral feature on Instagram as a platform. People use it to socialize, share Reels with friends, take photos to send directly to other users, and much more.

But just how easy is it to message users you aren’t that familiar with on the platform? Today, we’re diving into who you can and can’t message and whether you can DM people you don’t follow. Let’s jump right in, shall we?

A woman walking while reading a message on her smartphone.

Reaching Out: Can You Message Someone on Instagram Without Following Them?

Yes, it’s definitely possible to message someone on Instagram even if you aren’t following their page. It’s not a requirement to be able to send messages to a user. Any page you visit—regardless of whether you follow it—will show the grey “Message” button beside the “Follow” button.

There are many reasons why someone might want to send a private message to an Instagram account they don’t follow. Maybe they’re sending in a business inquiry or doing influencer outreach for a potential collaboration. Or perhaps you’re reaching out to a user you have shared interests with and want to befriend them. Luckily, it’s easy to do all these because Instagram allows everyone to message people regardless of who follows whom.

The only way you won’t be able to message a user you don’t follow is if they have a private account. In that case, you’ll need to send a follow request first. Once they approve your request and start following their page, then you can send your direct message to them.

Someone typing a text in a messaging app on their iPad.

How to Message Someone on Instagram Without Following Them

Do you want to know exactly how to send someone a private message even if you haven’t hit that “Follow” button? Here’s how to message someone on Instagram without following them, step by step:

1. Open your Instagram app.

2. Click the magnifying glass icon on the bottom row of the home screen. This will lead you to the Instagram Explore page.

3. Tap on the Search bar at the top of the screen.

4. Search for the name of the account you don’t follow but want to message. When you see the right account pop up in the options list, click on it to go to their page.

5. Tap the gray Message button. It should be right below their bio, to the right of the blue “Follow” button.

6. Compose your message to them in the chat, and then hit Send. Easy peasy!

 A woman typing a message on her phone.

Can I DM Someone on Instagram Who Doesn’t Follow Me?

So yes, you definitely can message someone whose page you don’t follow yet. But does it work in reverse, too? Can I DM someone on Instagram who doesn’t follow me?

Yes, you can also message users who don’t follow you. People often assume that this isn’t possible, but it is. Just follow the same steps as above to get to the private chat with any user who doesn’t follow you.

However, there is a catch. Instead of your private message popping up instantly in their Instagram inbox, it stays first in the message requests folder.

This folder contains all DMs sent by people you don’t follow. It’s Instagram’s way to keep things organized and maintain people’s privacy online. It also ensures that you see the most relevant and important messages from people you actually know in your inbox. The recipient of your message can then choose to accept or decline your message request.

The only exception to this rule is that if the person who doesn’t follow you adds you to their Close Friends list. In that case, Instagram will send your direct message straight to their inbox, even if they don’t follow you.

Do you want to see your message settings to control how you accept message requests? Here’s how you can do it, too:

1. Go to your Instagram profile and click on the hamburger menu (three horizontal lines) on the top-right corner.

2. Click Settings and Privacy.

3. Scroll down to the “How others interact with you” section. Then, hit Messages and Story Replies.

4. Click Message controls on the next page.

5. From there, you can select whether you can receive message requests from potential connections and other random people.

A man sitting with crossed legs on a couch while browsing his smartphone.

What Happens After Someone Approves Your Message Request?

The person you sent a DM to has finally approved your message request. What happens now?

A bunch of things, actually. Firstly, your chat moves from the message requests folder to that person’s direct inbox. That means it shows up along with every other important conversation they have on the platform.

The Instagram app will also start sending notifications to that user every time you message them. Most times, the app doesn’t notify users when they receive message requests, as it deems them potentially irrelevant. But now that your chat is in the inbox, the user you’re messaging will see notifications. That means you’ll have an easier time communicating with them online in real time!

When your chat moves out of the request folder, you’ll also start seeing when the other user reads your messages. When a DM is sent as a message request, you won’t be able to see the “Seen” label. This is another way the app protects people from unwanted messages from overeager strangers or stalkers. However, once the message becomes a regular DM in the inbox, this feature will be available.

When someone approves your DM request, you’ll also be able to send them disappearing photos and videos. These are media that you can choose for people to view only once. This isn’t available during the message request stage, but you can start sending them once they approve your request.

A woman smiling while looking down at her phone to read something.

Can I DM Someone Who Blocked Me on Instagram?

Instagram’s block feature is amazing for setting boundaries on the platform. It ensures everyone’s privacy and safety online, especially when there are specific users you don’t want to hear from. But you may be asking, “Can I DM someone who blocked me on Instagram?”

No, Instagram won’t allow you to message someone on the platform if they’ve blocked you. After blocking someone on Instagram, they won’t have access to your profile anymore. Even if they search you on the Explore page, they won’t see your name come up in the results. And because they won’t be able to see your page, they can’t send you a direct message either.

Sure, it’s annoying that this barrier exists when you want to reach out to someone who has blocked you. But remember that they blocked you for a reason. Maybe you’ve had a falling out with someone, or you’ve done something to hurt their feelings.

The block feature exists to help people filter out who they want to keep in contact with on Instagram. And if someone chooses to block you, it’s best to respect that. Maybe reach out and try to fix the issue through other channels instead first!

Someone crossing their arms to make an “x” gesture.

Can I Message Someone Who Restricted Me?

Yes, you can still send messages to someone who has restricted you on Instagram.

Restricting is a lot milder and more subtle than blocking someone on the platform. When you restrict someone, you will hide their comments from your posts unless you choose to unhide them. But another perk is that they won’t see if you’re online or if you’ve opened and seen the messages they send.

DMs Are Awesome, but Don’t Forget About Your IG Content!

Sending private messages to whoever you want on Instagram is a terrific way to socialize on the platform. But while Instagram technically allows you to send DMs to anyone, remember that everything depends on a user’s message settings. You can likely always message someone you don’t follow. It’s just that sometimes, they might end up in a message request folder instead of going straight to their inbox.

Direct messaging is a great feature on Instagram, but don’t get stuck there. While sending and replying to DMs is an awesome way to engage your followers, posting high-quality content is more important. Now that you can answer, “Can you message someone on Instagram without following them?” it’s time to focus on content. If you need more help promoting your posts, Path Social is here for you.

Our team has worked for years to perfect an advanced, AI-powered algorithm to ensure your content reaches the right people. We help you identify your niche audience—aka the market most likely to enjoy your content. Then, we promote your posts to make sure they see it. This boosts your visibility on Instagram, leading to more followers constantly engaging with your posts. Grow your page with Path Social today!