What Is a DM: Expounding on the IG Slang Term for Messages

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Karen Lin

Instagram 101 | Jun 11, 2024

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“Let me slide into her DMs!” “Don’t be a stranger—hit me up in the DMs!” We hear expressions like these a lot when people talk about reaching out to someone over text. It’s slang about social media that one might hear in casual conversation. But what is a DM, really? And what makes Instagram DMs so special compared with other forms of digital communication? Keep reading this guide to find out all these and more!

Flat and crumpled lined, yellow papers arranged on a green surface to create the silhouette of a DM icon.

What Is a DM in Social Media Platforms?

If you’re not well-versed in digital jargon, you might be asking, “What is a DM in social media? Simply put, “DM” is shorthand for “direct message”—a private message you can send directly to a specific person online.

Unlike other forms of communication on social media, like comments, DMs are private. So, you can be as open and candid in your messages without worrying about the public seeing them.

The slang term “DM” is so commonly used today that the Merriam-Webster Dictionary even lists it. What’s a DM according to the reputable dictionary, you ask? It is used as both a noun and a verb. As a noun, it simply means an online message sent to someone. As a verb, it means the act of messaging someone digitally—as in, “I’m DM-ing him later today.”

The ability to DM someone on social media is a great way to send personalized messages to friends and fans. It allows you to engage with other social media users and do some networking online. Brands might find it especially useful for their customer service efforts, as many product concerns can be solved over DM.

Someone holding a smartphone displaying different messaging apps.

What Is a DM on Instagram Like? 5 Key Features of IG Direct Messages

You may be asking, “What is a DM on Instagram, and what makes it better than other social media DMs?” Well, an Instagram DM is pretty much just an ordinary direct message online. You can send one to anyone you want to chat with directly privately. You can also send photos, emojis, voice messages, GIFs, and much more through Instagram DM.

However, aside from these typical private message features, Instagram DMs also have a bunch of cool qualities. Here are some of them that you will surely enjoy as you reach and communicate with friends.

Someone using an iPad to type a direct message.

1. Group Chats for Messages Among Friends

Messaging friends separately about the same topics can be tiring. That’s why Instagram allows users to make group chats for up to 250 people. It’s perfect for friend groups and families who want to discuss plans and send each other cool content.

What’s awesome is that you can even change the name of your group chat. Label your group DMs with any name you want, like the quirky name your friend group goes by. You can also add emojis to group chat names. It’s a terrific way to organize your group DMs so you know the purpose of each chat at a glance.

A group of friends at the park all looking at a group chat through their respective devices.

2. Video Calls for a Faster Form of Communication

Do you want to reach someone and talk to them as quickly as possible? Try Instagram DM’s video call feature. It’s pretty much like FaceTime, but it’s on Instagram.

Transitioning from text messages to face-to-face video calls is an awesome way to level up chats with friends and family. It makes talking much easier than texting back and forth all day. Just remember to only call and accept calls from people you trust.

You can initiate video calls with anyone you’ve already had reciprocal DMs with. However, this is limited to unverified accounts. You can’t do a video call with verified profiles.

A woman having a video call with a man on her phone.

3. Directly Sharing Cool Instagram Content With Friends

One of the most useful features of Instagram messages is that you can share Instagram posts with friends through DMs. From cute feed photos to funny, relatable Reels, a few clicks is all it takes to send posts to friends. Then, this shared content will show up in your DM with them.

Sharing interesting content with friends and family is a terrific way to spark conversation on social media. It’s also fantastic for sharing products from a brand you love or trendy music recommendations.

4. Vanish Mode for Private Communication

Do you want to keep your messages private? Switch over to vanish mode so that you and your friends can send disappearing messages. Whatever you send in vanish mode won’t save to your chat history. It’s the perfect place to spill secrets, send cheeky photos, and share confidential information.

Your private communication only deletes after you go back to regular chat mode. So, make sure you know how to turn off vanish mode before you spill the tea through disappearing messages.

A woman whispering into a man’s ear to make their conversation more private.

5. Message Requests To Keep Unwanted DMs at Bay

Instagram DMs also have amazing safety features that help make the platform a safe, positive environment. For example, when someone you don’t know sends you a message, it goes straight to your message request folder. From there, you can either approve or delete the messages.

This allows you to distinguish between messages that are relevant to you and those sent by random people. It creates something like a filter so that the DMs you see in your inbox are only those that are “safe.” Unsolicited DMs—which can sometimes be harmful or offensive—go in the message requests.

It’s perfect for keeping unwanted texts, scam messages, and spam at bay. That way, you can focus only on the DMs that are meaningful to you.

Caution: Be Wary of Fake Instagram DMs and Spam Messages

Instagram DMs may be super cool and abundant in useful features, but they’re also an avenue for social media dangers. As you use messages to network and engage with interesting accounts, be wary of fake Instagram DMs or spam messages.

Don’t accept message requests from strangers claiming to be someone you know without confirmation that they are who they say they are. If you let deceptive people into your DMs, you may find yourself in a cycle of scams and phishing attacks. When in doubt, always report sketchy users sending you unsolicited messages on Instagram.

How To Delete Instagram DMs

Did you send a DM to someone and then immediately regret it? Don’t worry—another cool function of Instagram DMs is that you can unsend individual messages and even delete entire chats. Here’s how to delete Instagram DMs, whether it’s just a one-off text or an entire chat history.

Let’s start with unsending a message. Here’s how to do it, step by step:

1. Open the Instagram app and head to your inbox.

2. Look for the chat with the message you want to unsend.

3. Scroll through the chat until you find the specific DM you want to unsend.

4. Tap and hold the message.

Path Social’s screenshot of someone’s DM to a brand inquiring about products with an arrow pointing to a message.

5. Click Unsend.

Path Social’s screenshot of the pop-up menu after you long-press an Instagram DM with a red box highlighting “Unsend.”

6. If it’s your first time unsending a DM, a confirmation message will pop up with information about deleting messages. Click OK on that message.

Path Social’s screenshot of the confirmation message that appears after you unsend a DM with a red box highlighting “OK.”

Now, the message you wanted to delete should be gone from the chat. It also will no longer be visible to the person you’re chatting with.

But what if you want to delete an entire chat permanently? Here’s how you can do it:

1. Head to your inbox on the Instagram app.

2. Scroll until you find the name of the person whose DM you want to delete.

3. Swipe left on that DM.

4. Click Delete.

5. Confirm your decision to delete the DM by tapping Delete in the pop-up question.

When you do this, you will no longer see the DM in your list of chats. However, the other person will still see your DMs in their inbox.

How To Recover Instagram DMs After You’ve Deleted Them

So now you know how to delete messages on Instagram. Naturally, the next thing you might be wondering is how to recover Instagram DMs after deleting them.

Unfortunately, once you’ve deleted DMs, there’s no way to get them back. There’s a misconception online that you can see deleted messages when you download your Instagram data in your personal settings. However, Instagram itself says that the personal data downloads don’t include unsent and deleted DMs.

If you need access to old DMs because of an emergency, contact Instagram support for assistance.

Can You Screenshot Instagram DMs?

If you want to capture important messages within a chat, you might be wondering, “Can you screenshot Instagram DMs?”

Yes, you can definitely screenshot DMs without worrying about the other person knowing. Instagram doesn’t send screenshot notifications for messages in the chat, so they’ll never know. So, feel free to document conversations through screenshots without worrying about the consequences.

Go Outside of DMs to Promote Your Brand and Grow on Instagram!

Instagram DMs have become quite an indispensable feature on the social media platform over the years. People use it to make group chats, share cool posts, call someone to see how they’re doing, and more. After all, what is a DM but a feature that allows social media users to engage other people online?

But if you want to grow your page, you must get out of the confines of the Instagram message inbox. Real growth happens on the feed when people see your content. That’s exactly what Path Social helps you do. We use AI to pinpoint your target audience and ensure they see your page. This extra visibility expands your audience, increasing your follower count in the long run. So, if you want to get more followers on Instagram, work with Path Social today!