You usually get just one shot at sliding into someone’s DMs. Get it wrong, and you’ll never get a response, like a lousy job application. Get it right, and one little message could change your life (or at least get you a first date). Often when we think about a DM slide, the focus is on what you should write – a snazzy one-liner or a simple “What’s up?” But first, consider how your message will be received. Unsure what this means? Well, before you hit send, here’s my advice: a Sliding Into DMs 101 of sorts to help you understand what it’s like to receive one (from someone who has been sent a few).
Is your account private?
This first one is pretty obvious, but you’d be surprised by how rarely people think about it. No matter how great your tiny profile pic is and what exciting things you have in your Instagram bio, it tells them very little. So, when your account is private and the person you are interested in doesn’t follow you, you should remember that they know nothing about you.
Of course, there’s a chance they may follow you back if your DM slide captures their attention, but it’s a slim chance. So, you’re really at a disadvantage here. You could consider temporarily making your profile public if you are that interested. Otherwise, it would help if you kept this in mind when working out what to say.
Are there any photos or videos obviously of you on your profile?
Your profile may be public, but do you have any photos of yourself on your grid. I mean, that are obviously you? Your travel shots could be next level, but if the person you’re contacting is left having to hunt for an idea of who you are, then your account may as well be private.
Personally, I prefer to see a couple of clear photos of the person contacting me, so I have an idea of who I’m talking to. If not, then I’ve occasionally ended up Googling the person. Trust me; you do not want someone to judge your appeal based on an old LinkedIn profile photo that never seems to die online.
Even if this person already follows you back, there’s still a chance they have no idea what you look like if there’s little to nothing of you on your grid. So, the simple answer to this: add something. Before you slide into someone’s DMs, put yourself out there and add a lovely new photo or two to yourself.
Are you thinking about including a photo in your DM slide?
Don’t. Please don’t. Your natural response to the above questions might be, “Cool, I’ll just DM them a photo of me”, but that is a terrible idea.
The unfortunate prevalence of dick pics sent without consent means that Instagram now blurs out any photos that anyone you don’t follow sends you. This means that the person will receive an image notification that could contain unsolicited nudity, and it’s up to them to choose if they want to view it.
Personally, the moment I get a DM slide from someone I don’t know containing a blurred image, I delete the entire chat request. I’m not risking seeing something I haven’t consented to. Plus, it gives the impression that this stranger doesn’t understand how Instagram works, so best to swerve them.
Have you made space for their feelings/preferences/desires?
Cis straight men take note: this Sliding into DMs 101 is especially important for you.
Most of the DM slides I have received from you guys have said something like, “I wanna meet you.” This simplistic message, paired with a private profile or lack of photos, has left me feeling like you have put zero effort into making me interested in you. In fact, I’m pretty sure you don’t care at all what I think or feel at that moment. All you care about is putting your desire onto an object (in this case, me).
So, you must be mindful of this when deciding what to write. By all means, express your interest, but also ask how the person you’re approaching feels. Does what you’re suggesting sounds good to them? Would they be up for meeting you? You’re creating an excellent standard for future communication by making space for their feelings from the first interaction.
Do you even need to contact them straight away?
I’ll admit that DM slides from strangers rarely work for me. Mainly because of all the reasons above, but also because it’s a challenging approach to get right.
The only person who successfully wooed me through Instagram never slid into my DMs. They followed me and waited for me to get interested and approach them. I understand that some people want to be approached, but not everyone is like that. So, be mindful that hitting a person up out of the blue isn’t always the best strategy.
If you’re genuinely interested, you can always play the long game. Be chill and follow them at first. Maybe respond to the occasional story (where relevant), like any new photos as they post them but make your responses and comments genuine.
You can go back and like one or two of their old images but remember not to overwhelm them with your interest. Don’t go liking everything they do and commenting obsessively like it’s your job. That’s the fastest way to come across as creepy and potentially get your account restricted or blocked by the person you’re interested in. Be chill. Give them space and time to get interested in you potentially.
Sometimes, a conversation will naturally spring up from a comment. Sometimes, they’ll follow you back and start watching your Stories. These are the ideal scenarios for doing a DM slide because you know you’re already on their radar, so you aren’t coming out of nowhere.
Mainly, remember to treat anyone you’re interested in as a person. Be respectful and consider what it’s like to receive a message from a stranger. Chances are, if you’re nice, they’ll be just as excited to hear from you as you are to hear back from them.