Instagram Messages: How Businesses Can Engage Their Audience & Tools to Manage Your Inbox

instagram messages: how businesses can engage their audience and tools to manage your inbox

There are many ways you can capture the attention of your followers on Instagram (and social media in general), but hardly anything is as powerful as establishing a strong relationship with your followers and potential customers via Instagram messages.

In this post, we’ll give you a clear overview of why Instagram messages are important for your business, the different kinds of direct messages (DMs) you can send, and how you can use this feature to grow your brand.

Let’s begin with a quick intro to Instagram messages. 

If you’re already familiar with Instagram messages, feel free to jump to the next section.

Jump Links:

What are Instagram Messages?
Plain Text Messages
Pictures and GIFs
Video Content
Voice Messages
Video Calls
Group Messages
Reactions

Why Should You Include Instagram Messages in Your Marketing Strategy?

How to Use Instagram Messages to Build and Increase Brand Loyalty

3 Tools to Manage Your Instagram Inbox

What are Instagram Messages?

Instagram has its own private messaging feature, which enables you to have one-on-one or group chats with other Instagram users. 

Instagram messages, more commonly known as Instagram direct messages, or DMs for short, take the communication with your loyal followers and favourite influencers beyond your feed and allow you to develop a stronger connection with your network.

In today’s noisy world, being reachable and responsive goes a long way in building long-term relationships and driving competitive advantage.

There are a few types of Instagram messages you can send and receive:

Plain Text Messages

You can use plain text messages to answer questions and provide support, reach out to a particular Instagram user, and to start conversations.

How to create a basic text message within instagram inbox / instagram messages

Pictures and Gifs

Privately send relevant photos with your followers to let them know of a new arrival in your store, announce an event or raise awareness on an ongoing promotional campaign. 

In many instances, our clients will send you pictures to let you know that they’ve received your product or started seeing results from your service.

If you get consent, you can later use these photos as testimonials and share them publicly on your feed or via Instagram stories.

Video Content

The option to send videos can prove to be incredibly useful if you plan to send demos or showcase close-ups of your products and their attributes/functionalities.

Voice Messages

Instagram recently introduced the voice messages feature which allows you to record and send voice messages to your followers.

Brands tend to use pictures and plain text messages more often than voice messages.

What a voice message / audio message / audio note looks like on Instagram

Video Calls

Instagram supports audio and video chat, but much like voice messages, this is a feature that is mostly used by individual users. 

Group Messages

Instagram messages do not have to be a one-on-one thing. Instead, you can create groups of people with similar interests and share information with the entire group at once.

Reactions

When you “react” to an Instagram story, the reaction will be sent as a direct message. This is a great way to quickly show your support, and it can be an effective conversation starter.

Quick reactions to Instagram stories

You can send messages from four different places in your profile.

1. You can enter the direct messages screen (basically your Instagram Inbox) and search for a user that you want to contact – or simply click on a message you’d like to reply to…

Access your instagram direct messages screen / instagram inbox through the home page feed

2. You can search for a user and click the “message” button on their profile…

How to access instagram messages by navigating from a users' profile

3. You can respond to someone’s story by sending a text, a reaction, a gif, or a photo…

Send an instagram message or instagram dm by reacting or replying to their instagram story

4. You can directly share a post as an Instagram message, by clicking the paper plane button under the post you want to send.

access instagram messages on an instagram post by tapping the paper plane icon to send the post to someone

Why Should You Include Instagram Messages in Your Marketing Strategy?

Now you know what types of messages you can send via Instagram.

But you still might be wondering how you can utilise Instagram’s direct messaging feature to drive real business results.

Here are the three ways Instagram messages can help your brand:

Create Networking Opportunities

Instagram Direct is the perfect place to connect with like-minded people and professionals in your niche, or reach out to industry influencers who have an audience that might be interested in your product line.

Improve Brand Loyalty

You can use Instagram messages to answer to any of your potential clients’ inquiries, offer after-sales support, or show appreciation to your fans and loyal customers. 

Being reachable and available will allow you to gain your followers’ trust and connect them on a deeper level, which will ultimately help you drive more repeat purchases and increase your customer lifetime value. 

Increase Personalization

According to Forrester Research’s VP and Principal Analyst, Sucharita Kodali 36% of shoppers want brands to make more personalized offers.

Similarly, a recent Forbes article outlining the findings of a survey by Segment argues that personalization can drive impulse purchases, minimize returns, increase brand loyalty and ultimately – increase revenue.

And what’s a better way to increase personalization than by talking to your customers one-on-one, where they can ask what they want, and you can give them the information they need? 

Next, we’ll talk about…

How to Use Instagram Messages to Build and Increase Brand Loyalty

Answer Messages

A lot of brands focus on creating new content for their Instagram feeds and stories, but don’t pay as much attention to the reactions or questions they receive in their DMs.

Chances are, you have some unanswered messages in your Instagram inbox right now – if you do, we urge you to take a couple of minutes and answer them as soon as you finish reading this.

There is nothing that will repel your potential clients as much as getting the silent treatment from one of the brands they love.

So, whenever a member from your community reaches out to you through a direct message, make sure that you respond to their message and give them the information they’re looking for. 

Sometimes, your followers will reach out to ask you something about your products – be it where they can find them, or if the product they’re interested in is still in stock, or they’ll ask the typical “how much does it cost” question.

Other times they might raise a complaint or share with you how satisfied they are with their purchase. 

Whatever the case, if you wish to be successful in the long-run, you have to make sure that you handle all these messages the same way: with care and in a timely manner.

Show Your Top Fans Some Instagram Love

Every brand has at least a few loyal fans who are constantly engaging with their content.

Constant engagers are impossible to miss – even if you have hundreds of thousands of followers.

They’ll react to your stories, give you a shout-out whenever you post something new or interesting, join your Instagram lives, participate in your polls, and will like and comment on your photos. 

These people? They’re golden!

They’re practically promoting your brand without you asking (or paying) for it!

So, you need to do everything you can to encourage them to continue engaging with your content.

The easiest way to do it?

Recognise their effort.

Slide into their DMs and thank them for showing you continuous support.

If you’re feeling extra generous, offer them a special discount code.

These people have probably bought from you in the past and are very satisfied with their purchase, or they really like your products but have been postponing the purchase for some reason.

Giving them an incentive like a discount can easily turn their virtual engagement on social media into a sales conversion.

Suggested Reading: What is a Brand Ambassador? & How to Launch a Successful Ambassador Program

Reach Out to People YOU Admire and Would Partner With

You probably already know the power of influencer marketing – nowadays an increasing number of brands partner with individual creators with a huge following to spread the word about their products. 

People that follow Instagram creators are inspired by what these individuals do, wear, and consume, so appearing on their feed will likely help you get on the radar of a wider audience and sell more of your products.

However, the best influencers on Instagram are receiving hundreds of messages from brands that want to collaborate with them.

Getting your targeted influencer to commit to your brand before they commit to one of your competitors requires some work. 

That’s where Instagram direct messages come in the picture.

Establishing a direct communication on Instagram after you’ve engaged with their posts and stories gives you a much greater chance of being considered as a potential partner, than reaching out via email.

Engaging with each others' Instagram stories through instagram direct messages

Remember the story “reactions” we mentioned before?

Instagram messages keeps a history of interactions and reactions, so by sending a message, this influencer you’re contacting will be able to scroll back in time and see that you’ve been following their work for a longer period and that you’re genuinely interested in connecting.

This will give an edge over your competitors.

Suggested Reading: Influencer Marketing: An Expert Guide On Marketing’s Next Big Thing

Drive Sales

You can send or direct people to your Instagram messages using clear CTAs in your Instagram posts and stories. 

Suggested read: Instagram Stories: 16 Killer Tips to Stand Out in 2019

According to a 2017 story by Business Insider, a whopping 72% of Instagram users have bought a product that they’ve seen on the app.

Including adding a simple CTA to your content such as “DM me for more info” will do wonders for your business, and especially your sales.

Once people do contact you, you can give them the extra attention and the tailored info they need to turn to convert into paying customers. 

To make it easier for creators and businesses to respond to direct messages and inquiries, Instagram has rolled out a quick reply feature for its business and creator accounts.

As the name suggests, quick replies save you a lot of typing, by allowing you to use a shortcut in order to load a pre-saved message.

This works well if there is a campaign you’re currently running, you’re launching a new product, or you’re organizing an event – anything where you would need to write a lot of repetitive information, and things that people would like to know the details of.

Here’s how you can add a quick reply.

Step 1. Enter “settings” in your business or creator account.

instagram navigation bar. creating a quick reply.

Step 2. Click “business settings” or the “creator” tab in the menu.

Tap the instagram creator tab in the menu

Step 3. Select ‘Quick Replies’.

Tap quick replies

Step 4. Create your quick reply and add a shortcut.

How to edit a quick reply on Instagram

Remember to include only the repetitive info as part of your quick reply – you’ll still want to personalize your messages by greeting the person who is writing to you in the beginning and adding an appropriate CTA at the end.

Let’s say you’re launching a new organic skincare product. 

In this case, your quick reply should sound something like this:

ORGANIC PRODUCT is a premium blend of INGREDIENT, INGREDIENT, INGREDIENT, which are all known to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. ORGANIC PRODUCT is clinically tested and completely cruelty-free.

And then, let’s say someone has sent you a message asking for the ingredients of this product once you announced it on your feed. 

Here’s what you’d do:

Hi Jane Doe! Thanks for contacting us. ORGANIC PRODUCT is a premium blend of INGREDIENT, INGREDIENT, INGREDIENT, which are all known to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. ORGANIC PRODUCT is clinically tested and completely cruelty-free. (Add by typing the shortcut) Are there any other questions we could answer for you?

Accessing the quick reply feature on Instagram through instagram direct messages
Accessing the quick reply feature on Instagram through instagram direct messages

3 Tools to Manage Your Instagram Inbox

An even easier way to manage your Instagram messages is by using some of the following tools:

The Native Instagram App (Desktop Version)

Using the native Instagram app will allow you to easily track and respond to messages using your desktop computer. The native Instagram app is free and can be downloaded from the Microsoft Store.

IG:dm

IG:dm has the same functionalities like the desktop version of Instagram, and some other useful features like quoting messages, disable ‘read’ receipts and viewing unfollowers. IG:dm is compatible with Windows, Linux and MacOS. The basic version of the app is free.

Agorapulse

Agorapulse is a convenient inbox management platform that allows you to manage all your social platforms’ inboxes using a single dashboard. Agorapulse’s plans start at $79/month.

Final Thoughts

Even though Instagram messages are an effective way to engage Instagram users, a lot of brands don’t take full advantage of the Instagram DMs feature.

This is due to several reasons, including: not knowing what Instagram messages are best used for, thinking that one-on-one engagements with followers consume a lot of time, or simply focusing too much on other marketing tactics.

By allowing you to privately contact Instagram users, Instagram messages enable you to tailor your messages to cater to every follower’s interests and their stage in the buyer’s journey.

With DMs, you can create a sense of exclusivity and build stronger relationships with your audience.

Of course, you can expect positive results from your direct Instagram messages outreach if you take the time to tailor the messages. Sending copy-pasted, generic messages doesn’t have any impact – or, worst case scenario, could lead to negative consequences.

Happy DMing!


Keyhole is a real-time conversation tracker that provides keyword and hashtag analytics for Twitter and Instagram. Get started for free.

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