Instagram Direct Marketing: Everything you need to know!
In recent years, Instagram has become an increasingly attractive communication channel for many industries. The proprietary messaging service, Instagram Direct, is therefore the first port of call for many users to get in touch with companies. Product updates and customer service are already part of the daily routine here, but it is also increasingly being used for leads and sales and to increase brand awareness.
Instagram Direct is the app’s own messenger. Users can use it to chat with each other or in groups. Instagram Direct Messages (or Instagram DMs) are used to send pictures, posts, stories, voice messages, and much more. Instagram’s Messenger basically offers the same functions as WhatsApp, for example, but on a leaner scale than the Messenger giant.
With a Messenger API for Instagram, the messaging app can be integrated into the company’s own CRM tools, allowing companies to significantly improve their customer service with Instagram Direct.
Short and sweet: This is Instagram Direct
- Claim: the ideal channel to build a loyal community.
- User numbers worldwide: officially 1.2 billion active monthly users (as of 2019), in reality the number is probably already over 2 billion (as of December 2021) according to internal Instagram sources.
- Target group: Young adults. Most users are between 25 and 34 years old.
- Special fact: Customers want and seek direct contact with companies.
- Advantages: Direct Messages are very versatile, promote trust and generate leads.
- Disadvantages: For large accounts, responding to Instagram Direct Messages becomes a challenge for customer service
Learn in this article, how to use the Instagram Direct Messenger professionally, and how to easily save costs and capacity while connecting even more closely with your community.
In this article, you’ll learn:
- Things to know about Instagram Direct
- Instagram Direct Messaging for customer communication: Here’s how your business can benefit from it
- Connect Instagram Direct with WhatsApp
- Promote Instgram Direct channel properly
- Integrate Instagram Direct via Messenger API
- Conclusion on the potential of Instagram Direct
With one billion users a month, 90 percent of whom follow at least one company, Instagram is undoubtedly one of the most important social media channels for companies. This is also due to the fact that users perceive it as predominantly positive when companies are active on Instagram.
In a Facebook survey, 78 percent of users said they perceive brands as popular when they see them on Instagram. Seventy-four percent find brands particularly relevant as a result, and 72 percent think brands that are present on Instagram are more engaged in community building.
The exchange with users on Instagram is therefore an important building block for companies’ customer service. A positive experience with a company on social media can not only improve its image, but also increase customer loyalty and convince new customers of its brand.
The key to this is communication, and not just posting content for the community, but also direct exchange with the community. Instagram Direct Messages in particular can be crucial for customer service.
200 million people access Instagram business profiles every day, and 150 million people have a conversation with businesses on Instagram every month. According to Meta, daily conversations between people and businesses on Messenger and Instagram Direct have increased 40 percent in the last year.
India has 230 million users, making it the biggest audience in the world, followed by the United States of America with 159 million and Brazil with 119 million users.
A major advantage of Instagram Direct Messaging for customer service is that it is very versatile and therefore offers companies different options for communicating with their customers.
Instagram Direct Messaging is comparable to other messenger services, in which two or more users send private messages to each other.
In addition to classic text content, these messages can also contain photos or videos in order to send users important information or entertaining content, such as in a Messenger newsletter.
However, it is also possible to send entertaining GIFs as well as your own Instagram posts or stories via Direct Message. Posts from other users, such as collaborators or brand ambassadors, can also be sent via Direct Messages on Instagram.
But that’s not all. Instagram Direct Messaging also allows communication via voice messages or video calls, and group chats are also possible. Another special feature is the ability to send location pins, so users can find a store or event, for example.
Thus, Instagram Direct Messages open up many possibilities for companies’ customer service.
In fact, it is foreseeable that direct communication with the community on Instagram will become more critical for companies in the future. This is because Instagram has expanded its social commerce functions over the past years, especially with the introduction of Instagram Shops or functions such as “Shoppable Products”.
It is, therefore, to be expected that more users will also contact companies on the platform where they became aware of a product or bought it. Individual product advice and service (“conversational commerce”) can be offered in a direct conversation. Thanks to the new possibility of connecting Instagram Direct to the CRM via API, companies can also handle larger volumes of customer inquiries.
Stories, reels and feed post inspire + Instagram Direct Messaging informs and converts!
While companies may hesitate to personally address users via Direct Messages on other social media channels, on Instagram this is a form of communication that many followers desire and even initiate themselves.
In fact, there are different reasons why users write directly to a company on Instagram. These range from positive feedback to service requests to job searches, as a survey by the consulting firm Sprout shows.
This makes Instagram Direct Messaging an ideal channel to seek, expand, and promote direct customer exchanges.
Problems with a product or service are one of the most common reasons why users write to companies on social media channels via messaging. This is exactly where brands can stand out from the competition by responding quickly and helpfully.
⏰ As with all customer issues, responding quickly to customer service via Instagram Direct Messages is key. Depending on the company and the number of inquiries, it may be worthwhile to set up a special service department or even rely on chatbots – of course with a human take-over option – to be able to resolve recurring inquiries more quickly.
It is, therefore, all the more important to be well-positioned as a company here and to solve customer problems efficiently. Surveys show that customers who have had a positive experience with a company’s customer service have a more positive brand image and are more likely to recommend the brand to others.
Sephora’s Instagram Direct channel is an excellent example of conversational marketing and customer service via Direct Messages. The customer sees the post of an interesting product collection on their feed and forwards it to Sephora via Instagram DMs and asks a customer specific question. The inquiry reaches an agent via CRM API and the agent replies with a short answer and directs the customer to the product pages, where they can find details.
Realize the potential of Instagram Direct with chatbots
Of course, there is much more potential in Instagram Direct. With a more powerful chatbot, significantly more queries could be solved automatically, as is already possible with WhatsApp chatbots, for example.
The integration of chatbots in Instagram Direct is very easy via API. The most important thing, whether with chatbot or manually, is to respond quickly and offer customers a smooth user experience. Therefore, especially for simple, often recurring questions, a chatbot is helpful, both for customers and for companies.
Those who want to get even more out of the automation options on Instagram Direct can again rely on an AI-based chatbot, such as from Chatlayer by Sinch. Chatlayer is among the leading providers of AI chatbots that offer even more benefits to businesses.
- With the Chatlayer bot, companies can save up to two-thirds on costs.
- The Chatlayer bot has helped companies nearly double their Net Promoter Score.
- Companies were able to save an average of up to five employees on answering questions.
🔥Tip! 👉Find out how businesses benefit from the AI-powered chatbot from Chatlayer by Sinch.
But even without a chatbot, Instagram Direct is an important channel for conversational marketing.
But Instagram Direct Messaging is not only effective for customer service, it can also generate sales as well as new leads.
This can be done, for example, by sending promotional material, such as a call via Direct Message to participate in a raffle or by sending exclusive coupon codes. Companies can thus generate new leads and sales via messaging.
The customers who feel a special connection to a company become loyal and returning customers. And it is the interactive exchange with these customers, especially via Direct Messenger communication, that promotes this trust-building.
For example, companies can use direct messaging on Instagram to get feedback from customers, launch surveys on new product ideas, or even ask customers directly what offerings they would like to see from the company in the future.
Increase brand awareness
Instagram is also the perfect platform for increasing brand awareness. There are influencers from all kinds of industries, product lines and services. So it’s a great opportunity to get in touch with them via Instagram DM and let them promote your product. Through their reach, you can draw more attention to your own brand.
3. Connect Instagram Direct with WhatsApp
Instagram also makes it easy to direct customers from there to your WhatsApp business account. You can create this synergy in several ways.
- Add a WhatsApp button to your Instagram bio
- Open the Instagram profile page and click on “Edit Profile.”
- Click on “Contact Options.”
- Click on “WhatsApp.”
- Here you need to enter the number associated with WhatsApp to which the verification code will be sent;
- Enter the verification code on your Instagram profile.
- The button should now appear in your bio.
- Link your WhatsApp business account in your bio
- Post click-to-WhatsApp ads
- Redirect the community to WhatsApp through your stories
This way, you can leverage traffic from potential customers on your Instagram page and turn it into a personal conversation with your business.
4. Promote Instagram Direct channel properly
You can get your customers to contact you on Instagram Direct by asking them to do so in a story. Stories are often seen, so they’re a good place to point out the possibility of Instagram DMs. But it’s even better with an ad that links to Messenger.
Here’s how to create an ad in the Ads Manager that links to Instagram Direct with a click:
- In the Ads Manager, go to Ad Creation.
- Select the Message’s destination.
- In the Messaging destination section, select Instagram Direct.
- Edit your audience, placements, budget, and schedule as desired, then click Next.
- Select your ad format and complete your ad setup.
- Under Message Template, select either Create New or Use Existing.
- Click + Create to create your dialog. When you’re done, click Save and Exit.
- Finalize your ad. Click Publish to publish it.
Once your ad gets the approval, it will be visible in the selected placements. When someone clicks on the ad, it will open in Instagram Direct.
Customer communication today is more fast-paced than ever. Customers want immediate answers to their questions, and they judge brands primarily on their customer service. The age of e-mails and phone calls for customer service is coming to an end, because messenger communication saves companies and customers a lot of time and money.
To be able to respond even faster to customer inquiries, it is important to have all your messenger communication channels on one platform. Instagram’s Messenger API makes it possible to integrate Instagram Direct into existing software tools. Your customer service process becomes much faster and easier, which in turn impacts customer satisfaction.
As the integration is still very new, there are a few features that are not part of the API yet (but will be updated in the future). These features are not yet part of the API:
- Video calls
- Post in the feed, as reels or as stories
- Receive directly recorded videos
- Receive or send stickers
- Group chats
- Send newsletters
Instagram Direct Messages is a worthwhile channel for customer service.
Not only does it provide companies with a variety of ways to communicate with customers, but it also allows them to build a loyal community, help improve the company’s image, and it can also generate new leads and more sales.
With the expansion of e-commerce functions on Instagram, it is also expected that customer service on Instagram will become even more important for companies in the future.
How to use Instagram Direct and other messengers for customer engagement
We’ve put together the ultimate guide to help you learn how to use messengers to sell better, generate leads, and give your customers a great experience with your brand. Download the Messenger Communication Playbook for free now! Using many examples from the messenger world, you’ll learn:
- Advantages of WhatsApp & Instagram and other messaging apps for your company and your customers
- Concrete application possibilities of messaging services in your industry
- Practical tips for your success with WhatsApp & Co.
- Everything you need to know about KPIs in messenger communication
The results speak for themselves: doubled leads, significantly faster response times, significantly less workload for your customer service team and conversion rates of up to 30 percent.
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