Instagram is a great way to tell your story and express your brand using the power of visual influence. Instagram Direct—a private messaging feature within the app—allows you to take your engagement with your community one step further. Whether you’re offering a discount, expressing your gratitude, or supplying useful information, Instagram Direct enables a personal and visual dialogue with fans, loyal customers, and influencers.
There are many ways to use Instagram Direct messages to grow your business, but only by taking the right approach. Below are some Instagram Direct messaging best practices to ensure that you are using the feature properly and to its fullest potential.
Best Practices for Instagram Direct Messages
Turn on Notifications
The first Instagram Direct messaging best practice is to turn your notifications on. You might think that you’ll remember to check your phone, but let’s face it. You’re running a business, and your day is full of interruptions, distractions and unexpected twists.
One of the benefits of Instagram Direct messaging is that of making more personal connections. If you directly message someone and then go off the radar, you’re not doing much to nurture that relationship. Turn on your notifications so you can reply to people promptly and maintain consistent engagement.
Avoid Messaging in Groups
Many of the benefits of social media for business come from the fact that so many people use it. However, that doesn’t mean your social media marketing should consist of batch efforts. Unless you are connecting people from a networking event, making introductions, or have a group of people who know each other and are related, it is an Instagram Direct Messaging best practice to avoid messaging in groups.
There are two reasons for this. The first is that recipients of a group message can see each others’ comments and responses. If members of the group know each other, this can create an environment for discussion. However, if members of the group don’t know each other, they may not feel comfortable engaging, and will get nothing out of the thread aside from unnecessary and irrelevant notifications.
The second reason to avoid group messages is that once again, Instagram Direct messages enable more personal interaction, and reaching out to people in groups will not make them feel as valued as if you reached out individually.
Don’t Use Autoresponders
Some businesses set up autoresponders to directly message new followers and thank them for following. This is an outdated tactic that was commonly used on Twitter, and made its way over to Instagram. If you want to increase social media engagement in a quality manner, don’t use auto responders! Like group messages, autoresponders are not personal and are more likely to annoy a user than get them to engage.
This Instagram Direct messaging best practice may seem easy and obvious, based on the first three. However, keep in mind that simply directly messaging a person doesn’t make it personal. Connecting with your audience on a personal level is especially important if you are serving a niche market, but applies to marketing in general. When reaching out through Instagram Direct messaging, be sure to reference a previous engagement, message, photo, or hashtag. Also, use language that resonates with that person and information that is useful to them. Instagram Direct Messaging can help you to create lasting connections, but if you come off the wrong way you are likely to cut ties.
In addition to taking into account the personality of a user and what will resonate with them best, you also want to think about their busy lifestyle. An important Instagram Direct messaging best practice is to reach out to people only when it’s necessary to be private, to avoid filling up their inbox.
Unless you are asked, do not offer, sell, or pitch your products or services through Instagram Direct messaging. This is a best practice for social media in general. The basis for reaching out to individuals should be because you value their opinion, feedback, knowledge, or support, or because there is mutual benefit involved. No matter how genuine you are, the minute you pitch your product, your recipient will not see any of those as your intentions.
While you do not want to use Instagram Direct messaging to welcome new followers or pitch your product, you do want to use it to provide users with a benefit. This could be an offer such as a promotion or coupon; or simply a piece of information that is useful to them, such as about a past event to to those who may be interested in an upcoming event.
Leave After Introductions
One great way to use Instagram Direct messages is to make introductions for others in your network, or to cross promote your partners. However, once you have connected the two users, be sure to leave the conversation. Do this simply by tapping the “leave conversation” button on the top right of your screen.
Avoid “Cold” Messaging
You can use Instagram Direct to message anyone on Instagram, not just those you follow or who follow you. However, it is a best practice to reach out only to people you have already encountered, such as by engaging with your account on Instagram, or communicating with you on a different platform or in person. Your message will be more warmly received if you have interacted with them before.
With careful thought and extra effort, Instagram Direct messaging can benefit your business beyond contests and conversations. By following these best practices, you can leverage Instagram Direct to strengthen your relationships, deepen your connections, and communicate with your followers and customers more effectively.