Have you ever considered trying out Instagram DMS to grow and engage your followers? This may seem like a weird thing to be asking – however there are so many brand new features that have been added to Instagram, that it can be extremely easy to simply forget the more primary features that can be used as marketing tools that Instagram offers us.  This is because the newer features can appear flashier and more up to date.

However – you shouldn’t let this fool you! Instagram DMs are a great way to grow your business and this is because it allows you to easily engage with your followers on a personal level which you just cannot do with other features. 

Throughout this Instagram marketing themed article, you’ll be able to discover how to use Instagram DMs to reach out to your audience on a more personal and engaging basis. This can be done for a variety of different  purposes.

Buckle up, we’re starting.

Instagram DMs For Marketing Purposes

You may have overlooked using Instagram DMs, but we think you may want to reconsider your position in the matter…

To our knowledge, there are 375 million Instagram users who are constantly using the Instagram DM tool for many different reasons. Here’s the truth: Instagram is the second most popular messaging platform for both Generation Y and Generation Z – who are most likely to be using DMs in the first place! Instagram is second to Facebook Messenger, but we would say whether or not Facebook Messenger will be the top spot forever is up for debate! 

However – don’t go too crazy on us. Like every other marketing strategy – a well considered approach is needed. So therefore, we recommend you use a strategy that is up to scratch when it comes to Instagram DMS.

Let’s find out what this means…

Before You Start Sliding Into Your Followers’ DMs…

At the first glance, you might thank that using Instagram DMs to be able to engage  with your followers would seem fairly easy. To an extent this is true, using Instagram DMs is simple, but there is a knack you need to know!

As we have mentioned before, the best kind of approach to Instagram DMs is a strategic one. To create this, you need to do some planning. So, before you go off and start sending messages out to your followers and target audience , we advise you step back a bit  and devise an action plan.

We are here to help you with this!

Define Your Internal Logistics

You need to be sure that your team has the ability to be able to engage with your following on an ongoing timeframe (this is essential).

You do not want to be in a position where you start off using Instagram DMs and then later  realize you just simply can’t keep up with the DMs as time progresses.) 

Here are some things that we think you need to be thinking about: 

  • When and how often will your team be performing these DM-related tasks?
  • Who will be be in charge of managing your Direct messages?
  • Would this person need to work with someone else to increase these efforts on the DM front, and who could this person be?

We understand this could be quite the change to your timetable and  since your team will probably already have quite a filled up workload – it may be necessary to move around some things to make sure your DM based initiatives get the time they need. We would also advise that you set some very clear goals for your initiatives as well. These goals can be very broad and could range from many different things, such as sales to customer support.

To summarise this point –  you will want to give your team something to work towards as they make DMs work for various business purposes. We know that you will want to begin this journey with wider vision, and then become more specific when  you decide on what you want to achieve with the DM feature. For example –  would you be looking to raise people’s awareness of your brand and increase your level of engagement?  

You should aim to look working on metrics like:

  • Reach
  • Engagements per follower
  • Follower growth

If you’re wanting to improve upon your customer service and customer support as your main goal, we know you’ll be looking at KPIs like these:

  • Response time
  • Resolution time
  • First contact resolutions

If you are wanting  to improve upon your sales, you’d most likely be looking at how many sales have actually come from your engagements via Instagram DMs to work out if Instagram DMs is the way to go for you. You should try to make sure you include UTM parameters in any product links you send to your audience so that  you can accredit any of your sales directly to these DMs. This will help you work out whether or not Instagram DMs are the way to go for you.

Don’t get too concerned if it takes some time to gather whether or not Instagram Dms are making an impact on your businesses’ performance, as this is completely normal. However, if you stay loyal to Instagram DMs and continue to gauge whether or not it’s bringing a positive impact to your business – you should have the ability to identify some milestones you think you’re able to realistically achieve. This will then allow you to create an even more strategic approach in the future.

Solidify Your Brand’s Voice and Tone

Your brand most likely already has a voice – and you may have already allowed your businesses’ voice to radiate through what you post on Instagram.

When we look at Instagram DMs, it is absolutely key to want to maintain your concept of your business’s tone and voice. With DMs, it’s incredibly important to keep consistency – so your tone of voice should be exactly the same when you DM your audience, and when you post.

However, we recognise that Instagram DMs can be unpredictable and so we recognise that in certain specific situations – you will probably need to take your tone into consideration. For example – if a customer makes a complaint over DM it’s essential to get the right tone. We would advise a more empathetic and serious tone of voice. It can be difficult, but we advise you find a balance between maintaining your brand’s tone and adapting it to certain situations.

Plan Out Your Messaging Workflow

As we’ve mentioned before – a plan is absolutely essential to Instagram DMs. 

As a reminder, let’s quickly visit what we said earlier – you need to consider:

  • How long you will take to respond to DMs
  • Who will be dealing with DMs
  • How will your team mark your DM conversations, will you leave people on read and reply or wait and reply straight after opening the message?

We would also recommend that you should create a template for a quick reply for common scenarios. This can be simple and easy – but it needs to be understandable and match your brand’s tone.

This allows you to create multiple message templates based on your audience’s general needs, questions, and/or concerns. From there, you can personalize these templates on an individual basis—ensuring that you’re giving each customer the attention they deserve.

(This goes along with what we said earlier about striking a balance between branded voice and personable communications.)

It’s worth noting that, while chatbot technology is all the rage by today’s standards, Instagram doesn’t provide this option for businesses as of yet. For our purposes, this is actually a good thing: By setting up Quick Replies, you can automate part of the process—then jump in to add a more human feel to your direct message conversations.

Set Your Audience’s Expectations

Once you’re all set up and ready to start with your DM adventure, you need to point your audience’s attention to the fact that  your DMs are now open for engagement.

The easiest way to do this is to ensure your profile shows the Message button within your bio. A very easy way to do this that we would recommend is to make sure you have a Message button in your bio, and you could even add ‘DMS are open’ to your bio. This explicitly alerts your audience and lets them know they can DM you.

The ‘message’ button
An example of an account whose bio says DM’s are open

If you’re not set on using instagram for DMS or customer service, etc – you should make this clear on your page, preferably in your page’s bio. You should add extra contact buttons in your bio, for instance – you could add your business’s email address to your bio if that’s how you feel comfortable engaging with your audience. 

On the other side of the scale, you may use other platforms and may want Instagram as the main contact point for your audience. If this is the case you should point people to your Instagram on other platforms. These platforms could include different social media platforms or even your own website, etc.

Proactively Reaching Out To Your Target Audience

Let’s say you’ve now got a plan and you’re ready to go with your Instagram DMs – you would have told your audience that your business is ready to start engaging with your following by DM. This is great – however your followers may not always take you up on this and take the first step to reach out to you. For some, this could mean their planning goes to waste, but those who are driven will find a way around this…

If you find yourself in this situation, we recommend you be proactive and reach out to your followers. However – like we’ve said before, you need to have a strategic plan for this! 

It’s time to dive in further.

Reach Out Based on Customer Engagement

There are lots of different ways your audience can engage with your brand on social media.

On Instagram, you may decide to reach out to those who:

  • Like or share one of your posts
  • Comment on your Live or IGTV videos
  • Tag your brand in different user-generated content
  • Vote on polls within your Instagram Stories

If you choose to message these types of followers, your messages should contain clear links to the types of content that these people are responding to. 

In fact, you should always have a clear idea of how you intend to follow up with engaged audience members before you even post your content. We advise that before you post content, you have ideas on how you would go about engaging with followers who are interested in the content you’re about to post. This will allow you to create new opportunities for your business and will prevent the scenario where an engaged audience member messages you about your content and you have nothing to say.

Take this Story poll from Fanclubclothing, for example:

Depending on an how a follower responds to said polls, your team could then send over a direct link to products matching their poll behaviour.

Other things to consider when thinking about engaging with your audience is sending links to products related to the style of content they favour from your brand. As well as this – it’s also worth considering how your audience interacts with your business off the Instagram platform and tailoring your messages to them through this. For example, you might use a customer’s purchase and browsing history to develop highly-personalized offers, and deliver them via DM:

This route can be slightly tricky, so we would recommend being cautious. If this audience member is not connected with you on Instagram, we would advise you don’t message them, as this could look, well – stalkerish.

Our recommended criteria for DMing customers based on their engagement on other platforms is as follows:

You can message them if they’ve followed your business on their own accord or if they’ve made it obvious that it’s okay for you to message them via Instagram DMs. It’s even better if they’ve done both of these things!

Engage Based on Audience Interests and Behaviours

For those who belong in the category of your projected target audience who have not yet explicitly interacted with your business on Instagram, we would say you should get the ball rolling using DMs.

In simple terms, these are the people who identify in a similar way to your Instagram followers.

We’d say that these people would be:

  • Users who share the same sort of content and use similar hashtags as your  followers
  • Users who follow the same brands as the audience you currently have
  • Users who follow and engage with influencers you’ve been thinking of working with or influencers who  you have worked with in the past

Here – we’re talking  about using Instagram DMs to engage with these individual people. Remembering this, we’d say it would make a lot of  sense to reach out to those who are clearly interested in businesses like your own and those who are often active on Instagram.  Something that we would say is key is looking at the individual’s activity, if they don;t use Instagram a lot or at all, there is no point wasting your valuable time messaging them. 

This does involve taking a closer look at the profiles of your potential target audience. We say you should aim to check for user consistency and also look for the clear usage of Instagram’s various features – there’s no point messaging someone who doesn’t know how Instagram works. 

We would recommend that instead of directly engaging with your potential soon to be audience by DM straight away, you should take a more passive route and engage with them in different ways. For instance – you could follow them and like some posts that relate to your content. You need to make yourself visible to them and show to them that you’re available to engage further with them.  We think this route is a lot more subtle and more professional looking. As well as this, if they don’t follow you, your message will end up in their requested inbox and they may never see the message, which could lead to wasted time for you.

Whilst the goal is to engage with your target audience via Instagram DMs, you need to start in a subtle manner and use other Instagram functions first instead of being so forward.

Providing Added Value to Top Customers

In this article, we’ve discussed DMing people who’ve taken a specific action in engaging with you. As well as this, we recommend DMing your best and most loyal customers.

Their loyalty to your business will create a perfect foundation for engaging with them. Due to this, we would say that the messages and offers you send to them should be based more on what’s going on within your business rather than messaging them based on specific engagements. 

Some examples of the types of situations we say you should message your loyal customers in are as follows:

  • If you’re about to release a new product or service that certain audience members could be interested in
  • If you have a new  audience wide promotion coming out that applies to specific followers
  • If your company has reached a certain milestone (this could be anything)

Something that could boost your business’s image would be taking a similar approach for the times when a customer reaches a certain milestone themselves. This could include their birthday, an anniversary shopping with you etc. This will increase their loyalty to your business and create a much more personal brand to client relationship.

Responding To Your Followers’ Direct Messages

As we’ve already mentioned in this article, it’s very important to be prepared for your followers to message you for many different reasons. You need to be able to provide for any customer that comes to you in need and this involves more than just having templates.

 This could potentially include:

  • Delivering the right content to followers asking for more information about your products, services, or overall brand
  • Pointing customers to the appropriate product pages to help streamline their buyer’s journey
  • Solving service-related issues directly in the direct message chat—or, if that’s not possible, connecting them to your customer support staff

These are just examples of a brand providing for the customer in a way that is expected by your average customer. The list above is the bare minimum of what a good brand should be doing for their customers. Ultimately, you should be working towards going above and beyond every time your customer messages you.

Working from the above examples, you could also…

  • Provide different product or personalised service options for those who are looking for specific features 
  • Show off high value products or even any  complementary products to those who are interested in specific products
  • Give more detailed help that revolves around the best practices when using your different products and/or services

By doing these extra things, you are going the extra mile and this will reflect better on you. You should be aiming for this all the time.

Using Direct Messages Strategically

In summary, Instagram DMs are the most direct way to interact with your audience and your target audience. Instagram DMs allow you to engage with your followers in a way that you simply cannot achieve by just replying to their comments.

Are these other aspects of the platform are, of course, crucial to your overall Instagram presence? The other instagram tools are  needed to add to your overall instagram presence, but by adding DMs to your Instagram lifestyle, you will get more out of Instagram. DMs can allow you to invest in the value of the engagement your customers get from your business. 

If there’s one thing you take away from this article, it’s that Instagram DMs  are not to be underestimated, and have the power to convert ‘just followers’ into sales and much more.

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