Is Instagram still an important place for companies to be? The answer’s yes—but, like all digital strategies, the platform changes rapidly. It’s important to stay up to date on the latest features of a platform you’re going to put time and resources into.
For starters, Instagram is placing quite a bit of emphasis on the short-term content feature of Instagram Stories. This makes sense; now, when most people hop onto the platform, they’re watching stories instead of scrolling their feeds. Stories tend to get a lot more views than photos in your feed get likes, meaning if you have a message to share, it makes more sense to share it in your stories. The problem is that stories disappear after 24 hours, so unless you highlight them, it’s hard to make your message permanent.
Another trend Instagram is driving toward is that of the direct message (DM). Many business thought leaders are hailing the triumph of DM communication. Sure, DMs can be a great place to have sales conversations and make Instagram feel like more of a relationship tool than a billboard. Relationships are essential when it comes to business; you want to serve your past customers well and answer any questions prospective customers may have so that they move from considering a purchase to actually opening up their wallets. But if you invite people to DM you and you’re suddenly flooded with messages, it may be more than you or your customer care team can manage.
You know you want to be hyper-responsive to your customers’ needs, but how can you do so efficiently? Using Instagram may start to feel like one giant time-suck: a place where all of your energy and distractions overpower your ability to serve the customers you need to be serving. It’s easy to start thinking that Instagram just “doesn’t work” or that customer service should be kept online. However, the instantaneous nature of social media is an environment that does allow for a solid foundation of customer service. Customers can now get in touch with you quicker than ever before, and by encouraging people to seek out customer care on Instagram, you can also cut down on long phone queues, never-ending lines, or crowded help desk in-boxes.
So how can Instagram work as part of your customer care strategy? With an emphasis on short-term content and a priority on one-to-one communication, is there a way the platform can be utilized that’s neither overwhelming nor ineffective? Here are four ways to serve customers effectively over Instagram.
Respond to Every Message
Right off the bat, this may seem undoable. Responding to every message may feel like it will take hours. But every time you’re able to respond to a DM, it reminds the people following you that your company is made of people. People buy from other people, not products or brands, so the more you’re able to remind your followers that you aren’t just an anonymous logo, the better. Another tactic to consider is audio messages—suggesting that people ask questions over audio and answering them back quickly with another audio message can allow you to foster a dialogue with customers without making them listen to waiting music and hear about how their call is very important to you. Now, does every message need to be a personalized answer to a question? No! You can always use DMs as a way to redirect messages, like asking someone to e-mail a specific person instead or pointing the individual toward your website FAQs. But letting messages sit without responding to them is a bad idea.
Monitor the Comments
It’s not your fault if people decide to post vulgar or angry messages in your comments, but it is important to remember that your comments are public. Furthermore, Instagram boosts comments to the top if they’re made by more influential users or are getting tons of likes or responses. That means monitoring your comments section to make sure things never get out of hand is essential. You shouldn’t just delete angry or rude comments, as that can seem to lack transparency, but always have an eye on who is chatting in your comments box.
Have Communication Info in Your Bio
Do you have a 24/7 customer service hotline? Is there an e-mail address that’s being monitored around the clock? Make sure customers are aware of these things by giving them space in your bio. You never want customers questioning how they can get ahold of you or what the best way to reach you is. You want to make it as easy as possible for people to reach out and ask questions. This information should obviously be on your website, as well, but having it right in your Instagram bio makes it more accessible for people. You can also regularly encourage people to reach out through those avenues within stories and link to things like your FAQs if you have the “swipe up” feature.
Speak Like a Person
Again, people buy from people, not faceless companies. If people are leaving comments with emojis, respond with emojis. If people are joking around with you in direct messages, joke right back. Use Instagram as a tool for connection, not only a tool for sales. Skipping right to the “buy now!” mind-set is why social media doesn’t work for so many companies. Instagram is a platform meant to help you form connections with people, which will then lead them into a sales pipeline. It’s not meant to waste time, be an advertisement, or convert eyeballs into cash dollars within 24 hours. Proper social media usage takes time and consistency.
Instagram can absolutely be used as an effective tool for customer care. It’s a way for customers to ask questions, get to know you, and interact with your business on a human level, paving the foundation for an eventual sale. But the key to success is how you utilize the platform. If you view it as a place to truly help serve your customers, you’ll see the results you’re looking for.