Instagram is fast becoming one of the leading social media marketing platforms out there, especially when it comes to e-commerce sites.
From a users perspective it’s an easily accessible place to discover an ever changing feed full of aesthetically pleasing images dedicated to your preferences. From a brand’s angle - it’s an incredible opportunity to showcase your products to a highly engaged audience - what’s not to love? But when Instagram released its direct messaging service to all its users back in October, it had some digital marketers casting a blind an eye - ‘something just to enhance the user to user experience…’’ was the general consensus from comments I found online.
However this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, this really is a tool that can be used in a unique way, enabling businesses to grow larger audiences, nurture them into loyal customers and it also provides a much faster way of delivering customer service than the conventional email or telephone call.
Insta-smart searching and securing new followers!
So we’ve seen it on Twitter for years, brands following users whose tweets and bios fall under a certain search term with the intention of a cheeky follow back. There’s no denying there is a level of success to this technique, especially if you’re meticulous when it comes to targeting users within your market. However Instagram’s a whole different (possibly easier!) ball game. Users aren’t concerned by what you have to say - they’re concerned with what you’ve got to offer from the first 9 images on your feed. If they’re captivating to the user, you can bet your bottom dollar that they’re going to give you a follow. So how can you use direct messaging to enhance your following? Well you’ll be able to target users directly, complemented by a cool image that you think might suit their taste. Better yet you wont have to give them a follow to get their attention, leaving the ratio between those you follow, and those that follow you, higher than 1:1 - this can potentially give you some all important credibility. Although one thing to mention with this is to be careful not to be spammy, use personalised and friendly copy - and steer clear of generic ‘ follow us’ type messages. If you can offer that user something in that first interaction (like a bespoke discount code), then you’re more likely to win them over as a follower and a potential customer.
Reaching influencers directly
As a way of engaging users and recruiting new followers, you should look to interact with key influencers within your target market. With Instagram direct messaging you can contact any user regardless of whether they follow you or not, and vice versa. Of course if you’re a super successful e-commerce site or business who is looking to contact an A lister with millions of followers, reaching out by the traditional means (going through their PR agency, agent, or manager) is going to a more successful and more appropriate tactic, as it’s unlikely they'll be able to make those social media partnership deals for themselves. However if you’re a smaller business who's looking to target a blogger this is a great way to get in touch and showcase what you’re all about. In fact some influencers might be flattered that you found them and might be more likely to reply seeing as you’ve caught them outside of trawling through their emails.
As you continue to build a following of loyal and engaged users, you’re going to want to keep them onside. Make sure you’re constantly on the look out for users who engage regularly with your content and who often tag their friends. When users do purchase, you could even ask for the social usernames at the checkout so that you can follow these up by rewarding your customers directly. Whether it’s with a discount code or some complimentary store credit, you’ll be showing that you’ve noticed their loyalty and will only be driving repeat business. You could even host a scavenger hunt by asking users to take a snap of them with a certain item they’ve purchased or found in store from clues you’ve provided in posts. Get creative with engaging and rewarding your fans and give them another reason to keep following you - other than your awesome content.
It’s no secret that many customers have shifted from calling helplines and emailing in with their frustrations when they’re dissatisfied with the service they’ve received. One thing I’ve seen time and time again is customers who have had a bad experience commenting on awesome content across a brand's social platforms, describing in detail their anger to all and any users that comes across that particular post. In fact many e-commerce sites have created specially designed Twitter accounts just for tackling those kinds of queries. Not only is this a distraction from the content itself but potentially damaging to your brand’s image. With direct messaging businesses will have the opportunity to get in contact with users, and will be able to share pictures of faulty items without asking the user to change platform to resolve the issues. By encouraging your users to direct message with their queries you'll end up with less negative and damaging comments in plain view and a more efficient way of resolving issues.
Just to say Hello!
It might sound simple, but you can even use the tool just to say “Hi!” to your users. In fact providing customer service doesn't have to be off the back of a negative comment. You could use direct messaging to answer any queries you’ve seen openly asked from one user on the comments section of a post - showing that you read your comments and are on hand to help. Better yet, why not use the tool as a way of delivering a personal shopping service? Many e-commerce sites now now have a live chat to assist shoppers, but you could easily kick it up a notch and host an Instagram party (similar to that of a Twitter party), asking users to message their queries or questions for your expert team to answer, including images with suggestions. This is something that would work really well for any sized e-commerce site that actually, I’ve yet to see happen, and it could really help to drive sales online and instore.
Essentially when it comes to direct messaging on Instagram, you can build and nurture your following whilst correcting any negative customer service. Not only do users love a brand that takes initiative on social, but they’ll appreciate just how approachable you are. This will help to build better brand image and potentially more sales through social.
Have you tried any of these before or have another way you think Instagram direct messaging could be utilized for business? Let me know in the comments below!