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Blog Post

Pros and Cons of Instagram Outbound

January 23, 2019
Table of Contents

From swipe ups in Stories to shoppable images, Instagram is constantly rolling out new features that are prime opportunities for marketers to increase their ROI on the platform. Understanding the nuance of certain features (and sometimes even just knowing how to use them!) can be overwhelming. One feature, however, that’s been lurking right under our noses is positioned to be an extremely effective way to connect with your audience – the direct message.

What is Instagram outbound messaging?

One of the best ways to communicate with your followers on Instagram is by sending direct messages, or DM’s, straight to their Instagram inboxes. Instagram is all about building relationships (it is ‘social’ media after all!) and responding to a follower’s story with Instagram direct messages or welcoming them as a member of your community is one of the fastest and easiest ways to make a connection. With different Instagram auto direct messaging services, sending automatic welcome messages to new followers or updating your entire follower base is becoming even easier for marketers. Thus, Instagram direct messages are quickly becoming one of the most underutilized tools on the platform.

How to use it

Sending a direct message is your chance to bring value straight to your followers and show them the authentic, genuine person behind your brand. With automated tools or manual messaging through the app, you’re able to write a personalized message to send to new and existing followers. Forbes reports that a personalized buying experience can be hugely beneficial for your bottom line, resulting in more ‘impulse purchases’, greater revenue generation, fewer returns, and, perhaps most importantly, boosted customer loyalty. Nearly half of all customers claim they would return to the brand again following a more personalized experience with a brand, like after exchanging direct messages.


Your audience is constantly being digitally bombarded by other brands vying for their attention, and those brands often use specials or discounts to earn their business. Google even had to create a special ‘Promotions’ inbox just so consumers can sort through (or easily delete) all of the noise. Instead of flooding their inboxes and adding to the chatter, using Instagram direct messages as a way to send out holiday specials or discounts is a great way to make your followers aware of current deals while simultaneously making them feel valued.

By reaching out to consumers directly on Instagram with beneficial deals you can ensure that your brand stays top of mind. With daily average Instagram use approaching almost an hour a day, sliding into a consumer’s Instagram inbox is a great way to get your buyer’s attention. Staying relevant is especially crucial during the holidays when consumers are looking to purchase. By positioning your products as a compliment to the holidays such as a “great gift” through direct messages and Instagram content consumers will be more inclined to purchase.

New product launches/Updates

Instagram outbound messaging is also a great way to spread the word about new products or changes to your business. In addition to sharing your updates with everyone in your list of followers with a new post, you can also use Instagram DM’s to create and send messages to a select group of people. Targeted lists can engage your audience in a way that makes them feel like an insider, and putting these customers first is a way of thanking them for choosing your business, and encouraging them to continue doing so.

Using targeted lists for direct messages also gives you the added benefit of testing messaging or offers with a smaller audience. You can even A/B test language for different updates or offers and determine which message ended up being more effective, just like you would with email. Or, you could test the same messages with different members of your audience, recent followers or early adopters. These learnings could then be applied to broader direct messaging campaigns in the future.

Customer service

Customer service on Instagram can go far beyond just providing contact info on your brand’s page or enabling the “call” button. Instagram direct messages are a great way to thank someone for buying your products or services (such a personal touch!), follow up after purchase, respond to product questions or quickly dissolve a customer service dispute before it gets heated. Direct messages also allow customers to share any personal information needed to follow through with service-related issues, thus expediting the process.

With 80% of customer inquiries on social media being unanswered by businesses, there’s a huge opportunity to differentiate your brand on platforms like Instagram. By using Instagram direct messaging as a customer service method, you can help make your consumers feel more connected and cared about, thus strengthening brand loyalty.

How not to use it

But like with any other aspect of marketing on social media, there are certainly faux pas and worst practices you don’t want to find your team scrambling to recover from. Consumers can easily tell when brands are being genuine and who is just trying to make another “sales pitch”. As with any marketing messaging, it’s important to ensure that your messages are relevant and something that the consumer would WANT to receive.

Be careful to not spam followers

While Instagram direct is a great way to connect with followers, timing is everything. Like with all of your customer communications, make sure you are not overwhelming your followers with multiple messages in a short amount of time. Too many messages too quickly can feel like spam and can cause consumers to unfollow or mute your brand on social media. Incorporating your Instagram direct messaging communications into your broader marketing calendar or schedule can help prevent overwhelming your audience and think about your direct messaging strategy more holistically.

Be sure to send only valuable content

Sure, this should be a no brainer, but we’ve all been on the receiving end of some very bad marketing communications before. The key to any messaging tactic — and this is THE tactic — is to always provide more value to the receiver, especially when they’re the one with the leverage. At the end of the day what you’re communicating needs to put the needs and wants of the customer first.

Community management and social listening learnings and best practices should play a huge role in helping you ensure you’re providing value to your customers. By knowing what you’re customers are searching for and interested in you can better tailor your messages. Having a pulse on what matters to your customers is key to building a devoted and loyal audience that feels like your brand understands and values who they are.

Not sure where to begin? Below are two sample messages, targeted to recent followers, that could help you get you started.

Video Marketing company

Hey @username, thanks for the follow! We love video marketing and hope you do too. Check out the video we created with the Chief Exec. Chairman of Google. {link}

In-Store Product

Hey @username, thank you for the follow! We’re excited to hear about your love for {brand name}! To find some {product} near you be sure to use our store locator at {link}.

Keeping up with channel explosion and the constant rolling out of new features on each platform can be overwhelming, and Instagram is no exception. But with over 70% of US businesses building a presence on Instagram, it’s imperative to be part of the conversation. Instagram direct messaging is one differentiating way to stand out on Instagram and start forming a personal conversation with your audience.


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