For many business owners, their Instagram direct message (DM) inbox is like the Wild West. More than 400 million messages are sent to businesses on the platform every day. Yet ongoing conversations with potential customers are stuck between random emoji responses to your story, making it hard to keep track of who you have replied to—and who is still waiting for a response.
An Instagram autoresponder takes that job off your hands. It gives you breathing space to put together a thoughtful response, without making your followers feel ignored in the meantime.
This guide shares how to set up automatic messaging on Instagram, with bonus tips on automating the conversations you have through the platform.
Why is customer support important on Instagram?
Product inquiries and customer support are the top reasons for followers to interact with a business through Instagram DMs. But they’re not willing to wait around: data shows that 90% of customers think an immediate response is very important when they have a customer service question. That’s defined as 10 minutes or less.
When you’re growing an Instagram account, more followers equals more DMs. It’s a time-consuming process to personally respond to each one in real-time, especially when other activities—like creating content, researching your audience, and monitoring success—take up hours of your week.
With auto replies on Instagram, your business can:
- Point people toward product pages. The sheer volume of user-to-business messaging on Instagram makes for a great opportunity to showcase your bestselling products. Edit your Instagram autoresponder to divert people there while they wait for a response.
- Answer FAQs. Limit the time your Instagram customer support team spends answering repetitive questions by covering them in your Instagram autoresponder. This could include shipping timescales, product availability, or information about an upcoming event.
- Divert followers to other contact methods. If your Instagram DMs are becoming too hard to control and you’d rather field questions through other communication channels, explain this in your autoresponder. You could say: “Thanks for your message! We don’t respond to DMs, so please email [your address] to get in touch with our team.”
Footlocker’s Instagram autoresponder explains how to find product availability and release dates.
How to set up auto-replies on Instagram
Ready to start giving people who DM your business’s Instagram account an immediate, automatic response? Here’s how to configure auto replies on Instagram.
1. Switch to a business account
Only Instagram users with a business account can connect their profile with Meta Business Suite—the tool that powers autoresponders across both Instagram and Facebook. So, if you haven’t already, switch to a business Instagram account:
- Open a personal account.
- Go to your profile and hit the hamburger icon in the top-right corner.
- Open Settings and select Account.
- Click Switch to Professional account.
- Choose a business or creator profile. (Either works with autoresponders.)
2. Link your Instagram account with Meta Business Suite
Next, go to the Meta Business Suite (formerly known as Facebook Business Manager) and link your Instagram account:
- Go to your Instagram profile and hit the hamburger icon in the top-right corner.
- Go to Settings and select Account.
- Choose Sharing to other apps.
- Select Facebook and enter your login information.
- Head back to your Instagram settings and select Privacy.
- Click Messages.
- Toggle the Allow access to messages button to On.
3. Turn on automated responses
Now that your Instagram account is linked with the Meta Business Suite, you can turn on autoresponders for anyone who sends a DM to your account. Here’s how to do it:
- Open the Meta Business Suite.
- Click Inbox in the left-hand column.
- Press Automated Responses.
- Select Instagram.
- Write your automated response.
- Toggle the Instant reply button to On.
- Press Save changes.
How to write a good Instagram autoresponder
The actual message that goes into the autoresponder can vary depending on your audience, though the best Instagram autoresponder meets this criteria:
- It acknowledges a follower’s message and thanks them for their patience.
- It answers the question (if possible). Most businesses address FAQs in their responder.
- It gives a timeframe of how long they should expect to wait for a human reply.
Get more Instagram DM automation features with ManyChat
Instagram’s own autoresponder tool is a good starting point if you’re dealing with small DM volumes. But once your profile begins to grow and the number of DMs you’re dealing with feels uncontrollable, use Instagram Automation by ManyChat to:
- Customize autoresponders based on context
- Encourage DMs with conversation starters
- Collect follower data for future retargeting
- Offer live chat as a backup
Customize autoresponders based on context
The Instagram auto reply tool gives the same response to anyone who DMs your business’s account. That makes it difficult to give the personalized customer experiences that influence 80% of customers to make a purchase.
With Instagram Automation by ManyChat, however, you can customize the automated response that a follower gets, based on the contents of their message. The keyword trigger picks up on what the DM is asking. A custom flow then sends an automated reply related to their query, rather than a generic “Thanks for your message!” response.
Take a look at this example. When a user sends a DM containing the word “ebook,” the autoresponder tool responds with information on how to access it. The follower then enters an automated conversation, which collects their email address in exchange for the ebook. (More on this later.)
Encourage DMs with conversation starters
Instagram’s auto-response tool only works when a follower starts the conversation with your business’s account. But there’s a good chance that people will avoid initiating conversations if they’re unsure of how to word it. That could mean you’re leaving money on the table—especially if they’re asking questions about your products or service.
Help followers kick off the DM with the Conversation Starters feature. Show the below options and configure a custom autoresponder, based on the context of the DM, with ManyChat:
- Interested in sales
- Get help with a purchase
- Free shipping criteria
- Browse product catalog
Collect follower data for future retargeting
Earlier, we mentioned that Instagram automation has the capability to collect information about your followers. That makes it a superb way to build your email list and engage with potential customers outside of the Instagram app.
To configure this autoresponder tool, use the keyword trigger to define when you’d like to ask a follower for their email address. They can respond with their information directly in the Instagram DM conversation (as opposed to an external landing page). ManyChat will feed that data through to a CRM, which you can sync with email marketing platforms like Klaviyo or MailChimp. Talk about making personalized shopping experiences easier.
Offer live chat as a backup
Automating your Instagram DMs doesn’t take the entire task off your hands. Treat it like a filter to weed out the conversations that don’t need human intervention. It’ll give your customer support team more time to focus on questions that need a personalized response.
ManyChat makes this easy by tagging unresolved Instagram DMs. The CRM alerts customer support teams when a follower choses the “Speak to a real person” button. Simply hop back into the conversation and pick up where the autoresponder left off.
Don’t leave Instagram followers in the lurch
It doesn’t matter how many followers you have—the Instagram auto-reply tool is a fantastic way to show gratitude for Instagram users who DM your account, recognize their question, and provide an estimated timeframe for a response. Though it might be time to upgrade the experience you give to customers when your DMs become too much to handle.
Give your Instagram followers the personalized customer experience they deserve with Instagram Automation by ManyChat. Not only will they get real-time responses that actually help with their query, but you can collect valuable customer data to use for retargeting. It’s the best way to make sure Instagram becomes a top sales channel for your business.