What Are Keywords and How Can I Use Them on Instagram?

keywords MC

Most of us think chatbots are very smart. Many are AI-powered and can have all these crazy cool conversations with our customers, all on their own.

However, while artificial intelligence is behind advanced bots like “The Humanoid Robot” Sophia,  our customers power our Instagram bots via a mix of hands-on Live Chat and automation. 

One way to make your Instagram bot smarter, faster, and more efficient is through keyword triggers. This article will explain how to use them inside ManyChat’s Instagram Automation feature. 

What are keywords?

In ManyChat parlance, a “keyword” is a word or phrase that people use to message your brand through Instagram Messenger. These keywords and preset phrases will kick off conversations with your business that correspond to a specific Instagram marketing campaign. 

Say a customer sees a promo in your Instagram Story with the call to action “DM us the word cupcake to get 25% off your next order.” When they enter the keyword CUPCAKE into Instagram Messenger, they’ll automatically receive their discount code without any human interaction. 

“Using autoresponders in your keyword confirmation message is a fast and easy way to provide support and improve a customer’s experience.” — Trilce Jiron Garro, TBS Marketing  

Keywords are a great way to automate conversations inside your bot and keep in touch with your contacts. Without keywords in place, your bot won’t be able to understand when people ask it about things beyond the scope of the flows you’ve built. 

You’ll benefit most from using keywords on Instagram in two scenarios:

  • When you expect people to use a specific word. For example, customers will likely use the word “help” somewhere in their message if they need support. The keyword trigger for “help” could launch a flow that connects them to a Messenger-based FAQ or live support agent. 
  • When your strategy relies on a particular word or phrase. Say you are giving away an eBook lead magnet. You can have people message you the word “eBook” which would launch a conversation that delivers the eBook to contacts immediately. 

But what happens if you don’t have any keywords set up in your Instagram Messenger experience that matches what people are messaging you? No sweat—you can set up a Default Reply. A default reply is a response ManyChat sends to Instagram contacts when they message a word or phrase your bot does not recognize. 

These messages usually route people back into an automated conversation or connect them with a live agent. The goal is to provide people the information they need quickly and easily. 

How to set up a keyword for Instagram Messenger

Setting up a keyword is simple. To start, you’ll need two things:

  1. A ManyChat Pro account
  2. Approval for Instagram Automation

At the moment, Facebook only allows accounts with more than 1,000 followers to apply for Instagram Automation. Start here to apply. 

Step 1: Create a flow 

Once you’ve got your account set up, head to your ManyChat dashboard and click Flows.

Creating an automation

Then click + New Flow in the upper right corner, followed by Create Empty Flow. 

creating a flow in manychat

Name your flow, then hit Create. You’ll land in Flow Builder, our visual drag-and-drop workflow builder.

Step 2: Add keyword trigger

Click Add Trigger in the Starting Step block.

adding keyword trigger

A “Choose trigger” menu will appear. Select Instagram on the left-hand menu. Then click the Keyword Instagram options under Keywords

creating keywords on instagram

Add the keywords that’ll trigger a conversation with your business (see examples below). 

instagram keyword input

This module lets you add or delete keywords at any time. Choose keywords that are closely related to your campaign or common questions customers might message you about. 

Click Create. 

Step 3: Create your keyword confirmation message

Once you set your keywords, you’ll want to create a follow-up message to send to contacts. Your response will depend on the reason why someone messaged you. In the example below, we’re looking to help someone with their order. 

You can also use keywords for promotional reasons. Make sure to choose keywords relevant to your campaigns (like with the eBook example from earlier), and build follow-up flows that entertain and delight people. 

Where to use keywords on Instagram

To get the most from keywords on Instagram, let’s look at the best places to use them.

Stories and Reels

Want to get tactical with your Instagram Stories and Reels? Ecommerce brands and influencers can use Keyword Automation to start conversations with their followers. 

Edtech company Mindvalley has over 1.4 million followers on Instagram. It uses the platform to share inspirational quotes, provide tips for health and wellbeing, and advertise its free masterclasses. 

In one campaign, the brand used Keyword Automation to promote the masterclass and register attendees. They posted a series of stories with the call to action “Message us the word ‘energy’” to sign up. 

When someone messaged Mindvalley the keyword, it launched a conversation in Instagram Messenger that included the ability to sign up or get more information. 

automated conversation from keyword

Leveraging keywords enabled the brand to increase its masterclass registrations by522% and decrease response time by 99%. 

Check out the campaign specifics by reading How Mindvalley Achieved A 522% Increase in Masterclass Sign-Ups Using Instagram Automation


Keyword Automation is also a fast way to connect with viewers from live streams or Reels. Say you are doing a live training and are giving away a free guide as a lead magnet. Towards the end of your live stream, you can tell viewers to message you a keyword in exchange for the guide. 

Another place to use keywords is in your Instagram bio. Write a line with a call to action that directs people into your Messenger account. This helps capture traffic from people who may not have come across your Stories or ads. 

keyword in bio


You can also use Keyword Automation when you run click-to-Messenger ads on Instagram. As the name implies, these ads allow people to start a conversation with you after they click the ad and allow you to choose the message that people can send to your brand from the ad.

The trick? You can create a keyword in ManyChat and use it in your responses. When someone sends the predefined keyword or phrase, it’ll launch a specific flow in your Messenger experience. 

instagram story ad keyword


Its clear keywords can improve how you engage with your followers on Instagram. With their help, you can provide quick responses and create better customer experiences with your brand—all via automation. 

Grow your Instagram following and generate sales with Instagram Automation by ManyChat. Sign up today!

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