Direct messages are one of the most-used features on all of social media. On Instagram alone, users send over 400 million messages to businesses every day by replying to stories or inquiring about products and business opportunities.
Just a note: this blog will not be about the construction of chatbots or automations, but rather about why they’re so critical. To learn about building them, I’d suggest taking a look at a very helpful piece like this.
Obviously, unless you’ve got social media specialists to spare, you won’t be able to respond to every DM in a timely manner with the appropriate information. And I would argue that even if you could spare a person to man the DMs 24/7, it wouldn’t be the wisest use of time or money. Customers understand that most direct message responses are automated—the quality customer service part comes when you make your automations so robust and intuitive that human interaction isn’t missed.
Building reliable and trusted chatbots or automations doesn’t rely on you predicting the future. It’s actually pretty simple to decide which streams you need to write—all you have to do is look at your most up-to-date buyer profiles and customer journey.
Let’s say that you’re a shoe retailer and try to anticipate what your buyers might be DMing you to inquire about: do you have any more of X in this size, when will Y be coming back in stock, is this the only color for Z, how can I make a return, etc. All information that you as a representative of the brand should be privy to!
What happens if a customer asks a question that you haven’t built a sequence for? For this instance, a standard “We’re away right now, but a brand representative will reach out ASAP is appropriate.” As I said, customers have no expectation that a rep is going to be manning the Instagram messages at all hours. Making sure to have a subject matter expert reply to them within 24 hours is a perfectly acceptable method of dealing with this.
You might be wondering, however, why any of this is important for building an authentic social media brand. We’ve talked in recent previous blogs about how much of a threat digital competition is, but to sum it up: it’s pretty threatening if your business doesn’t have a key differentiating factor. To be competitive, you need to give customers what they’re craving, and that thing usually isn’t a product but a service. Customer service, to be more specific.
Taking the extra time to craft responsive DMs and automations is an effort that a lot of brands haven’t made yet. Audiences, especially younger ones who are likely to waver in their brand loyalty, need the authentic, human connection that top-tier customer support can provide. Authenticity isn’t an aspect of your brand—when you present yourself authentically, you’re actually forming currency with the fastest-growing group of consumers. They have a lot of options—don’t let a lack of easy customer service solutions be the reason they walk away!