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Is Direct Messaging (DM) the Right Tool to Increase Engagement on Instagram?

Instagram is on a growing trend for a couple of years now, and, with around 1 billion users logging in every month, it doesn’t seem it will reach a natural stopping point in 2020 either. In fact, the year started with a new feature for the browser version of the site – Direct Messaging tools similar to the ones available on mobile.

Moreover, Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook and owner of Instagram, thinks of DM (direct messaging) as a crucial step in the app’s future development. This means that we may be looking at a future where direct communication will be more important than posts and comments.

Still, until we get there, the current DM tools can be used in the advantage of influencers and users who plan on growing their audience.

Grow Your Network by Reaching Out

Networking is a huge deal in today’s world of salespeople, but you need to choose the right people. This doesn’t always mean going for the biggest fish in your niche (aka influencer or brand). When you create connections, you should put value first.

Find Accounts that Work for You

Networking on Instagram is a little like identifying possible new friends in real life. Only here, you don’t have to get to know them before you can find out if their actions are authentic.

Due to clever tools you can run a full account analysis and learn if the audience is really as engaged as it looks. Their tool also provides valuable information on the target age group and gender, the demographics, and the quality of an account’s audience.

But before you run an analysis, you need to find Instagram accounts that could help grow your network. For this, you can use the search function of the app and browse hashtags popular for your industry (as an example, if your account is in the beauty industry, you may find valuable new leads by searching the #beauty).

You can also do a search based on location or even users. So make sure to put this feature to full use.

Identify Potential Leads

Once you identify the accounts that work for your current needs, it’s time to understand which ones will be useful for your networking campaign.

As such, you shouldn’t go out of your way to choose people with huge followings. These people are already super-busy so it’s difficult to raise their interest in connecting with you. Moreover, we already know there’s a huge difference between the total number of followers and the number of people who actually engage with the content.

In fact, Instagram uses artificial intelligence algorithms to make sure they promote accounts with more engagement over the number of followers (which can be superficially inflated).

It’s best to go for micro-influencers, whose accounts have authentic and engaged followings. Most of them are interested in networking and understand the power of communication. According to Amber Faust from Faust Island, it is especially important to reply to your DMs when you don’t have a huge audience.

“I have kids and sometimes get behind on answering DMs, people will unfollow you if you don’t respond. I’m not Beyonce; if someone took the time to DM me and ask me a question – I should find the time to give a response. So many of my influencer friends DM people nonstop, I would feel like a spammer but thoughtfully responding to Instagram stories has helped me grow a thoughtful following”, Amber told us.

Get in Touch

This part is a bit more sensitive than the other two steps. You need to keep in mind you’re communicating with human beings who care about their Instagram presence.

In fact, many influencers (regardless of size) believe that direct messaging helps them build trust and increase engagement from users. We had a quick chat with Usama Raudo, Digital Marketing Strategist at Within The Flow and he confirmed the importance of interacting with their audience via DM.

“Yes, through my experience I can say there is a correlation between open DM and the engagement on Instagram account. Because it creates a sense of trustworthiness with others. In this way, I get genuine engagement on my Instagram account by the person I am interacting with in DMs”, he said.

So, if they don’t perceive you as someone interested to add value to their account, your message will fall on deaf ears. Make sure to add value and help them increase content engagement, and then you’ll have their attention.

Keep Users Engaged by Answering their Messages

If you’re at the receiving end of a DM, you can still drive engagement by making sure you reply in due time.

But, while this may seem easy to do when there are only a few messages per day, things get increasingly complicated as your following grows. This is what Sean Clancy, the SEO director of EDGE, told us when we asked if there is a connection between engagement and direct messaging:

“Yes, but you have to be selective in who you DM too. Sifting through the comments, you should look for non-generic phrases – to help filter out the bots and non-engaged people. Comments such as I like, nice pic, wow are usually from mass accounts looking to up their followers by ‘engaging’ on your posts.”

So, it is important to be there for your audience, but you need to focus your resources on users who truly care about your work. These are the ones who help create true engagement.

Open DM Helps You Connect with the Audience

Lindsey Marx, Marketing Content Strategist at BestCompany told us “open DM directly relates with engagement because we are able to answer questions more openly and build trust.”

Trust is a powerful feeling that creates deep bonds between an influencer and their following (ar a brand and their clients). Moreover, brands strive for their consumers’ trust, as it helps them stand out from the crowd.

As such, with DM, Instagram offers its users (businesses or individuals) the ideal tool when it comes to establishing a connection and working towards loyalty.

Wrap UP

In summary, Instagram’s open DM tool is great for driving engagement to new heights as it allows users to build a powerful network, get in direct contact with their followers, and build trust. You just need to know how to use it in order to get the best of it.